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Two exchanges I’d like to see in episode VIII

This is super spoilery, but it’s a snow day and I’m pretty sure no one’s reading this stuff anyway. So, here are two small scenes I’d like to see in Start Wars Episode VIII

INT. resistance hangar

The MILLENIUM FALCON lands, and after a brief moment LUKE, REY, R2-D2 and CHEWBACCA exit. GENERAL LEIA approaches LUKE and gives him a hug.


It’s good to see you again. It’s been too long.


I know. Listen…I’m sorry about Han.

LEIA steps back and looks at LUKE for a moment. He looks older than his years, and clearly feels guilt about his friend’s death. She gives him a wistful smile.


It’s alright. It’s a wonder he lived as long as he did.

CHEWBACCA grunts his agreement.


…and scene number two…


INT. Corridor

KYLO REN is pursuing REY, who is injured and desperately trying to break away. She pauses at an intersection, glances left in surprise and then takes off to the right. As KYLO REN gets to the same intersection, GENERAL LEIA steps in front of him. She is pissed.


Benjamin Anakin Solo, put that light saber down! Now!

KYLO REN drops his saber and stumbles back a step.




And take off that ridiculous mask.

He rips the mask off his head like it’s on fire and stares past his mother, unable to make eye contact. LEIA picks up the light saber and starts pulling at the exposed wires.


Mother, no‑‑ that’s mine!

KYLO REN reaches for the light saber, but LEIA refuses to let him have it. She continues yanking pieces from the weapon.


Not anymore, it’s not. Do you have any idea how disappointed I am with you? If your father were here…


But he’s not, is he?

She slaps him across the face, hard enough to leave a growing red mark.


Your father loved you, and did everything he could to keep you safe. And how do you repay him?

She begins jabbing him with the light saber pommel, wires and bits now dangling from it. KYLO REN’s eyes begin to tear up.




Answer me!



Suddenly, FINN bursts into the corridor, a small group of Resistance fighters in tow.


General? Rey said‑‑ oh, crap!

FINN and the other fighters point their blasters at the now weeping KYLO REN.




Take him into custody.


This conversation isn’t over.

I have no idea what Kylo Ren’s middle name really is, but “Anakin” seems as likely as anything, and it has a nicer ring to it than the only other options I could think of. Bail? Luke? Lumpy? In any case, I’m amused at the thought that even though as far as we know Leia’s had no training or interest in the Jedi arts that her sheer force of will would be enough to stop Kylo in his tracks and reduce him to a little child again.

Posted in Film.

Just going to leave these here…

Josh Marshall has argued that the model for Trump is less Hitler than Mussolini, but when you’re trying to make a visual point, the fasces symbol just doesn’t cut it.

Gop fasces

Gop swastika

Posted in Politics.

Let’s see if we can’t beat last year’s count at least

I realized over the holiday break that there were only two posts here for all of 2014, and both of them were purely related to making sure WordPress was happy. There were only five posts the year before that, although at least some of those were more substantial. Pathetic— especially since it isn’t that long ago I advised a colleague that the last thing the world needs is another dead blog. I’m not going to make any promises to be more prolific, but if I’m going to be paying for the domain I might as well use it for something. However, I would like to think about why it is that I’ve been writing less, with an eye towards changing that. I can think of three reasons why I’ve been posting less: laziness, reduced interest, and changes in browsing habits.

Let’s get the easy reason out of the way first. After working all day, dealing with the commute, handling other tasks at home and some minimal amount of exercise, I’m finding the draw of a comfortable spot on the couch, Netflix and a cat on my lap to be pretty inviting. I might goof around on my iPhone or iPad, but don’t often find the energy to do much else. 

Related to the above, for whatever reason I don’t seem to have the passion to write down my thoughts that I had a while back. This is a little different from sheer laziness, in that there are often things I am interested in, but it requires overcoming a certain amount of inertia to get a post written. There are multiple elements to this, but I think the two key items are mental organization and logistics. I don’t put a ton of time into structuring posts here, but I like to be able to do something more than a Twitter-level amount of writing. Without the interest to completely follow through on that, I’ll often just skip it. The logistics question ties into the last item, so I’ll deal with it more there.

Historically, my internet reading has always been closely tied to whatever writing I’ve pursued. As far as reading goes, for the last ten years or so I’ve done a combination of web browsing and RSS feed consumption. My writing has always gone through a desktop application or two, depending on the particular topic. As long as all this activity took place on a desktop or laptop, it was easy to switch from one to the other, and I could bang out a quick paragraph or two in reaction to something. However, with the advent of iPhones and iPads, I now find that my reading and writing activities take place in two separate worlds. I still use an RSS reader, but instead of NetNewsWire I’m more likely to use Reeder on iOS. Unfortunately, I still find writing on an iDevice to be a little clunky (and that doesn’t even get into switching between applications and trying to copy/paste URLs and other content). I do have WordPress, so technically can write on my iPhone or iPad, but other than short emails I very rarely do, even with an external keyboard. Because I’m now consuming information when I don’t have a laptop handy and there’s a time lag between consumption and the opportunity to respond, my initial spark of interest often dissipates and I end up not doing anything at all.


Sorry, a little snark snuck in there, although there might be some hidden truth. After all, why would I be doing this at all if I didn’t think at some level people would benefit from my sharing? Maybe that’s another reason I’ve been quiet of late— a lack of hubris that anyone gives a crap what I have to say.

