Thursday’s Forum

FILED UNDER: Open Forum
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Anita Alvarez was at the centre of a dramatic episode at the world swimming championships in Budapest on Wednesday when the artistic swimmer had to be rescued from the bottom of the pool by her coach after losing consciousness in the water.

    American Alvarez had completed her solo free final at the World Aquatics Championships when she fainted and sank to the bottom of the pool. Andrea Fuentes, her coach, quickly realised something was amiss and dived in fully clothed to pull Alvarez up to the surface.

    Alvarez, competing at her third world championships, was not breathing when Fuentes dragged her with some assistance to the side of the pool. The swimmer was taken from there to the pool’s medical centre, and Team USA later issued a statement saying she was doing well. Fuentes said that despite the incident, Alvarez still hoped to compete in Friday’s team event.

    “It was a big scare,” Fuentes was reported as saying by Spanish newspaper Marca. “I was scared because I saw she was not breathing, but now she is doing very well. She only had water in her lungs, once she started breathing again everything was OK.

    It is not the first time Alvarez has fainted in the pool, according to reports. A similar scene played out at an Olympic qualifier in Spain last year when a fully-clothed Fuentes again jumped into the pool to make a rescue. At the time, Alvarez’s mother, Karen, said, “Unfortunately, I’ve seen it happen to her before.”

    She has a habit of passing out in competitions but everything is OK? I come to a slightly different conclusion.

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  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    A team of biologists recently hauled in the heaviest Burmese python ever captured in Florida, officials said. The discovery was part of the state’s python removal program. The female python weighed in at 215 pounds (98 kg), was nearly 18ft long (5 metres) and had 122 developing eggs, the Conservancy of Southwest Florida said in a news release.

    The team used radio transmitters implanted into male “scout” snakes to study python movements, breeding behaviors and habitat use, said Ian Bartoszek, wildlife biologist and environmental science project manager for the conservancy’s program.

    “How do you find the needle in the haystack? You could use a magnet, and in a similar way our male scout snakes are attracted to the biggest females around,” Bartoszek said. The team used a scout snake named Dionysus – or Dion for short – in an area of the western Everglades. “We knew he was there for a reason, and the team found him with the largest female we have seen to date.”

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  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    The New York woman sent in an order to the Chipper Truck Cafe, a restaurant in Yonkers, New York, with a note asking restaurant workers to call the police.

    “Please call the police his going to call me when u delivered come with the cones please don’t make it obvious,” wrote the 24-year old woman in the “Additional Information” section of her order. A post on the restaurant’s Facebook page said that the woman had placed the order shortly after 5am eastern time. “I’ve often heard of this happening but never thought it would happen to us,” read the post. “Thankfully we were open and able to help her.”

    Alice Bermejo, who owns the Chipper Truck Cafe, said that when the order came in, workers at the restaurant were unsure if it was a prank, but were encouraged by her husband to call the police. “The message came in, and the girls read it and they called my husband to see what they should do,” said Bermejo to CBS News. “He told them, let’s call the police, we can’t take any risk or chance.”

    Police arrived at the delivery address at 6.20am, reported NBC news, citing the New York Police department, and were able to rescue the woman, who was taken to an area hospital.

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  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Coming to a hospital near you:

    Doctors have denied an American woman on holiday in Malta a potentially life-saving abortion, despite saying her baby had a “zero chance” of survival after she was admitted to hospital with severe bleeding in her 16th week of pregnancy.

    Despite an “extreme risk” of haemorrhage and infection, doctors at the Mater Dei hospital in Msida told Andrea Prudente that they would not perform a termination because of the country’s total ban on abortion.

    Prudente and her husband are seeking a medical transfer from Malta to the UK, which the couple say is their only option due to the risk to her life. They claim medical staff were uncooperative in their attempts to leave and in sharing medical records with the couple’s insurance company.

    “I just want to get out of here alive,” Prudente told the Guardian from her hospital room in Malta’s capital, Valletta. “I couldn’t in my wildest dreams have thought up a nightmare like this.”

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  5. Kathy says:

    Continuing the ranking of Kenobi, no spoilers, I felt there was no insight into the characters, their motivations, nor to the overall story arc.

    It’s what I’ve said about prequels before: the constraint to abide by later developments sharply limits what you can do.

