Friday, September 30, 2016

Rebels: "Fire Across the Galaxy" (Ep. 1.14)

"Yep, you definitely missed me."

The rescue attempt continues, and I'm just going to say, right now, that this is going to be full of spoilers, because I'm not going to hold anything back.

This is the episode where everything takes off and the title of the show really means something. Which means that we find out that there are, indeed, other rebel groups working in a coordinated manner with each other spread across the galaxy and, actually, our rebel group is one of those groups. We get the confirmation that Bail Organa is a part of it, which, come on, who didn't know that? So not really a spoiler.

But we also get the reveal on who Fulcrum is, something I had figured out or, at least, hoped I had figured out, so it was great to find that I was correct. A very welcome confirmation, and I was going to reveal that, but I've changed my mind, You should just watch the series. It was quite gratifying to see the reaction of my kids to who Fulcrum is, which is why, I guess, I'm not telling you. You should watch.

The big deal in the episode is the final duel between Kanan and the Inquisitor. And, when I say "final," I do mean final. Ezra is also involved in the duel, but it comes down to, as it should, Kanan and the Inquisitor. It's a fight, if you watch the series, you'll find you'll be longing for by the time it gets to it. Because, really, someone needs to shut the mouth of the Inquisitor.

We also get a reflected moment from A New Hope as Tarkin is given word that he needs to evacuate his star destroyer because, as it turns out, lightsabers are not good for hyperdrive engine cores. Tarkin doesn't argue in this circumstance and lives to fight another day.

However, he's not happy and brings in an old friend to help deal with the fallout of the loss of the Jedi prisoner, the death of the Inquisitor, and the first coordinated effort of multiple rebel cells. Oh, come on, you don't really need me to tell you who the old friend is, do you? I'll give you a hint: I recently reviewed their first meeting during season three of Clone Wars. You can find that review here.

This was a great final episode for season one and had everything you could reasonably want as season finale. No cliffhanger, which is also good, unless you count the revelation of whom Fulcrum is and the arrival of Tarkin's pal as cliffhangers. You could make an argument for that, I suppose, though there's nothing in the specific plot that you could call a cliffhanger ending.

I'm bought in, now, and am looking forward to getting started on season two. Whenever I get around to that.

That said, I'm not going to do a season one recap. To put it simply, it got off to rather a rough start but got better as it went on, working up to several really great episodes here at the end of the season. Still, I'm not ready to say that Rebels is as good as Clone Wars. Rebels still hasn't delved into the same kinds of philosophical struggles that Clone Wars was willing to take on, which was one of the things that made Clone Wars such a strong series. Rebels is well worth watching, though.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Clone Wars -- "Shadow Warrior" (Ep. 4.4)

-- Who a person truly is cannot be seen with the eye.

[Remember, you can sign up to join the Clone Wars Project at any time by clicking this link.]

After the horrible titles of the last three episodes, we finally get a good title. Of course, it has absolutely nothing to do with the episode. Seriously, the term "shadow warrior" never even comes up. Unless it was mentioned in the bit of dialogue during which my children were arguing, which would not surprise me, but, just in case that's what happened, I tried looking it up and couldn't find it referring to anything other than the title itself, so I'm going to go with the title having nothing to do with the episode. Which makes it kind of a wasted effort.

As you can see from the picture, we're back with the Gungans again. While doing my "shadow warrior" research, I found that this episode was originally meant to be the lead episode of season four, which in my mind would have worked much better considering the beating the Gungan army took on Mon Calamari. Here, the Gungan army, due to the machinations of the Separatists, is preparing to march against the humans to take over Theed.

I think I'm seeing a pattern. Quarren against Mon Cala, now Gungans against the Naboo. It makes me wonder if we're going to see more of this. At least this is just a one-shot and not a whole arc.

