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Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘star wars

[BLOG] Some Monday links

  • Anthropology.net notes a remarkably thorough genetic analysis of a piece of chewing gum 5700 years old that reveals volumes of data about the girl who chew it.
  • ‘Nathan Burgoine at Apostrophen writes an amazing review of Cats that actually does make me want to see it.
  • Bad Astronomy reports on galaxy NGC 6240, a galaxy produced by a collision with three supermassive black holes.
  • Caitlin Kelly at the Broadside Blog writes about the mechanics of journalism.
  • Centauri Dreams argues that the question of whether humans will walk on exoplanets is ultimately distracting to the study of these worlds.
  • Crooked Timber shares a Sunday morning photo of Bristol.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes that India has a launch date of December 2021 for its first mission in its Gaganyaan crewed space program.
  • Andrew LePage at Drew Ex Machina looks at the Saturn C-1 rocket.
  • Karen Sternheimer at the Everyday Sociology Blog considers if the vogue for minimalism meets the criteria to be considered a social movement.
  • Far Outliers ?notes how, in the War of 1812, some in New England considered the possibility of seceding from the Union.
  • Gizmodo looks at evidence of the last populations known of Homo erectus, on Java just over a hundred thousand years ago.
  • Mark Graham links to a new paper co-authored by him looking at how African workers deal with the gig economy.
  • io9 announces that the Michael Chabon novel, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, is set to become a television series.
  • Joe. My. God. shares a report that Putin gave Trump anti-Ukrainian conspiracy theories.
  • JSTOR Daily considers what a world with an economy no longer structured around oil could look like.
  • Language Hat takes issue with the latest talk of the Icelandic language facing extinction.
  • Language Log shares a multilingual sign photographed in Philadelphia’s Chinatown.
  • Paul Campos at Lawyers, Guns and Money notes the document release revealing the futility of the war in Afghanistan.
  • The LRB Blog looks at class identity and mass movements and social democracy.
  • Tyler Cowen at Marginal Revolution suggests that, even if the economy of China is larger than the United States, Chinese per capita poverty means China does not have the leading economy.
  • Diane Duane at Out of Ambit writes about how she is writing a gay sex scene.
  • Jim Belshaw at Personal Reflections reflects on “OK Boomer”.
  • Roads and Kingdoms interviews Mexican chef Ruffo Ibarra.
  • Peter Rukavina shares his list of levees for New Year’s Day 2020 on PEI.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog shares a map indicating fertility rates in the different regions of the European Union.
  • Starts With A Bang’s Ethan Siegel explains how quantum physics are responsible for vast cosmic structures.
  • Charles Soule at Whatever explains his reasoning behind his new body-swap novel.
  • Window on Eurasia notes how the negotiations between Russia and Ukraine in Paris show the lack of meaningful pro-Russian sentiment there.
  • Yorkshire Ranter Alex Harrowell talks about his lessons from working in the recent British election.
  • Arnold Zwicky looks at a syncretic, Jewish-Jedi, holiday poster.

[BLOG] Some Sunday links

  • Citizen Science Salon highlights Australian Michelle Neil, here.
  • Ingrid Robeyns argues at Crooked Timber that the idea of punitive taxation of the superrich is hardly blasphemous.
  • The Crux looks at the ongoing debate over the age of the rings of Saturn.
  • io9 notes the sad death of Aron Eisenberg, the actor who brought the character of Nog to life on DS9.
  • JSTOR Daily shares a debate on the ego and the id, eighty years later.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes how Mitch McConnell may have started the movement of Elizabeth Warren towards the US presidency.
  • The Map Room Blog takes a look at the credible and consistent mapping of Star Wars’ galaxy.
  • The NYR Daily looks at Springsteen at 70 as a performer.
  • Peter Rukavina shares a photo of a New England forest in fall.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy notes a sticker that straddles the line between anti-Muslim sentiment and misogyny, trying to force people to choose.
  • Window on Eurasia notes the strong anti-Russian sentiment prevailing in once-independent Tuva.

