Star Wars III review

May 24, 2005

I finally went and saw Star Wars III – Revenge of the Sith last night. I must congratulate Mr Lucas on a fine job, “Impressive, most impressive”. It is most definitely the best movie out of the prequels, absolutely trouncing on TPMs dead body and giving AoTCs a swift turkish crescent kick to the head also. The space scenes, lightsaber fights, land battles etc are all spectacular. It feels like a galatic conflict with wars on many planets, simutaneously etc. There are also the tie ins to the original movies with early model X-Wings, Tie Fighters, Mon Calamari Cruisers, AT-ST Walkers etc. However, when I left the cinema I felt the dark clouds of depressing decending upon me (in fact, they had stayed decending towards the end of the movie). Why was I in such a state? Let us delve into Star Wars lore…

Spoilers Alert – what follows is discussion on Ep 3. Do NOT read the rest of this post if you haven’t seen it yet.

On the side, my order of viewing these movies are: 4, 5, 1, 2, 3, 6. 1, 2 and especially 3 give away too much of what were surprises in 5 & 6 – so if you’ve NEVER seen the movies, that’s my recommendation. And now, lets continue…

In my mind, pre Ep 3, I always thought or presumed that it was a mechanical Darth Vader (ie the Vader we know it Eps 4 onwards) that destroys the Jedi – having already been a student of the Dark Side for some time. But not so. In Ep 3 we learn that Anakin turns to the Dark Side quite quickly and proceeds to rid the galaxy of the Jedi while still being the normal bodied Anakin Skywalker! As the mechnical, twisted & hate filled Darth Vader – I could understand this. But as Anakin, it just doesn’t make sense.

Palpatine sows seeds of doubt in his mind, tells him that the Dark Side can cheat death (which appeals to Anakin due to his constant visions of Padme dying in child birth) & acts as a quasi father figure. This is obviously a gradual process & it is no surprise when he turns – what is surprising is the speed in which he turns his back on 20+ years of Jedi teachings. Around 24 hours is all it takes! The thought is proposterous. The timeline within 24 hours is something like this:

1. He discovers Palpatine is a Sith Lord and informs Mace Windu & co (Obi-wan & Yoda are on outter rim worlds fighting the separatists). I give him credit for at least doing this.
2. He turns on Mace Windu, who is about to execute Palpatine, using some ironic logic about not killing Palpatine (ironic because earlier we see him execute Count Dooku in a similiar fashion/situation). About 2 minutes after this he is calling Palpatine “Master”! LOL!
3. He begins his mission of wiping out all the Jedi.

And here we have probably the most disturbing scene (at least for me) of the movie. Anakin rocks up to the Jedi temple, with a large army of clones, and proceeds to annihilate the Jedi. We see him enter a room where youngling padawans are hiding. They leave their hiding places, eyes full of fear but trust towards Anakin. Holding their lightsabers, one young padawan pleads, “Master Skywalker, there’s too many of them – what are we to do?” Save us Anakin, protect us Anakin, redeem us Anakin they say in the force. And how is their trust repaid? With the hot blade of Anakins lightsaber – betrayal, of the highest order.

Fast forward & we see Obi-wan telling Anakin that he was supposed to bring balance to the force, the chosen one, a brother, someone Obi-wan loved. Anakin of course is now totally consumed and spews forth his hate at Kenobi, while his legless & armless body is ignited by the lava that flows past his body. In the end, his dark powers go a long way to causing Padmes eventual death – her will to live destroyed upon learning that Anakin has turned to the Dark Side & him using his force choke on her.

Thus we have the story of Palpatines ascension, the Jedis fall, Anakins demise & Vaders rise.

But it was all so depressing. So depressing in fact that I found myself on the side of the separatists (who would later form into the Rebellion as we know it in Eps 4+) & thinking that the Rebellion isn’t such a bad thing. Thoughts I’d not had in years!

So yes, I found the fall of the Jedi & Anakins turning to the Dark Side quite depressing but found consolence in the ending where Luke Skywalker is adopted to his Uncle/Aunt on Tatooine and we hear the familiar Force music. You just know that “the force is strong with this one”. Oh it won’t be long Palpatine – you’ll get yours as Vader/Anakin shakes off your shackles and finally redeems himself rather than let his son also become of slave to you.

You know what they say, “Revenge is a dish best served up cold”.


World views

May 23, 2005

Today I was browsing some right wing blogs – my own views being more akined to their views then our fellow humans of the left wing persuasion. In right wing though I refer to conservative rather than the extreme right you see in neofascism & neonazis. On a whole however, I am not overly political with my views and tend to not engage in political discussion except amongst my closest of friends.

I will however read blogs by leftist writers too though because I believe in getting both sides of a story, empathising with peoples feelings/beliefs & just to get some knowledge/intelligence. However, one website I ended up visiting was disturbing, most disturbing. Check it out: Forsake The Troops.

