Life


Binary Sunset in Star Wars: A New Hope

I saw The Last Jedi at the end of last year, and a little late with my thoughts on the film, but wanted to get my opinion down here. The Last Jedi was a nice mix of story, CGI and nostalgia. I liked it much better that “The Force Awakens”. JJ Abrams is ok in technical ways as a director, but I feel he really just doesn’t understand the Star Wars and Star Trek genre. Rian Johnson did as good a job as he could in The Last Jedi with the arc of the story as it is (basically a reboot of the 1st trilogy). I felt a real emotional resonance with the nostalgia in The Last Jedi, something I didn’t get with The Force Awakens. There’s plenty to like in The Last Jedi that connects back to the original trilogy. Mark Hamill was superb as an older Luke Skywalker and handled what he was given to work with quite well.

Spoiler alert: I especially liked the scene where Luke makes a visit to the Millennium Falcon. It’s one of those “I’m back” moments. Then he meets R2D2 again, who plays the Leia hologram from Star Wars: A New Hope. The whole scene was spot on and brought the emotion and nostalgia back home. I did enjoy the appearance of Yoda also. At first when I saw the Yoda ears I thought it might be corny, but it was really quite touching and made better by the fact that it wasn’t CGI Yoda, but puppet Yoda from the Empire Strikes Back. Bravo!

An older, more bitter Skywalker is brought out of his self indulgent exile by these things, R2D2 displaying the ‘Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi’ message and Yoda giving Young Skywalker, as he calls him, a reminder Jedi Lesson. He rejoins the fight with the spirit of his youth, and it is heartfelt in the film showdown. Alas, Luke is spent by the effort projecting himself across the stars, and he ends as he began with a binary star sunset, as that familiar background music builds. Luke goes out as Obi-Wan and Yoda did. This is a classy end to Skywalker, and much more dignified than what JJ gave Han Solo. Rian Johnson definitely knows how to handle the Star Wars material.

Overall, The Last Jedi is like watching two films with separate, but linked story lines – one the Resistance vs the 1st Order, the other the Jedi Master Skywalker and Jedi novice Rey. It works, and while some liberties are taken with The Force that we’ve never seen before, the story is all brought together in the end that is satisfying. The humor hits all the marks, the CGI is great, the nostalgia pulls at the emotions and the story plays out in a reasonable way, which I liked. I enjoyed the extended parts for Leia and Luke, though in separate story lines. Hamill was especially good with his performance.

Not sure where the story goes from here, but it’s the final phase for Luke, Leia and Han Solo. Some conclusion can be brought to this trilogy with the new characters in Episode IX. For me, the Lucas story line is a complete with Episodes I-VI, and this trilogy of Episodes VII-IX is something separate, a different story than Lucas would have told. Whether one likes the prequels or not, Episodes I-III, Lucas was a story teller and always gave something fresh. The sequel trilogy is basically a retelling of the original trilogy in the story arc, not particularly original, but enjoyable from a nostalgic perspective and getting some new characters of interest to build on.

Maybe there is another trilogy going forward with the new characters, but they need a fresh story line to keep me engaged in this franchise. JJ needs to stay out of it as director also, and let Rian Johnson or others handle it. Rian is better at the Star Wars saga and understands the material deeper I think. What I might like to see someday is to go back in time, far back, to the Old Republic, and tell the story of the Jedi and Sith, how the original Empire eventually came to be and such. There’s a few thousand years of things to cover there with original story telling. We’ll see where it all goes in the hands of Disney and hope they don’t drive it into a ditch with repetitive stories.

I liked The Last Jedi, well enough that I would give it multiple viewings, a feeling I didn’t have with The Force Awakens. Hats off to Rian Johnson for bringing the Star Wars saga back home with some emotional nostalgia. I’ll also be looking forward now to see what comes in Episode IX for a conclusion.

May the Force be with you, always…

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As I did at the end of 2013, 2014 & 2015, so I do again here at the end of 2017 to recount some travel experiences, which I don’t normally write about here. I did not post anything about my travels at the end of 2016, so this years post will cover my travels from 2016 and 2017. I need not give the setup again for the premise of such entries and see my blog from the end of 2013: Travels of Spocklogic. The notable travels from 2016 & 2017 (travel blogs I finished or made additions to) include:







That’s the summary for 2016 & 2017. For the previous years travels, I include the links here for convenience, but all blog links can be found in the “Browse Blog Posts” at the top of the page.