    IMO, a series like Rebels serves as a better kind of prequel. We see how the Empire gets more heavy handed, what motivates various factions to rebel, what requires many to unite in an alliance, and so on. Plus the fact the main characters do not appear in the original trilogy or the other movies*, menas you’re free to explore all posibilites about them. You don’t know whether they’ll all survive or not, nor what they’ll wind up doing.

    *Ahsoka does appear later on in The Mandalorian and will soon get her own show. Also, in Rogue One there’s a brief mention, in the background, of Hera Syndulla.

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  6. CSK says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:
    Ms. Prudente is being airlifted to Spain where the termination will be performed.

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  7. MarkedMan says:

    @Kathy:

    It’s what I’ve said about prequels before: the constraint to abide by later developments sharply limits what you can do.

    Exactly. And this current obsession with fan service is making it worse by turning every film into an exercise in connect-the-dots. The one prequel I think really pulled it off was “Rogue One” and that was largely because the information we knew beforehand was basically, ‘a lot of people died getting us this information’. The whole movie could have been a complete stand-alone but for that one piece. Heck, as an actual stand-alone, all they would have needed to do was open the movie with a scene in the future with two weary officers at a bar reminiscing about the war. One of them comments on how horribly things would have been if they hadn’t gotten that crucial information, and the other could have looked solemnly into his scotch glass and said, “a lot of good people died to get us that”, and then cut to the rest of the movie. It would have been great even if it was completely unrelated to Star Wars.

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  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: Good news.

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  9. CSK says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:
    Yes, indeed.

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  10. gVOR08 says:

    @MarkedMan: It bugged me that the line was actually “Bothan spies” died. “Rogue One” seemed more of a commando raid than spying. However, when I went to verify my recollection of the line, I found some fan site that said – Oh no, that was the OTHER Death Star. So never mind.

    But yes, these connect the dots prequels get silly. I have a mental picture of the script writers being handed a list of characters and facts and big CSI scenes already being filmed and told to somehow paste it all together. Also, don’t worry about character development, just do work in an ethnic Chinese hero. Because long ago in a galaxy far away the heroes are mostly Terran ethnic stereotypes.

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  11. Beth says:

    @Kathy:
    @MarkedMan:

    At the outset let me just say, feel free to judge me, point fingers and laugh.

    I was filled with emotion and sobbed through the back half of that episode of Kenobi. My partner sat on the couch next to me stone faced and at the end declared “that’s dumb. So dumb I couldn’t be bothered to roll my eyes.” She’s some sort of Minnesota stoic.

    Regarding Rogue One, that’s my favorite movie period. I generally cry through most of it. I want Diego Luna to sweep me off my feet and seduce me by whispering “I’ve done terrible things for the Rebellion” in my ear.

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  12. grumpy realist says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: On one hand I feel sorry for the woman who has found herself in such a medical pickle. On the other hand, this is Malta! Anyone who had spent five seconds googling abortion laws in Malta would have realised that as a pregnant woman traveling there, she was undergoing a certain risk if something went wrong with her pregnancy.

    Just like the idiots who try to smuggle illicit drugs into certain Asian countries and then are surprised when they end up in prison with a death sentence hanging over them. Other countries are not your own country, and are under different laws. Keep that in mind.

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  13. MarkedMan says:

    @Beth: Havent decided whether I’ll watch Kenobi or not. I started watching Boba Fet and did t finish, although it was perfectly fine. I did like the Mandalorian. I don’t know. I may be just too old and grumpy for Star Wars any more. I know that the biggest Marvel movies left me in the dust years ago. I like the ones like Ragnarok, Loki and Logan, the ones that are off the main sequence. The rest seem to be about various clunky ways to get twenty “names” on the screen punching someone at the same time.

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  14. Kathy says:

    @gVOR08:

    The Bothans dies in return of the Jedi, not in A New Hope. In the latter, the one line that launched the prequel was that the info was transmitted. Vader says it when he strangles the rebel officer with his hand. Later Leia remarks something like “I hope that information is worth what we paid to obtain it.” Which could mean many people died to get it.

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  15. Scott says:

    Yesterday, it was the Lithuanians pinging Russia in Kaliningrad. Today, Russia is pinging Estonia.
    Russian helicopter gunship violates Estonia’s airspace, further flaring tensions in run-up to NATO security meeting

    A rare intrusion into Estonian airspace by a Russian Mi-8 attack helicopter has prompted the latest salvo of charges that Moscow is ratcheting up tensions in the Baltic region one week ahead of a major NATO security summit.

