Saturday, October 21, 2017

Star Wars scenes we'd like to see

On Dagobah in The Empire Strikes Back.
On board the Second Death Star in Return of the Jedi.
(Tip o’ th’ hat to Art Bell)

Vader:          Join me, Luke!  Together we shall rule the Galaxy as father and son. It is your destiny.
Luke:            You said that the last time! Why don’t you join me so we can work together to restore freedom to the Galaxy?  You were chosen to do this.
Vader:           What do you mean, son?
Luke:             Search your feelings, Father. You know this to be true.
Palpatine:     Don’t go into the light. It’s a trick!

On the Millenium Falcon in Star Wars.

On board the Second Death Star in Return of the Jedi.
(Tip o’ th’ hat to How It ShouldHave Ended on YouTube)

[The Emperor is about to unleash Force Lightning upon Luke Skywalker.]

Vader:          [Butting in] You said I killed Padme’ in my anger! Yet she bore me twins!
Palpatine:     She lost the will to live—so it’s true from a certain point of view.
Vader:           You LIED to me! I’ll KILL you!!

[Vader tackles Palpatine and the two fly out of view. Luke looks at the camera and shrugs as Force Lightning runs across the scene behind him.]

On board the Second Death Star in Return of the Jedi.
(This is an alternative to the above)

Now what was Vader thinking when Emperor Palpatine was unleashing Force Lightning upon poor Luke as he cries out, “Father! Help me!”?

I think it would have been something like this:

He’s killing my son; my daughter’ll be next! When he said I killed Padme’ in my anger, he lied—he lied to me! … I may not save my son, but I have to protect my daughter!

If George Lucas wanted to put something in the Special Edition to reflect on Vader’s state of mind, he should have included Vader’s thoughts, something like the above, instead of the insipid “No-o-o! NO-O-o-o-o-o!” that he actually put in there, which was derivative of the most insipid part of the final scene in Revenge of the Sith.

On Dagobah in The Empire Strikes Back.
In the Cantina in Star Wars.

Greedo:          … e leni ta crento oatka. Ta oaska! >That’s the idea. I’ve been looking   forward to this for a long time.<
Han:              Yeah. I’ll bet you have!
 [Han shoots poor Greedo before he has time to react. As he is frying, Han   walks out, tossing a hefty silver coin at the barkeep. The barkeep catches   it.]
Han:              Sorry about the mess.

Yes, I know this is the same as the scene as enacted in the 1977 Original.  But in 1997, what George Lucas went ahead and did was digitally reedit the scene so that Greedo shoots first. Greedo’s shot is directed so that he would miss hitting Han no matter what, but that wasn’t enough for George Lucas. He had Han’s whole upper body: torso, neck and head, tilt to the right (viewer’s left) in one jerky, neck-breaking movement, and then jerk back again. It looks like a department store dummy, and just stops the film right there. And in a perfect beat timing to Haddaway’sWhat is Love? . Of course this all reminds me of SNL’s sketch that inspired the film A Night at the Roxbury! (Tip o’ th’ hat to Hello Greedo on YouTube.) Newest Star Wars viewers are lucky in that in 2011 George Lucas hid this by cutting ten frames out of the action so that Greedo and Han fire almost at once. But those who saw the 1997 and 2004 versions had to suffer through this!

Saturday, October 14, 2017


This time she's Ophelia, a Category 3 who's sideswiping the Azores. This is probably the first time since the Eemian period that a Cat-3 hit the Azores.

Category 3 Hurricane Ophelia.
Let's see: there's Harvey (Cat 4), Irma (Cat 5), Jose (Cat 4), Maria (Cat 5), Lee (Cat 3), and Ophelia (Cat 3).