Which is not to say that this is a bad episode. It's easily better than the previous arc, and it has a few really great moments in it, like when Jar Jar comes face to face with General Grievous and plays with the height adjustment on his chair to cover his discomfort. That moment is a real gem. And the confrontation between Dooku and Anakin is good. Previously, Dooku took on Obi-Wan and Anakin simultaneously without any real concern but, this time, it's just Anakin against Dooku, and Dooku feels the need for droid backups. He is clearly worried during the duel.

The real issue with this episode is that it feels rushed. They could have taken out the middle segment of the previous arc and made two two-parters and done much better. That and the Gungans... well, the Gungans manage to capture Grievous, something no one else has been able to do, and that feels somewhat, I don't know, either forced or out of place. It's like, "No, look! The Gungans really are competent!" And I get that they want to make a statement that Jar Jar is not representative, but just sticking that in without giving us a basis for believing it makes it feel like one of Jar Jar's fumbles.

Monday, September 26, 2016

When a Dark Angel Falls (pictures I like)

Things happen when the days start growing shorter and fall is in the air.
Or, well, on the ground, in this case.
The barrier grows thin.
Bad things can happen.
They usually do.

Friday, September 23, 2016

The Toilet War

I think my toilet is out to get me. Seriously. If there are sentient toilets in the world, mine is one of them. I'm sure it has a mind of its own. If I hadn't already written a story about an insane tea kettle,
I would have to write one about the toilet. I'm not sure there's any other household... Would you call a toilet an "appliance"? I'm not thinking so, but I can't think of a better term. Anyway, I'm not sure there's anything more frightening than a toilet that's out to get you. Well, I already hate toilets, so, maybe, that's just me.

All of the things with the toilet began a year ago or so. I talked about the first time it had to be fixed here. In that post I talk about the thing that "should have been a pretty easy fix," which didn't ever get directly addressed because of the complications which occurred in trying to fix it. To put it simply, the leak, the thing that was making all the noise and keeping me up at night, was water running from the tank to the bowl because the flapper wasn't sealing adequately.

Like I said, putting in a new flapper shouldn't have been an issue, and it wasn't. Said flapper was one I put in. However, somewhere in fixing the other issues that developed, the flapper quit leaking, so it didn't get replaced.

Then, this happened. If that's not a horror story, I don't know what is. I mean, it's like that dream where you're going to class or, maybe, already in class, and you suddenly realize you're naked. Except, you know, for real.

Again, everything was fine with the toilet... Until it started talking all night again. AND KEEPING ME AWAKE! What the actual fuck?

But I got to play with food coloring in the tank trying to figure out exactly what it was that was leaking, which turned out to be the flapper. Of course. Because it makes so much sense that a piece of rubber covering a hole should be, I don't know, defective?

Look, here's the thing, flappers in toilets NEVER got replaced when I was a kid. They were these heavy pieces of rubber that I think you could have killed someone with if you'd thrown one at a person. That's not how flappers are made anymore, just so you know. Why do I know? Because I had to replace the relatively new flapper in my toilet because it was draining water like a sieve. And what I found out is that they're made to, basically, degrade, now, so that you have to replace them frequently. Seriously, you can buy multi-packs of the things (kind of like light bulbs) so that you have them on hand any time one needs replacing. Again, what the actual fuck?

So the toilet is fixed. Again. Again. But I'm sure it's out to get me. It's like hearing voices, except I'm hearing my toilet. I don't quite understand, yet, what it's saying, but it's definitely saying something. Maybe if I just move a little closer...

You know, if I don't come back, you'll know wha...

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Clone Wars -- "Prisoners" (Ep. 4.3)

-- Crowns are inherited, kingdoms are earned.

[Remember, you can sign up to join the Clone Wars Project at any time by clicking this link.]

One of the more notable things about this arc of stories is how un-notable the names of the episodes are, and "Prisoners" is no exception. They're like not being able to think of a better name for your dog than Dog. Titles aside, though, this was easily the best episode of the arc. Which, honestly, isn't saying a lot.