    Earlier this week, Russia lashed out at Lithuania for imposing a transit ban on certain goods to Russia’s military exclave of Kaliningrad. Both the ban and the airspace incursion happened over the weekend.

    The helicopter, assigned to a Russian border guard unit, was flying with its transponders turned off and lingered in Estonian airspace Saturday evening for nearly two minutes, the Estonian Defense Ministry said in a statement Tuesday.

    “This is the picture of the threat, how we see the Russian threat,” Kusti Salm, a ministry official, told local reporters Tuesday. “It has never been as serious as it is now.”

    Both Lithuania and Estonia are NATO members.

    At some point, someone will make a mistake. And away we will go. Not an exact analogy but this is how WWI was stumbled into.

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  16. Kylopod says:

    @Kathy: It makes me wonder what Hitchcock would say, if he were alive today. (Actually, he’d probably be up to his neck in lawsuits and/or prosecutions due to Harvey Weinstein-esque predatory behavior, but I digress….) His theory of the MacGuffin was that a lot of filmmakers spent too much time focusing on the MacGuffin (the thing everyone was interested in) when it should be viewed as just something to move the plot along. I think A New Hope, when it first came out, more or less stuck to this principle regarding the stolen Death Star plans, and that all these navel-gazing prequels are blowing the principle apart.

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  17. EddieInCA says:

    @Beth:
    @MarkedMan:
    @Kathy:

    Loved Kenobi. Like you, Beth, my wife was bawling the whole second half of the finale. I will admit to it getting dusty in the room. I was NOT crying. It was dust. I swear!!!

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  18. Jen says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Other countries are not your own country, and are under different laws. Keep that in mind.

    Americans seem to operate with a mentality that the US Government can swoop in and rescue them wherever, whenever. It’s endemic, long-standing behavior. My father spent a fair amount of time in Southeast Asia telling American parents that it was not the job of the Embassy/Consulate to bail their kids out of prison when they inevitably got caught with drugs (this was in the 70s).

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  19. EddieInCA says:

    The Supreme Court just voted 6-3 to allow all Americans to carry weapons in public.

    What can go wrong?

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  20. Scott says:

    @EddieInCA: Wait until someone walks by one of the SC justices home with a gun.

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  21. MarkedMan says:

    @EddieInCA: Ok, two strong votes. I guess I’ll have to find the time. But currently working through 13 seasons of “Taskmaster” with the fam.

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  22. wr says:

    @EddieInCA: Isn’t that special? Precious Clarence and the five minions, after spending weeks demanding the government spend unlimited money to make sure they and their families are completely safe, have just decided that any government effort to prevent murder is unconstitutional.

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  23. Kathy says:

    @EddieInCA:

    Did the handling of the trump pandemic in red states, including the antivaxxers and maskholes, not make it plain a large percentage of the population places very little value on human life?

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  24. Kathy says:

    @MarkedMan:

    Bad news. If you’re following The Mandalorian, you need to watch Boba Fet. A crucial part of Djarin’s story took place late in the Boba Fet series.

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  25. Kathy says:

    @Scott:

    What worries me about similarities to WWI, is that Putin may think there’s no way the US would “go to war over a piece of paper” as regards the Baltic countries.

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  26. Beth says:

    @MarkedMan:

    If you have a low tolerance for Star Wars BS, Kenobi might not be for you. It is LOADED with it.

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  27. Kylopod says:

    @Beth:

    If you have a low tolerance for Star Wars BS, Kenobi might not be for you.

    If you were a true Star Wars fan, you would call it BP: Bantha Poodoo.

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  28. Scott says:

    Courtesy of your Military Health System:

    Chlamydia is the Military’s Most Common Sexually Transmitted Infection

    Chlamydia – commonly known as “the clam” – is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the military community, military health data shows.

    And the rates for Chlamydia, among both men and women, have been rising in recent years, according to a 2021 report on sexually transmitted infections, or STIs, from the Defense Health Agency’s Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch.

    “Annual rates among all active component members increased 64% between 2013 and 2019,” according to the report, which is based on a study of medical records between 2012 and 2020.

    Chlamydia can cause permanent damage that can make it difficult or impossible for women to get pregnant. It often shows no symptoms at all but in some cases, it can cause a burning sensation when peeing in both men and women.

