Rewatching Star Wars: Attack of the Cloned Movie

The story so far: After watching the disjointed but happy Phantom Menace, we leapt forward in time to A New Hope and then straight onto The Empire Strikes Back. Luke abandons his Jedi training with Yoda and flies to help Leia and Han but finds himself confronting Darth Vader instead. Vader beats Luke in a light sabre duel and cuts off his hand. Vader then entices Luke to join the dark side. Luke says “You killed my father” and Vader replies: “No, I am your father.”!!! Oh my golly gosh! Anakin Skywalker, the cut kid we met in Episdoe 1 is Darth Vader!!!

Cue wibbly-wobbly flashback sound effect as we head back in time to find out WTF is going on in this galaxy far, far away….

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Book covers


I’ve been thinking about book covers recently. A comment at File 770 pointed at this post by Lois McMasters Bujold It features a nicely door minimalist book cover. Geometrical but with subtle hints of things going on (look at the ‘feet’ of the four free-falling figures.)

wot04_theshadowrising Now I wanted to show an example of the kind of hyper busy 80s/90s style cover for fantasy that I hated and thought immediately of the Wheel of Time book covers. Here is an example of book four (The Shadow Rising). Big busy illustration, the characters are locked into a particular look (I hope the woman is intended to be shown serving herself something to eat rather then cooking for the guys sitting around drinking). The illustration isn’t evocative of anything other than a period of fantasy history. The shadow is rising so the characters go camping?  On top of this the book is covered in self promotional text. New York Times Bestseller appears twice. And despite this clearly being a professional layout of a major series, the name of the series “The Wheel of Time” is in the same reddish colours as the background rocks. Even in a larger version the text saying “The Wheel of Time” is most easily found because some of it overlaps with the yellow of the caravan.

WOT_Shadow_final_hi3Contrast it with this more modern cover of the same book. This apparently is by artist Sam Weber and was designed for an e-book release.

The art still shows a specific character but it aims to be evocative rather than illustrative. If you know the books then you will recognize the character and the stance (ostensibly relaxed, almost contemptuous but with a fist grasping a weapon ready to stab somebody) reflects the character. The clothes suggest the same period of fantasy history but here it is used to contrast with the more ancient looking weapon. The ravens and mist and gnarled tress suggest mythology. The text has been separated – probably because that works better for a thumbnail image online. The series logo is used and the series name is made clear. Rather than say “part four of…” there is just a simple number 4. A reader of a fantasy series wants to know which book they are getting – it is utilitarian data particularly for an over-long series like this.

the-shadow-risingThis last cover is even simpler. It avoids illustration altogether. Instead it uses the series logo, texture and type. I like it but it suggests a better book than what you will actually get. The covers in the same style for the other books in series simply move these elements around and use color to distinguish one from another. While this particular example is effective, for a long running series inevitably some books get a lackluster combination of colors.

No conclusion here. As with anything graphical it is easy to see when things don’t work and generalizations are either too vague or simply rules that some great cover will break.


A View From Another Universe

I often visit American conservative websites, primarily because I like to make sense of odd political ideas. Even so, they still manage to throw me a curveball now and then, when I realise I have forgotten some of the different rules of our two realities.

So I ended up here as I was looking for instances of the US right calling Trump a fascist or reacting to it and I came across this article:

It is an article about some girls who want to join the Scouts and the whole article has a breathless air of social panic:

In times where unisex bathrooms and gender-neutral parenting are all the rage, this idea of erasing gender lines once again doesn’t seem too farfetched; but even in that political environment and being in a liberal-Mecca, only two hours north of San Francisco, California, this request from the young girls has been met with some pushback.

The thing is, the actual Scouting movement internationally is both genders. In the UK and Australia The Scouts have girls. Now while these Scouting movements (including note the original Scouting movement) aren’t quite as religiously conservative as the US version, they aren’t exactly radical progressives either. You’ll still find prayers and national loyalty oaths but you’ll also find girls.

Somehow the world survived.

Trump – Criticality

platonictrumpDespite the shifting themes and political events Donald Trump remains the lead candidate in the polls for the Republican Party nomination. There are a myriad of reasons to think that this won’t translate into him actually becoming the nominee but then again there have been a myriad of reasons to assume that he would peak weeks ago.

In the meantime simply saying whatever he likes continues to work as a strategy. He has entrenched support in a section of the Republican Party base and this were a numerical quirk in our thinking can be misleading. If Trump has cornered off a section of Republican primary voters of a particular ideological bent then the poll numbers represent the upper limit of his support. Appeal to a small group and never compromise in pursuit of support beyond that group and you can create incredible enthusiasm. Trump, perhaps accidentally, has found that group – and they represent about 35% (possibly as high as 45-50% if we assume some overlap with Carson etc) of a section of US politics (say about 25-30%). Take the upper limits of those figures (50% of the 30%) and Trump’s views are centred around a core 15% of the US population.

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Ur-Fascism: Eco on Fascism

Via this article (Donald Trump is a Fascist) on Trump from Slate, I was reading a 1995 essay on fascism by Umberto Eco.

Eco is one of those writers who manges to combine clarity of ideas with an engaging style and imagination and he is nearly always a pleasure to read. In this essay he picks apart diagnostically the essence of fascism as an idea.

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