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5 June 2002
11 June 2002
The battle of Stalingrad represents one of the most significant turning points of the 20th century: the German Wehrmacht was defeated in a titanic struggle on the shores of the River Volga by a Red Army that, only a few months earlier, had appeared to be on the verge of complete defeat.
(B)oth Walsh and Beevor point out that at a certain point, the 62nd Red Army, which held its desperately contested piece of Stalingrad during the entire battle and must be considered one of the most heroic forces in the history of warfare, was essentially used as bait to keep the Germans in the trap. As the appallingly high Russian casualties mounted, the Soviet high command simply sent in enough reinforcements to keep the Germans at bay.
15 June 2002
Last week, Merrystar’s co-workers organized a daytime trip to see Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones and she invited me to come along. While watching the movie several things struck me:
- Merrystar struck me several times as she cowered during the romantic scenes. Her comments of “oh brother,” “give me a break,” and “nooooooo” were entirely appropriate. I will not object, however, to any movie that both 1) makes my fiancee clutch my arm, and 2) lets me oogle Natalie Portman, no matter how awful the dialogue she’s asked to say.
- Speaking of the dialogue, there are plenty of memorable lines from Episode II. Unfortunately, they’re all bad. “I’ve been dying a little bit every day … since I started using AIPS++” got a big laugh.
- I thought the actors did a great job with their body language. Any flaws in the storylines weren’t because of that.
- I wonder about the unconscious motives of Amidala by her choice of clothes around Anakin. He’s 18, for crimey’s sake! Don’t wear a bustier around someone who can remove it with the Force. Sheesh.
- I regret that more time wasn’t spent on the political plot. I would have gladly traded in all of the romantic scenes for two minutes of footage of the italian countryside, followed by a minute for their marriage. There’s 45 extra minutes to talk about the Trade Federation’s motives for joining the Separatists.
- Five reasons: Yoda, Yoda, Yoda, R2-D2, Yoda. Merrystar didn’t know about the fight scene and was blown away. I knew about it and had the same reaction. Zooming droids are always a pleasure to watch, but bounding CGI muppets are pure joy.
- Did anyone else think of the burning of the Reichstag during the Senate vote?
- The portrayal of the decaying Republic is a little too timely, what with the executive branch taking power from the legislature. At times I caught myself wondering, could Lucas be making a subtly anti-democratic mass-market film? Watch the hands/bounding muppets, people!
This last possibility intruiged me, much as David Brin’s essay comparing Star Wars to Star Trek did. The protagonists of the story support a corrupt, ineffective governement - never mind that it’s representative, perhaps in name only, but we aren’t really shown - that goes to war against seceding planets, who are the antagonists.
Don’t get me wrong: I love morally ambigious stories. But my frustration at having screen time devoted to a romance is understandable when I want to know: is George Lucas an anarchist?
Hmmmmm. Perhaps I should just go watch the bounding muppets.
21 June 2002
I just finished reading the very good Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader, a collection of bibliophilic essays. Touching and funny in all the right places. I recommend it for all those who spend more time choosing books than clothes when packing for a trip; you know who you are.
22 June 2002
It tolls for webcasters. From jwz’s DNA Lounge Sequencing:
Well, you may have heard that the Librarian of Congress released the final ruling on the additional webcasting rates: they are half of what CARP proposed, but still high enough that they will put nearly every webcaster out of business, since the new fees will be way more than any of them make. And certainly more than we make here, since we don’t make a dime on our webcasts. Buy a t-shirt, won’t you?
As far as I can tell, the only “appeal process” remaining is to write your representatives and get Congress to change the existing law. Save Internet Radio has links and suggested messages.
Also: Save our Streams.