    Chlamydia is by far the most common STI in the military. Rates of chlamydia were greater than the sum of the other four most common STIs combined, according to the report.

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  29. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Scott:

    Putin is pursuing a ‘Rumsfeld’ solution; if you have a small intractable problem, create a larger one.

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  30. JohnSF says:

    @Scott:
    @Kathy:
    If the Russians get too frisky in Estonia, they run a severe risk of coming into conflict with NFP Battlegroup Estonia; who apparently have standing orders to respond to any attack.
    Without need to refer to NATO or national command for authority to engage.

    Forces currently present:
    UK armoured infantry battalion;
    plus British support arms including Chieftain main battle tanks, self-propelled artillery, air defence assets and engineers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance group and logistic support elements.

    French tank squadron with main battle tanks and armoured fighting vehicles plus support units and light infantry detachments

    Danish armoured infantry regiment

    And the Estonian Army, which equates to two infantry brigades and an artillery regiment; trained and equipped to NATO standard.

    And with the networked battle-management and logistic systems that integrate these forces, and NATO Baltic air defences.

    And scariest of all: Iceland: 1 Strategic communications specialist (civilian)
    aka Mad Erik the Axeman, rumour has it 🙂

    The Russians would be sticking their snoots into a mincing machine.

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  31. Gustopher says:

    @Kathy: I want Rogue Two with piles of dead Bothans. It really is weird that the Bothans line has stuck with everyone — the dead, flat performance of the actor playing Mon Motha was bizarre.

    I don’t mind prequels. If your only suspense comes from not-knowing whether a character will live or die, then the story was just badly written.

    (Also, you apparently don’t like Rom-Coms, as you know they will all live in the end)

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  32. Gustopher says:

    @Kathy:

    Bad news. If you’re following The Mandalorian, you need to watch Boba Fet. A crucial part of Djarin’s story took place late in the Boba Fet series.

    But Boba Fett does not (significantly) appear in those episodes. So the only problem is knowing which episodes to watch. Also the terrifying CGI.

    So weird that they made two episodes of The Mandalorian and stuck them in Boba Fett.

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  33. Kylopod says:

    @Gustopher:

    the dead, flat performance of the actor playing Mon Motha was bizarre.

    Precursor to Queen Amidala?

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  34. Gustopher says:

    @EddieInCA:
    @Beth:

    I have no idea what in the second half was so emotional that someone would cry. None.

    I may have been pulled out of the story by an earlier scene though, where a character just walks away leaving plot threads incomplete, and scowling at the tv “you need to resolve it, have an in-story reason it can’t be resolved, or just don’t do that.”

    Also, I don’t think Ewan McGregor can act. Other people seem to believe he can, so I think I’m just missing something, but I do not pick up any emotion from him.

    I do still wish that they had done a hasty rewrite and reshoot of the ending when all the racist fans were hating on Ingram Moses to somehow end with her and Kenobi living together as a couple. I don’t care what would have had to change, and I don’t care if they eventually had explain that she was just out of town at the beginning of A New Hope. Just piss off the racists.

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  35. Kathy says:

    @Gustopher:

    I don’t mind prequels. If your only suspense comes from not-knowing whether a character will live or die, then the story was just badly written.

    No, that’s not the only suspense. But then don’t put such characters in mortal peril with loud and dramatic music in the background.

    I don’t even require suspense. In fact, I dislike how much of it is handled these days, as you know from the tropes how it will end.

    You know, one thing I like about all iterations of Mythbusters, is that you can’t always know beforehand how their tests of the myth will play out.

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  36. Kylopod says:

    @Kathy: I agree that the problem with prequels isn’t just about “suspense.” After all, there can be quite a bit of tension in a story even when the audience is given the ending early on (this happens for instance in stories with flashback structures; also a lot of Ancient Greek literature featuring prophecies of the characters’ eventual fate, such as the Odyssey).

    The problem as I see it is the effect prequels have on the people writing them. It limits what the writer can do in the course of the story, and often the end result comes off as lifeless because the writer is predisposed to think of it as the story’s “history,” and focuses excessively on bringing the plot from point A to point B, rather than bringing the events to life. This is exactly what happened with the Star Wars prequel trilogy.

    This is not to say prequels can never be done well, it’s just that these are traps that are easy for the person writing the prequel to fall into.