Spoiler alert!
Because, yeah, I don't think this arc can get anymore spoiled than it manages on its own. Even though this episode is stronger, it still only rises to the cliche, especially in the final showdown between Prince Lee-Char and Riff Tamson. Tamson announces to the prince, "I killed your father!" and, of course, Lee-Char follows that up by killing Tamson, somewhat inexplicably suddenly finding some fighting skills which were completely nonexistent in the previous two episodes.

Oh, and he blows Tamson up. Yeah, it was kind of gross. And fitting because Tamson blew up several Mon Cala just moments before. Which was also gross. Seriously, it's one thing when they're blowing up droids, but it's something else entirely when they start blowing up organic beings.

And, yeah, I get the whole "blowing up the shark" thing being a thing from Jaws, even to the head floating by. At least I think the head floating by was a thing from one of the movies? I could be wrong. I haven't seen all of the Jaws movies and probably haven't seen one in at least 25 years.

The most significant bit of the episode was the revelation that Gungan's have magic adhesive spit. I think they should have named the episode after it: "Gungan Magic Spit." It would have been more interesting than "Prisoners." But, yeah, evidently Gungans have some kind of gooey spit capable of stopping air leaks. Unless it was just Jar Jar alone who can do that. At any rate, it's a bit like growing up with the original Star Trek series then walking in on the first episode of Next Generation just in time to see the saucer separate from the rest of the Enterprise. The best I could come up with was, "Really?" and to leave the room. Yeah, I'm not a fan of tossing something like in then saying, "Oh, yeah, it could always do that."

I'm really hoping this is the low point of season four. This arc is certainly, so far, the low point of the whole series. I don't remember, from my previous viewing, anything worse but, then, I didn't really remember this arc. For good reason.

Monday, September 19, 2016

A Vain Hope

I've mentioned in passing somewhat recently that we've been having some issues with my daughter's softball situation. To say that there are "issues" is rather an understatement, in fact. It is so much an understatement that 1. My daughter is no longer on that team, and 2. Her leaving that team did not automatically make those issues go away, and we are still dealing with them. As such, I can't really go into said details although I would really like to.

All of this has me thinking, though, about my rather vain hope that at some point I would come across people who would just do the right thing. I mean, seriously, how hard is that?

I'm not talking about the asshole who is doing the wrong thing, either. When the asshole gets called out for being an asshole, you expect the asshole to double down on being an asshole. It's what assholes do. If assholes did the right thing, they wouldn't be assholes.

However, the people responsible for the asshole often don't appear to be assholes themselves, and there is always this hope that those people will do the right thing. A vain hope. Because the people in charge of the asshole tend to respond to the assholery by 1. trying to cover it up, or 2. saying the asshole didn't do anything wrong, i.e., the asshole wasn't being an asshole; you're just wrong/too sensitive/whatever. Oh, or my favorite (one of them, at least): The asshole was just doing his job; therefore, he is not really an asshole.

There are so many examples of this kind of thing in society which all turned into scandals and had movies made about them. heh I've even reviewed some of those movies. Take a look!
The Big Short -- At any point leading up to the financial crisis, there could have been people who said, "Wait, this is wrong. We're being assholes..." Oh,wait! They were all being assholes, so I guess that's why they all doubled down on their assholery and brought the whole country down with them.
Spotlight -- One of the absolute worst cases ever of protecting assholes. I mean, of all people, we expect priests to do the right thing, and, yet, by not being willing to put a stop to it, they perpetuated and made worse the... perhaps using the term assholery here is inappropriate. They made the situation worse. Much, much worse.
Philomena -- Again with the church but with nuns. And, again, the very people we expect most to do the right thing.

And I could go on with the examples, but, then, I could go on endlessly with them. Both very public examples like the ones above which were made into movies and smaller examples from my own life or from the lives of people I know. Oh, no, wait! There is one really good one that didn't even involve assholery, at least at the beginning. The whole thing with a mechanical problem with a rented U-haul trailer for which the manager wouldn't take responsibility. She wouldn't "do the right thing," which ended up costing U-haul way more than should have and costing her her job. (I talked about it back in this post.) It was definitely a situation where doing the right thing would have cost her absolutely nothing and, yet, she refused, and it ended up costing her a lot.

