Monday, June 19, 2017

Star Wars Ripoffs

"My fellow Americans, I have a dream."

Star Wars The Phantom Menace.

Gungan people's underwater city: The Deep.

Undersea biped predator: Godzilla.

Statue in Coruscant conference room: The Exorcist (opening scene).

Statue in Anakin Skywalker's Room: E.T.

The Whole Plot: (the original) Star Wars A New Hope.

Galactic Republic: The Roman Republic.

Naboo Architecture: Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Renaissance, Baroque, Neoclassical and even Westminster Abbey.

Naboo Sculpture: Greek, Roman, Renaissance, Baroque, Neoclassical and Impressionistic (one statue after Auguste Rodin).

The fact that Anakin Skywalker has no father: how Jesus was conceived in Matthew and Luke.

The very name "Skywalker": the Acsension of Christ in Luke and Acts. Jesus Skywalker!

Anakin's Nickname "Ani": Little Orphan Annie.

Anakin's departure from his mum: a similar scene in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (although Charlie comes back).

Trade Federation costumes: Mediaeval outfits of the Roman Catholic Church and of Catholic scholars.

Speeder Race on Tatooine: Chariot Race in Ben-Hur (hat tip to Bill Miessner).

Battle between Gungan forces and the Droid army: old westerns' battles between Union forces/cowboys and Indians.

Anakin's good shooting: Annie Get Your Gun.

Star Wars Attack of the Clones.

Title ==> Send in the Clones ==> Send in the Clowns. Yes?

Crawler reference to several thousand systems threatening to secede, basically the whole premise of the movie: The War Between the States.

Crawler reference to "The Army of the Republic" and the chancellor's call for "a Grand Army of the Republic" at 1:35 into the film: The Grand Army of the Republic.

Grand Army of the Republic Hall
in Scituate, Mass.
Coruscant city scenes: Metropolis.

C3PO (also in the original Star Wars): Robot in Metropolis, Dr. Smith from Lost in Space.

The Robot in Metropolis.
Romance between Padme Amidalya and Anakin Skywalker: Romeo and Juliet

Diner in Coruscant city: so many 80's 50's diners.

Coruscant City Jedi Library: The Boston Athaeneum.

Coruscant City Jedi Library.
The Boston Athenaeum.
The rainy ocean planet Kamino, clone factory public relations persons: Close Encounters.

Kamino, circles in factory reception room: crop circles!

Kamino, clone foetus gestation area: Brave New World (the novel, not the movie).

Kamino, flying bird: Jurassic Park, pterodactyl.

Trade Federation planet Geonosis, entering the factory complex, where the walls come alive: The Matrix.

Geonosis, attempted execution scene: Roman ludi (games), specifically exposing to wild animals and the bestiarii (condemned persons fighting wild animals).

Star Wars Revenge of the Sith.

There are fewer ripoffs I can remember considering this is a very sad, moving film. But here goes:

This movie appears to be a reprise and foreshadowing of The Empire Strikes Back.

The Clone Wars: The War Between the States

The chancellor's powers: emergency powers appropriated by Abraham Lincoln during The War Between the States. Also in Attack of the Clones.

Chancellor's address to the Senate announcing the transformation of the Galactic Republic into the Galactic Empire is delivered in a very cartoonish manner. Before this Palpatine was presented as a very slick politician. The more cartoonish evil is presented as, the more unbelievable the film--in my estimation.

Failing to credit Global Warming for the much cloudier and more active atmosphere of Tatooine at the end of this prequel. This next to last scene even had thunderstorms on the far-off horizon.

Star Wars Rogue One.

This is a insert between George Lucas's prequels and the original trilogy.  Lucky for us, Disney, who bought Lucasfilm before this was produced, did not completely overdo it. Other plusses are the bittersweet ending and the diversity of humans in this movie, something Lucas overlooked almost entirely.

Jedi Holy City on the moon of Jeddah: Mecca. The city itself is very Middle Eastern in its look and feel.

Splinter group off the Rebel Alliance on Jedha, which I called Jedisis: any modern real-life insurgent group, or any one from antiquity such as the Judaean people's fronts (hat tip to Monty Python's Life of Brian) described by Josephus in his Jewish Wars.

Jedi religion itself: alternatively Islam in its holy city and Bhuddism in the oriental  blind spiritual warrior Chirrut Îmwe's "I am with the Force and the Force is with me."

Star Wars a New Hope.