Here we have Michael Crook, a left wing nutter, going on about how American soldiers are leeches on the US taxpayers and that they are basically, what we call in Australia, "Dole bludgers". Its quite extraordinary that one can come imagine the thought let alone come to that conclusion. Check out this quote from the bottom of FTTs website:

Number of US soldiers killed in the Iraq War, of their own doing, because they CHOSE to be leeches: 1,587. These scumbags asked for it, and got it. Simper Cry.

And here's one persons well written reply to this strange creature:

Hello, Im a former combat Marine who came across this website and would like to add my opinion if so allowed. I am a great believer in the Constitution that we live by, And I would defend it with my life if so asked.

The United States was built on the ability to make your own decisions and speak out about how you feel without the fear of reprisals by the gov't. This also includes speaking out against the gov't when it comes to ideas and ideals that they form that you may not agree are in the best interest of the citizens. Its our responsibility as citizens to do so, As it is the responsibility of a soldier to defend your right to speak out as well.

A soldier must be willing to give his life for a flag, that you as a citizen can burn and deface. Not only must we defend our staunchest allies, we must also defend our worst protractors as well, and we must do it equally, without reservation.

We as marines, soldiers, sailors, or airmen, know this, and though it may pain us to do so, will do it. It was our forefather before us who gave their blood and made the ultimate sacrafice to gift us with these liberties, and it is our generation who must defend them.

I may not agree with what you say, or what you print on this website, but please do remember, that without Marines, Soldiers, Sailors, and Airmen, both male and female in gender, who have given their lives, you may have never had the chance to do so.

Isn't it ironic that Michael Crook calls the US army "leeches" when he himself "leeches" the freedom (speech, democracy, religion) they afford him, each & every day. That's the pot calling the kettle black, Comrade Crook.


Media hysteria

May 18, 2005

Well, late last night the world received news that Kylie Minogue had been diagnosed with breast cancer. Terrible news indeed, life can sometimes throw a curveball when you least expect it. I hope all goes well during her treatment & recovery.

However, what really gets me going is the way the press have gone absolutely spastic over this news. Sure, this is tragic but please, today the Herald Sun had some 6 to 8 pages devoted entirely to Kylie (from the front cover to page 8 too) – give me strength. Why the morbib curiosity just because she is a celebrity?

Where are the press when 98 people a day die of cancer? Or when my friend Priscilla caught, fought, beat, relapsed & sadly passed away from cancer? I think, the thoughts of another are better, as my rage threatens to rupture forth:

We should all be so lucky. I am not a Kylie fan but do wish her a speedy recovery. However, my sympathy goes to the thousands of women diagnosed with cancer who cannot afford the best medical treatment, who can ill afford the time off work to undergo treatment and months off for their recovery. I feel for all those women who have to explain to their children that mummy is very ill and may not recover. I feel for all those whose every need (cooking, cleaning, laundry, shopping, driving themselves to hospital)is not looked after by an army of minders. Get real Australia, your sympathy is poorly placed. To the media and well wishers if you really care about Kylie, leave her alone and let her get through this very difficult time with dignity. Having a three ring circus outside her parent’s home cannot possibly help -and lets go back to real news on tonights broadcasts.

Here, here…


Sledge strikes back

May 17, 2005

How come I constantly refer to myself in the 3rd person? To be honest, Sledge doesn’t know why – but I digress, onto my post!

A few days ago I received my Telstra home line phone bill, it was $147! “Yowsers”, I thought as I opened it up, “My wife must have been making heaps of phone calls”. Or so I thought. On closer investigation I discovered that:

1. $90 of this involved “Rental & Service Charges”, of which $9 was for the phone rental and $81 was for line rental.
2. $12 of this was a “Late Payment” fee – whoops.
3. Leaving a measly $35 as actual phone call costs!

These are over a 3 month billing period, meaning I’m paying around $27 for my line rental a month. “Surely you jest, oh evil Telstra”, I exclaimed and vowed to get a cheaper line rental. And guess what, there is a cheaper line rental plan – for only $18.50 a month! On delving deeper, the phone calls are 30cents (instead of 20cents on the $27 a month plan) but considering we make about 35 calls a month, that’s only $3.50 difference. As you reach higher call volumes, obviously the $27 plan will be better for you.

So, $18.50 + $3.50 = $22 meaning we’re still $5 ahead at the end of the month! Lol, chicken feed I know but it all adds up. And there’s a good possibly that $5 will be going towards my hopefully soon to be connected ADSL. That’s if I decide to ditch my free dialup (don’t ask, it’s a long story).

So Telstra, take that! Also, I plan to ditch the Telstra provided phone soon so that will get rid of that annoying $3 a month phone rental fee – sure it’ll take 2 or so years to recoup costs based on a $80 phone, but from then onwards… its all free! Considering I’ve now been living at my current address for 6 years and paying that damn phone line rental fee (6 X 12 X 3), I could have brought several phones by now.


