Once again, I've secured some free time to more thoroughly discuss the points made in the Manifesto. I'll try to handle your questions point-by-point.
Sybiene: The Shivans do not "use" Knossos portals, per se. The portals exist
in Shivan-controlled areas, but so far as we know, the Shivans do not know for certain how to activate them, or precisely what they are used for. It was Admiral Bosch who drew the Shivans' ire with his activation of the first Knossos; we cannot know for certain if the Shivans, on their side of the node, were even aware of its existence. In their monologues, the Ancients state that the Destroyers did not seek "territory, technology, or resources". The Shivans appear to concern themselves primarily with their own technological advancement (if
they advance--see earlier comments on stagnation), and in all likelihood, they are more interested in the jump node created
by the Knossos portal than in the workings of the device itself. This, however, is an uncertain point; much of our theory centers around the Shivans having a great deal of subspace expertise, so it is logical to assume that they would know a device capable of manipulating subspace when they saw one.
Akalabeth Angel: You make several quality points, and I shall endeavor to address each one in turn.
Volition's "symptom" wording is admittedly very vague, but obviously with the intent to be so. It leaves the Shivan origin wide open to a great deal of speculation. Perhaps a better term would be "sign"--an indication that something is happening on a larger scale in the galaxy that the Shivans are only a small part of. I'm not comfortable with equating "symptom" with an abstract concept like "good vs. evil" or "survival of the fittest"; I do not feel that Volition would have provided us with this clue in the first place unless it were to lead to a more concrete conclusion.
The title of "The Preservers" is truly an ironic one to apply to the Shivans. In Freespace's final monologue, the narrator--presumably the pilot you've been playing--pretty clearly illustrates the meaning of this phrase. Here is the actual wording from the Freespace Reference Bible:"I know why the Ancient Ones were destroyed. And I know what they knew.
I know that if not for the Shivans they would have been conquered long before.
Without the Shivans, someone would have discovered them long before, in their infancy. And destroyed them, just as surely as they destroyed countless billions of others.
I believe it is only the destroyers who are destroyed. The Shivans are the great destroyers, but they are also the great preservers. That is why there was no one to destroy us.
Long had we been the destroyer. Our turn had nearly come.
In the Vasudan war we learned how to adapt.
We learned how to study our enemy.
We learned how to overcome.
We learned how to survive.
And so we did."
The narrator explains, in simple terms, that the Shivans exterminate older, advanced races to ensure the survival of younger, undeveloped ones. The predecessors to the Ancients, whoever they were, were destroyed by the Shivans so that the Ancients might thrive; the Ancients, in turn, were themselves destroyed so that humanity, and presumably Vasudans (although there is evidence that the Vasudans themselves may in fact be descendants of the scattered Ancient population) could survive. As the narrator mentions, humanity--having assumed its own mantle as conqueror of the cosmos, rampantly colonizing, exploring, and waging war upon the Vasudans--had nearly reached the time of its own destruction.
You make a valid point when you ask whether or not such is the fate of all space-faring races: to be annihilated once they stumble upon the secrets of subspace travel. In one of the few uplifting points of the entire Manifesto, I can say with some confidence that the answer to this question is "no".
In one of his own monologues, Admiral Bosch provides us with the following question to ponder:"Thirty-two years ago in the Altair system, Vasudan scientists discovered the remnants of an extinct civilisation we now call the Ancients. Here, we found the secret to defeat the Shivans. How close did we come to being a footnote in the history of a future species that would happen upon our ruins ten thousand years from now? Would they indulge in the fiction of their own immortality until the Shivans came for them, and how long had this gone on?
Did the Ancients stumble upon the monoliths and the tombs of their predecessors in this distant corner of space, dismissing the warnings carved into the walls of the sepulchre? And when the Destroyers came at last, what did the Ancients think as they sifted the cremation of dust and bones, staring into the mute remains for a key, some solution to their plight?
What if there had been countless races, stretching back into infinity, and like the nine cities of Troy, each civilization had been built on the rubble of the one that came before, each annihilated by the Shivans?"
Bosch suspects that the cycle of destruction perpetuated by the Shivans has continued for a very long time--longer, perhaps, than any of us can estimate. If the Ancients did
indeed uncover ruins of the races that came before them, ruins providing some clue or hint as to how the wrath of the Destroyers might be stayed, then that warning was either ignored, or understood too late for it to have any meaning. The Ancients fell just as the innumerable races that came before them did, their empire turning to ash.