From the Wikipedia
... as of October 2017, six major hurricanes, the highest number since 2005, the highest total accumulated cyclone energy (ACE) since then, and being tied with 18781886, and 1893 for having the greatest number of consecutive hurricanes—[ten] with Franklin through Ophelia all reaching winds of at least 75 mph (120 km/h). In addition, it has thus far been a very destructive season and likely the costliest on record, with a preliminary total of over $186.8 billion (USD) in damages, nearly all of which was due to three of the major hurricanes of the season—HarveyIrma, and Maria. The season is also one of only six years to feature multiple Category 5 hurricanes. Irma's landfall on Barbuda and Maria's landfall on Dominica make 2017 the second season on record (after 2007) to feature two hurricanes making landfall at Category 5 intensity. In addition, Irma was the strongest hurricane ever recorded to form in the Atlantic Ocean outside of the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea.[2] This season is the only season on record in which three hurricanes each had an ACE of over 40: IrmaJose, and Maria.
[2]  Ops, NHC Atlantic (2017-09-05). "#Irma is the strongest #hurricane in the Atlantic basin outside of the Caribbean Sea & Gulf of Mexico in NHC records"@NHC_Atlantic. Retrieved 2017-09-05.

Three records ties, three broken, the highest accumulated cyclone energy. And Global Warming is supposed to be a myth! And it really looks like the worst case climate change so far is that in the observed data and informational records... except for surface temperatures!

ON EDIT 10-15-2017: Ophelia has since weakened to a Category 1 Hurricane and is expected to hit Ireland at that strength. Of course, it's not like this hasn't happened before, but still...

ON EDIT 10-17-2017: Ophelia's gone ashore on Ireland and when the Sun came up, the skies were orange.

Friday, October 6, 2017

New Orleans will be on the weak side of the storm.

Gulf Hurricanes that threaten New Orleans always veer east. Nate is predicted to conform to type. The question now is how strong he will be, since he will be threading the needle between the Yucatan and Cuba, traversing over deep, hot waters as he goes.

Nate's going in at the Mississippi Gulf Coast but there will still be storm surges in Plaquemines and Saint Bernard Parishes.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Tropical Depression 16 forms in the S.W. Caribbean

The National Hurricane Center takes the five-day track over the Florida Panhandle as a Category 1 Hurricane, called Nate.

Source: Weather Underground.

The hurricane's predicted path takes it over hot water in the Caribbean and a loop current eddy in the Gulf of Mexico.
Source: Univ of Miami via Weather Underground.

The reason why the NHC chose to route the hurricane into Florida was that only one model, the GFS, showed a predicted path for the hurricane going into Louisiana and that, according to their analysis, the GFS had the trough that will be steering Nate to be too strong. Weather Underground's Dr Jeff Masters reported so earlier this morning.

Now we have an 11 AM update to the model runs and instead of just the GFS routing Nate into Louisiana, there are now four of them. Three of them put him right on top of Bogalusa, La. at 11 AM Saturday morning! And only two models route the hurricane into the Florida Panhandle or Alabama.

Source: Weather Underground.
If this thing follows the NAM track, the HMON track, or the TVCN track, it could become a very bad hurricane! We're not out of this yet.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

All things Yoda...

Okay, not all things that are about Yoda and are available on the internet. The vast quantity of those things has probably approached infinity. But all things in this blog article will be about Yoda.

And so we're off!

 True. Especially when someone swipes a photo of you as a young child.

But Yoda has learned wisdom over the years and so he doesn't let it consume him. But he is a bit particular when someone mentions his size.

And there was the time when Luke trained under him on the planet Atchafalaya 😉 in the Dagobah system. First was Luke's vision in the Cave of Death:

So Yoda knew Disney was going to take over Star Wars and fuck it up! Hence, The Force Awakens.

Then when Luke tried to lift his ship and couldn't do it (because he couldn't believe he could do it):

Then Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy showed up, and Luke proposed!

But enough about Luke, let's get to some wisdom, shall we?

He even has wisdom to those who rummage through other people's smart phones!

Of course, sometimes he's not the most tactful person...

Especially to trolls and buffoons, and most especially to trollfoons!

And if they don't like it? Here's his parting shot:

Friday, September 22, 2017

Hurricane Maria and Climate Change

A brick building under renovation after deacdes of neglect is destroyed by Hurricane Maria.

