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June 14, 2013

Sony: accidental good guys

So, let’s review.

Microsoft announces that the new XBox One will contain some built-in capabilities to restrict playing used games. The gaming world collectively craps their pants in outrage. Sony (one of the suckiest companies on the planet, in my opinion) opportunistically announces that the next Playstation won’t have any such restrictions. The gaming world falls all over themselves trying to be first in line to kiss the feet of Sony’s execs in gratitude.

Meanwhile, I’m wondering why nobody seems to remember that Sony was the company infecting their customers’ PCs with rootkits not so many years ago in an attempt to stop legal copying of music and movies.

Microsoft and Sony: both run by complete assclowns. The Wii U is looking better and better by the day.

August 30, 2012

Another brick…

June 21, 2012

MacBook Pro internals vs. Bender

A lot is being made of the internals of the new MacBook Pro, but anyone else notice this?

Macbook Pro and Bender

May 27, 2012

Ewokophobia: Part 2

Ewoks are so cute and kid-friendly. It’s obvious they were only included in Return of the Jedi to sell toys.

ewok village

"Bring me the head of the one they call Solo. I wish to drink wine from his skull."

The Shameless Star Wars Apologist has to concede at least one thing in this argument: the Ewoks were indeed very cute.

However, we’re having a little trouble figuring out what their cutest trait was. Was it the big puppy-dog eyes? Was it their cute, teddy bear shape? Was it their willingness to feast on human flesh? Was it their bizarre religious fanaticism centered around C-3PO? Was it the way their shaman wore that skull on his head? Or (this one gets my vote) was it their apparent willingness to kill stormtroopers without a second thought?

Couple that adorable, religious-zealot bloodlust with a unicorn and you got yourself a hot-selling toy. Someone get Hasbro on the phone!

See, for all the wailing and moaning about something cute ruining Jedi, there seems to be an unwillingness to acknowledge what appears to be a bit of a darker (albeit fuzzy) underbelly to these creatures. They’re not 100% cute and kid-friendly. Maybe you’d have a point if the Ewoks had whisked our heroes away to some Willy Wonka-esque candy factory and defeated the stormtroopers by showering them with rainbows and hugs. But that didn’t happen.

Regardless of the not-so-cute actions of the Ewoks, the other side of the argument goes that there’s simply no place for cute and fuzzy in a universe populated with so many grotesque and frightening creatures. How could teddy bears exist in a galaxy populated with slug-like Hutts and slobbering, clawed Rancors?

Well, it stands to reason that somewhere and somehow in a galaxy filled with so many planets and so many types of creatures, evolutionary processes will find a way to produce a few cute and cuddly ones. They’re not all going to look hideous and revolting.

Consider Chewbacca. He’s just a tall Ewok. In fact, George Lucas is on record saying that the Ewoks were created by re-imaginging Wookiees as a smaller race. Nobody complained about Wookiees being, if not cute and cuddly (and able to rip your arms off) at least non-hideous and non-grotesque.

A galaxy that can produce Wookiees can also produce Ewoks. And hey, if that sells toys and annoys fans, blame Charles Darwin.

May 13, 2012

Obi-Wan Kenobi: Jedi master, mentor, serial liar.

What is up with Obi-Wan lying to Luke? First, he tells him his dad died. Then he tells Luke his father wanted him to have the lightsaber when he was old enough. Can’t the guy ever be honest?

Luke and Obi Wan

"So, Luke, did I ever tell you about that huge fish I caught?"

At first glance, it seems Obi-Wan is indeed full of creative twists on the truth, to put it politely. Just in the first few minutes after Team Luke arrives at Obi-Wan’s house, we have numerous questionable statements or assertions not supported by the events of the prequels. The biggest one involving the fate of Luke’s father is later addressed in Jedi so that won’t be touched here, but there are other questionable statements about Anakin’s lightsaber and the role of Luke’s uncle, Owen.

LUKE: No, my father didn’t fight in the wars. He was a navigator on a spice freighter.

BEN: That’s what your uncle told you. He didn’t hold with your
father’s ideals. Thought he should have stayed here and not gotten involved.

And then later….