It's inexplicable to me, really, this way that people fight against doing what's right. Especially when that's actually the easy thing to do. I don't get it. I really don't.

And, so, now, I find myself in another conflict with people who have decided against doing the right thing. And I think it's because they believe I will just go away and let the thing drop and they will be able to get away with doing nothing to make things right. I'm sure they think that because that's what most people would do. That's what the other family that had the same thing happen has done. They let it drop. But, well, these people don't know me very well. I spent a month pursuing $80 from U-haul and, another time, most of a year pursuing a situation with Dell over a laptop they didn't want to fix. Those were relatively small things in comparison, and, honestly, it wasn't the money I was interested in either of those situations. If the woman at U-haul had just apologized for what had happened with their faulty trailer, even if she hadn't offered any reimbursement, I would have let the matter drop. Instead, she backed into that whole "It's not our fault" position and "we don't owe you anything." This, though, this is my daughter, and that's a whole new ballgame (yes, I'll claim the pun). heh Maybe, one day, there will be a movie made about it.

Friday, September 16, 2016

The Power Paradox (a book review post)

So... Power. What even is it? I think most people would say it's something about how able you are to tell other people what to do and have them do what you're saying and, while Keltner would probably agree with that, he would broaden the definition to include how able you are to make a difference in the world around you. Which, you know, is fine. I can go with that.

What I can't go with is Keltner ascribing the results of his small group experiments to the broader context of society.

So, yes, Keltner does have data, a lot of it, done mostly in labs (and colleges are labs, of a sort), mostly with small groups of people, and, frequently, with groups of people who didn't know each other prior to the experiment. And I can't argue with his results. I see how he came to the conclusions he came to within the contexts of the experiments he ran, but -- and it's a big BUT -- he applies his conclusions to society in general, and, no matter how I look at it, I can't see that any of his ideas, at least the ones dealing with how we gain power, apply to society at large and across other cultures (which don't necessarily have the same views toward power that we do). It's rather like Freud in his generalizing to all people the conclusions he came to from working with a select few of mostly women seeking him for psychological treatment.

Which is too bad, actually, because they are interesting ideas and conclusions.

To put it simply, Keltner believes that we give power to people who promote the greater good of the group. And that's all fine and good, but he also says we remove that power from people when they stop exercising their power for the good of the group and start exercising it for the good of themselves. And, well, I don't know if he's looked around lately, but there are an awful lot of people in power, exercising it for their own good only, who seem to be just fine where they are and in no danger of losing their power anytime soon, which is the weakness of the book.

Power, according to Keltner, is its own downfall, because it is the having of power which causes us to quit looking outward toward ways we can create the greater good and start looking inward to how we can create greatness for ourselves. And it's not that he doesn't get this stuff right, the things that having power causes -- I'm sure he is quite correct -- but he says it's giving into these power impulses that, then, cause us to lose the power we've acquired. That's the part I'm not seeing, these active dynamics he's talking about happening on a societal scale.

He talks about how power is a constant give and take, and he does demonstrate that on a small scale to some extent, but he never even touches on how or why the people in power who are demonstrably out for themselves are able to escape all of these natural punishments and consequences he says we have. It undermines his whole premise. The one thing he mentions that's kind of his out is that he says personal charisma is one of the biggest influencers on how we gain power, which, also undermines his theory of it having to do with contributing to the greater good, and he never talks about how it enables people to retain power after they've begun to abuse it.

The one part of the book he gets right, completely right -- and he gets it right because he deals with this aspect on a societal level -- is the section dealing with the effects of powerlessness on people. Having no power causes stress which leads to a further lack of ability to contribute to society (basically, the definition of power itself, according to Keltner) and poor health. He does nothing, however, to address the issue other than to say that these people need to be empowered.