Travels of Spocklogic
Travels of Spocklogic II
Travels of Spocklogic III

All in all, it was a good couple of years in travel with a visit to France in early 2016, visits to Sicily and Central Italy in the summer of 2016, and a trip to the Shenandoah region of Virginia in the fall of 2016. For this later blog on Shenandoah, I included a couple of other trips there with one from 2000 and another from 2005. Over the years, since I have lived in the state of Virginia, I have visited this area of the state maybe a dozen or so times, but I don’t have photos for all the visits there, and just the years 2000, 2005 and 2016. I also have a Virginia blog called “Virginia Perspectives” covering 1990-present that is a mix of travel & slice of life. The year 2017 consisted of a road trip to New England in the early summer and a trip to Brazil in late summer, my first trip to South America, making it my 5th continent to visit. There is also another blog I made on Places in Passing, which consists of entries regarding places I mentioned in passing, but did not write about in great detail. I have plans to fill in the narratives, but for now the entries display  photos and a reference link to a blog where the place was mentioned.

For a complete collection of blogs, one can always visit Spocklogic’s Travel Blogs at TravBuddy.

Best wishes for the New Year in 2018!

 

La Morte di Caesare by Vincenzo Camucci (1798)

The Ides of March was made famous by Shakespeare in the play Julius Caesar (Act I, Scene 2), where a soothsayer warns Caesar “Beware the Ides of March”. Julius Caesar, was of course, assassinated in 44 BC on the 15th of March, a date known as the Ides of March. It’s really not so bad and ominous as days go if one understands more about the Roman calendar. The Romans didn’t count calendar days like we do. They used a reverse-count to reference days, always before and never after. Three days had names. The beginning of the month was called the Kalends, the middle called Ides, and they also had Nones, meaning 8th day before (or 9th day before and including) the Ides. The Nones occur on the 5th except by this rhyme: “March, July, October, May. The Nones are on the seventh day“. From this, it’s clear that for Nones on the 5th, Ides are on the 13th (short months), while for Nones on the 7th, Ides are on the 15th (long months). The Roman method of counting days was inclusive, so the Kalends, Nones and Ides would be counted as one of the days. For example March 3 (5 Nones) counts 3,4,5,6,7 (or 5 days) for the total. Romans would say like the following, apparently logical in Latin for them:

March 1: Kalends of March
March 2: 6 Nones of March (Ante Diem VI Nones)
March 3: 5 Nones of March
March 4: 4 Nones of March
March 5: 3 Nones of March (Ante Diem III Nones)
March 6: 2 Nones of March or Pridie Nones of March
(Pridie is Latin for “day before”)
March 7: Nones of March
March 8: 8 Ides of March (Ante Diem VIII Ides)
March 9: 7 Ides of March
March 10: 6 Ides of March
March 11: 5 Ides of March
March 12: 4 Ides of March
March 13: 3 Ides of March (Ante Diem III Ides)
March 14: 2 Ides of March or Pridie Ides (day before the Ides)
March 15: Ides of March
March 16: 17 Kalends of April (Ante Diem XVII Kalends)
March 17: 16 Kalends of April
etc…
March 30: 3 Kalends of April (Ante Diem III Kalends)
March 31: 2 Kalends of April or Pridie Kalends of April
(day before the Kalends)
April 1: Kalends of April

So, after Kalends one counts days before Nones, after Nones one counts days before Ides and after Ides one counts days before next Kalends. It’s a bit different for long and short months, but here’s a rhyme to help out:

On March the 7th, May, July,
October too, the Nones you spy;
Except in these, those Nones appear
On the 5th day of all the year.
If to the NONE you add an 8
Of every IDE you’ll find the date.

Fortunate for Shakespeare that the day Caesar was killed had such a nice ring to it that he could pen the famous line “Beware the Ides of March”, for if Caesar had been killed on the next day it would not have sounded as ominous to say “Beware the 17 Kalends of April”. Nevertheless, aside from it being the day of the death of Caesar there is nothing particularly foreboding for most of us about the Ides of March itself, and each month has an Ides as the Romans referred to them.