Originally it wasn't called "A New Hope", just Star Wars. This is the one that made the rest possible! 😊 It's a lot better than it might have been, considering the scenes that ended up on the cutting room floor (the editors got an Academy Award for this). Yet George Lucas decided to change things in it and add things to it.

Genre: Flash Gordon.

C3PO: robot in Metropolis and Dr. Smith from Lost in Space.

Jawas: Munchkins (Wizard of Oz).

Luke Skywalker's line "teleport me off this rock": Star Trek, USS Enterprise transporter room and its teleportation device .

Need I say more?
Leia held captive by Darth Vader / Governor Tarkin: Dorothy being held by the Wicked Witch of the West (Wizard of Oz), and many other stories with damsels in distress.

The Death Star: looks awfully similar to a Panasonic Ball Radio.

The sets, especially those featuring the advanced technology, look very Irwin Allen-ish. But they actually expected this to be a sure-fire flop, and not a smashing film. Hence the budget which Lucas had to top off with his own money.

Cantina scene when Han Solo shoots Greedo: George Lucas took it upon himself to change the scene in a digital re-edit so that Greedo shoots first, for no reason. In the 1977 original version, Han shoots Greedo in a surprise move, which establishes his character: what sort of person we're dealing with. The way Lucas aimed the blaster bolt, Greedo would have missed point-blank range without Han moving a muscle. But to make double sure Greedo misses, Lucas has Han Solo jerk his whole upper body--torso, neck and head--further out of the way like a department store dummy would. The torso jerk was completely unnecessary to the do-over, it reminded me of SNL's sketch for Haddaway's What Is Love? which inspired A Night at the Roxbury, All this re-edit to to Greedo being shot was totally unnecessary (tip o' the' hat to Hello Greedo) . RIP-OFF!

Star Wars the Empire Strikes Back.

This is another sad, sad movie, and the first sad Star Wars movie. 😢  As such it is also the best rated movie of the whole bunch (Phantom Menace being the worst). I think the real test of an excellent movie maker are his sad movies, not just or necessarily those with a happy ending.

Bespin Cloud City, whole: The city of Boston shown in the albums of the rock group BOSTON, The Emerald City from the Wizard of Oz.

Bespin Cloud City, Millenium Falcon landing platform gate: Airport terminals designed in the Art Deco style. Example: Shushan Airport, New Orleans, La.

Bespin Cloud City, interior rooms and corridors: European Art Nouveau architecture, specifically the work of Victor Horta. (In my opinion the windows in the 1997 enhancements were a necessary addition.)

Shots of the Emperor: in the original, the Emperor could have been anybody. In the 2004 do-overs, this anybody was replaced with the visage of the actor who played Palpatine in the prequels (also done in Return).

Star Wars Return of the Jedi.

Okay, there are some serious ripoffs in here. Also some do-overs---some necessary, others completely and utterly unnecessary.

Tatooine, Jabba the Hutt's house: the set to Barbarella.

Tatooine, Jabba the Hutt's hookah: Barabarella, "We're smokin' a man!"

Tatooine, girl group entertaining Jabba the Hutt: Pointer Sisters? This is from the "improved" 1997 version.

Tatooine, evil midget gremlin that laughs a lot: Gremlins, Sesame Street, The Muppet Show (it's that obvious!).

Yoda's line, "Night Must Fall" Title of the play and movie of the same name.

Shots of the Emperor: same as Empire. In addition, the insane expression is the same as in Revenge and even the yellow color of his eyes in the scene where he proceeds to kill Luke by electrocution are exactly the same as in the scene of Revenge when he tried to kill Mace Windu the same way.  Yes, I know they used the same actor for this one as they did for

Speeder chase: Chariot race in Ben-Hur, auto race in Grease (the movie).

Ewoks: teddy bears. Did someone have an unmet need in the merchandising department??? They copuld have used African Americans but that would have been too "frightening" for Whites and too racist for Blacks.

Luke's line "like my father before me": from the lyrics, The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.
Spirit of Anakin Skywalker in the 2004 do-over of the 1997 "improved" version: The Portrait of Dorian Gray. The original with Sebastian Shaw as the middle-aged Anakin Skywalker was perfectly fine--people don't have their looks remain the same as they age. Yet for some reason Hayden Christiansen was substituted instead. Fool and knave, George Lucas! Keep the scene the way it was and don't change it! The four city celebration scenes (Bespin Cloud City, Tatooine Mos Eisley, Coruscant Metropolis, Naboo Capital City): They weren't there originally and were totally unnecessary for the plot.

