Katrina and the Waves

There will be no "Walking on Sunshine" this time, I'm afraid. Chances are getting increasingly good that I'll be offline for some period of time, meaning no updates. I'll post a little note after the hurricane when I'm back in action.

Do Starlogs Float Like Real Logs?

Thanks to the idiocy of the people I ordered my Starlog #337 from, it did not arrive Thursday or Friday. So much for ordering 2nd Day Air.

Adding to my annoyance, they didn't even send it 2nd Day. So, it would probably arrive Tuesday at the earliest, a full week after it was ordered.

Ah, but there's another catch. You see, it's likely that the package was routed through New Orleans. So, in addition to the possible complete destruction of the city that Hurricane Katrina could cause, someone might also find, floating in the debris of that modern-day Atlantis, a UPS Ground package with my name on it.

In short, don't expect transcripts or scans from #337 anytime soon.


On With the Wailings and the Gnashings of Teeth

(Edited ... see below)

I've seen the Rayten blog post reposted at some of the Star Wars forums that are home to "EU Defense Force" groups. At GalacticSenate.com for instance, someone posted Rayten's blog with a little sad emoticon afterward.

Of course, then a guy came back with a cockamamie theory as to how, if Rayten was accurate, Lucas could be re-understood and/or dismissed:

Alright, here's by theory. GL says a lot of stuff in interviews etc. but none of it actually has bearing on the actual Star Wars story.

This is the 'Boba Evasion' . . . SD.Netters claim that Lucas's belief that Boba died is irrelevant since he's alive in the EU, not realizing what it means on a policy level. Similarly, this guy is claiming that Lucas's belief about parallel universes doesn't show up in the movies (i.e. Mace Windu never says "perhaps we can contact the alternate universe for help!" at which point Z-95 Headhunters come flying every which way), and thus Lucas can be dismissed. Just as with the 'Boba Evasion', the guy is trying to miss the point and thus ignore the obvious.

What is official is the continuity ladder, where the EU is part of the Star Wars galaxy unless it contradicts something in the movies.

In other words, 'don't listen to Lucas . . . he doesn't know what he's talking about. Leland Chee alone knows what's going on, and is the only source for real Star Wars and canon policy statements.'

When it does, the EU is responsible for righting the mistake. Realistically, there is no way Mr. Lucas can keep up with everything in the EU. He is a busy man, and most fans can't even keep up with everything. So, because he probably likes to "have control" over all things Star Wars, he dismisses what he doesn't know as quasi-Star Wars. But, in reality, his actions speak louder than words. If he had wanted to undermine the EU, he had many opportunities to do so, with Coruscant and other places. But, instead he includes names like Quinlan Vos, Aayla Secura and others that originate in the EU. To me, that says more than something he says in Starlog Magazine, because it effects the actual galaxy and a magazine article doesn't. So, until GL blatantly puts something into the movies or TV shows that unalterably contradicts something I read in the books, the uncontradicted EU will always stand on the same level as the movies.

In other words, the guy is saying two things:

{1} Although Lucas has buttraped the EU on multiple occasions by not following along with its backstory, as long as the EU can be retconned then it's okay (which is illogical, since anything can be retconned if you dismiss enough of what was there before). That "unalterably contradicts" bit is quite insidious, really. But in any case, we already knew that the makers of the EU are warping the EU to try to fit what Lucas does, so I'm not seeing how the fact of retconning can change or override what Lucas said.

{2} Lucas ganking occasional things from the EU (like blue-skinned hottie Aayla Secura) overrides his repeated statements that it is a parallel universe. How? No idea. He could gank the entire flippin' Expanded Universe, but so long as he declared it a different universe then it is a different universe and must be treated accordingly.

In any case, while there is no logic to the fellow's arguments, we do at least get to see that yes, the militant EU-philes are going to ignore Lucas and make up any inane argument to try to maintain their belief system.

==========EDIT 12:15p

Well, now we're seeing another evasion maneuver. Wayne Poe responded to my comment on StarWars.com's BCaT forum with the following:

Now that I've read the actual quote [i.e. the one I provided from "Galvaron"], I feel much better about it. Lucas doesn't invalidate the EU at all in this interview. He is saying, once again, that the filmed portion of the overall story of Star Wars is his story alone to tell. I'm afraid those "infidel purist cossacks" of yours are once again sadly mistaken. But we al[ready knew that!