“This looks like a different country,” Marimar de la Cruz (NYT)

Well Maria just went through Puerto Rico and the place was utterly destroyed. Houses were torn apart, roofs sheered off, even high-rise concrete condominiums got holes blasted in their walls (probably cinderblock). Trees were uprooted or denuded of all vegetation, rainforests "logged," wildlife refuges devastated (the wild horses on Vieques), cities and highways badly flooded, telephone and electric lines thrown down and communications disrupted. It's now utterly medieval down there, a complete disaster.

This was just after the same storm hit Dominica, Guadeloupe and Martinique in the Leeward Islands and Irma previously drove a wide swath of devastation all the way from Barbuda through the northern Leeward islands all the way to upstate Florida and beyond, wreaking havoc on those same islands, Cuba and the Florida Keys most especially; and Irma was after Harvey, who devastated Rockport, Texas, before drenching Houston with 40 inches of rain.

Now politicians are loath to say that any present-day event or phenomenon has been made to occur or become stronger by that bugaboo of all right-thinking Conservatives, called Climate Change, or Anthropogenic Global Warming. But when we look at the record of Category Five Hurricanes over the decades, we will have to admit that such phenomena are, indeed, facts.

And here are the facts:

1) The amount of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) in the Earth's atmosphere has increased from 280 ppm CO2 in the 1880s to 410 ppm CO2 (490 ppm CO2e) today.

2) The global mean surface temperature has increased by 1.25 degrees C in that same time, in three fits and starts interrupted by declines or pauses.

3) The amount of atmospheric water vapor has simultaneously increased by about 5%.

4) The record shows that the number of Category Five Hurricanes in the Atlantic have increased from zilch a hundred and seventeen years ago to as many as two per year now. Here's the list:

1851-1900 50 years 0 Cat-5 Hurricanes
1901-1930 30 years 2 Cat-5 Hurricanes
1931-1960 30 years 8 Cat-5 Hurricanes
1961-1990 30 years 10 Cat-5 Hurricanes
1991-2016 26 years 13 Cat-5 Hurricanes
The midpoint of the linked data base's page is in 1955; the windspeed is in knots.

A better measurement would be by 50 year increments--it may make the time period 2001-2016 look even more extreme!

Note that there were ZERO, ZILCH, ZIP, NADA category Five Hurricanes in the Atlantic from 1851 through 1900. Next there were only two in the period ending in 1930, eight from 1931 through 1960, and ten from 1961 through 1990. Thirteen so far have occurred in the period beginning in 1991.

And we're not done yet!, for the Gulf and the Caribbean are warmer than normal (Earth Nullschool), the Carribean especially, and a zone of low wind shear sits above both (Accuweather dot com).

What to do about it? Well I'm not making any recommendations and I'm not expecting much, despite the Climate Change Progressives demanding that the Government at all levels act on Global Warming (how?) and counting  on the private sector to do a crash program to deliver the goods to decarbonize our economy, i.e., free us from our dependency on fossil fuels. Me? I'm not sure how much the private sector can do, how much the Government is willing to do without fucking everything up as usual, and how much the ordinary citizen is willing to sacrifice: giving up consumption to insulate and make more energy-efficient our homes and giving up our cars--the latter being impossible in most cases without losing our jobs and making our lives grossly inconvenient!

No, business as usual will go on, until it can't. And then it won't... just like in Puerto Rico.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

THIS is how we make America Great Again.

Get on national talk radio and suggest Hurricane Irma is a hoax.

