Steven L. Taylor
Thursday, June 23, 2022
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
She has a habit of passing out in competitions but everything is OK? I come to a slightly different conclusion.
Coming to a hospital near you:
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.
Ms. Prudente is being airlifted to Spain where the termination will be performed.
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.
@CSK: Good news.
@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.
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.
@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.
@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.
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.
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
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.
@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.
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!!!
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).
The Supreme Court just voted 6-3 to allow all Americans to carry weapons in public.
What can go wrong?
@EddieInCA: Wait until someone walks by one of the SC justices home with a gun.
@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.
@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.
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?
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.
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.
If you have a low tolerance for Star Wars BS, Kenobi might not be for you. It is LOADED with it.
If you were a true Star Wars fan, you would call it BP: Bantha Poodoo.
Courtesy of your Military Health System:
Chlamydia is the Military’s Most Common Sexually Transmitted Infection
Putin is pursuing a ‘Rumsfeld’ solution; if you have a small intractable problem, create a larger one.
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.
@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)
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.
Precursor to Queen Amidala?
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.
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.
@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.
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.
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.
European events of note today:
Fatih Birol, the head of the International Energy Agency warns Europe to prepare for total shutdown of Russian gas exports.
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:
And perhaps the development that will be most significant in the longer term:
EU grants formal “candidate member” status to both Ukraine and Moldova.
With a finger hoisted in the direction of Moscow.
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!
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”
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.
@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?
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.
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.
@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.
@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.”
This is gold, I am shamed.
I’ve kinda come to expect that questionable writing is just a feature of Star Wars. It makes it easier that way.
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.
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..”.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.