Star Wars The Force Awakens.

The ripoffs to this film basically revolve around the utter cartoonishness of the evilly evil evildoers of evil, otherwise known as "The First Order" which, according to the plot, arose from "the ashes of the Empire." This cartoonishness George Lucas almost completely restrained himself from indulging in until Revenge, which at least gave his (pre-Disney) films plus Rogue One a sense of plausibility. But Americans generally are a Manichaean lot, believing ourselves individually and collectively to be good and our opponents evil no matter how bad we act (ex's.: Sherman's March to the Sea, Sand Creek Massacre) or how graciously and virtuously our opponents act.

But a major character---Han Solo---is killed off and the ending is bittersweet so we know this film does have some redeeming qualities.

Subplot revolving around the Starkiller: A New Hope, Death Star subplot. And how this Starkiller destroys planets when compared to how the Death Star destroyed them is totally over the top, even for a nine-part movie mythos where objects with mass travel faster than the speed of light... as does light itself.

The First Order: Nazi Germany, the only cartoonishly evil power of real-life in our parents and grandparents' time. Its visible leader himself is a ripoff of Adolf Hitler, himself cartoonish and far too real.

Kylo Ren: ripoff of Darth Vader---and although Ren displays powers Vader could only dream of, Ren is still not as powerful as Vader ever was.

Supreme Leader: Emperor Palpatine, and The Wizard of Oz himself. I expect that in a future episode Rey will expose the real Supreme Leader, who will then cause his larger-than-life version to bellow, "Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain! The great and powerful Supreme Leader has spoken."

Which means Rey is Dorothy Gale from Kansas!

Star Wars The Last Jedi.

This has yet to be released, yet already Disney has polluted this film with its imagineering: when Rey goes into a dark, watery cave like into a flotation tank, Yoda appears, bringing a thousand balls of light with him.  This never happened with the appearing spirits in the old Star Wars films, why should they start now?

Anyway, that's my short list of Star Wars ripoffs. Mind you, I like Star Wars, even love it, ripoffs and all (okay, I admit it--I didn't and still don't like Phantom Menace). Star Wars is the defining myth of our time, tailor-made for the Russian soul-- that nation is going to become the next great civilisation according to Oswald Spengler, if global warming doesn't get us all first--and a collection of great works of art.  And George Lucas, by his actions, has treated it as just a bunch of movies to be changed at will and Disney has turned it into just another Disney children's film franchise.

Sunday, May 28, 2017


Want to stop extremely dangerous climate change? Try to find a way to turn back time. Otherwise, it's game over; we've already screwed the pooch. Or in this case, Mother Nature.

Climate change may be escalating so fast it could be 'game over', scientists warn - The Independent

It is a vision of a future so apocalyptic that it is hard to even imagine.
But, if leading scientists writing in one of the most respected academic journals are right, planet Earth could be on course for global warming of more than seven degrees Celsius within a lifetime. 
And that, according to one of the world’s most renowned climatologists, could be “game over”... 
Caption: A reconstruction of the Earth's global mean temperature over the last 784,000 years, on the left of the graph, followed by a projection to 2100 based on new calculations of the climate's sensitivity to greenhouse gases (Friedrich, et al. (2016)) Source: The Independent.
In a paper in the journal Science Advances, they said the actual range could be between 4.78C [degrees Celsius] to 7.36C by 2100, based on one set of calculations.
The mean average of the range is 6.07 degrees Celsius. Assuming the long-term sensitivity for a doubling of carbon Dioxide in Earth's atmosphere, or its equivalent, is a rise of 7 deg C above 1880s' levels.  At the present 410 ppm level of CO2, the mean global temperature in several hundred years' time will rise to 3.85 deg C above 1880s levels. At the present level of 490 ppm CO2e, the temp will rise to 5.65 deg C. And we're still adding carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses to the atmosphere. And that's the long-term, thousand-year range assuming we stop emitting now, and fail to extract greenhouse gasses from the atmosphere or to geoengineer the planet without using fossil fuels, both very real possibilities.

What's worse, if we keep on emitting as if fossil fuels were are to remain in fashion for the rest of this century, the minimum predicted rise is just shy of 5 deg C.  It is said that a rise of 4 deg C means human extinction

Looks like Guy McPherson is right.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Cosmo Rosselli, Renaissance artist, foretold the future!