Hurricane Irma is gathering strength over the Atlantic Ocean as it heads towards the Caribbean. Already rated Category 5, it is expected to make landfall in Florida by the end of the week, with many worried about a repeat of the havoc caused in Texas and Louisiana by Hurricane Harvey. 
None of that seems to worry Rush Limbaugh. 
On Monday, the right-wing radio personality delivered a customarily freewheeling monologue in which he seemed to suggest that hurricanes were a liberal conspiracy intended to convince the public that climate change is real.
The problem is, some people are inclined to believe this and not prepare for Irma and as a result, suffer property damage... or worse. 
And for those who don't believe Hurricane Irma is a hoax, threaten them with jail or price-gouge!
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd went on Twitter to issue a warning to Florida residents who might seek shelter from Hurricane Irma:

If you go to a shelter for  and you have a warrant, we'll gladly escort you to the safe and secure shelter called the Polk County Jail 

Ride it out and risk death or face arrest for seeking shelter. Polk County has a strange way of protecting and serving.  
For what it’s worth, for those seeking to leave Florida, they’d have to be wealthy to get a flight out. Complaints of airlines price gouging are pouring in:
Complaints of price gouging are on the rise in the Sunshine State, reaching the point where Attorney General Pam Bondi has activated a hotline to report businesses suspected of taking advantage of people preparing for the storm. As of Tuesday afternoon, the hotline had received 143 calls.

One example:

John Lyons
on Tuesday
Very bad job by American Airlines. Booked a one-way ticket last night for my daughter to come home this Thursday night using this exact itinerary. Paid $160.00. Now with hurricane warnings in effect, American is gouging for the same ticket to the tune of over $1000 per person and close friends daughter who cannot afford is stranded.

Friday, August 25, 2017

The C'ville violence? Looks like the Alt-Rightists started it.

Alt-rightists (read: White Supremacists) push their way into Emancipation / Lee Park.
From Bill Hicks, a commentor at Morris Berman's at Dark Ages America blog:
My father lives near Charlottesville, and told me that a friend--a retired Baptist minister--was among the clergy who went down to oppose the rally. At one point, they linked arms formed a line to show their solidarity against hatred, only to have several of the protesters shove into them and knock several of them down. When they asked some nearby policemen to do something, the officers shrugged, and my father's friend said that he could swear one of them was smirking. 
Verified by this report--with photographs--that although the alt-leftists almost committed the first violence of the day, it was the alt-rightists who shoved the ministers from their line... thus starting the violence. What!? They couldn't just go around the ministers to hold their rally? Instead of going through?

And don't tell me the ministers and the other counter-protestors didn't have a permit. They did, and besides, to counter-protest the White Supermacists, it was superflorous.

Maybe that's the reason the police basically did nothing, and things got violent.

PS the White Supremacists got violent without provocation the night before. One got teargassed by someone acting in self-defense (shown in another vid put up by And below is some raw video footage of the torchlight parade, 38 minutes long (link to YouTube).

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Eclipse Yesterday.

Yesterday was the Solar Eclipse that tracked its way across the US; another one won't cross the country until the year 2045. Anyway, here in New Orleans we didn't get a total eclipse, but a 75% coverage eclipse.  Between about 1:10 and 1:45 the sunlight--even the daylight--was noticeably weaker and the atmosphere was comfortable and not broiling like it usually is, and was yesterday, before and after the times indicated. Anyway here are some pics I took of the eclipse--not directly but indirectly.

This is a photo of the eclipse--north is at the top--as interpreted through the leaves of a couple of trees onto a wooden plank deck behind the local public library. Note all the crescent shaped splashes of light. The effect is wicked cool, like a Japanese painting of the leaves of a tree. This was taken close to the time of maximum exposure.  Note too that the gaps in the shade acted as pinholes so that the light-rays land in opposite positions (toward the north-northeast) than they were upon entering the gaps (from the south-southwest).

This next was also taken during the time of maximum coverage but the damned iPhone camera made it appear like the eclipse was just ending and the moon was departing to the north-northeast after travelling from the south-southwest over the sun. A pinhole transposes the light to land in opposite direction from the direction it enters the pinhole.

And this last is a close-up of the image through the pinhole. As you can see, one of the corners is obviously rounded, the other corner less so. But it’s fucking annoying when you want a sharper image of the object you’re taking a photo of and the camera can only make it only so sharp—that is, up to a point, and worse (more blunt) when taking an image made by light going through a pinhole.

Friday, August 18, 2017

America Is Finished.

Morris Berman is right, America is finished!

