Everything we've heard about Judge William Alsup tells us he's a guy you don't mess with -- and yet Oracle seems bent on doing precisely that. When the company initially demanded $6.1 billion from Google in recompense for alleged violations of its Java patents, Alsup laughed that figure out of court and suggested $100 million might be closer to the mark. Ellison's crew then came back with a revised claim of $2 billion, which we just knew would lead to another smackdown. Well, here it is: the judge has now cancelled the latest trial date (which had been scheduled for March) and refused to set a new one until the claimant stops using "improper methodologies" for assessing damages, which are "obviously calculated to reach stratospheric numbers." Perhaps Oracle should try something more tropospheric?