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Monday, August 19, 2002

Star Wars: Episode I

Somebody wrote up some complaints about Episode I. Their complaints are in quotes. My responses follow.

"However, even though the primitive beings have the technology for explosives they can't seem to come up with gunpowder. "

Just because they have the weapons doesn't necessarily mean they have the technology to produce them. Not that much different than most of the 3rd world where we have armies wielding AK-47's.

"In the great battle scene, the bad guys drive up in giant tanks and attempt to blast the good guys who are protected by their force field. This force field is transparent to visible light but nevertheless repels blasts of visible laser beams."

Could it be that the field can be penetrated by low intensity energy, but becomes opaque to higher levels? Seems I've run into this kind of physics elsewhere, though probably not involving energy.

"Why use armored vehicles to protect your troops if you're going to openly expose them to danger when you're parked in plain sight of your enemy?"

You use armored vehicles when going into battle. After you have engaged the enemy and found they are not a substantial threat, you may discard your armor. Or maybe they just used the troop carriers for carrying troops.

"A single W.W.II vintage 50 cal machine gun could have turned the entire army of droid tin men into a pile of tin cans."

Bullets are expensive. Some bean counter has decided energy weapons are more cost effective, or maybe they use energy weapons for environmental reasons.

"Once unloaded, the tin men came to life and marched forward, effortlessly passing through the force field's wall! Once again, we were left wondering why the bad guys wasted their money on a droid army when the force field was clearly incapable of stopping a metal object."

The force field evidently only blocks high concentrations of energy. Don't know if the droids are metal or not. Could be ceramic and/or plastic. You use a droid army for the same reason you use a real army: when you want to kill the enemy in detail without destroying everything and everyone else.

"A few marines with a machine gun could have easily done the job for a lot less expense."

You use the tools you have. Droids are built in automated factories. Droids are cheap. A few marines with a machine gun are not cheap.

"First, why would anyone design a droid army which was entirely dependent on receiving signals from a mother ship in outer space."

Common to all evil empires: central control.

"Second, why were none of the good guys smart enough to figure this out and jam the signals."

Even current technology allows us to send virtually undetectable, and therefor, unjammable signals. And we've only been messing with radio for 100 years.

"There was the flying junk yard dealer, Watto, with wings so small they couldn't possibly provide enough lift"

That's what science says about the bumble bee.

"the movements of the Jedi which appeared to have been pulled straight from B-grade kung fu movies"

they use the force.

"the incomprehensible pod race physics"

they've been using repulser fields for floating cars since the original. And the "jet engines" obviously use an advanced Eveready battery to heat air to an extreme temperature to give us the jet engine effect.

" not to mention a six year old poverty stricken, fatherless, slave boy who nevertheless had the time and resources to build a high-tech pod racer and an artificial life form."

depends on what you've got to work with. What can a precocious six year old make now that would have amazed a scientist from 100 years ago?

"Please kill off Jar Jar Binks"

I don't understand why we have Jar Jar Binks, but he certainly is a point of contention.

Monday, August 5, 2002

Wallops Travel

Dozed on and off most the way to Cincinnati. Airplane is terribly loud. Kept hearing this banging noise. I think it had something to do with my changes in perception of sound as I changed states of mind from dozing to deeper sleep perhaps. Kept waking me up in any case. Didn't get any real good sleep. Ride got a little rough coming into Cincinnati. Don't know if I was ever even in Ohio. Airport is called the Northern Kentucky/Cincinnati Airport, which leads me to believe that it is across the river from Cincinnati in Kentucky. Had maybe an hour layover there. At first I thought it was two hours. I thought Ohio was in the same time zone as Iowa, but it's not. Ohio is on Eastern time. All the years I lived there I never knew that. So after sitting for four hours in the plane I spent my time in Cincinnati walking up and down concourse B. Fifteen minutes round trip. I got in three rounds before they started queuing people to board the flight to Baltimore. I probably could have gotten in four, as slow as the queue moved and as many people as they had to board. Flight from Portland was packed. It was a wide bodied jet with two aisles. My seat was in the center section (three seats wide) on the left hand aisle. They served up a tolerably good breakfast: OJ, fresh fruit, sausage, scrambled eggs & potatoes, mini-bagel with cream cheese & grape jelly, and coffee. They showed a movie: "Big Fat Liar". They wanted $5 for headphones. I declined. If they had been the really good headphones, the ones with the liquid filled cushions that cut out all outside noise, they might have been worth it.

The flight from Cincinnati to Baltimore was also a little rough. All they served on this flight, which was just over an hour, was a snack: a bag of pretzels and a soda. Landing at both airports were rough: I think the weather had something to do with it. I heard something about thunderstorms while I was wandering around the Cincinnati airport.

Baltimore is miserable, narrow aisles, crowded, but at least you can go outside, which makes you appreciate being inside. It's 96 degrees outside, and humidity is up there, too. Not very nice.

Reserved a "Dodge Neon, or similar" car from Dollar Rent-A-Car over the Internet before I left. Got to BWI (Baltimore Washington International) airport. Go down to check the luggage. A lot of people standing around. No luggage. Go by the car rental counter, which is just down the hall from the luggage carousels. There is a line at the Dollar counter, no lines at the other counters, but there is one at Dollar. I go for a walk. Come back by the luggage carousel. They've changed my flight from carousel 6 to carousel 5. Still no luggage. Go stand in line at the car rental counter. Three agents, all busy, nobody has a simple rental. Stand there forever. One minute, five minutes, can't say. Doesn't matter. It's hell. But it's better than being on the plane, and it's better than being outside, so I stand. Eventually my turn comes up, and the rental goes smoothly. I'm done in a couple of minutes. Now I go look for my luggage. The carousel is empty. No wait a minute, there is my suitcase. Now it's empty, I find a sky cap and ask him about my flight and he tells me it's done. I'm about to ask him about my equipment case, and then I see it. I pull it off the carousel. The top and bottom are all pushed in from air pressure. I open the valve and they are partially restored. Now I haul my luggage out to the garage. Naturally, Dollar is clear at the end. Fortunately I guess the correct end. Stand in line for a minute or so at the kiosk and then I have the keys to number 65. So I'm walking down the line of cars. 65 is, naturally, at the far end. But I don't see any Dodge Neon's. I don't see any little cars at all. I get to #65, and I've got a big Chrysler! Well, shucky darn, if that don't beat all. I had been worried that I might not be able to get my equipment case into a Neon, but this thing has a cavernous trunk. It can hold this case, my bags and probably two more equipment cases without batting an eye. Well, this is nice, nicest thing that has happened today.

Saw a frog in the grass at the motel when I was walking back from dinner. Small, maybe an inch or two long.