With the ever-increasing mutual backlash between the white supremacist alt-right, the Christian right, the libertarian right, the establishment center a.k.a. the government, the politically correct left and the Marxian-anarchist ultra-left, we are on a vicious (virtuous?) circle toward Civil War 2.0. Actually, like the War Between the States, this will be no real civil war (two factions competing for power like the War of the Roses, the English Civil War of the mid-Seventeenth Century and the Russian Civil War of 1917-1921) but an uncivil war between multiple cultures with irreconcilable differences with each other. Madness!

From The Daily Signal---although I don't agree with the writer's politics I do for the most part agree with this:

  I Went to Charlottesville During the Protests. Here’s What I Saw. (Jarrett Stepman)
In a country of 320 million people of stunningly diverse ethnic backgrounds and philosophies, this is a fire bell in the night for complete cultural disintegration. The end result will be uglier than the already sickening events that took place this past weekend.

The Federalist’s publisher, Ben Domenech, rightly noted what this means for the direction of the country: “[I]t is the open conflict of a nation at war with itself over its own character. This war will end badly, no matter how it plays out. And the way this story ends is in demolishing [Thomas Jefferson’s] Monticello brick by brick.”

There is no arc of history bending perpetually on its own toward justice. History is instead a series of twists and turns, influenced by cultural and social forces as well as individuals and communities.

America has never been a perfect nation. It has benefitted from great ideas advanced by imperfect men, and almost miraculously formed a great and good national community
[Ed-M: really!?] out of widely disparate elements.
A great national community, true, not necessarily a good one.

From Liberty's Blitzkrieg via The Automatic Earth:

  Americans Are Rapidly Descending Into Madness (Krieger)
I don’t live in an echo chamber, partly because there aren’t enough people out there who think like me, but also because I constantly and intentionally attempt to challenge my worldview by reading stuff from all over the political map. I ingest as much as I can from a wide variety of intelligent sources, picking and choosing what makes sense to me, and then synthesizing it the best I can. Though I’m certainly grounded in certain key principles, my perspective on specific issues remains malleable as I take in additional information and perspectives. I try to accept and acknowledge my own ignorance and view life as a journey of constant mental, emotionally and spiritual growth. If I’m not growing my capacity in all of those realms until the day I die, I’m doing it wrong. Life should be seen as a battle against one’s own ignorance, as opposed to an obsession with the ignorance of others.

You can’t legislate morality, nor can you legislate wisdom. The only way the world will improve on a long-term sustainable basis is if more of us get wise. That’s a personal journey and it’s our individual duty to accept it. While I’m only in control of my own behavior, this doesn’t mean that the behavior of others is irrelevant to my life. Unfortunately, what I see happening to the population of America right now seems very troublesome and foreboding. What I’m witnessing across the board is hordes of people increasingly separating themselves into weird, unthinking cults. Something appears to have snapped in our collective consciousness, and many individuals I used to respect (on both sides of the political spectrum) are becoming disturbingly polarized and hysterical. People are rapidly morphing into radicalized mental patients.

What’s worse, this environment is providing a backdrop for the most destructive people of my lifetime – neoconservatives and neo liberals – to preen around on corporate media as “the voices of reason.” This is one of the most perverse and dangerous side-effects of the current political climate. If in your disgust with Trump, you’re willing to run into the cold embrace of these destroyers of the middle class and the Middle East, you’ll get what you deserve. In contrast, if we really want to deal with our very real and very systemic problems, the last thing we need is a population-level mental breakdown that leads to a longing for the criminally destructive political status quo, yet that’s exactly what seems to be happening.
Why do the Gods hate America? 😉

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Trump's let loose again.

