Archive | February, 2008

The Melty Man Cometh

Okay, we’ve all seen the scene so many times we don’t think about it. But think about it.

Luke hangs around Luke is hanging upside down from the ceiling of the wampa’s cave like a human stalactite, his feet encased in ice. So first of all, how’d he get there? Sure, the wampa put him there (for reasons that are less than entirely clear), but how?

To encase someone’s feet in ice, you first have to melt the ice, then stick the guy’s feet in, then wait for the ice to refreeze. How did the technologically-challenged wampa melt the ice?

But wait, there’s more. This ice is on the ceiling. If you melt it, it, y’know, falls down. So how did the wampa keep the water from draining off as he held Luke’s feet in it?

Answer: that must not be how the wampa did it. Well then, how did he do it?

And finally, after Luke cuts himself free with his lightsabre (with a single stroke – what “shape” would that stroke have to be, I wonder?) and jumps down, why aren’t his feet still encased in chunks of ice?

Possible answer: the lightsabre is so hot it instantly melted the rest of the ice. But that doesn’t seem right. Whatever directly touches a lightsabre’s blade gets pretty hot, yes. But we’ve seen that the blade can be an inch or two away from someone’s skin without causing burns. So how could one quick slash with the blade be enough to melt, instantaneously, such a large amount of ice?

Rand on the Cheap

I see that the excellent 1942 Italian movie version (in VHS) of We the Living, which usually goes for $70, is currently (whether temporarily or longterm I don’t know) being offered for $40.

I wonder whether this price reduction means they’re finally planning to release a DVD version?

The Sin of Obama

If Barack Obama gave a speech that used someone else’s words – with the other writer’s permission and even encouragement – is that “plagiarism”? Or is it just having a speechwriter – something pretty much all politicians do? (For example, it’s no mystery why George Washington’s farewell address is more eloquent than any other speech he ever gave; you can do worse than having Madison and Hamilton ghosting for you.)

As far as I can tell, Obama’s alleged sin differs from the ordinary use of speechwriters only in that the words he used had been aired previously rather than being created exclusively for him.

So is it just the social faux pas of appearing in a certain dress when someone else has been wearing the same style?

Clinton Exegesis

At the end of tonight’s debate – a debate in which Clinton seemed willing to take quite a few sharp jabs at Obama – she wrapped things up by shaking his hand and saying something like “I’m honoured to be sitting next to Barack Obama. And whatever happens in this election, he and I will be fine – we have support from our families, our friends. The question is whether we’ll be able to say the same of the American people, and that’s what this election is about.”

All the tv commentators seem to be referring to this as a “conciliatory” remark on her part. Am I the only one who heard the last part of her line as a veiled barb – suggesting that the American people might not be fine if they voted for Obama?

Sins of the Father

[cross-posted at Liberty & Power]

NO MEXICAN TRUCKS Robert Higgs confesses a dark secret from his family’s past:

[M]y father had done something quite remarkable: he had left the sovereign state of Oklahoma, crossed the sovereign states of Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona, and entered into and established permanent residence in the sovereign state of California, all without the permission of any of the rulers of these states. Imagine that! …

Many of the Mexican children with whom I grew up might have told a tale similar to mine. The only difference would have been that for them, the origin of their migration to California happened to be not one of the states of the United States of America, commonly known as America, but one of the states of the United Mexican States, commonly known as Mexico. Was this difference important? If so, why? Do the lines that government officials draw on maps sever the heart of humanity?

Read, comme l’on dit, the whole thing.

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