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  37. Kathy says:

    @Kylopod:

    The thing is that if Obi Wan, or Vader, or Leia, or Owen even, is in mortal peril, or even in danger of being maimed, there’s no suspense because you know how they will be like ten years later. And prequels tend to put such characters in these situations often. I feel they’re just wasting my time.

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  38. Scott says:

    Wow. Just watched opening remarks by Liz Cheney. She doesn’t mince words. She is out and out accusing Trump of committing crimes. No couched talk about investigating the potential of Trump committing crimes but that he did it.

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  39. JohnSF says:

    European events of note today:
    Germany:

    The German government formally placed its energy market on a war footing Thursday over Russia’s sharp reduction of gas supplies, telling households to reduce consumption and warning that industrial output will be hit.
    Announcing stage two of its three-stage alert system — one stop short of a full emergency where the government would take control of energy distribution and ration gas supply — Germany’s Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck said it was time to get serious about the consequences of supply cuts following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

    Fatih Birol, the head of the International Energy Agency warns Europe to prepare for total shutdown of Russian gas exports.

    “Europe should be ready in case Russian gas is completely cut off… I believe the cuts are geared towards avoiding Europe filling storage, and increasing Russia’s leverage in the winter months.“

    EU parliament passed measure obliging states to set a mandatory minimum level of gas in storage facilities of 80% by 1 November 2022.

    Which is pretty certainly why Russia is cutting supply levels now.
    To prevent storage refill so a winter cut-off hits hard enough to force Europe to cut Ukraine adrift. Or so Putin’s “cunning plan” assumes.

    Putin’s problem is the ploy is so transparent: the obvious response is to redouble efforts to secure alternative supplies, and to accelerate weapons supply to Ukraine.

    On which note, after the German Panzerhaubitze 2000 were reported by Ukraine yesterday as now in use, today the Kyiv Independent reports:

    Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov announced on Twitter on June 23 that the HIMARS multiple rocket launcher systems had arrived in Ukraine

    And perhaps the development that will be most significant in the longer term:
    EU grants formal “candidate member” status to both Ukraine and Moldova.

    (This will) “…draw a line under decades of ambiguity and set it in stone: Ukraine is Europe, not part of the ‘Russian world’”.

    With a finger hoisted in the direction of Moscow.

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  40. Gustopher says:

    @Kylopod:

    bringing the plot from point A to point B, rather than bringing the events to life. This is exactly what happened with the Star Wars prequel trilogy.

    The prequel trilogy could have started from any A that it wanted. The requirements for B were pretty simple — Anakin will fall, Kenobi will survive, there will be an empire, there are some kids. These are barely limitations and anyone with a working imagination can find dozens of different scenarios that get us there.

    I think it was just poorly written and acted. That’s the problem. Choices that made the universe smaller. C-3PO was made by Vader, etc.

    (Huh, C-3PO is Luke’s brother)

    And the most boring answer for a clone war possible. Disposable army, rather than Master Foo has been secretly replaced by an evil clone. Anakin could have fought his own clone, before his fall to evil, and made Luke’s Endor Tree Encounter a reflection of that.

    The Clone Wars tv series was great, and it told a story where you knew the broad strokes before it started — look, a pointless war where both sides are being manipulated and won’t find out until after the series is over!

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  41. Kathy says:

    @Gustopher:

    (Huh, C-3PO is Luke’s brother)

    (Older brother)

    As to the Clone Wars (was there more than one?), they, too, come from lines of throw-away dialogue. Luke says his father “didn’t fight in the clone wars,” and Leia mentions, in her message, that Kenobi served her father during the clone wars.

    That’s it. They’re not mentioned again until the prequels.

    Though I should say some fans rather expected such a war in any prequels. I vaguely recall in the 80s talk that Lucas was working on a prequel trilogy to be called “Clone Wars”

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  42. Kathy says:

    Don’t look now, but another Omicron wave is going on in Europe.

    ON the bright side, Moderna announced pre-phase III trial results of its newest booster shot. It’s a bivalent vaccine with mRNA for both the original strain and the first Omicron variant. It seems it can generate good overall protection, but not so much for the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron sub-variants now becoming dominant.

    I’ve been dreading this. We can make vaccines quickly for variants that crop up, but not fast as to have them ready while the newest variant or sub-variant is wreaking havoc in the population. Vaccines will be a step or two behind, unless someone can successfully predict the next variant before it happens.

