2018-01-05

I just popped out a piece of imagery so vivid that I feel the need to double-up from writing it down on paper to cross-posting it here. This isn’t even the Oscar Isaac on ice thing, this is just me ranting to myself (as I have for a while now)…

My very first mistake was not communicating about [that thing] in a calm and adult manner. It’s very well to blame her for coming up with such a demeaning pet name for me, but it’s my duty to cast off burdens which are not mine to bear (like that).

In the end, she stopped. So that was good. But only good insofar as it would be good if your visibly zoosadistic first cousin once removed stops killing weasels in your back garden. It’s an improvement, to be sure, but more work is yet to be done.

I don’t have any weird cousins (much less weird first cousins once removed). But now that I know how the “removal” deal works, I love bandying it about like a baguette sword.

J39M

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Headcanon: the lazy private aboard The Supremacy

I sauntered to my post, coffee in my right hand and briefing in the left. At a full fifteen minutes early, I was in no hurry, though my pace quickened imperceptibly when I saw that there was no-one for me to relieve. My eyes roved over the schedule and found his name. I would snitch on him to the captain later.

I didn’t blame him, though – it had been a very slow day after D’Qar. The loss of the Fulminatrix and Captain Canady had been as much a shock as a fluke. The Supremacy had faced down far more imposing enemies than a lone unladen cruiser like the Raddus. Hux was often an awkward man, but his sterling record in the field was unimpeachable.

Maybe I wouldn’t rat out my predecessor. I just wanted the day to end. I flipped a few pages through to check on the Raddus. She had precious little fuel left, enough for just a few hours at sublight or an extremely short hop (1 or 2 systems, if that) at light. It was Hux’s assessment that there was no point in even marshaling 2 destroyers ahead to pinch her off. Sooner or later we would have caught up, and then we would resume the same old song and dance, totally outgunning the Raddus without any chance for her escape.

Of course, that point was moot now that we knew the Resistance game. I glanced out the viewport. The distance shelling was on. That decloaking scan was entirely worthwhile; I could see the Resistance transports popping like Coruscanti kettle corn. I imagined that maybe 5 of them (very pessimistically speaking) might escape onto Crait. The ground battle then might take…

The Raddus changed course. Hux’s voice echoed distantly through the deck, barely registering green as he ordered no attention given to the empty cruiser. It was only a silly ploy. I pressed to speak. “Orders, Captain?”

The captain paused a few seconds before answering. He was having a slow day, too. “Attend your post. Have a finger on the shields for our partition, but hold for now.”

Thump, thump. I could see more transports being gunned down. I supposed Hux was saving the ghostly Raddus for last. Knowing that it was abandoned made it look gaunt and sad. Hux had been right not to put all that pressure on them to force a confrontation while they still held their main cruiser: that would have been irksome in the extreme. I took my hands off the controls and sat back to watch the fireworks.

Suddenly, Hux’s voice cut through all the hubbub on deck and all flashed red. “Concentrate all fire on that cruiser, NOW!

Our partition suddenly flooded with crosstalk. I fumbled with the receiver controls, trying to remember the dedicated channel for our command on this partition. I looked outside. The Raddus was now pointed squarely at us. This was silly – did they even have any gunners left on board?

I spun the dial. Suddenly I caught my captain’s voice and stopped, backing up a few channels.

“Gravity, gravity! Project external wells now, private!”

My blood ran cold. The powerful external gravity wells on the Supremacy were used to drag lesser ships out of lightspeed. The Raddus was the only ship big enough to interact with the Supremacy‘s substantial mass shadow in hyperspace. While the rest of our destroyers did not cast mass shadows, they were all arranged behind and around the Supremacy. If the Raddus collided with our mass shadow, it would eject an enormous debris field in normal space –

I keyed in the sequence to start the external wells. In my haste, I flubbed the initialization. I rekeyed as fast as I was able. The Raddus seemed to lean forward.

The other partitions were calling in now on the cross-channels – their wells were now up and running – while I sweated. Another flub. I frantically rekeyed as the Raddus suddenly vanished –

Branches shed mints

Were it another in your stead,
Afire, ablaze, beholden to Faust.
Yet Gloria, Gloria – amen –
Sing wider still to all.

Trust never what sulks ahead,
Nor admit contentious sound.
Now wary of all glum,
Now carillon bells together call.

Luminous in the seabed,
Feeble in the lighthouse.
But sonorous in the sanatorium –
and reverent in the hall.

J39M

Some scattered thoughts on TLJ

I just saw The Last Jedi and I really want to scrawl some random stuff down.

Here’s an unpopular shot across your bow: I’m in love. I have a new favorite Star Wars film.

Spoilers follow. Please stop.

Spoilers follow. Please stop.

Spoilers follow. Please stop.

Actual spoilers follow. Please stop!

“We are what they grow beyond.”