[NEWS] Ten Christmas links (#christmas)

  • CBC Indigenous reports on how Kahnawake Mohawks celebrate Christmas with a Mohawk-language radio program.
  • Craig Desson at CBC reports on how the Québec cheese-making Orthodox monastery, Virgin Mary the Consolatory, was preparing to meet Christmas.
  • Jason Vermes at CBC’s Cross-County Checkup has a report taking a look at the importance of chosen family for queer people at Christmas time, featuring the experiences of (among others) author Nathan Burgoine.
  • Samantha Allan at The Daily Beast reports on how LGBT bars in the United States often remain open on Christmas, to provide community and family for queer people excluded from said.
  • Carrie Jenkins, writing at Global News, notes how difficult it can be for people in polyamorous relationships to have both (or all) their partners recognized in holiday celebrations.
  • Adam Wallis at Global News reports on some unexpected holiday albums, starting with the Star Wars Christmas album and going through drag and metal, for starters.
  • Adam Gaffney at Jacobin Magazine makes the case for seeing Santa Claus as a hero of the left, doing his best to work wonders within a structurally unequal capitalism.
  • Stephen Maher at MacLean’s makes the case for “Fairytale of New York” by the Pogues being the best Christmas song, ever.
  • Noisey makes the case for the Darlene Love original of “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” being the best Christmas song.
  • A Jamie Lauren Keiles interview at Vox with Rabbi Joshua Eli Plaut explains how, exactly, American Jews came to make eating at Chinese restaurants a marker of their Christmas day events.

[BLOG] Some Saturday links

  • Eszter Hargittai at Crooked Timber shares a painting from an exhibit of Star Wars-themed art near the Swiss city of Lausanne.
  • D-Brief notes that scientists claim to have detected the gamma-ray signature from SS 433, a microquasar in our galaxy 15000 light-years away, as the black hole at its heart was eating a star.
  • Language Hat takes a look again at the history of Chinook Jargon, the creole that in the 19th century was a major language in northwestern North America.
  • Marginal Revolution notes that, in contemporary Scotland, a castle can be less expensive than a bottle of good single malt whiskey. What societies value varies over time.
  • At the NYR Daily, Molly Crabapple tells a personal story of the history of the Bund, the Jewish socialist and nationalist union once a power in central and eastern Europe but now gone.
  • Drew Rowsome praises the Paul Tremblay horror novel Disappearance at Devil’s Rock.
  • Towleroad shares a great new song from Charli XCX featuring Troye Sivan, the nostalgic “1999”.
  • Window on Eurasia notes that some question whether the 1944 annexation of Siberian Tannu Tuva into the Soviet Union, thence Russia, was legal or not.

[NEWS] Five science fiction links: Catherynne Valente, Babylon 5, Star Wars, Janelle Monáe, numbers

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money recently took a look at the way the great author Catherynne M. Valente made use of culture as a force in her briliant Space Opera.
  • I quite enjoyed this oral history of Babylon 5, over at Syfy.
  • MEL Magazine hosts this great article arguing the strength of The Last Jedi is that it does not give in to the wishes of fans.
  • Vox’s exploration of the Afrofuturism of Janelle Monáe’s work really laid out these influences on her for me.
  • James Nicoll recently asked an interesting question at Tor: Where is all the science fiction dealing with depopulation, with population decline?