    Still, the Moderna shot is a lot better than yet another dose of Pfizer or Moderna Mark One, or AZ, etc.

    I don’t mind getting a booster once a year or even twice. I’d take one once a month if necessary. the problem is when they’ll be available.

    On the other hand, masks are available year round.

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  43. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kathy: Yes, I think more than one, but it may be that I don’t hear well. At the end of whichever movie it was, Yoda laments “Clone Wars begun have.” It sounded plural to me, and who’s to argue with Yoda?

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  44. MarkedMan says:

    @Gustopher:

    I think it was just poorly written and acted

    Amen to the poorly written part, but given how many excellent actors came across as wooden I think you have to blame the writing and directing for that. I mean, Samuel L. Jackson was directed so as to come across as an automaton. You know that wasn’t his choice.

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  45. CSK says:

    Two items of interest:

    The FBI raided Jeffrey Clark’s home today.

    Mo Brooks has informed the Jan. 6 committee that he’s now willing to testify before them.

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  46. Gustopher says:

    @Kathy: I’m willing to assume that the plural in Clone Wars is a reference to it happening across the galaxy.

    Did the US have many proxy wars with the Soviet Union, or did we have a single war fought by proxies in multiple spots?

    And some war involving clones was expected, but everything about it was up in the air. Who had clones, where clones came from, who are they clones of, etc. Honestly, though, with Star Wars being the title, we are pretty much down to just adding some clones somewhere. Not a big burden.

    Also, I hope that somewhere at Disney someone is pitching things like “we’ve explored the space between Eps II and III, and III and IV, and even VI and VII, we need a new series between I and II — Obi-Wan, on adventures, looking for child care for Anakin.”

    It could be like a Jedi version of The Mandalorian, but with a 10 year old who keeps being rebuffed every time he shows attachment, rather than an adorable baby Yoda.

    The whole Jedi thing looks like child abuse, and I’m surprised so few go on murderous rampages.

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  47. Kathy says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    IMO, Yoda has one wise utterance in all his appearances*. so argue away.

    BTW, the title of the franchise is “Star Wars,” but no one ever makes reference to the Star War or Star Wars taking place. What’s that about? (Yes, I know the word “Trek” is hardly ever used in Star Trek; if it’s been ever used).

    The rest, no one calls it World Wars II, or the Six Day Wars, or the Vietnam Wars, etc. One may speak of WWI and WWII as “the world wars,” but the implication is we’re talking about two different conflicts.

    *In The Last Jedi, when he tells Luke “Pass on what you have learned. Strength, mastery, hmm… but weakness, folly, failure also. Yes: failure, most of all. The greatest teacher, failure is.”

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  48. Beth says:

    @Kylopod:

    This is gold, I am shamed.

    @MarkedMan:

    I’ve kinda come to expect that questionable writing is just a feature of Star Wars. It makes it easier that way.

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  49. Kylopod says:

    @Gustopher:

    I think it was just poorly written and acted. That’s the problem.

    The Disney trilogy contained plenty of poor writing. But it never came off lifeless in the way the prequel trilogy did. That seems to be something that happens more often in prequels, because a prequel isn’t just trying to tell a story–it’s trying to explain why things are the way they are from a previous story. For some writers, this can be a distraction and can lead them to be bland and expository because they are so focused on the task of explaining things. I’m not saying this happens in all prequels. And I’m not saying it’s unique to prequels. But it is a pitfall that often happens with prequels. If you’re arguing that those qualities are purely a reflection of Lucas’s weaknesses and had nothing to do with the fact that he was writing prequels, sorry, I disagree. We have the original trilogy to attest that this is not the case. He’s always had his flaws as a writer, but they never sucked the life out of the story in the original trilogy, in quite the way you saw with the prequels.

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  50. dazedandconfused says:

    @Kathy:

    Moreover, stars are nuclear furnaces and don’t wage wars. Perhaps it refers to the cast.

    Borrowed much from Carlos Casteneda, Yoda and the Jedi arts are. Projected dreaming body, merging with infinity instead of leaving bones behind, and “Luminous beings are we..”.

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  51. Mu Yixiao says:

    I had a scare today–because I was tired and stupid.

    Around 10:00 today, I found myself breathing a little bit hard. I checked my smart watch and saw that my heart rate was elevated. And then I felt an odd sensation in my chest. I took a nitro pill (I love that I have a little vial of high explosives hanging off my belt loop).