Above, Wayne extends the 'Production Evasion'. This was the attempted counter to the earlier parallel universe quotes. The 'Production Evasion' is the claim that the different worlds and different universes somehow refers to who is making what, as opposed to differing storylines and timelines. Of course, it doesn't work, since Lucas would have to refer to "my world, which is a select period of time" from the Cinescape quote to refer to 1977-1983, for instance.

My reply:

Taken without context, I suppose one could almost view Lucas's comment as being a reference to who's doing the producing of what. However, per Lucas's DVD commentary et cetera, he maintains that Boba Fett died in RoTJ, as opposed to being found "somewhat indigestible" and going on to other things per the EU. That's proof of separate futures, and thus separate timelines . . . which is thoroughly consistent with the idea that there are "two" separate, "different", "parallel" universes as he has repeatedly stated.

That said, however, the EU does get changed to try to fit in with what Lucas creates (or in the case of Boba's comeback, authorizes), per Sue R. and Leland C., so despite any declaration of dual universes the EU will always try to conform with the Lucas universe. In any case, though, there's an actual thread on the topic, lest we bore those here any further.

(I did go back and edit it when I recalled the 1977-1983 point.)

So, let's review the three escape maneuvers attempted in regards to the quote:

1. EU retconning keeps the universes the same no matter what Lucas says.
2. Lucas borrowing from the EU overrides any declaration he makes.
3. Lucas meant to talk about backstage production issues.

Wow . . . what crap so far.


Sometimes You Just Can't Resist

I know, I know . . . it was bad of me, but I just couldn't resist. As noted earlier, Wayne Poe had exhibited fear of the Starlog quote, but had (in SD.Net fashion) wrapped his message in moronic, insulting, faux-arrogant bluster.

So here I was, pondering the fact that once again I have every right to engage in an activity I try to avoid. Call it gloating, dick-waving, or what-have-you . . . I had the high ground, but an opponent was claiming to have it while cowering at the base of my hill.

It was just their obnoxious refusal to accede to fact back in the day, and to do so while insulting those who'd shown them the facts, that caused me to produce this website to begin with. And there it was again.

So, like I said . . . I couldn't resist:

Can anyone quote this {...} it sounds like wish fulfillment misrepresentation from the irrationalist "The EU is not canon" crowd.

Well, "Galvaron" quoted it last month. But, he could very well be part of the Purist Conspiracy, and thus one of the dirty lying irrational infidel purist cossacks you refer to. In any event:

I don't read that stuff. I haven't read any of the novels. I don't know anything about that world. That's a different world than my world... We decided that, like Star Trek, we would have two universes: My universe and then this other one.

If so, it still doesn't invalidate the EU ... as Sansweet said, that sort of call is probably best left up to one's "point of view". So it would just mean you, personally, choose to enjoy and accept the fine creative merchandise produced by Licensing under the careful, thoughtful guidance of BCaT VIPs. Others may not, but who cares?

Of course, some may be confused by that last paragraph, but they shouldn't be. At no point have purists suggested that it is wrong or evil to like the EU, any more than it would be wrong or evil to like a Star Trek novel. The reverse is not true. The problem is militant EU-philes like Wayne who've always tried to ram the EU down the collective throat of everyone, insulting and maligning those who disagree.

Accepting the EU as part of Lucas's film universe is a subjective, personal choice to go with Licensing's merchandising canon. If you claim to go by an objective standard of listening to the owner/maker of Star Wars, then of course the EU wouldn't apply. That's just how it is, and no amount of whining and complaining and bitching and moaning and insulting can change that.

Of course, human history is replete with examples of people who believe their subjective opinion should be enforced as objective law, so I don't see the canon debate going away anytime soon. However, quotes like the Starlog one (assuming Galvaron was accurate) can only help to make the logical bankruptcy of the EU militants even more clear than it already was.

Reported Quote from Starlog

Yes, I'm enjoying myself thoroughly, and will continue to break news as it develops. ;)

According to an SW.com forum poster, we have the following:

I don't read that stuff. I haven't read any of the novels. I don't know anything about that world. That's a different world than my world... We decided that, like Star Trek, we would have two universes: My universe and then this other one.