I'm not going to say that the book doesn't contain some interesting ideas; it does. I will say that these ideas weren't ready to be a book, though. Even if he's onto something. And he might be onto something. But there's no way to apply what he says here to the world at large and no way to apply the principles he's come up with other than to say, "Be excellent to each other." Which, you know, is a great thing to say and something I agree with wholeheartedly, but he needs to offer some practical applications if he wants to write a book about it. Simply saying, "Be empathetic," isn't enough.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Clone Wars -- "Gungan Attack" (Ep. 4.2)

-- Only through fire is a strong sword forged.

[Remember, you can sign up to join the Clone Wars Project at any time by clicking this link.]

Well... I still don't like Riff Tamson (the shark guy pictured above) as a villain. I don't remember having such distaste for him the first time I watched the series, but maybe I did and that's why I'm disliking him so much this time. Or, maybe, it's just that I'm not liking this arc much.

I suppose there was a call for this arc of episodes after the appearance of Kit Fisto fighting on Mon Calamari in the original series of Clone Wars shorts (2003). Admittedly, that was a pretty cool episode and seeing Fisto fighting underwater was a neat thing. But that was, what, five minutes or so, and sometimes that's all you need to have. There's not really much of Fisto in this arc, anyway. Not that he's not there, but the focus is mostly on Prince Lee-Char, and he hasn't grabbed me as a character. Which is, I suppose, the point, since this arc is about him learning to become a leader.

Yes, there are Gungans. It's not an issue and has nothing to do with my disenjoyment of these episodes. They're brought in as reinforcements after the Republic forces are defeated and forced to retreat into hiding at the end of "Water War" (the previous episode). It's nice to see them get their time as an underwater fighting force since we didn't get to see them fight in that manner in The Phantom Menace.

There's another episode in this arc, though, so you can probably imagine how it goes.

Oh, and the Separatists have another new droid thing inspired by an ocean creature, as if the jellyfish droid (which are still around) wasn't enough. This one is a big squid thing and is even worse than the jellyfish. It's a physics thing.

Speaking of which, and I understand this one intellectually, but I realized about halfway through the episode that everyone talks normally underwater in this arc. So, yeah, the humans have on underwater gear with helmets, so it makes sense that they would sound normal, but the Mon Cala, Quarren, Fisto, and Tamson all sound perfectly normal, as if they are in air, when they speak. I know they need the audience to understand, but what kid hasn't tried to talk under water at some point? Yes, that was another realization that niggled at me, like the Mon Cala women having breasts.

"Hope is something we cannot allow our enemy to possess."

Monday, September 12, 2016

Since When?

Facebook has a lot of things going on that we don't know about. It's not that facebook is actually trying to hide this stuff, it's just that it's not right out in the open, and, well, no one ever really looks. Of course, we all agree to it by being on facebook to begin with, so it's not like you have any right or grounds on which to complain. If you don't like it, don't be on facebook.

But I digress as all of that is really beside the point. Or behind it. Or something. I only bring it up because what I'm about to talk about came out of one of those "hidden" facebook things.

Unsurprisingly, facebook labels you in different ways based on the kinds of things on which you click through and all sorts of ways. A lot of it has to do with advertising so that their advertisers can target you so that they're sending ads to people who might actually be interested in them rather than just whatever to whomever and hoping something sticks. One of the labels they attach to you has to do with how you lean politically.

Yeah, I checked  my label.

It said "machine wash, hot."
Oh, wait! Wrong label.

Oh, yeah, I know what a lot of you out there are thinking: "We don't need you to tell us your label. We all know you're one of those crazy, hippy liberals." Well, as it turns out, not quite. See, there are three categories: liberal, conservative, and moderate. Makes sense, right? And I fully expected to get pegged in the "liberal" category. But, no, my label... You want to know my label? "Very liberal." Not just liberal but "very liberal."