In the case of the Alliance, however, something has changed.
At the end of the First Great War, the Shivans failed to complete their objective of xenocide--quite possibly the first time they had ever
failed to accomplish their monstrous task. Unlike the Ancients before them, the Terrans and Vasudans were able to heed the age-old cautions they discovered, able to learn from them, able to adapt them for their races' own purposes. As the narrator of the final FS1 monologue so eloquently states, the Terrans learned how to study their enemy, how to adapt, and how to survive. Thus, the cycle of wanton destruction that has continued without end for countless millennia has at last been broken. The GTVA is not simple prey, like the other fallen empires, but a sophisticated enemy, one the Shivans will require more than brute force to extinguish from the universe.
In a fashion, this in itself may be the answer to the question of the "Great Preservers". Perhaps the rise of the Alliance, a force that, like the Shivans themselves, "did not die", is something the Shivans--maybe without realizing it--have been fostering for centuries. It was inevitable that eventually, there would come a race that would learn from the mistakes of those that came before, one that would not so easily knuckle under to the Destroyers. Unlike the dead and buried societies of the past, the GTVA has potential
, potential to learn and adapt, potential to discover a final, permanent solution to the conflict with which they are faced. It is possible that, in the distant future, Terrans and Vasudans may stumble upon a means of travel superior even to that of the subspace corridor, allowing them to maintain their integrity as a society without incurring the hateful, desperate rage of the Shivans.
The question which this poses, however--one we are, at this time, unable to answer--is whether one or both sides of the Great War will perish in the hellfire of battle before that time should arrive.
Your comments on Shivan subspace travel confuse me. You seem to accept the notion that they possess superior subspace engine technology, yet in the same breath, you claim that by using "hidden" subspace nodes--those either uncharted by the Alliance, or too unstable for use--the Shivans inflict needless damage upon the subspace fabric. I offer the following as counterpoints:
1. If the Shivans do
possess highly-advanced subspace technology, we hypothesize that their use of subspace nodes causes little or no damage, whether the Alliance has knowledge of those nodes or not.
2. If the above statement is half-true or not true at all (i.e., the Shivans can use unstable nodes, but still cause subspace damage nonetheless), then their use of "secret" nodes is, in fact, relevant in terms of strategy. We've stated several times that the Shivans aren't dumb; if it were absolutely necessary for them to make use of subspace travel for the sake of waging war, then they would do so. However, they would seek to do so in the most efficient way possible, a way which would quickly end the conflict at hand, and minimize the damage sustained by the subspace dimension. We should also factor in the reasonable assumption that the Shivans will want to minimize the losses to their own forces.
In FS1, for example, the Shivan armada levels Tombaugh Station in the Ribos system while gathering their forces there for a strike upon Vasuda Prime. In response, the GTA sets up a blockade in the adjacent Antares system, which is the only "stable" route to reach Vasuda. To reduce the hassle to themselves, the Shivans jump through a "hidden" node directly to Deneb, which is also one jump away from Vasuda. This allows the Shivans to circumvent the Allied blockade and destroy Vasuda Prime more quickly, hence shortening the duration of the war itself. Admiral Petrarch also clearly states that the Shivans made inter-system jumps without the use of recognized jump nodes during the Great War, so the question is not if
the Shivans make such jumps, but why
You make a good point when you say that the juggernaut armada might have used inter-system nodes of which the GTVA had no knowledge; I had always visualized system-to-system nodes as lying along the "edges" of any given star system, not smack in the middle. It seems unlikely that each juggernaut was jumping through a separate node--this would indicate that a large number of such nodes were bunched very closely together, something we have never seen--meaning that if such a jump point existed, it would be one very large node. In all the time that the GTVA has been studying subspace, we have never heard anything to suggest that "supernodes" exist in close proximity to stars. Therefore, I feel my theory that the Sathanas fleet creates its own
node is more credible, in this respect.
This also provides an explanation for a matter I had neglected in the main body of the Manifesto, for at the time, I myself had been unable to explain it. Carefully observe the "End Game" FS2 cutscene. You will see that some juggernauts continue to activate their subspace "charges" while the other ships depart, even after the Capella star has already turned green--and, we assume, already been affected by whatever the armada did to it. When the main body of the fleet has departed, the charges on the ships left behind dissipate entirely, and the juggernauts themselves "go dark", their characteristically red glows fading to simple black.