Yes, I think I'm going to enjoy owning that issue . . . if you'll forgive the double entendre.


In a couple of days, it will be here:

Then we'll see if I can have yet another quote to pound them over the head with. ;)

Incidentally, Wayne Poe already replied on the StarWars.com forum to the message I'd quoted from there:

"Can anyone quote this article directly? Because frankly, it sounds like wish fulfillment misrepresentation from the irrationalist "The EU is not canon" crowd."

Once you see past the bluster (which, as always, is extensive), you'll note that there's a hint of fear there. Wayne's not the type to want a direct quote for the sake of scientific thoroughness, after all. A pretty good translation would be "OMFG what? Nooooo!"


Sue Rostoni on Lucas's Canon Policy

Just to once again confirm what I've said she said before, we have this lovely post from the StarWars.com forums:

"eddie": "Sue, or any other Vip, can you tell us a little more about GL's official stance towards the EU? or do you, like the most of us, have not the slightest idea. I read the following in Rayten's blog:

Within the issue of Starlog magazine with the War of the Worlds cover is an interview article with George Lucas. He stated something which he had said before, which is that he doesn't follow the SW EU, he doesn't read the books or comics. He also said that when they started doing all this (which is allowing other storytellers to tell their own SW tales), he had decreed that the Star Wars Universe would be split into two just like Star Trek (I don't know nuts about Star Trek, so don't ask me about that), one would be his own universe (the six episode movie saga), the other would be a whole other universe (the Expanded Universe). He continued to say that the EU tries as much as possible to tie in to his own universe, but sometimes they move into a whole other line of their own.

Sue Rostoni: "Yeah, this is pretty much what I've heard, except that people have said he reads the comics."

(Note: I'm not sure, but I think this might be the June issue of Starlog, which would be #336 by my reckoning. I'm trying to locate one, since although Rayten was pretty thorough in what he said, it's still hearsay.)

Of course, Rostoni has made this point several times before, but the SD.Netters have invariably twisted whatever she said into a pretzel and gotten the completely wrong idea. The underlying problem, of course, is that they are unable to synthesize data or understand it in context, because they are so blinded by their desire for a preferred outcome.

I'm not going to gloat about it . . . I'm just saying that there's a lesson here for anyone involved in the debates, or in anything else. Indeed, the outcome of the Vs. Debate itself is entirely unimportant. What's important are the lessons you should be learning from it . . . how to think and reason given a subject's rules. And of course, thanks to the other side of the aisle you get to see some interesting psychological problems . . . such as people threatening others for disagreeing over their beliefs about science fiction programs. (Indeed, my personal opinion is that the other side of the aisle has many people providing many examples of how not to behave, but that's neither here nor there.)

But I digress. Regarding that lesson, let's take a look at some of the things Rostoni has said in the past about Lucas's position on things:

"In general, George does not take the EU into account when he's making his movies."

"It's our job to manipulate the EU into fitting George's future movies, which often contradict stuff we've done."

"He doesn't see the extended universe as "his" Star Wars, but as "ours.""

"Yes, the books follow the continuity of the films as best we can taking into account that George follows his own continuity, and rightly so."

Even from these four lines, logical suppositions can be formed. It would, for instance, probably be inaccurate to say that, in Rostoni's opinion, Lucas works closely with the EU-makers to keep continuity between his films and the EU and vice versa. And it would probably be accurate to say that, in Rostoni's opinion, Lucas doesn't pay much attention to the EU continuity, instead making his own that does not fit in with the EU (until she goes back to try to make the EU fit).

Such reasonable inferences are not, however, what the SD.Net EU-philes believe. Indeed, from the last quote above, Wayne Poe declared that "Rostoni completely dashed all of [G2k's] hopes of making the EU illegitimate".

" . . . The hell?" . . . that was roughly my reaction when I saw him say that, and it still is. Now that Rostoni has made her point about her beliefs on Lucas clearer, though, is it possible that Wayne and his fellows would reconsider that belief?

Qui-Gon: "Hmm . . . not likely."