It's funny, because I don't feel "liberal." What I feel like is someone who believes that all people; independent of their race, sex, sexuality, financial status, whatever; ought to get a fair shake. What I wonder is this: Since when did that idea become "liberal"? Because I have a hard time with the idea of people being treated fairly and equally being a liberal idea. Not today. Today, that ought to be the norm.


Because we use the Declaration of Independence as one of our founding documents, I'd like to point out a few things. All men (mankind) are created equal, not just white men and not just rich men and not just rich, white men.

All men have the right to life, which does not include being shot dead by people working for the government, especially not for walking down the street or driving your car.

All men have the right to liberty. I'm going to say that as freedom. People have the right to choose how they want to live. As long as you're not hurting some other person, you should get to live the way you want to. And, honestly, I don't understand why this is even a thing. What you do in your own house is your own business (as long as it isn't beating your kids or your spouse). Or it ought to be. I don't want you coming in my house telling me how to live, so I shouldn't be going into your house telling you how to live. That's a metaphoric "I," people.

All men have the right to pursue happiness. Again, as long as it doesn't mean harming someone else or denying someone else their right of life or liberty. You get to decide what makes you happy and pursue that thing and, just because that is not a thing that makes me happy, it doesn't make it okay for me to tell you that it shouldn't make you happy.

These do not seem like "liberal" ideas to me. They seem like fairly decent human ideas. But let's take it back some more. Now, if you are a Bible believer, you have to get the whole part where God created man to be free. See, the angels were not free, and God wanted some piece of creation that would have freedom of choice. The freedom to live as that piece of creation would choose to live. So it seems to me that the people who should be most invested in protecting the right of choice for individuals would be Christians. Or "Christians," if we're speaking politically.

Not to mention that it should be Christians most in support of social programs that help the poor. Seriously, what do they think it means when Jesus said, "Feed my sheep"? But that's really a different topic.

The point is that I don't feel liberal, certainly not "very liberal." Which is not to say that I feel conservative, because I don't feel that, either (although I think I did actually feel conservative when I was young and growing up in the South). I don't think of myself in those kinds of terms.

As I said, I do think of myself as someone who believes that people deserve and should receive equality. Equal opportunity. Equal pay for equal work. An equal chance at life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. My wife frequently says I'm the best feminist she knows, but I don't think of myself that way, either. I'll say equalist. I believe in equalism.

And, again, as the title says, since when did that idea become liberal?

Friday, September 9, 2016

Rebels: "Rebel Resolve" (Ep. 1.13)

"I want a full sweep. Those rebels must be found."

As you can tell from the picture, Kanan has been captured. That's a backwards spoiler to the last episode. It's not my fault if you haven't watched it yet. Tarkin wants to know if Kanan really is a Jedi, because he hasn't bought into the hype and, just as in A New Hope, he's skeptical. He also wants to know how the rebel cell on Lothal is connected to other groups. Basically, he wants to know it all.

Of course, our merry band of rebels is hot to rescue Kanan and are trying to figure out where he's being held. The only problem is that, due to them, the Imperial communications network is down, so they're having difficulties accessing the information. Which delays their pursuit just long enough for them to get word from the mysterious Fulcrum to abandon Kanan for the greater good.

Wait, what?

We don't really know anything about Fulcrum other than that it's some person Hera is sporadically in contact with and from whom they occasionally receive orders. That Fulcrum is a powerful enough character to tell Hera they need to sacrifice Kanan, the last known Jedi, for the greater good is a sudden boggle to the imagination.

And Ezra's just not going for it.

So begins our first prison break episode from Rebels. At least, that's what I'm assuming. We don't really get to that in this episode, but I think that's the direction we're headed.

It's a good episode. Very good, actually. They worked a lot of information into the 22 minute running time. It seems this series is finally geared to really take off.

"The Jedi is no good to me dead."

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Clone Wars -- "Water War" (Ep. 4.1)

-- When destiny calls, the chosen have no choice.

[Remember, you can sign up to join the Clone Wars Project at any time by clicking this link.]