Keep on Trekkin

As I did at the end of 2013 & 2014, so I do again here at the end of 2015 to recount some travel experiences, which I don’t normally write about here. I need not give the whole setup again for the premise of such entries and see my blog from the end of 2013: Travels of Spocklogic. The notables this year (travel blogs I finished or made additions to) include:

feature-Erice2014-lgFeature-Indian_Wedding

Feature - Washington DC-1

Feature-China_2014

Feature-Spocklogics_TravBuddy_Meetups

 

That’s the summary for 2015. Some are carry overs from 2014, but I finished the blogs in 2015, after my last post on travels (see: Travels of Spocklogic II) in December 2014 or earlier if I made additions. As I alluded to in recent entries, I will take a break from this Cogito Ergo blog for a while in 2016. I’ve had 20 years of internet exposure and been blogging for 10 years (see: 20 Years of Internet and Mapping the Internet). I hope to return again with a fresh perspective down the line. There’s plenty to explore in the Cogito Ergo blog archives until then (see the link to: Browse Blog Posts). Best wishes for the New Year 2016! See you in the future…

bones-travels-through-time

Carpenters-song-bmw

My father died on October 25, 2015 at 1:25 a.m. – Age 76 years and 23 days as the calendar counts. My thoughts go back to the death of my mother in 2007, which I wrote about in Exploring Death and Dying. These things still apply, but I don’t know what to say having lost both my mother and father now. He faced his health issues over the last decade or more with courage, but also acceptance of what faced him. In the end he faced death with the same attitude he faced life, as he thought best. Death came quickly for him, advancing in just short time, and he was awake and aware until shortly before he died in the company of his wife for some 35+ years. She told me a story of his brave last hours knowing he was dying, but not suffering. That’s my father, and I would have expected nothing less than going out the way he wanted to. Even going so far as telling the doctors to go away, stop checking, and let him die in peace. That’s my father! The headline image of this blog is a poem I wrote for my father in 2002 about his craftsmanship as a carpenter, and it echoes his passing now too.

Farewell My Father, and if there is an afterlife, may you build in new and interesting ethereal ways… I have some photos of me and my Dad over the years to offer and a video slide show of a particular Baseball reunion with my father and his two sons in 2007. Baseball has played a role in our lives over the years as long lamenting Red Sox fans, but in the recent decade or so have been victorious 3 times over. I’m glad my Dad got to see that in his lifetime and hope in the end he was somewhat proud of his sons, and his daughter too. We are all proud of him in our own way and maybe it can be said that if a man does the best he can, he has achieved all that he can be. That’s something to celebrate and to remember…

APR 63

A Family (big brother, father, mother and me) – 1963

Father&son-1965

Father & Son – 1965

Father&son-1967

Father & Son – 1967

Father&son-1969

Father & Son – 1969

Father&son-1980

Father & Son (with little sister on the right) – 1980

Father&son-1989

Father & Son – 1989

Father&son-2002

Father & Son 2002

Father&son-2007

Father & Son – 2007

Father&son-2010

Father & Son – 2010

Father&son-2014

Father & Son (With my daughter Jennifer in between) – 2014

 

Father and Son Reunion at Fenway Park in Boston – A slideshow my brother and I put together a day or two after the event in 2007.

My father and I would sometimes discuss poetry, and the last one we talked about was “Good Hours” by Robert Frost and it’s a good one to end on, or continue on…

Good Hours

I had for my winter evening walk—
No one at all with whom to talk,
But I had the cottages in a row
Up to their shining eyes in snow.

And I thought I had the folk within:
I had the sound of a violin;
I had a glimpse through curtain laces
Of youthful forms and youthful faces.

I had such company outward bound.
I went till there were no cottages found.
I turned and repented, but coming back
I saw no window but that was black.

Over the snow my creaking feet
Disturbed the slumbering village street
Like profanation, by your leave,
At ten o’clock of a winter eve.

~ Robert Frost

Map-cyberspace?

Cyberspace?