It's too easy to just mock them. I mean, any number of jokes about the Iraqi Information Minister come to mind instantly. And it's not useful to get angry with them, except insofar as it can help to fuel the complete deconstruction of their position. And given their threats (like Wayne's death threat postings, et cetera), it isn't like you can pity them, really. And, of course, since these people are the pro-SW intelligentsia (as scary a fact as that is), I personally can't really just ignore them.

And so, I just get to keep making posts like this. In any case, though, one must avoid getting too terribly smug, for although I disagree with the notion that a stopped clock is right twice a day (it's just lucky), the sentiment is still accurate. You never know when even the worst idiotic scoundrels might make a valid point.

I'll be waiting . . . though I won't be holding my breath.


Canon Thesis

I'm nearing completion on the canon page rewrite that I got stuck in the middle of previously. And, out of curiosity, I decided to stop and see just how big the page really was.

With Arial 10-point font, the document would currently print out to over 20 pages according to Windows Wordpad. Double-spaced, that would be the equivalent of a 40 page research paper. At a ballpark figure of 250 words per double-spaced page, that's about 10,000 words.

Funny . . . 9,998 extra words simply because the Star Wars EU-philes refuse to accept just two: "parallel universe".


Not With a Whimper but a Bang

I thought I'd been keeping a pretty close eye on nanotech news, but it seems I was mistaken. I'd never seen a macro-scale object composed of nanotech materials, and assumed that such a thing was still years away . . . I was under the impression we were still screwing around with micro-scale objects.

Silly me.

At the University of Texas in Dallas, a new way of creating carbon nanotubes has very quickly resulted in the ability to make sheets of carbon nanotube material at a rate of seven meters per minute. We were already able to make sheets of some sort, but nowhere near these sizes and rates. In other words, boys and girls, humanity just hit the nano-bigtime (though perhaps we can find a less contradictory way to put it).

These sheets have extraordinary potential. And perhaps most interesting of all, these sheets are transparent.

Read more about it here. Suffice it to say the near-future just got a lot more interesting . . . the potential applications boggle the mind.


Bordering on the Verge of the Boundary at the Edge of the Threshold

So, I'm feeling bad.

You see, I am awash in an almost absurd sense of glee at the fact that Braga's Threshold (think X-Files meets Lost)is getting crapped on by reviewers. But it's not just any sort of crap. It's just the same sort of turds that were dropped on Braga's outings in Voyager and Enterprise.

The Futon Critic, for instance, notes that "thanks to the miracle of technobabble", it's discovered that a weird alien sound is a transmission capable of altering DNA, even if you only hear the sound via a camcorder's recording of it. (So what's next, aliens can call you and alter your DNA? Do you have any idea how absurd that is?)

Hmm . . . crappy sci-fi ideas not based on a respect for and grasp of science, but merely an amalgam of scientific terms thrown together in a hodge-podge of nonsense? Yep, that's Brannon Braga alright.

Oh, but it gets better. Regarding the actors, "none of them can escape the predictable, half-baked plot or their vanilla characterizations". Wait, wait . . .is this guy talking about the new show or one of Braga's episodes from the first couple of seasons of Enterprise? Hard to tell, innit?

And, of course, there's the final crowning commentary as the fellow whizzes all over the whole thing:

If anything "Threshold" feels like your average Saturday night B-movie on the Sci Fi Channel, except with better casting (Carla Gugino instead of Stacy Haiduk, Brian Van Holt instead of David Keith, etc. - you get the picture). Coincidentally enough, there was a 2003 Sci Fi Channel original also entitled "Threshold" which the network's press materials described as: "An astronaut returns to Earth, unknowingly carrying the DNA of an insectoid extraterrestrial life — which soon infects others, turning them monstrous. When their numbers reach threshold, they will swarm ... and you will either live in fear, or be the fear. Nicholas Lea (The X-Files) and Jamie Luner (Profiler) star." Basically, it's not exactly a ringing endorsement when a Sci Fi Channel Saturday original beat you to the punch with such similarly hokey material (except the infected people don't turn into bugs). In terms of execution, it's equally as predictable as you can see all the twists coming, including the fade out "surprise" which comes off as eye-rolling instead of shocking. And in terms of characterization, we're given few windows into each character's lives except for Dr. Caffrey who because of her hectic work schedule is (brace yourself) prone to eating meals alone with her dog. Overall, there's nothing here you haven't seen before and done much better elsewhere. Out of all the supernatural newcomers this season, "Threshold" is by far the worst.