The Last Supper, Cosmo Rosselli, in the Sistine Chapel, 1481-1482. Image found in: Mark Haydu, Reflections on Vatican Art (Liguori, MO, Liguori Publications, 2013), p. 149.

This is a portrayal of Jesus and the Twelve at the Last Supper. In the foreground are some serving utensils, two pairs of bystanders entering the room, a playful dog, an alarmed cat, and a rat as big as the cat confronting it. Perhaps the two pairs of bystanders were each discussing the possibility of the authorities cracking down on the establishment because it harbored rats as big as cats!

Anyway, Rosselli appears to be foretelling the future in two ways. First, the obvious way: in the three scened depicted on the back wall of the nook Jesus and the Twelve are seated at table in, are three "windows" (Reflections, p. 148) depicting scenes from the very near future: Jesus agonizing in prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, the Judas Kiss, and the Crucifiction.

But he is also foretelling the future in different manner! Because the "windows" themselves depict future scenes, they are not really windows but telescreens! These electronic devices--or their predecessor, televisions--would not show up in any eating or drinking establishment until the mid to late Twentieth Century at the earliest for televisions, the Twenty-First for telescreens, some five hundred years into the distant future from when Roselli painted this scene.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Income Required for a Median-Priced Two-Bedroom Apartment.

In 2006, the hourly wage required to afford the average market-rate priced two-bedroom apartment was $16.31 an hour.  This equated to $2,287 a month or $33,925 a year.  Assuming the limit of affordability at 1/3 the monthly gross income (1/2 net income after taxes), the average market rate nationwide was $942.00 a month.

What are the requirements in 2017?

Source: ZeroHedge via The Automatic Earth
Well it looks like the average rent is about $1,540 a month.  So what are the income requirements? Gross monthly income required to be able to afford one at 33% affordability index is $4,620 a month, $55,440 a year.  This computes to an hourly wage of $26.65 an hour. Half of that for a two-wageearner family is $13.33 an hour. An HOUR! Clearly, a lot of businesses cannot afford to pay this kind of wage, especially when their establishments are subject to the same insane rent inflation that residential apartments' prices are going through.

Which is why half of all people have a family income less than the (2015) median of $56,516.

What kind of a madhouse country when you need to have the kind of wage distribution close to the average that people like Barbara Ehrenreich found was found to exist in places like Key West FL (yes, I know: an expensive outlier), Portland, ME and Minneapolis-St Paul, MN.  The rental rates affordable enough for those making minimum wage ($7.25/hr for two wage earners per household) exist only in the markets at the low end of the scale below for average market rates, measured county by county:

Source: ZeroHedge

You see, the cheapest is about half the national average and a lot are bunched right around this average of $1,540 a month.  Half the rest are distributed in-between and the remainder above the average, up to about $4,800 a month (San Francisco).  Obviously the more expensive markets have a severe affordability problem and the less expensive markets probably have a jobs shortage.

We need to stop the inflation in property sales and rental prices.

Thursday, March 23, 2017


This is an article or the first of a small series of articles that US East Coast Cities must do to avoid being made dysfunctional or worse inundated by the rising sea level from the melting ice-caps.  The melting of the ice caps can only be stopped by a cessation of emissions of greenhouse gasses combined with a drastic reduction in energy output from the Sun.

So here goes: the example for this article is Miami, including Miami Beach and all of Miami-Dade County.

"Miami Beach is surrounded by seas accelerating at an astonishing 9mm a year – vastly more than the 3mm-a-year global average" - UK Guardian. At this rate, when global mean sea level rise reaches 2 feet above the 1988 level, the amount of rise in Miami Beach, Miami and Miami-Dade County will be six feet (6 ft). This vast metropolitan area is a blend of the traditional city (Miami Beach), the Radiant City (Miami and Miami Beach) and the lesser-known Broadacre City (Miami and Miami-Dade County) that was hawked by Frank Lloyd Wright.

First, the Broadacre City.