[BLOG] Some Monday links

  • At Anthrodendum, Elizabeth Marino takes issue with what she identifies as the naively and fiercely neoliberal elements of Steven Pinker’s Enlightenment Now.
  • Anthropology.net’s Kambiz Kamrani takes a look at an innovative study of the Surinamese creole of Sranan Tongo that uncovers that language’s linguistic origins in remarkably fine detail.
  • Architectuul examines the architecture of Communist-era Hungarian architect István Szábo
  • Bad Astronomer Phil Plait notes the nearly naked black hole at the heart of galaxy ZwCl 8193, 2.2 billion light-years away.
  • The Big Picture shares photos from the 2018 Paralympics in South Korea.
  • Gerry Canavan has an interesting critical take on Star Trek: Discovery. Is it really doing new things, or is its newness just superficial?
  • Centauri Dreams considers the impact the spectra of red dwarfs would have on biosignatures from their worlds.
  • Russell Darnley takes a look at Australia’s Darling River, a critical watercourse threatened by extensive water withdrawals.
  • Inkfish notes that patterns of wear on the tusks of elephants indicate most are right-handed.
  • Joe. My. God. links to a study suggesting a relationship between Trump rallies and violent assaults.
  • JSTOR Daily links to a paper examining why people drink Guinness on St. Patrick’s Day.
  • Language Hat takes a look at the use of Xhosa as the language of Wakanda.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money mourns Alfred Crosby, the historian whose work examined the epidemiological and ecological changes wrought by contact with the Americas.
  • The Map Room Blog links to a map showing indigenous placenames in Canada.
  • In the aftermath of the death of Stephen Hawking, Out There had a lovely idea: what nearby major stars emitted life than arrive at the moment of his birth? Hawking’s star is Regulus, and mine was (nearly) Arcturus.
  • Marginal Revolution suggests AI will never be able to centrally plan an economy because the complexity of the economy will always escape it.
  • Starts With A Bang’s Ethan Siegel examines Stephen Hawking’s contribution to the study of black holes.
  • Supernova Condensate shares a list of moons, fictional and otherwise, from Endor on down.

[BLOG] Some Saturday links

  • Anthropology.net notes that the discovery of an ancient Homo sapiens jawbone in Israel pushes back the history of our species by quite a bit.
  • Bad Astronomer Phil Plait shares stunning photos of spiral galaxy NGC 1398.
  • Centauri Dreams considers the ways in which the highly reflective surface of Europa might be misleading to probes seeking to land on its surface.
  • The Dragon’s Tales rounds up more information about extrasolar visitor ‘Oumuamua.
  • Far Outliers considers the staggering losses, human and territorial and strategic, of Finland in the Winter War.
  • Hornet Stories notes preliminary plans to set up an original sequel to Call Me Be Your Name later in the 1980s, in the era of AIDS.
  • Russell Arben Fox at In Media Res considers if Wichita will be able to elect a Wichitan as governor of Kansas, for the first time in a while.
  • io9 takes a look at the interesting ways in which Star Wars and Star Trek have been subverting traditional audience assumptions about these franchises.
  • JSTOR Daily links to a paper examining what decision-makers in North Vietnam were thinking on the eve of the Tet offensive, fifty years ago.
  • The LRB Blog takes a look at a new book examining the 1984 IRA assassination attempt against Margaret Thatcher.
  • The Map Room Blog links to an article examining how school districts, not just electoral districts, can be products of gerrymandering.
  • Marginal Revolution seeks suggestions for good books to explain Canada to non-Canadians, and comes up with a shortlist of its own.
  • Kenan Malik at the NYR Daily takes a look at contemporary efforts to justify the British Empire as good for its subjects. Who is doing this, and why?

[BLOG] Some Monday links

  • At Apostrophen, author ‘Nathan Smith shares some of his favourite LGBTQ reads from the past year.
  • At the Broadside Blog, Caitlin Kelly asks her readers where their deepest roots lie.
  • Missing persons blog Charley Ross celebrates its 11th anniversary.
  • At Crooked Timber, Corey Robin takes issue with some attitudes of Democrats post-Alabama, especially regarding African-American voters.
  • D-Brief notes that the icy rings of Saturn apparently influence that planet’s ionosphere.
  • Imageo shares satellite photos of the Thomas wildfire in California, apparently worsened by climate change.
  • JSTOR Daily links to ten beautiful poems of winter.
  • Language Hat links to an interesting-looking thesis examining non-Indo-European words in proto-Indo-European.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money takes a look at the underlying cycles leading to the speedy extinction of the passenger pigeon.
  • Lingua Franca takes a look at the modern use of the word “even” as a sort of intensifier. Tina Fey’s Mean Girls seems to be the source.
  • In the aftermath of the “Oumuamua scan, Marginal Revolution takes a look at the Fermi paradox. Where is everyone?
  • Neuroskeptic examines the universe of papers lacking citations, apparently only 10% of the total published.
  • Drew Rowsome shares some ideas for last-minute Christmas gifts, some naughty and some nice.
  • The blog Savage Minds is dead, long live its successor anthro(dendum)!
  • Starts With A Bang’s Ethan Siegel shows readers ways they can pick up traces of the quantum universe safely at home.
  • Towleroad has a queer take on the new Star Wars. (No spoilers, please–I think there are spoilers in the link.)
  • Window on Eurasia suggests language issues in Gaugazia, a Turkic enclave in Moldova, might trigger another bout of separatism there.
  • Yorkshire Ranter Alex Harrowell has a new take on the cloud of bizarre videos that is #elsagate, introducing readers to the idea of algorithmic kitsch.