BEN: I have something here for you. Your father wanted you to have this when you were old enough, but your uncle wouldn’t allow it. He feared you might follow old Obi-Wan on some damn fool idealistic crusade like your father did. [...] Your father’s lightsaber. You can tell it belonged to your father because the initials D.V. are engraved into… er, never mind. That’s… um, just forget about that part.

“So, let’s get this straight,” says the non-apologist viewer of Star Wars. “Thanks to the revisions in the prequels, Obi-Wan is now telling Luke another lie about his father wanting Luke to have the lightsaber. How was that possible when, as we clearly see in Sith, Anakin had no idea Luke even existed?”

Before we get into why Obi-Wan isn’t necessarily lying, let’s consider what this dialogue originally meant to the viewer in the pre-prequel era.

These bits of dialogue serve the purpose of showing us that there are off-screen interactions between the characters in question and give us a vague glimpse into some background info on the characters. When Star Wars was originally released, we assumed Obi-Wan had discussed Luke’s future with Anakin. That seems the most reasonable conclusion but that’s not the only possible explanation for Obi-Wan’s comments.

Without doubt, the prequels change the context of Obi-Wan’s comments, but before and after the prequels, this dialogue is vague and alludes to things we don’t get to see. Just because Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith didn’t explicitly clarify all this doesn’t mean Obi-Wan is lying or that this is a plot hole.

As with many things in the original trilogy, you have to be willing to let go of your initial ideas about what all this was. We now have the whole story albeit not all of the specific details to explain Obi-Wan’s comments. Does that make it a plot hole? No. It wasn’t a plot hole before the prequels and we weren’t shown what it all meant, and it’s not one now just because some of the details have been clarified. You need to consider it in light of the events we know now and bridge the gaps with new assumptions to replace the old assumptions.

Consider this exchange along with Uncle Owen’s “crazy old wizard” and Obi-Wan’s “I hear you’ve become quite a good pilot yourself” and you have a definite implication that Obi-Wan and Owen have met and talked a few times during Luke’s youth, probably about Luke’s future. And we know that Obi-Wan is secretly keeping an eye on Luke, considering when and how (and perhaps if) to begin training him as a Jedi. Perhaps Obi-Wan tentatively brought up the idea of training Luke, and Owen put his foot down.

BEN: Nice weather we’re having today, eh, Owen?

OWEN: Of course, it’s nice weather. We have two freakin’ suns, moron!

BEN: Ah yes, yes. I see that. Now about Luke–

OWEN: I told you already, I won’t have this kid going off to ruin his life with excitement and adventure and sex with exotic alien chicks! He’s staying here where he’ll have a good life whining and being bored out his skull like the rest of us. Now go on and stay away from him.

BEN: But I trained his father and we fought against the separatists during the Clone Wars. That was a honorable life.

OWEN: And look what happened to him thanks to you and your training. Anakin would have been better off just staying here and not getting involved. No, keep your idealistic crusades to yourself.

BEN: Ah yes, speaking of which… his father and I were very good friends, fought together side-by-side. He told me many times that if anything ever happened to him, that he wanted me to give his lightsaber to a member of his family. I thought perhaps that should be Luke.

OWEN: Not happening.

BEN: Oh but I think you will allow Luke to have it.

OWEN: Nice try, but those mind tricks only work when I’ve sucked down a couple bottles of blue rum.

BEN: Good day, Owen.

Before the prequels, we could only piece together interactions between Obi-Wan and Owen in our imagination. The prequels don’t change that, even by not addressing these comments. They just cast the discussion in a new light and hint at a few more specifics without fully revealing them.

May 11, 2012

The ever-diminishing bad-assery of Han Solo

Oh, the eternal question that has vexed mankind from our earliest days of civilization (i.e., 1977): Who shot first, Han or Greedo?

han_solo_greedo

"Don't mind the gun, Solo. I'm just happy to see you."

Go ahead and answer that question but allow me to follow it up by paraphrasing the preeminent philosopher of our day, Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog, and respond that, no, the correct answer is “Who gives a shit?”

When George Lucas first unveiled his changes to the original Star Wars film, fans were up-in-arms immediately over the revisions, but in terms of sheer pants-shitting outcry, this one is the granddaddy of ‘em all. This is the biggie. This is the one that had the power to send countless grown men screaming and crying back to the safety of their childhood memories where, like today, they were still virgins.

So what was the big deal anyway?