OMG, this guy is an embarassment! 😲

From The New York Times:

Trump Defends Initial Remarks on Charlottesville; Again Blames ‘Both Sides’

WASHINGTON — President Trump reverted Tuesday to blaming both sides for the deadly violence in Charlottesville, Va., and at one point questioned whether the movement to pull down Confederate statues would lead to the desecration of memorials to George Washington.
Abandoning his precisely chosen and carefully delivered condemnations of the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis from a day earlier, the president furiously stuck by his initial reaction to the unrest in Charlottesville. He drew the very moral equivalency for which a bipartisan chorus, and his own advisers, had already criticized him.
“I think there is blame on both sides,” the president said in a combative exchange with reporters at Trump Tower in Manhattan. “You had a group on one side that was bad. You had a group on the other side that was also very violent. Nobody wants to say that. I’ll say it right now.”
Mr. Trump defended those gathered in a Charlottesville park to protest the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee. “I’ve condemned neo-Nazis. I’ve condemned many different groups,” he said. “Not all of those people were neo-Nazis, believe me. Not all of those people were white supremacists by any stretch.”
Well I'd like to know just who were there who were protesting the removal of the two statues of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson if they weren't all White Supremacists, Neo-Confederates, Nazis, and the like, because it sure looked to me like they all were, or at least that's the story the pics taken by the news media and others tell me. And that's the whole effect that these extremists groups wanted to convey, with their show of intimidation Friday night.

And where was the violence that Donald Trump alleges was committed by the counter-protestors, you know, those on the other side? I haven't seen it yet. And one alt-rightist meme that was working its way around the web that the motorist who plowed into protestors floored it because his car was being pummeled by big stick-wielding leftist protestors is easily disproven by a simple google search for raw video footage of the collision: it turns out that he, at high speed, rear-ended a white automobile and pushed it into a crowd of pedestrians in a crosswalk and then floored it IN REVERSE, dragging the white car's rear bumper and someone's personal effect with him.

And the statues honoring the Confederate side in the War Between the States? Their removal will probably now be expedited, thanks to the violence that went down in Charlottesville this past weekend. I'm don't like the erasure of history, mind you, better than to reinterpret it and explain it, but when this sort of issue sparks violence, it's the side that initiates the violence and is seen as the most violent that loses control of the argument.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Civil War 2 Brewing?

Robert E. Lee Statue in Charlottesville, VA.
Source: Getty Images.
It appears that both sides overplaying their hand is going to get us all into Civil War 2.0 -- not the Second War Between the States, but everybody fighting each other like starving rats. This past weekend there was a show of intimidation Friday night by various white nationalists in Charlottesville, VA.

White Nationalists' march through the U of Va Campus Friday Night.
White Nationalists surround counter-protestors at Jefferson's statue at the U of Va.

Show of colors by White Nationalists Saturday in Charlottesville, VA.
White Nationalists confront Antifascists in Charlottesville, VA Saturday.
This show was provoked by the city's misguided vote to simply remove equestrian statues of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson back in April. A judge had blocked the removal for six months in May, but somebody heard something through the grapevine and so white nationalists organised a rally for this past weekend to protest the incipient removal. Of course, the city revoked the Unite The Right rally that was supposed to take place yesterday -- apparently, it did -- because of the torchlight march Friday night and somebody was pissed off and now we have one killed and several injured because some disgruntled individual plowed his automobile into a crowd of counter-protestors.

Stonewall Jackson Statue in Charlottesville, VA.
Source: Getty Images.
Here are some facts about the statues:

1. The city council voted to remove the Lee and Jackson statues in April.
2. A State judge delayed the removal by six months so that the Virginia courts can decide or not to permanently block the removal.
3. The first torch-wielding protest march was back in May.
4. The R.E. Lee statue was commissioned in 1917 and completed in 1924.
5. The removal of both statues could cost the city upwards of $700.000.00.
6. There are over a thousand Confederate monuments in 31 states, twenty more than the eleven that actually seceded from the Union and formed the Confederate States of America.

There's got to be a solution other than just taking down these statues and the thousand-something others; they are a part of our history. Three Confederate monuments and one White Suprmacist monument got removed here in New Orleans this spring; our mayor said there should be "remembrance, not reverence." Judging by how the local removal proceeded and what the removers left behind and the condition they left the monuments' remnants in, it looks to me more like vandalism and forgetfulness. There's got to be a better solution: I say, leave the statues be, but put up some explanatory plaques that mention the mentality of the times when these statues were put up.