[BLOG] Some Saturday links

  • Bad Astronomer reports on Kepler-90, now known to have eight planets.
  • Centauri Dreams notes a model suggesting low-mass worlds like Mars do not stay very habitable for long at all around red dwarf stars.
  • Citizen Science Salon notes how Puerto Ricans are monitoring water quality on their own after Hurricane Maria.
  • The Crux notes how climate change played a role in the fall of Rome. We know more about our environment than the Romans did, but we are not much less vulnerable.
  • D-Brief notes a feature film that has just been made about Ötzi, the man who body was famously found frozen in the Tyrolean Alps five thousand years ago.
  • Daily JSTOR notes how a postage stamp featuring an erupting volcano may have kept Nicaragua from hosting an inter-oceanic canal of its own.
  • Hornet Stories reports on some exciting queer musicians.
  • Language Hat links to an online dictionary of French slang from the 19th century.
  • Language Hat has a post dealing with some controversy created on its author’s perspective on “they” as a singular pronoun. (Language changes, that’s all I have to say on that.)
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes a pretty wrong-headed take from a right-wing news source on sexuality and dating and flirting. Gack.
  • Starts With A Bang’s Ethan Siegel notes how the recent Kepler-90 press release shows how Kepler has reached the limit of the exoplanet science it can do. We need to put better technology at work.
  • At Whatever, John Scalzi has some interesting non-spoiler thoughts about the direction of The Last Jedi. I must see this, soon.
  • Window on Eurasia features a blithe dismissal by Putin of the idea that there is language or ethnic conflict at work. Tatars just need to learn Russian, apparently, though they can also keep Tatar as an extra.

[BRIEF NOTE] On the life and death of expanded universes, in Star Trek and Star Wars

Earlier this month, someone on Quora asked a question about Star Wars‘ Expanded Universe, the collection of books, comics and games that have been made officially out of date by the new movies.

How do I get over the fact that the Star Wars “Expanded Universe” is no longer canon?

I tried to like the new canon. I really did. I watched “The Force Awakens”, and while it wasn’t bad, it really bothered me that it didn’t follow the Star Wars Expanded Universe (EU). I grew up on the EU–through most of my childhood it was my life. Now it’s just causing me anxiety. What now?</blockquote<

I address this issue back in June, in connection to this expanded universe’s Star Trek equivalent. Writing an answer made sense to me.

* * *

I’m familiar with this sort of issue through my participation in the fandom of Star Trek, specifically the novels and other secondary material.

Vintage Treklit #toronto #books #bmv #treklit #sciencefiction

To date, there have been two separate canons of Star Trek tie-in material. The first materialized in the 1980s, alongside the movies but at a time when there was very little new material coming out. To make up for this, the authors of the authorized tie-in novels published by Pocket Books ended up creating a loose but real continuity, one which went into much greater detail about the universe of the 23rd century. Some authors took a deeper look at the Federation and its different worlds and their histories, for instance. Others took a look at other civilizations: Diane Duane’s Rihannsu series, taking an in-depth look at the Romulans, was acclaimed. This continuity spread beyond the novels, overlapping substantially with the setting of FASA’s Star Trek: The Role Playing Game..