Why do the stranded juggernauts power down? Do they know it is futile to try and attempt the explosion of Capella, and therefore make no effort to do so? Have the Shivans on-board these ships somehow been evacuated to those that escaped by means of a teleportation technology? We have seen no evidence of such capability on behalf of the Shivans (in fact, the Freespace Reference Bible provides a graphic description of Shivans physically leaping
from ship-to-ship in the course of a battle), so this seems unlikely. Therefore, what conclusion are we to reach?
It is my own belief that the "marooned" juggernauts were using the full extent of their energies to sustain the artificial jump node while the other craft in the Shivan fleet made their escape. If we accept, for the moment, that the juggernauts are "alive" as some evidence suggests, then we could interpret the dimming of their surface lights as a form of "death". We know for certain that their subspace charges took some time to energize--at least three full days--and that by the same token, they were likely to be very intense. Left with no remaining energy, the Sathani--dead or dying--could only drift, derelicts in space, waiting for the supernova to overtake them. It sounds cliche, to be sure, but the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.
As I mention in the body of the Manifesto--and as you yourself quote--the amassing of the juggernaut fleet and the destruction of the Shivan "Comm Nodes" may be nothing more than simple coincidence. We will never know for certain what would have happened if Commander Snipes had chosen not to destroy the devices. However, there are a few points which suggest that the Shivan objects have a more vital purpose than simply that of communication.
1. "In the Lion's Den" is considered by many--including myself--to be the most compelling and exciting of all the Freespace missions. It provides a unique perspective from the cockpit of the Shivan Mara, an exhilirating intro ("DIVE, DIVE, DIVE!"), and witty commentary throughout by Snipes. It also gives the player the first real glance at Shivan space (although technically, under the Cocytus theory, there is
no real Shivan space), unobscured by thick nebular clouds. Wouldn't you think it somewhat anti-climactic, therefore, for the main targets in this mission to be little more than glorified satellite dishes?
2. Don't you think the Comm Nodes make unusually big bangs
upon their destruction, if they are really simple communications equipment? The Alliance has studied Shivan comm systems before, but these give off "unusual" sensor readings before they go kablooey. Why?
3. I never once claimed that destroying the Comm Nodes would slow the Shivans down. If anything, it would make them more aggressive, and more eager to swiftly terminate the conflict with the GTVA. The SOC recon mission signifies the first real Allied incursion into strictly Shivan territory (as the nebula itself remains contested throughout much of the game), and is perhaps the first such "invasion" that the Shivans have ever experienced at the hands of an adversary. With their first juggernaut destroyed and the Alliance advancing ever-further into their space, the Shivans are left with no choice but to switch to more effective tactics.
4. The binary system where the Comm Nodes are discovered is not "lightly defended" by any means. Secured within a Shivan fighter, you are able to conduct espionage, a tactic with which the Shivans are likely to be unfamiliar (as, to the best of our knowledge, it was used against them only once, and against a fleet that could presumably not communicate with Cocytus, in "Playing Judas"). Thus, you are able to fly freely (for a short while) among the Shivan defenses, composed of at least three Rakshasa-class cruisers, numerous Astaroth and Aeshma fighters, several wings of Nahema bombers, and--if you stick around long enough--infinite waves of the awesome Dragon-class fighters. Even when you are engaged by the Shivans, you are piloting one of their heavily-armed craft, one that has been made even better than the original
by Terran engineers. Had you arrived on the scene in a lesser craft, like a Herc II, a Perseus, or even a Myrmidon, your chances of survival would have been much lower, due both to your more fragile craft, and the fact that you would have been instantly recognized and fired upon by the Shivans. In all probability, the Ravana-class destroyer Nebiros
would also have been recalled from its station more quickly, so that it would sooner engage your fighter wing.
As for defensive installations, we have never actually seen
any Shivan installations apart from fragile sentry guns, so this point is moot.