Having said all that, is there anything I can do? A few thoughts:

  • Switch to a different desktop RSS reader. Much as I like it, NetNewsWire 3.x is no longer serving my needs, and version 4 has been in beta for a year and a half. I’m thinking Reeder 2 may be the way to go. This should better sync with my iDevice browsing to give me a jumping off point.
  • Keep the laptop closer. This should help with logistics barriers.
  • Find the passion, or some other incentive. This is tougher, and might be the thing that keeps me from writing. It’s not like I get paid for any of this, after all.
  • Pay more attention to the blog. The two-post count for 2014 came as a surprise to me, clearly because I hadn’t looked at the thing in ages. If I can be more aware of it as a thing to use, it will be more likely to get some love.

Okay, now only one more post and I’ll have equalled last year’s count!

Posted in Uncategorized.

What the what?

Just a test. Move along.

Posted in Uncategorized.


Dove into configuration files to fix a glitch that came out of nowhere and caused the blog to go belly up for who knows how long. Given the time between updates, I begin to wonder whether this whole enterprise needs a rethink…

Posted in Uncategorized.

C’est quelquechose de Jedi. Tu ne comprends pas.

Posted in Uncategorized.

Small successes

I told someone I had been using a piece of software for 20 years and did not follow up with “Jesus Christ, I’m old.”

Posted in Uncategorized.

Art Meets Gravity

Posted in Animation.

This is for Mr. Jackson

Apropos of Samuel L. Jackson’s indicating he’d like to be in the new Star Wars movies. He says Mace might still be alive, but I think I have a more fun idea. Here’s how I would introduce him.

INT. space station

HAN SOLO, LUKE SKYWALKER and LEIA ORGANA SOLO are on the run. They dart into a small chamber, shut the door and pause to catch their breath. Han drops a heavy bag on the floor.


Who IS this guy?


I don’t know. (Into his wrist comm) Hey, kid! Did you get the camera in place?


Han, I’m really too old–


(via wrist comm)

Yeah, you should be able to see him now.



HAN pulls out a holo projector, and flicks it on. We see a disfigured human pause, close his eyes for a moment as if he was scanning the area, then turn and stride out of view.



I’ve got a bad feeling about this.

Luke and Han look at each other in surprise for a moment. Han breaks the silence.


Come on, Princess. We need to get out of here.


Wait, you know him?


I don’t need to know him. I SAW him.


(Well, he’s hopeless)



I’m not sure. He looked like…there was a Jedi my father knew. He disappeared before we were born.


But, that’s impossible. He would be older than Obi-Wan was.


I don’t think it’s him. He might be a clone, but I’ve never heard of a successful cloning of a Jedi. They kind of… You two go on. I need to get a closer look.

Han and Leia exchange a look that says, “will you talk to him?” and “he’s YOUR brother.”


Fine, kid. But be at the Falcon by oh-four-fifteen.

Han hefts the bag over his shoulder and marches out the door, followed by a worried-looking Leia. Luke crouches on the floor in a meditative pose, waiting for their pursuer’s arrival.

Posted in Film.

“Worth it”

So…apparently a topic du jour is whether college is “worth it.” I hope that other arguments are more nuanced than this video, but I honestly don’t know. At any rate, the implied answer to the question there is clearly “no.” I’m here to present a rebuttal.

I’ll grant that college is expensive, even too expensive. This is something that I want to come back to, but the first question should clearly be, what do you get for your money? The obvious answer to that is “a degree,” but that’s kind of like saying what you get from winning the Super Bowl is a ring. This is the biggest problem I have with the video referenced above– it reduces a college education to a line on a résumé that you then use to get your first entry level (apparently crappy) job. 

Let’s take that first case– you get a college degree to get a crappy job. Odds are good that the job won’t have anything to do with what you studied, unless your degree was closely related to a trade. This could be anything from a medical or a law degree to communications. Maybe you got a degree in history (like me), and will never use it in your professional life. However, the college degree does open doors that would otherwise be shut. You think you have a crappy job with a college degree? Look at what’s available with no experience and no degree.

Moving beyond the slip of paper, one of the big intangibles of higher education is the network that you’ll start building. This is particularly true if you get into extracurricular activities. I’ve never been a big fan of fraternities or sororities, but they do provide for a strong network their members can leverage once they move past keg stands.

One of my graduate professors described college as a “safe place to fail,” which is something I hadn’t thought of at the time but recognize now is hugely important. Face it, kids screw up. Screw up in class and maybe your grade point average suffers, but screw up in the “real world” and you could lose your job. Related, college is a great place to learn how to juggle different priorities and get things done. There’s nothing like having to turn in multiple papers and study for finals to teach time management.

Of course, as a former liberal arts major, I’m also inclined to think that there is intrinsic value in just being educated. Let’s be clear that I’m not referring to just having a collection of facts rattling around in your head. A proper education doesn’t just give you the tools to kick ass at Trivia night. You also learn how to think clearly and both create and critique arguments that other people make. Basically, you build a better bullshit detector.

Now, back to the cost issue. There’s no question that college is expensive. It has been for years, and is not getting any cheaper. However, a good part of the reason state institution prices are going up so fast is because states are providing less and less support. This shifts the cost burden from the broad base of taxpayers to students and their parents. This is the part of the whole discussion that I find beyond maddening. Given a more solid financial backing, state colleges don’t have to be as expensive as they are, but the relentless focus on tax cutting we’ve gone through over the last several decades has forced them to raise tuition and fees in order to compensate. It’s as if society has looked at education and collectively said, “meh.” 

So, is college worth it? Hell yes. It’s worth it to pony up in taxes, and it’s worth the tuition cost. It took me the better part of fifteen years to pay off my student loans, and while only one of my degrees is related in any way to the work I do on a daily basis, had I not gone to college I’m sure I wouldn’t be where I am today.

Posted in Uncategorized.