Ah . . . wonderful. That's right, folks . . . let's let everyone acknowledge that Braga is a hack who shouldn't be writing for the Home Shopping Network, much less anything prime-time.

(The only reason they let him near Mission: Impossible 2 is because Ron Moore (now of BSG) was keeping him in check, siphoning Braga's brain for absurd shit he'd have never thought of, which he could then recreate into rational plot elements. This, of course, was their arrangement when they were a Trek team, too.)

Of course, I'm sure that a string of Braga failures would not make the powers that be go "heeeyyyy, waitaminute! Weren't we letting this hack run Trek? Maybe that was the problem!" Nonetheless, such a thing can only serve as vindication to the Trek fans who wanted more Trek but were forced to watch Braga-Trek and have their brain cells commit suicide.


But, as noted, I'm feeling bad. You see, there's collateral damage to Braga's suck factor. Mike Sussman and some other Trek-related folks ended up following Braga to Threshold, meaning that the more it sucks the less chance they have of being employed . . . again. While some could argue that this was their own silly mistake (after all, Manny Coto is now doing one of the highest-rated shows on TV, 24), the fact remains that there are some good people who don't deserve to suffer from gleeful anti-Braga fervor.

However, after careful consideration, in my opinion Threshold should burn anyway, 'cause as far as I'm concerned Braga only took the good people there so that they could serve as Iraqi-style human shields.

I don't negotiate with artistic terrorists.


The Borg

Incidentally, the new Borg page is based on an unfinished blog entry from two months ago . . . that one and the tetryon entry were started almost back-to-back. The Borg entry got graduated into a real page (albeit in the Archive), but after getting the page built and about 60% of the work done I never got back around to finishing it until this weekend.

So, that's one of the not-quite-new-but-at-least-never-before-seen pages I mentioned in regards to Coming Site Updates.



Good Point by Abel G. Pena

Abel G. Pena, a frequent article contributor to Star Wars Insider, has a webpage featuring his somewhat perverse take on canon policies (more on that to come with the canon page update).

While I don't agree with his opinion on how canonicity should be determined, I *do* strongly agree with his position on Star Wars authors and how they should approach the canon issue:

"It is especially dangerous to Star Wars continuity when an author working within the mythos harbors this attitude of canon and apocrypha, for he or she is the one with the power to shape the universe, so to speak. In the name of equality, Star Wars authors must bear the burden of objectivity; in their case, there can be no distinction between good and bad, old and new when it comes to inclusion. Authors must not shy away from seemingly daunting contradictions, it is in fact their duty to directly reference and rectify contradictory elements of the Star Wars universe in their texts, regardless of their personal attitudes toward them. Continuity errors are bound to occur even with an active vigilance against them, but if this action is not taken, the number of inconsistencies will become enormous, and consequently lead to more and more events being labeled apocryphal and being tossed out. This fate will befall the works of even those authors who are presently considered "current," as their works inevitably age like all the rest, and thus fall victim to the same neglect that now systematically renders older materials apocryphal, the practice perpetuating until the Star Wars mythos collapses into a marginally linked web of confusion and inconsistency, in which references to certain events, people, and other things become meaningless, for they may not even officially exist. This is precisely the end which Lucasfilm Licensing intended to circumvent when it reopened the Star Wars universe in the early 1990s and requested that Timothy Zahn conform his new material with that previously established by West End Games."

In reading that paragraph, I could not help but think of Curtis Saxton. Author of the Incredible Cross-Sections children's books that have been the subject of such controversy in the Vs. Debate, Saxton included firepower figures which required willful disregard for the films in favor of comic books and other largest-locatable examples from the EU, utterly disregarding direct EU statements of kilojoule fighter weapons and mega- or terajoule capital ship weapons doing profound damage to other vessels. Then, for the Episode III ICS, these figures were boosted still further, without any evidence to suggest that this should be so. As many online have theorized, this is probably largely due to his status as a former Vs. Debate participant, and his long association with them. (Indeed, there is plenty of evidence in support of such a contention, given that Vs. Debaters aided in calculations for the ICS books, and had as a stated goal the enhancement of SW over ST.)