It cometh

May 16, 2005

Every thing is proceeding as I have foreseen it, Star Wars Episode III – Revenge of the Sith is almost upon us. It opens here in Australia on Thursday 19th of May, which will be a day long remembered. Lucas, don’t make me destroy you, this better be a good movie – thankfully I don’t have a bad feeling about this. Of course if it as bad, Lucas will go, “It’s not my fault!” The first 2 prequels were a disgrace, nonetheless if this one goes well, “Apology accepted, Lucas”. Village Cinemas are my ally and a powerful ally they are – go see it I will… it is my destiny.

I’ve been a fan of the SWs universe every since I saw Return of the Jedi as a young padawan in New Zealand back in 1985 (I think that’s when it was released in NZ). When I was younger, Luke, Han, Leia & Chewie were my heroes. In fact amongst my group of primary school friends we used to play SWs with me being Luke – ironic that no one wanted to be him (even I didn’t)… seems that even at a young age we could detect the prissy girly characteristics of Luke Whinewalker. Though he did toughen up by RoTJ.

But of late (say the last 5 or so years) I’ve came to realise that my true favourite character is Darth Vader. Some of his lines are absolute classics and are readily transferred to the real world:

* “What is thy bidding, my Master?” – it’s how my wife approaches me these days.
* “Asteriods do not concern me Admiral, I want that ship and not excuses” – basically, get the job done fool.
* “Don’t make me destroy you” – you are an insignificant pup that I could snap with my little finger
* “Apology accepted, Captain Needa” – SWs fans will understand this one.
* “You have failed me for the last time… Admiral” – position: terminated.
* “Your powers are weak old man” – move aside chump, there’s a new kid on the block.

You just got to have respect for a Dark Lord that treats Command Line Officers & plebs a like – you make a mistake, you die for it. He don’t play favourites. And at the end of the day, that’s why I like him… plus, the mask, respirator, deep voice, force choke, black cap, lightsaber, the fear he commanded etc

Check out his blog: The Darth Side


Riddle me this

May 15, 2005

Some things I’ve been pondering lately:

Podcasting
You know, every once an a while the technobabble crowd get together and create a new buzzword. Todays buzzword is brought to you by the letter A (for Apple): Podcasting

What is podcasting I hear you say? Well, if you haven’t read/heard about it – you’re a lucky person. It’s everywhere these days, from blogs to radio stations, the online media and of course, the printed media. In it’s most basic form, its the downloading of something for play back at a later time. It typically is an mp3 that is formatted to a radio style – talk back, songs, listener calls etc downloaded to an mp3 player that you listen to NOT live, but after the fact.

What? That sounds like an mp3 to me! What’s the big deal? Well seriously folks, I have NO idea what the big deal is but I know that the marketing fools are going crazy over it. And as usual, it’s a total crock of rubbish. Read this /. article for peoples opinions: How Podcasting and Satellite Changed Radio.

Beville / Sandwiche Maker
Oh the humble breville/sandwich maker, where would we be without you? My wife buys a lot of deli type food, you know; salami, ham, cheeses (parmesan, swiss) etc – we usually have this for lunch on Saturday/Sunday or maybe even dinner during the week (if we can’t be bothered cooking). But alot of the time, the food ends up being thrown out because we don’t eat it all and it goes off – but not anymore!

I’ve been taking it to work and making breville sandwiches out of it – there’s nothing quite like a toasted sandwiche with the melted cheese and steamy salami… yum!

Workplace Environment
Ever since I’ve started my new job (it’s been close to 7 months now, unbelievably), I’ve noticed a marked improvement in my mental well being. Previously I used to always be complaining about management, fellow workers, the state of the development projects, this, that etc. Plus the frequent back stabbing, colleague outbursts (sometimes even myself), management mind games and such made for quite a depressing working environment. In my current employment, we have none of these issues – it got me to thinking, “Why?” I think I might know why:

1. Industry knowledge: the people in charge know the industry and know what our clients want/need. This stops alot of second guessing on how best to develop our software – no more “No! My way is what the client will probably want!” etc.

2. Smaller, relaxed team: there’s only 3 of us in the development team and we are all easy going, relaxed people. This makes a huge difference – no power plays, no empire building, no trying to force views onto others etc. Also because there’s less people involved there are less issues with people wanting to give their input, changing code on others etc.

3. Cool management: makes a big difference. Everyone is valued, their input sought, no one is played off each other etc. It’s quite refreshing after 3.5 years of crazy management.

The days of office blow ups, constant complaining, back stabbing etc are over for me – thankfully. I used to hate coming into work, now I quite enjoy it…


Online extortionists, a tale

May 5, 2005

An interesting read about an online extortionist, his mark & the IT guru that took him down: How a Bookmaker and a Whiz Kid Took On an Extortionist and Won.

Quite a frightening thought but not surprising – the internet has opened up new ways for commerce to generate revenue, be it legimately or illegimately.