    Eventually, I went to the on-site nurse and had my BP taken. A tad high, but nothing terrible.

    I decided to play it safe and head home. On the way, my chest started to hurt–just a bit.

    I got home, laid down, and took my BP at several times. Things looked okay.

    So I headed upstairs to watch the new episodes of Orville and Strange New Worlds. And something caught my eye: The shot glass I use for my morning meds was sitting on the sink. I think you know where this is going. I was really tired this morning. I doled out all my morning meds (beta blocker, BP moderator, etc.) and… forgot to actually take them.

    Okay, Universe. I got the message.

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  52. Scott says:

    Well, I just finished watching the hearings and felt compelled to call my congressman (Chip Roy) and ask him why he is a member of an apparently criminal organization, the Freedom Caucus, as evidenced by the many prominent Freedom Caucus members asking for pardons. Told him he should resign.

    I am so sick of these people.

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  53. Gustopher says:

    @Kylopod:

    The Disney trilogy contained plenty of poor writing. But it never came off lifeless in the way the prequel trilogy did.

    The Disney trilogy is better executed, but adds nothing. It’s not interesting. Ryan Johnson did ok with The Last Jedi given the status quo he had to start with, but… the other two were basically uninteresting stories that were afraid to do anything new.

    There’s a lot of bad in the prequels (directing, acting, dialog, cgi — Lucas was playing with new techniques but didn’t focus enough on getting everything else to work), but I think there’s a good story at the core. Certainly a more ambitious story than the Disney trilogy.

    If the nature of being a prequel constrains the writers too much, then what constrained the writers of the Disney movies?

    The Force Awakens was just a reskinned version of A New Hope. If that’s where Star Wars was going, then dismantling everything, and leaving us with Broom Boy and a Random Rey was the right direction and a good ending.

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  54. Kathy says:

    @Gustopher:

    Thinking about it, Lucas’ biggest blunder might have been the Death Star. It’s kind of the ultimate weapon*. It can destroy whole planets with billions of people on them. How do you top this?

    You don’t.

    Thing is, it must have been outrageously expensive to build. Think of the Great Pyramid at Giza. That’s Khufu’s tomb, and also the first great pyramid built. The other two, entombing Khafre and Smenkhare, though very impressive, were built more cheaply. But after that, there was no will tos pend so much money on tombs, no matter how important the god-king’s House of eternity was. Further pyramids were built, but a lot more cheaply. Shorter, using mud brick instead of stone, etc.

    So, after blowing a BIG chunk of the imperial budget for twenty years (give or take, but I recall it began construction shortly after Anakin was Vadered), there would have been no money for such grand projects, never mind grander projects like the Starkiller Base in the sequels (It can destroy several planets with one shot!)

    A more obvious development, which might have made for better storytelling, would be a large ship, like the blue Super Star Destroyer, with a big effing gun based on the Death Star’s main weapon, that could destroy another capital ship, including Star Destroyers, or take out the heart of a city, with one shot. You could build several of these.

    And would be handy should the Borg show up in a crossover or something.

    *I think in the Andromeda tv show with the guy who played Hercules, the baddies had a weapon that could blow up a star.

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  55. Kathy says:

    I’ve been going through older OTB comment threads (long, long, boring day at the office, still here at almost 9 pm), and I got to thinking: would it have been better all around had the first generation of mRNA vaccines been less effective?

    Initial numbers from phase III trials indicated 95% effectiveness against infection (of the original strain and Alpha variant), and pretty much 100% against severe disease, never mind hospitalization and death.

    Later we learned the trump virus mutates about effectively to sidestep immunity (see Delta and Omicron), and levels of neutralizing antibodies just don’t stay up. So about 4 months after the famous second dose, you’re quite vulnerable to infection, but still well protected against severe disease (all things considered).

    Now, had the vaccines proven less effective, it would be quite natural the uptake would have been even lower. Why risk 5G and tracking chips and other imaginary perils for a low efficacy?

    There would also have been massive research for the next generation vaccines, with a higher urgency to roll them out quickly. Perhaps seeing several variants evolve rapidly, there might have been an impetus for polyvalent vaccines earlier.

    From this I conclude that being closer to the historical source, and having lived through it, makes counterfactuals a bit harder, not simpler, as the Duncan Process* hasn’t finished.

    *Causes have effects, that become causes, that have effects, that become causes, and so on. History never ends.

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