As a result, the technology of most EU materials and that of Saxtonian EU are in massive conflict, and Saxton himself has fallen afoul of Pena's point. One wonders how Saxton's interpretations will age over the years. As it stands now, the EU continues to evolve in separate directions . . . some make use of the children's books and suggest awe-inspiring power, others follow the movies and most adult fiction and make use of much smaller power levels.

As time passes, this divergence will be interesting to monitor.


Encyclopedia Update

Incidentally, here's an interesting question from the SW.com VIP thread, and an interesting answer by Sue Rostoni:

Will we see the Star Wars Encyclopedia that was written by Mr. Sansweet updated?

This is definitely in the plans, probably for late 2006 or sometime in 2007. Stay tuned.

Hmm . . . wonder what will be said about canon in the new intro? The 1998 one still gets talked about from time to time.

Tetryon Ruminations

I was reading a post on Spacebattles by Vivftp from a couple of months ago and had a series of thoughts . . . at some point I'll do more with this:

First, some background, provided by Memory Alpha. It's not complete, but it's a start. Then:

1. Worf's shoulder-cannon thingy from Insurrection fired some weird pinkish-purplish pulse. It's commonly thought to be the isomagnetic disintegrator, but it is my belief that it is in fact the tetryon pulse launcher.
2. The tetryon plasma from the USS Yellowstone was purplish, IIRC.

((What color were other examples of tetryon whatzits in Trek? It might help confirm or deny the idea that his shoulder cannon was the tetryon pulse launcher, and thus intended to knock out the Son'a weapons (a la Dax in "Blood Oath").))

3. Romulan cloaks of the 24th Century make use of a "tetryon compositor". When sabotaged by a Canadian, it can disable the entire cloaking system ("The Die is Cast"[DSN3]). Tetryon emissions can be detected from Romulan warbirds ("Visionary"[DSN3])
4. Could the tetryon issue be the reason weapons still can't be fired while cloaked? After all, if tetryonic things are afoot, the ship's weapons might themselves be impossible to use. Perhaps there is some sort of field effect in play, or perhaps the ship's plasma energy system gets tetryon doodads in it, or what-have-you.
4a. Obviously the ship shouldn't be flooded with high levels of tetryon particle radiation, since "Workforce"[VOY6] features the ship striking a subspace mine and being flooded by tetryons, poisoning the crew. While there may be an acceptable tetryon radiation limit in the Romulan fleet, I can't imagine it's a good idea. Then again, too much of anything can poison you, so perhaps tetryons are considered safe at normal levels.
5. In any case, one would have to figure out why hand weapons can still be used. I don't know about phasers, but I'm pretty sure that the Romulan who took Troi in "Face of the Enemy"[TNG6] was vaped by a Romulan disruptor while the ship was cloaked, and there may be other examples I'm not remembering which feature particle weapons fire on cloaked ships.

Suffice it to say that it's an interesting line of reasoning, but I'm not sure what can be done with it. I doubt we know enough about most of the subjects to come up with anything firm. Nonetheless, I might find something that helps in regards to offering more proof that Worf was using the TPL.


Lucas, May 25 1977

I've bumped into a very fascinating Rolling Stones interview with Lucas from 1977. It's actually quite interesting to see how some things have changed but others have stayed the same. A brief rundown of the parts I found noteworthy:

1. Lucas seems to identify Star Wars as being intended as a kid's movie, circa 10-12 year olds.

2. More on the idea that Star Wars is space fantasy and not sci-fi:

"You firmly establish that at the beginning of Star Wars with the words: "A long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away . . .""

"Well, I had a real problem because I was afraid that science-fiction buffs and everybody would say things like, "You know there's no sound in outer space." I just wanted to forget science. That would take care of itself. Stanley Kubrick made the ultimate science-fiction movie and it is going to be very hard for somebody to come along and make a better movie, as far as I'm concerned. I didn't want to make a 2001, 1 wanted to make a space fantasy that was more in the genre of Edgar Rice Burroughs; that whole other end of space fantasy that was there before science took it over in the Fifties. Once the atomic bomb came, everybody got into monsters and science and what would happen with this and what would happen with that. I think speculative fiction is very valid but they forgot the fairy tales and the dragons and Tolkien and all the real heroes."