"Water War" gives us our introduction to Ackbar, as a Captain rather than as an Admiral. I believe this is the first canon view of the Mon Cala homeworld, Mon Calamari. Mon Calamari is home to two sentient races: the Mon Cala and the Quarren. While the Mon Cala are peaceful-ish, the Quarren are... not so much. The two peoples, however, are mostly unified, right up until the death of the Mon Calamari king, who happens to have been one of the Mon Cala. The Separatists use the death to stir dissension between the two groups.

As a complete aside:
The Mon Cala are a lobster-based life form [the Quarren are squid-like]. Now, think about all of the lobsters you've ever seen and tell me, by sight, which are the males and which are the females. You can't, can you? (I'm not looking it up, but I think it's a size difference.) So we see our first female Mon Cala in this episode and she... well, she has breasts. Um, why? These people have exoskeletons; how exactly can you have breasts that way? Yes, it bothered me to notice this. It just did.
Aside over.

This episode also introduces us to Riff Tamson, a shark-like being from the planet Karkaris. He's the Separatist ambassador who is stirring up trouble. I'm annoyed by this character, also. We already have sentient lobsters and squids on Mon Calamari, and they felt the need to bring in a sentient shark from some other planet? And he's the bad guy. The whole thing just feels too cliche to me. Not in a "I hate this" way, but it's certainly noticeable. Like a crack in your windshield that you learn to ignore but know is there.

The story itself is okay. Adequate. It's fairly standard in its setup with the Mon Cala siding with the Republic and the Quarren wanting to side with the Separatists. It, of course, leads to a great undersea battle between the clones and the Separatist droids. Right up until the introduction of the "invincible" jellyfish droids of the Separatists. [Yes, at that point, I found those annoying, too. I mean, why is that everything in this episode has to have some sea creature origin? There's actually no logical reason for the droids to look like jellyfish within the context of SWU itself. It's just there because of the arbitrary design scheme of the creators.]

Kit Fisto also makes an appearance, which is cool, except that he doesn't do much in this episode.

Don't get me wrong, it's a fine episode. Totally watchable. The stuff that annoyed me are not likely to annoy other people and have nothing to do with the story. Which is fine. Really.

"Today, you learned the hardest lesson a commander can learn: how to live to fight another day."

Monday, September 5, 2016

Flat Earther for President

We have this common misconception that before Columbus everyone believed the Earth is flat. It makes perfect sense that we believe this false thing since it's generally presented that way in school. Hey, it makes for a good story!

"The intrepid explorer, Christopher Columbus, despite warnings that the world was flat, set out in his ships to prove everyone wrong by going around the Earth to establish new trade routes! He faced constant threat of mutiny as all of his crew feared they were going to go over the edge of the world! But he persevered and finally landed in a brand, new world!"

Something like that, anyway.

The truth is, though, that educated people didn't believe that. The Greeks figured out that the world was round well over 1500 years before Columbus stepped foot on a ship. It had been accepted knowledge for a long, long time before the Middle Ages began. Accepted by the educated, that is. The "common" people were a different story.

There were exceptions. Every so often, someone (educated) would come along, usually on religious grounds of some sort, and declare that the Earth was flat. Anyone could look around and see that that was true. Plus, you know, "The Bible!" No one should listen to "science"!

It made sense to the uneducated masses. Sure, look around, because anyone can clearly see that the Earth is flat and all this "science" talk of a spherical planet is part of some rigged system trying to take advantage us!

The truth was that the common people, being uneducated, couldn't understand the science. It took explorers going out and sailing around the world, all the way around the world, before the idea of a flat Earth became a thing of the past.

Mostly a thing of the past, since there is still a Flat Earth Society with people in it who cling to this idea that the science is a fraud and the Earth is actually flat. Or that the science is just wrong, or the scientists just aren't smart enough to decipher the information correctly. Obviously, the Earth is still as flat today as it ever was.

The rest of us, though, don't give these people much credence. It's an idea that doesn't deserve much more than an eye roll and a "Oh, you're one of those people" responses. Because, you know, there's more than just science to back up the fact that the Earth is a sphere. People have been up there and out there and seen it.