I believe I adequately-covered the topic of the Sathani retreat in a previous post, so I'll skip over your next point, save for one comment. You seem to believe that the Shivans would have been better-off by collapsing the Gamma Draconis-Capella jump node, rather than setting their sights upon Capella itself. You must remember that technically, the Shivans have nothing to defend
; to our knowledge, they possess no home planet, no space stations, and--following the destruction of the Comm Nodes--no television reception. Therefore, whether or not the hypothetical GTVA fleet is invading their territory or assembling a blockade at Capella is irrelevant. Collapsing the node would only cause further subspace damage, the very thing the Shivans have set out to prevent. So, when faced with unpredictable opposition (as we discussed earlier), the Shivans set course for the nearest escape route--the nearest compatible star for a jump to Cocytus--and get out while the getting is good. We have no way of knowing what sort of star systems exist beyond the Comm Node system, and therefore, no way of knowing if any of them would have better suited the Shivans' needs.
I can understand why you would view the concept of a "living ship" as being cliche, but it is nonetheless a valid idea, one that has been present in literature, film, and animation for years. There's even a section on HowStuffWorks.com about "How Self-Healing Spacecraft Will Work"! Mathematician Buckminster Fuller sometimes referred to Earth as a "spaceship", and claimed all of humanity was its crew.
When you question the Shivans' familiarity with matter in "our" universe, we enter a very gray area in which we are forced to make educated guesses. If we hold as true the generally-accepted theory that the Universe as a whole is approximately 13 or 14 billion years old, we still have no idea as to when subspace came into existence to provide support for said Universe. The cosmos would have been in an understandable state of disarray following the Big Bang, so we will allot a considerable amount of time for things to "settle down", and assign the birth of subspace an arbitrary age of 5 billion years. This is roughly the same age of the Earth, meaning we can accept it as a reasonable date for when the Universe became a more or less stable place for life to exist.
As for the Shivans themselves, we can only speculate as to when they first evolved within the subspace void. Since they would have no bodies to speak of, they would have had relatively little need for evolution (barring their creation or construction by a higher entity or race). This could mean that the Shivans are quite young in historical terms, perhaps no more than a million years. However, since subspace itself seems to be a fairly static environment, devoid of change or substance to bring about change (save for the apparently random formation and collapse of unstable nodes), we can assume that the Shivans were not "brought into being" by any subspace material that was not already present when subspace stabilized, and can therefore assign them a date of creation around or near the birth of subspace itself. Again, this will be an arbitrary figure of some 4 or 5 billion years ago.
The Shivans' first foray into "normal" space is a total unknown to us. It would have been dependent on the emergence of a non-Shivan subspace-capable race at an indeterminate point in the past. If we must assign a date to this time for the sake of completeness, then let us use some Earth reference as the standard for our scale.
Assume, first, that this unknown race is terrestrial in nature, and evolves on a world either similar to Earth, or one that would have the proper conditions to foster the growth of complex life forms. Now, in a judgment call on our part, we will accept Earth's late Triassic period as being the earliest era in which large, multi-capable, vertebrate life--namely, the dinosaurs--can exist (something we know to be false, as vertebrates existed prior to this time, but many were wiped out in various extinctions; dinosaurs, however, are very well-recognized creatures, and provide us with a fixed reference point), at about 225 million years ago. We will also grant these creatures comparatively larger brains than said reptiles, perhaps on par with early human beings, allowing us to bypass the problem of gradual brain development, and continue our discussion in terms of figures we know to be approximately accurate.
Barring any world-altering event such as an ice age or asteroid collision, let us assume that the life forms currently living on our hypothetical world in this period are allowed to evolve, unopposed, into more intelligent creatures, able to fashion tools, metalwork, and soforth, until finally reaching a stage of relative technological advancement (computers, artificial satellites, and of course, subspace travel). This process took between 4 and 6 million years for human beings, so we will accept a mean figure of 5 million years for our alien society to advance, resulting in a nice, round figure of about 220 million years ago for the emergence of a subspace-capable race.
We can only wonder at what the Shivans must have thought when they felt the first subspace tremors. Perhaps they looked upon the walls of their dimension in the same way as early man looked upon the stormy sky, unable to comprehend the exact nature of the lightning bolts that split it asunder. As the Shivans follow a path of evolution and development unfamiliar to us, we have no way of knowing when they first began to experiment with ways to explore this phenomena, and determine its cause. Their initial science must have been crude, much like our own space program was, during its initial days. When did they manage to open the first portal into the material universe? We cannot know. Our knowledge of subspace, however, does permit us to form a rather grisly hypothesis about the first Shivans who dared to enter the rupture. We know that subspace is inherently unstable, both due to the brief formation/collapse of most nodes, and due to the fact that jump portals--once opened via jump drive--do not remain open for long, but quickly seal up after the vessel in question has entered the subspace corridor. If the Shivans are
, in essence, living subspace energy, then their first explorers would have met a grotesque end, the very energy composing their beings dissipating and drifting off into the void.