3. A lot of the self-beating and disappointment Lucas expressed in the OT films around the time the Special Editions came out appears.

4. Unless Lucas was bullshitting profoundly, he had absolutely no idea what the hell was going on with Star Wars. That claim of this being worked out well in advance was completely bogus. For instance:

"Why does Darth Vader breathe so heavily?"

"I had wanted to do that and tie it in with the dialogue."

"It was a nice touch, because it adds to the bogyman quality of the character."

" [...] It was a whole part of the plot that essentially got cut out. It may be in one of the sequels."

"What's the story?"

"It's about Ben and Luke's father and Vader when they are young Jedi knights. But Vader kills Luke's father, then Ben and Vader have a confrontation, just like they have in Star Wars, and Ben almost kills Vader. As a matter of fact, he falls into a volcanic pit and gets fried and is one destroyed being."

5. Now that Lucas is finished with Star Wars, he's been saying he wants to go do little films that are experimental, avant-garde sorts of things. Looks like this dream has been in his head for a long time:

"The film's success should guarantee some success in the merchandising program you've launched."

"One of my motivating factors for doing the film, along with all the other ones, was that I love toys and games. And so I figured, gee, I could start a kind of a store that sold comic art, and sold sevety-eight records, or old rock 'n' roll records that I like, and antique toys and a lot of things that I am really into; stuff that you can't buy in regular stores. I also like to create games and things, so that was part of the movie, to be able to generate toys and things. Also, I figured the merchandising along with the sequels would give me enough income over a period of time so that I could retire from professional filmmaking and go into making my own kind of movies, my own sort of abstract, weird, experimental stuff."

Of course, those people who claim Lucas said he never thinks of possible toys while making films would be sadly mistaken, given the above.

There's a lot more to the interview, and it's an interesting read. Go give it a look-see.


Orbiting Starship Visibility

Friday the 13th, 2029 will be an interesting day.

You see, back in 2004 a new asteroid was found, and its orbit was carefully calculated. As of a month ago, this asteroid had been given the formal number of 99942, and has the formal name of Apophis. As phrased most fabulously in the Wikipedia article, this is the first named asteroid with Earth impact solutions.

(SG-1 fans may now soil themselves at will.)

As it turns out, the asteroid isn't going to hit us . . . but it is going to come pretty damned close. As of May 18, it was estimated that Apophis would approach to within 30,000 kilometers of Earth on April 13, 2029 . . . way closer than the moon, and within geosynchronous orbital range (36,000km). The asteroid is 320m in diameter, and according to astronomers it will shine like a 3rd-mag star . . . in other words, it will be visible to the naked eye that night as it flies over Europe, Africa, and Asia.

And that's the point that got me thinking, since I'd never taken the time to do the math. What I mean is, we all know that the shuttle and the space station are visible in the sky. This never struck me as odd, though, since although they're tiny compared to sci-fi ships and stations, they're still just a couple of hundred kilometers up, in LEO. Obviously in the many Trek episodes where they're in orbit of some backwards civilization (i.e. something like where we are now), the starships would've been in a very high orbit and thus not observable. After all, Voyager is 340m, and the Enterprise-D was 640.

In any case, I always assumed that this orbit would be somewhere in the 40,000km range . . . i.e. transporter range. Well, it seems like that isn't enough. If a big dark asteroid at 30,000km is going to shine like a star, then what's a higher-albedo surface like a starship hull going to do?

Site Updates

As of a couple of weeks ago and until further notice, there will be no new pages on ST-v-SW.Net. I intend to focus on clean-ups, rewrites, and incomplete projects (such as the big glaring one of the SW canon pages rewrite), so that perhaps I can feel like I'm getting *something* done with this hobby that I hardly seem to have enough time for these days.

For instance, I have two or three guest author works that I've hardly had a chance to touch, and several other things I've been meaning to do. Of course, those pages will be "new" in the sense they've never been seen before, but they won't be "new-new".

The one exception is a page (or pages) dealing with the sizing of Star Wars vessels. There have been some very interesting questions raised over at Strek-v-Swars.Net about the commonly-accepted sizes lately, and given the profound bearing the issue of scale can have I feel that to be one of the more important matters of the debate. And, as you might imagine, it would hardly make sense to go to all the trouble of cleaning up the site only to have to go back and revise umpteen pages should it be discovered that an ISD is not 1600 meters.