Can you imagine if a Flat Earther ran for President?

I can, because we have that going on right now.

We have the science that shows that man-induced climate change is happening. Educated people who understand the science virtually all agree that this is what is happening. The problem we're having with that is people looking around, much as the uneducated masses did during the Middle Ages, and not seeing the curve of the Earth. Or the larger picture. Whatever.

They're seeing things like what I saw posted on Facebook recently, "What climate change? It's 51 here in [place withheld]!" They're seeing the arctic vortexes and, well, whatever it is they're seeing is not the pattern. They're still grasping onto "global warming" and allowing harsh winters to mask "climate change."

And, then, we have someone like Donald Trump come along and say things like, "There is no drought in California." He's the religious nut (not that he's religious) from the Middle Ages coming along and saying, "The Earth is flat!" He doesn't know or understand the science, and he doesn't want to. It wouldn't actually surprise me if the next "wacky" thing to come out of his mouth was actually, "The world is flat!" It would fit right in with his statements that climate change is a hoax and that the science is bullshit.

The sad part is that I'm not sure if he did come out and say that the Earth is flat if that would dissuade his supporters.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Clone Wars -- Season Three

When the Clone Wars was conceived as a series, it wasn't meant to be a linear telling of the events of the Clone Wars. It was meant to be a collection of stories of events from the Clone Wars, meaning that the stories told could be from any time during the war since many things were all happening at once. If you've studied closely the Civil War or either of the World Wars, you will know that you can't really study those things linearly. It's more like studying a tapestry. And that's what Clone Wars was meant to be.

Season three is the only season that really makes the attempt to jump around in time; at least, if I'm remembering correctly, that's true. And from what I'm remembering at the time, people didn't respond well to the falling back to the past to tell other stories that weren't told initially. That's too bad, I think, because there is so much there. At any rate, I think season four goes back to a straight linear progression that's never deviated from again.

Unless I'm just not remembering, which is entirely possible. I'm not always all that linear.

This season has a lot of important stuff. When I say important, I mean it's important to the larger Star Wars Universe. Primarily, the Mortis story arc. As I said back in my review of the arc, this trilogy of stories provides more information about the fundamental nature of the Force than we get from any other source. If you're a Star Wars fan, this, being canon material, is a story you should see, whether or not like The Clone Wars itself as a show.

Savage Opress is also introduced in season three. He's the brother of Darth Maul, and his arc is interesting and exciting. And hints at some things that will be revealed later. This story line also deals with the fall from grace of Asajj Ventress and the fallout that happens because of it. Besides Savage, we are also introduced to the Nightsisters, a splinter group of Dark Side Force wielders. They will be back.

Duchess Satine returns for another series of appearances. I didn't like these as much as her appearances in season two, but it's good to see her again.

Tarkin is also introduced as a character in season three, and the groundwork is laid for the later relationship between him and Anakin.

Plus, there's some exploration into the lives of people who have sided with the Separatists. That's an interesting arc and deals with some heavy themes. It's well worth watching.

Overall, season three is a real winner, I think. The only off episode I can think of (without looking back at my reviews) is "Evil Plans." It's entertaining enough, I guess, but it has some real plot issues.

As far as single episodes go, I might have to go with "Clone Cadets" as my favorite, but it's outmatched when you look at some of the story arcs in the season.

Probably, you can still come into season three of Clone Wars without having seen the first two seasons and be just fine bit, seriously, just go watch it. It's a good show, and there are some things you shouldn't miss as a Star Wars fan. Of course, if you're not a Star Wars fan, it really doesn't matter that much.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

The World Garden (pictures I like)

These are from a museum in Berkeley. They're from the photos I lost in my hard drive crash, but there happened to still be a few of them in the photo stream on my phone that I was able to bring back. One thing to note: This is a temporary piece of art. According to the plaque, there is no plan to save it once they need to use the wall for a new project.