This all changed. In large part this was because Star Trek: The Next Generation came out, hugely expanding the televisual canon. Roddenberry and the other owners of Star Trek intellectual property saw no particular need to incorporate the derivative tie-in material. This was particularly the case when they had objections to the content of much of the material–Roddenberry was taken aback by much of the alleged militarism of the roleplaying game, for instance. The end result was a shift from the late 1980s on, particularly under the stewardship of Richard Arnold, towards the production of tie-in material that not only had no connection to the loose canon of the 1980s but had no connection to each other. All fans got were disconnected stories, nothing with lasting consequence.

This began to change from the mid-1990s on. As television production on the different series began to wind down, different editors and writers at Pocket Books began to assemble a new continuity. From my perspective, much of this seems to do with crossover events. After the end of Deep Space Nine, the 2000 creation of the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine relaunch series led to a massive surge in the creation of a new novelverse canon, a veritable expanded universe. This has lasted to the present day, and has enabled what I think is a veritable surge of creativity. In this new novelverse canon, things happen which have lasting consequences: People die, people get together, civilizations end or are transformed. There is a sense of dynamic progress that in many cases we did not get on the television show. It’s great!

Of course, this is all fragile. The novelverse might be popular and even very good, but in Trek canon the novels rate as nothing next to the television shows. The 24th century might be safe from new television shows which would challenge the existing novelverse canon, or it might not. Perhaps more seriously, the current focus on the alternate 23rd century continuity created in the new movies could lead to radical shifts, whether by contradicting the continuity of the current universe or by leading to an end to the current production. Maybe future generations of show-runners will prefer that tie-in material only be produced to the continuity being worked by television? The expanded universe that I’ve been actively consuming for a decade can come to an end so easily.

How do I deal with this looming possibility? I would prefer that the fictional universes I consume last indefinitely, that they continue to develop, but this is simply beyond my control. Last year’s article at TheForce.net, “Anger Leads to Hate: Inside The Movement To Save The Expanded Universe”, made the point that no amount of reaction from the fans was likely to save *Star Wars*’ original expanded universe. There is simply much more money, and much more market, to be found in the creation of new material, on film and on television. The economics are the same for *Star Trek*. Why should I get upset by something I cannot control? The answer is that I should not. What would be the point?

Even if the current continuity did end, that by no means requires me to stop liking the material that has come out. Vonda N. MacIntyre’s 1981 The Entropy Effect was the first novel produced in the 1980s continuity I’d mentioned. Even though it belongs to that continuity only, never having been explicitly referenced in the television series or in any novel that I know of, The Entropy Effect is still an exciting and compelling story. Why would I not reread it? If the current Trek expanded universe met the same fate as its predecessor, the stories that were exciting and compelling to me before its end would remain as effective after its end. I cannot imagine that the Star Wars Legends books would be any different.

Finally, for people really upset that the expanded universe of old is gone, they might want to keep an eye out for elements of the expanded universe which make it into the current continuity. The season one TNG episode “Where No One Has Gone Before”, co-authored by the aforementioned Duane, is substantially based on her earlier novel The Wounded Sky, while the creation of the Klingons as a species of warriors capable of great honour seems to owe much to the novels. Some stories and story elements from the previous novel continuity have likewise made it into the present. Despite significant differences in the description of the Romulans, for instance, the culture and history of Duane’s Rihannsu continues to be the culture of the Romulans in the contemporary novelverse. On a more abstract level, Kurtzman and Orci have explicitly acknowledged their influences from various Trek novels, influences which create an atmosphere common to these novels and their movies. Katharine Trendacosta’s io9 article “What The Force Awakens Borrowed From the Old Star Wars Expanded Universe” suggests that the Expanded Universe of old may have been a substantial influence, as was in fact implied by Disney when the announcement was made. What’s wrong with seeing the better concepts you liked on the big and small screens in recognizable form?

TLDR: Just try to keep in mind that we read these tie-in stories for fun, like we do any stories. Whether or not the particular universe they exist in continues or not is fundamentally irrelevant to their enjoyability.

Written by Randy McDonald

December 28, 2015 at 11:55 pm