Gradually, their techniques would have grown more cautious, more refined. They may have been able to catch brief glimpses of objects in the material dimension, and from their observations, begun to fashion the surrounding subspace energy into the first crimson containment crystals. From here, we see more progression; the advent of a protective crystal sheath to protect Shivan "astronauts". Modifying this material to make it more malleable, more flexible, permitting for physical movement. Developing an energy shielding system and other supporting materials to prevent crystalline degradation in outer space. Realizing the concept of an energy-driven engine to allow for independent locomotion in the vacuum. Creating electronics systems to properly operate said engines, and fashioning the hulls of their first vessels on which to install them. And, of course, a field of research into which the Shivans are most proficient: the development of energy weapons to discourage or kill whomever was wreaking harm upon their home.
Of course, the Shivans of this era may not have been even remotely war-like; initially, the first physical Shivans may have been very peaceful and serene indeed. Perhaps, after initial communication difficulties, the Shivans were
able to convince our hypothetical race to put an end to their subspace travel... and then again, perhaps they weren't
. We have no way of knowing. What we know for certain is that eventually, the Shivans would have encountered resistance, come into contact with a race that absolutely refused to surrender the benefits of the subspace corridor.
And the Shivans would have crushed them. Brutally, without mercy, for there would have been no other option. After this first genocide, the Shivans may have felt remorse, even guilt, for what they had been forced to do. We do not know when their hive mentality developed, or if it was a trait they possessed since the time of the birth of their race; it may have emerged as a psychological defense mechanism, to prevent them from feeling sorry for the species they were forced to annihilate.
And there must have been others. Surely the Shivans encoutered more than one race across the eons who would not give up the prize of subspace. How many had to die? We have no indication, not the faintest estimate. If Bosch's guess is true, then the casualty figure is truly astronomical in scope: countless civilizations, entire species wiped clean from the cosmic canvas. Each and every one providing the Shivans with the same, simple, damning answer: "No."
How long was it, I wonder, before the Shivans finally stopped bothering to ask?
Your point about the Shivans simply passing through subspace to "recharge" their energy reserves is one I considered myself. However, from a biological standpoint, it seems unfeasible. Subspace isn't something the Shivans can just pick up a pint of and chug down on their way to a sortie; the unstable nature of subspace energy means it would dissipate quickly. You certainly don't see Shivan vessels hopping in and out of subspace every few minutes when they need a "fix".
Think of subspace being to Shivans as to what oxygen is for human beings. We breathe, but healthy people breathe regularly, without significant interruption. We can hold our breath, but not for any reasonably long period--a few minutes, at the most, unless you're a freak and it's something you make a point to practice. We don't breathe in frequent gasps; oxygen is all around us, ready to be inhaled at our leisure. For the Shivans, however, subspace energy is more than simple air
; it is the very essence of their beings, literally their life-force. It is something they would require in a ready, constant stream, something to sustain their existence on our material plane. Hence, our theorized purpose for the Shivan "Comm Nodes".
I have not asserted that the physical movement of solid matter through a subspace corridor contributes to subspace damage, although that is entirely possible. I have
said that I believe the frequent opening of subspace jump portals to be a source of damage. Any given object making use of subspace travel must open at least two portals: one to enter subspace, and another to exit. When you have thousands of fightercraft and civilian vessels opening countless jump portals every day, to say nothing of the larger, more damaging portals opened by capital-class craft, then the damage quickly accumulates.
It has been my intention--perhaps not clear enough on my part--to depict Shivan crystal as essentially pure subspace energy, encased in a thin matter shell. Hence, being mostly composed of subspace itself, its presence would not cause damage to the subspace fabric. My theory is that within Cocytus, Shivan craft and any structures are composed wholly of this crystal, until they are fitted with the black "support" material needed to ensure their functionality in normal space, like a sort of exoskeleton. Even the Comm Nodes are fitted with these bracers, which not only ensure the integrity of the crystal at the center, but also--due to their "spinning" motion--distribute quantum pulses and subspace energy throughout a wide area.