Original image source: UK Guardian.
Miami-Dade County which includes Miami proper and Miami Beach, is not all towers-in-a -park by the bayshore (Downtown Miami and Hotel Row), nor is it all Art Deco and Art Moderne takes on a traditional village (South Beach, Surfside). Most of it is sprawled out suburban development inter-connected by freeways and highways very much like Wright's Broadacre City. When or even before the global mean sea level rises by two feet (meaning six feet in Miami), most of the underground infrastructure---water, sewer, drains, will be rendered dysfunctional or even nonfunctional. The county water supply, the Biscayne Aquifer, will be destroyed: evicted from the surface by the intrusion of salt water through the porous limestone that holds it. As shown on the image to the left, the western low-lying parts of the county, most of which are not shown, will be flooded -- the northwest sections being impacted the worst. The higher portions, closer to the bayshore, will be subdivided into "keys" ( the island in the bottom centre of the image above is called Key Biscayne ). The islands and beach towns will be reduced to strands, submerged or eroded away.

Now the Radiant City.

Andrea Sandoval, Photomontage. Source: Miami Herald.

The image above depicts how Downtown Miami *might* cope with a six-foot sea-level rise -- with brand new canals and harbours carved out of the oolitic limestone, ostensibly to provide landfill or floodwall protection to the remaining low-lying shoreline areas and new land extensions and even flottants out in the bay.

But it is not very likely that greater Miami will cope as cleverly or even as well as this. Even befoire the local sea level rise meets six feet (6 ft), it is very possible that a breakthrough will occur at Hotel Row, causing the waters of Indian Creek to overflow onto Route A1A and cover parkland and the yards and parking areas of some of the large hotels developed in the 1950s, a scenario shown in the image to the right. It is also possible that this same breakthrough could continue to the Atlantic Ocean, as apparent in the lower right of the image.

Photo-Illustration by Darrow; © Richard Cavalleri/Shutterstock (Mid-Beach).
Original image source: Vanity Fair via Pinterest.

Already there have been street and parking lot floodings throughout Miami Beach and Downtown Miami, such as this image below documented in WPBT TV-2's South Florida's Rising Seas - Sea Level Rise Documentary.

Flooding in Miami Beach in broad sunlight.
Image Source: WPB2 South Florida PBS's Youtube Channel:
South Florida's Rising Seas - Sea Level Rise Documentary.

And last, the Traditional City.

This last image shows oceanic surf coursing through the streets of South Beach, displacing and submerging the last holdouts' cars in the morning light even as deeper flooding occurs further up the street. What's peculiar about this image is that the flooding appears to be coming from the bay and not the sea---the actual flooding, should it occur in this direction as it is most likely to, probably would not be accompanied by the surf.

Photo-Illustration by Darrow; From ChinaFotoPress/Getty Images (Left car),
© Meuinerd/Shutterstock (Miami Beach),
By Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post/Getty Images (Right cars).
Original image source: Vanity Fair.
Vanity Fair says: "Despite dire predictions, visionary planners believe that Miami Beach can adapt—and show other cities the way." For the shores, it's Dam or Be Damned. For the inland parts, it's Fill and Damn or Be Damned.


"La métropole 
Miami-Dade est condamnée."

(Updated 26 March 2017)

(To be updated -- DAMN OR BE DAMNED image surrounds coming soon.)

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Ara Pacis, the Augustan Altar of Peace.

Originally posted by Rob Shergold on Facebook/The Roman World, on 18 March 2018. 
This altar was dedicated by (Octavian) Caesar Augustus on 30 January, 9 BCE, five years after the quelling of 30 years of fighting that was sparked by the assasination of the divine Gaius Iulius Caesar on the 15 March, 44 BCE.  This existential crisis of the Roman Republic, however, started after Caesar conquered Gaul, in 49 BCE when the Senate ordered Caesar to relinquish his military command and Caesar crossed the Rubicon with his 13th Legion (lucky bastard!) instead, leaving his province and illegally entering Roman Italy under arms.  Civil peace was utterly destroyed as a result, and Caesar's victory in the fighting put him in place as Dictator, for him an unrivalled position of power and influence.

When the crisis was over with the Second Settlement in 23 BCE, the Roman Republic had mutated into an Empire.  The crisis had lasted twenty-six years.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

What is it?

Recently I got two entrees from GenoVive, a local company. I have no idea where they came from; they don't get sold at the local supermarkets. My partner (Andrew Porter) and I tried them, but found them to be utterly vile. The sauces for both were utterly fermented. One was a beef entree in a tomato-based sauce and it was recognisably so--otherwise the sauce was still a mystery; the other was chicken in vodka sauce but we couldn't recognise the meat as chicken, or the sauce as vodka-based. So here are the products we sampled!

What is it? Mystery Meat in Mystery Sauce.

What is it? Beef in tomato-based Mystery Sauce.