Well, in the original version of the film, Han Solo shoots before Greedo has any idea what’s going on. In the revision, Greedo shoots at Han just a split-second before Han takes him out.

And that is the controversial change, an alteration that occupies about one-quarter second of film time. No really. If you’re not a Star Wars fan, I’m seriously not making this up.

The argument against Greedo shooting first goes about like this. In the original film, Han Solo was a Super Awesome Bad Ass®. Despite having a gun pointed at him, Solo stayed cool and collected, if not downright flippant, traded a few not-so-friendly words with the diminutive green bounty hunter across the table from him and promptly ended the discussion with a Greedo-splitting blast that left the entire cantina in stunned silence. Then, with all eyes on him, Solo casually saunters out with enough attitude to fill ten Quentin Tarantino films, flips the bartender a coin (no tip!) and apologizes for the mess. All in a day’s work. For a bad ass, that is.

So, yeah. That’s some serious tough guy act. Even The Shameless Star Wars Apologist wonders how Solo manages to walk so easily in that scene when clearly he’s packing testicles of galactic proportions. (Perhaps that’s where the smuggling skills come in to play.)

The argument against the revision is that Greedo’s shot justifies Solo’s lethal actions and, therefore, dilutes the pure bad ass nature of Solo’s personality. But that doesn’t matter. Greedo has already provoked and justified Solo’s actions just by sitting down with his weapon drawn and aimed. Whether Greedo shoots at this point or not is irrelevant. The threat is there. The justification for Solo’s actions were in place from the original release of the film.

So how does that one shot from Greedo change anything we learn about Solo in that scene?

• Still cool as a Corellian cucumber, even at gunpoint? Check.

• Still trading tough words with the green bounty hunter? Check.

• Still manages to get his gun out with bad ass stealth? Check.

• Still kills Greedo with one shot? Check.

• Still saunters out like wasting someone was no big deal? Check.

• Still doesn’t tip? Check.

How did Greedo shooting first make Solo any less of a bad ass? It didn’t because it didn’t change the underlying situation in any significant way. And until Lucas changes the scene to make Solo plead like a coward for his life or digitally alters Greedo into a little schoolgirl, Han Solo will continue to be the Super Awesome Bad Ass® he always was.

August 23, 2011

At least they’re not using the Chewbacca defense.

Hard to believe that Samsung is actually using fictional devices to defend themselves.

June 28, 2011

500K Android activations—strange coincidence or PR spin?

I’m seeing a lot of interesting news stories circulating in the techo-chamber today about Android reaching the phenomenal milestone of 500K daily activations. This information originates from the Twitter stream of Andy Rubin, the Senior Vice President of Mobile at Google.

Like some of you, I’m wondering how that fits with news from last week that Android’s U.S. market share has begun to slip during the last 4 months.

I’d say reaching this 500K milestone almost simultaneously with the market share news is either an amazing coincidence or Rubin and Google’s PR people are playing loose with the numbers. That’s not such a leap when you consider that all but one of Rubin’s tweets (of which, there are a grand total of 5) are reactions to negative Android news stories.

Look at his Twitter stream and tell me what it looks like to you.

You might argue that 500K activations is a significant milestone worth tweeting. I’d say you’re right, but I would also note that 100K, 200K, 300K, 400K are all equally significant milestones. And yet Rubin tweeted about only one of those—not coincidentally, in response to circulating news about iOS activations outpacing Android.

Likewise, his first tweet was in response to news stories questioning Android’s openness.

Another of his tweets links to a post on the Android blog responding to recent news stories. (“Recently, there’s been a lot of misinformation in the press about Android and Google’s role in supporting the ecosystem….”)

Rubin is clearly using his Twitter account as a PR outlet for countering unfavorable news stories about Android, and that puts the timing of Android reaching this “milestone” into question.

I’m thinking Rubin’s comment about Android reaching 500K activations is just a preemptive strike against those market share stories evolving into an “Android is in trouble” narrative. That means, it’s more PR than hard data and probably inflated in every conceivable way.

In other words, my BS-o-meter is going to 10K.

February 11, 2011

Two sinking ships tied together

Anyone else getting flashbacks to the Blockbuster/Circuit City deal?

February 9, 2011

Flash 10.2 requirements

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