Anyway, that's going to be primarily what's going on now. Just FYI.


Fark Results

The Fark event resulted in an extra 12,500 people Tuesday . . . certainly not the worst linkstorm ever weathered.

15.3% of my monthly bandwidth has been consumed. While that sounds like a big chunk, though, one must consider that May 2005 . . . a banner month thanks to the end of Enterprise and the end of Star Wars . . . only managed to take up 39.7%.

Or, in other words, I have significant reserves, though I obviously couldn't maintain such a pace over any length of time. (Those who remember the short-lived phpBB board will recall the bandwidth concern. Over three days 15% was consumed there, too, but . . . unlike a Fark event . . . that was going to be a continuous drain and unsustainable pace.)

I can report that I once again received no negative feedback responses, but then I've received no feedback at all. Curiously, I've received zilch since Tuesday, but I did just test the system and it is working.

All in all, it was a non-event, and I wouldn't even have noticed had I not been informed by someone who goes to SD.Net. About the only thing that would concern me now bandwidth-wise would be a slashdotting . . . not that I'd have a chance to comment on it, because I'd probably be down within a day or two.




I'll be keeping an eye on the bandwidth, but I figure it'll be fine. In the meantime, I can't help with agree with the entirety of this person's response . . . well, after the first paragraph, that is:

I am an admitted sf geek. I've visited stardestroyer.net and St-vs-Sw or whatever it is one time each. Never again.

Mike Wong is to whacko Star Wars fans as Chick Young is to whacko fundy Christians. Hard to believe uber-obsessive Star Wars zealots like him exist, makes me wonder about the emotional dysfunctions that led to him becoming so pathetic.

Besides, any real SF fan knows the very best stuff isn't in the movies, but in the independent, non-franchise novels. Stuff like Dan Simmons' Hyperion, Charles Streoss' Singularity Sky, Ring by Stephen Baxter, and just about anything by Niven, Brin, Clarke or Asimov blow anything created by either Lucas or Roddenberry completely out of the water.


Shuttle Shy

I'm really quite annoyed with the Discovery mission. As noted toward the end of a recent blog entry response, the shuttle is a profoundly resilient vehicle. The ships are more than capable of withstanding numerous missing tiles, damaged tiles, and other issues.

For instance, the first launch of the shuttle was Columbia in 1981. When the solid rocket boosters ignited, they caused a blast wave which blew off 16 tiles and damaged 148 others. The ship obviously landed without incident . . . and then on her next mission she had 12 tiles damaged, and this was considered okay. According to the Houston Chronicle, a 1985 discovery mission involved a similar amount of damage, including a hit to the left wing . . . damage that was somewhat overshadowed by a front tire blowout on landing. Then there's the 1992 incident with a gouge in the left wing of Atlantis.

Yes, the Columbia accident is a tragedy, and there's no denying that an analysis of the entire system was needed in order to make sure that the ship remained safe to fly.

However, in my opinion the shuttle managers and most reporters have become altogether paranoid. Now, for instance, an extraordinary amount of attention is being paid to various tile "scuffs" and (gasp!) a whole entire nick to a tile. If that weren't enough, they're planning to send a guy with scissors and a hacksaw down beneath the ship so as to cut off a tiny piece of gap filler that is sticking out between two tiles, on the grounds that it might disrupt the laminar flow and produce extra heating downwind.

Even per the shuttle mission managers, worst-case scenarios featuring gap filler in the past have done nothing more than to make pre-existing damaged tile issues ever so slightly worse. No tiles blown off the ship, no reinforced carbon-carbon panels heating past 3220 degrees Fahrenheit, no tiles heating beyond 2300.

In other words, despite clear historical evidence, they're treating the shuttle as if she's absurdly fragile, incapable of surviving even the slightest scuff without a review board and computer models to declare her safe.

And so they're going to send a guy in a spacesuit attached to a big heavy arm and armed with various sharp pointy objects to go play with these tiles they're so worried about. Because, you know, that makes sense.

I can understand some caution about things after Columbia, but dammit . . . these are good ships and good crews and they should be allowed to go up without everyone freaking out if there's a scratch on the paint.