In that vein, deposition is a often necessary component of growth. It’s not abrupt or necessarily bad storytelling (though we can quibble about the execution) – but unseating a chrome dome, slicing a wrinkly birthday cake, and briefly failing to emulate the crew on the HMS Bounty are all characters striking toward something greater.

One exception lingers – our favorite, in search of a parent or two, now having lost what she briefly gained. As exemplified in the cave, though, her greatest struggle is within. She remains unable to do away with her fascination with who she is. She’s not unlike that one punk-ass bitch (was his name Matt?) in this. Her greatest trial is something that is yet to be shown on screen.

The Last Jedi is the first Star Wars film in which I genuinely (and surprisingly) didn’t care at all about the tech. Bio-hexacrypt? Hand-wave it away. Miniature Death Star tech? Another big Maltese Falcon. I seriously don’t give a shit – not in the negative way, but in the sense that I’m going to turn my ears off if somebody’s going to complain about the tech, because to my mind, they are missing the point. Nobody ever read Matthew 4:1 and said “Oh for fuck’s sake, another story of venturing into the wilderness? What a lazy rehash of Exodus 13:18.” I grant you that Starkiller Base was not the best-executed device, but the key point is the same. So it is with the huge battering ram cannon.

To me, Star Wars has always been the following:

  • Egalitarian escapism
  • Opera buffa (of the highest form – no slight to Johnny)
  • Cyclical in nature
  • A story about people coming into themselves

So I think I would only be mildly annoyed of our good JJ undoes Rey Random’s lineage – but I could get over that. Other than that, I see no real constraints on how IX will progress.

Bravo!

J39M

Get Elon on Azraq and Zaatari!

I remain deeply skeptical and resentful of the Christian Science Monitor for their questionably technical infrastructure and for their abjectly miserable support staff. (I sincerely hope I never have to straighten out anything with either one ever again lest I go jump in a lake.)

That said, I’m also easily distracted and almost as easily placated. The December 5 edition of the Monitor Daily is the best pick-me-up I’ve experienced in a long time. The gorgeous picture of Joseph, Moreblessing, and Meryl Mutsakani is the most beautiful photo I’ve seen all year. Their story is compellingly told and (probably unjustifiably) fills my heart with hope for Zimbabwe. If ever I were to be hoodwinked by emotional journalism, I’d at least want it to be written like this.

Further down, it pains me to read again about the Syrian refugee crisis, but the sudden solar deus ex machina brightens up my day. It’s especially gratifying to see no celebrity appeal in the article; the easiest and flashiest path would have been to consult SolarCity and Elon Musk on how to power the Azraq and Zaatari camps. The UN – perhaps not intentionally – casually showed the wider application and utility of solar power by turning instead to the IKEA Foundation and to the KfW. In the wider context of renewable energy, this is a modest proof that solar power isn’t just a Silicon-fueled conspiracy. If it can provide serviceable power to a refugee camp, it can provide for just about anything.

J39M

“Mindless Deadrun” take BB

I have invested quite some time on this arrangement and I’m fairly satisfied with the results. The limitations of the intertwined piano 4-hands format I chose mean that this arrangement is lobotomized. There’s no way I (me “up” and me “down” depending on where I was perched on the bench) could hope to match the colors of a full orchestra. Just listen to me fumbling the sixteenths when a string section would breeze effortlessly through.

A few notes –

  • I’m fairly proud of my synchronization, but I have no idea if that will suffer when I work my way up to the proper tempo.
  • That weird trill is supposed to be a snare drum. Limitations of the medium.
  • I left out the repeat and the huge bass drum strike at the end of the piece. But I know that the simulated bass drum sounds cool!
  • I got completely bum-lost in the middle and that made me very sad, but at least I came back in the end.

Dvorak and your home row

It occurs to me that I learned all the important keybindings in my life on Dvorak.

This means that hjkl in vim are 75% not in my home row. J and K are within reach of the left hand (and conveniently next to each other, thank goodness). While H lies right under my right index finger at rest, L is a slight stretch to the top with my right ring finger (P on standard QWERTY). Life with vim and other vim-like tools is a daily awkward keyboard etude.

It’s occurred to me several times before that I could rebind these keys (and relearn them all) so that I wouldn’t have to think so hard when I drive other people’s machines and have to type like a blundering idiot. The main reason why I don’t do so is that I prize being able to meaningfully echo my own inputs back to myself in my mind. Deleting a line sounds like “deedee.” “Good game” takes me to the top of the file; “GEE” drops me to the bottom. “Control – deedeedeedeedee” takes me on a leisurely stroll down the text. This sense of control allows me to constantly remind myself how to use vim rather than rely solely on muscle memory. Then I invert ordering of mental sounding to keyboard input: I say to myself “jay jay” and use that to override my hands to tap “J” with my right index finger. “Deedee” is done with my left middle finger (when usually it looks like “hh” by my outstretched right index finger).

Re-derivation in the moment is a moderately useful skill that I like to cultivate even for useless things like this.

J39M