Not all stars create black holes upon going nova; a star must (in theory) meet certain criteria in terms of mass before a black hole will result from its demise. Surely, as subspace-conserving beings, the Shivans would be careful not to open jump portals by destroying stars that would only serve to cause subspace damage in the long run. This is just one more reason for the Shivans to choose to utilize Capella instead of searching their "home" space for a star with the right qualifications. You yourself said that the Shivans might have killed Capella for the sake of nebular gas; if this were the case, then Capella obviously didn't implode into a black hole, or there would be no nebula to harvest.
It was poor word choice on my part to say that Shivan activity is "proportional" to subspace activity, for I did not mean to imply that more Shivans would come running to quash heightened subspace traffic. I had meant to imply that the presence or arrival of Shivans is directly linked to subspace travel in the sense that increased subspace activity makes Shivan intervention more probable. Say, for example, you are watching television on one side of the room, when a knock comes at your door on the other side. You are reluctant to get up--no knock at the door is worth missing Knight Rider
, damn it--but if the knocking continues, steadily growing louder and more frequent, then eventually, you will
get up, if for no other reason than to silence the sound. The case of the Shivans is not so casual--they are fighting for their survival, not for mere silence--but as we know, according to the FS database, subspace is a natural occurence, and subspace activity undoubtedly takes place on some natural level. Therefore, activity by non-Shivan races must be more intense--must be "louder"--before the Shivans will stand up and take notice.
Before addressing your next point, I feel it necessary to decry the labeling of the FS2 box art as being "canon text" by you and others. C'mon guys, I give you more credit than that. The wording on the box was probably handled by Interplay anyway, and therefore serves as advertising hype, not as evidence we can use in a comprehensive analysis. Use your common sense; would a scouting party
, i.e., one intended for reconaissance, consist of innumerable fighters and bombers, several cruisers and transports, at least three major destroyers, and a heavy-assault superdestroyer almost three kilometers in length, equipped with an impervious energy shielding system and three flux cannons suited for planetary bombardment?
"Scouting party". Geez.
It's fairly common knowledge that the Lucifer armada was the only Shivan battlegroup deployed during the Great War; if it hadn't been, we would have heard about it in Silent Threat, or mentioned somewhere in FS2. When I mentioned reinforcements, I meant calling to the primary hive in Cocytus for back-up, not sending for other Shivans already stationed in normal space. Even the Alliance can send messages from system-to-system, as evidenced by frequent contact with Allied Command; surely the Shivans are capable of the same feat.
It seems rather apparent that when Capella goes supernova, the lesser Shivan craft within the system are otherwise occupied with Allied forces; it would be a little difficult for a Shivan cruiser to jump out when engaged in a duel with an Allied corvette. The real question here, however, is the availability of escape routes. The "main" jump node leading to Vega is successfully guarded from Shivans by the GTCv Lemnos
, and even if we accept the existence of other "hidden" nodes within the system which only the Shivans have charted, it is extremely
unlikely that enough inter-system jump points exist for the Shivans to make a clean getaway. As we've discussed, sacrificing cruisers and smaller craft in an attempt to kill the Allied refugees would be acceptable, but the clear majority of the Shivan forces are stationed upon the juggernauts; it is they
who have priority to survive.
Your last point merely reinforces my own; the highly-advanced and alien nature of Shivan technology makes it difficult to integrate with Allied systems. Although some progress has doubtlessly occured over the last three decades, Allied understanding of Shivan materials is probably mediocre, at best. We can assume that the GTVA has a sizeable stockpile of captured Shivan equipment; if the GTI was able to experiment upon captured Shivan specimen, then those Shivans must have been on board something
, be they fighters, bombers, transports, or cruisers. If Allied technicians had a detailed understanding of Shivan workings, however, then they would be able to regularly incorporate those features into Allied designs, instead of utilizing Shivan technology only when they are able to secure Shivan craft. Our point of focus is Shivan engines
, however, and unless the Alliance can master those, then their other expertise in Shivan tools--be they weapons, armor, or something else altogether--becomes moot.
Thank you for your most sincere criticism of the Manifesto; it took me several hours over the course of two days to make an adequate reply, and you've given me a great deal of new material to edit into the Manifesto proper once I have the opportunity!
Unfortunately, it's getting late, so I'll have to stop making responses for the time being. I'll try to get back to the rest of you when I get the chance!