If you had to imagine what the Internet looked like, what would come to mind? This seemingly innocent question has given rise to some interesting and occasionally bizarre representations. There are the physical aspects, the infrastructure that makes it possible, the hardware that runs it, the software that interfaces with people and then there are the people themselves. There is a whole other conceptual side to it, which strays into realms of the human mind, and even the name cyberspace congers up visions of some universe within our own, but that is ill defined in physical space. The prefix cyber cyber comes from the Greek word kybernet,  meaning to steer or guide (a helmsman), from which cybernetic  is derived. One can appreciate the irony there and does the internet do the steering or the people using it? Well, this is a big topic and the many questions raised are outside the scope of this blog. When it comes to visualizing the internet I tend to like maps of the world that reflect human behavior or trends in activity. I showed some in a previous blog from June, 2014: The Internet – Yesterday to Today. The maps shown here show the who and how people are connected:

Map-of-internet-users-per-100-people-2012

Map-world-online-by pervcent-2013

Map-world-online-growing-access-2013

Map-of-internet-freedom-2014

Map-of TeleGeography-2015

In viewing some of these maps, I began to wonder what my own WordPress map of visitors compared to some of these. Turns out it actually looks fairly similar for the most part and is most easily compared with the map of Internet users per 100 people and Map of Internet Freedom. Below I show my map of visitors to Cogito Ergo during the period 2012 to 2015, and the associated list of countries with number of visits below that. All total, this blog has had more that ~11,000 views; ~6,000 visitors. On a monthly basis there are an average of 276 views; 163 visitors; 1.78 views per visitor. Currently there are 117 posts, 40 categories and 230 tags. I just record these stats for posterity and reference, and not sure they are of much interest to anyone. The map and countries below only reflect 2012-2015 since I activated the mapping feature, not the total numbers since I started this WordPress blog in 2011 and migrated all my previous years blogs here from another platform. I have actually been writing this blog for just about 10 years now. It may be time to give it a rest for a while and pondering a hiatus in 2016.

wordpress-2015-map

Cogito Ergo WordPress map of views (2012-2015)

WPmap-countries-107

Cogito Ergo list of countries by views (2012-2015)

This idea of Mapping the Internet is likely to expand in the future. It’s not just about the technical details or the purview of science to tell. Science is good at telling us how thing work, but not why they work or what they are good for. For example, we can figure out how the universe works, but not really why it works that way or why it exists. The future will have to go beyond the science and statistics of things and delve deeper into the relationship of man and machine. Mankind has been mapping the physical space on earth and outer space for millennia. The physical space of the human body and inner space of the human mind the brain has been explored for centuries and we are just beginning to map it. This thing called the Internet or cyberspace is as vast and complex I think than even we realize – like the universe itself or the human brain. In this case, however, the creator will be examining his creation. The ultimate Mapping of the Internet may reveal the creator in a new light, hopefully not Man the God, but Man the inquisitive explorer. Ultimately man is a temporary tenant of Planet Earth. Reaching into inner space or cyberspace to see ourselves may someday inspire us to reach for the stars. I like that line from the 2014 film Interstellar:

Man was born on Earth, but he wasn’t meant to die here.

I give some links for Internet Map exploration:

Global Internet Maps

The Internet Map
Geonet
Internet Census 2012
The Opte Project
Ways to Map the Internet
.

20-yrs-internet

I read somewhere once that in the Middle Ages some people believed we are all created from preformed tiny human beings, called homunculus (Latin for “little man”), which grow into ourselves, but the inner homunculus always maintains control. Who is really pulling the strings, eh? I mention this because it is near about 20 years on the internet for me now and it feels a bit like a homunculus, even though I was born long before it became widely available to the public. I can’t really imagine what it’s like to be born into the world with the internet already existing. Sometimes it feels like it has always been there, so ingrained has it become, but I know when I think back in ‘the before time’ I have memories of a world without it. I don’t want to focus on the ‘before time’ in this blog, but say something about 20 years of Internet. Just for fun, I can start by sampling what the internet looked like 20 years ago. Should I be capitalizing it as Internet?

Web-sites-1995

Looks pretty cheesy by standards of today, but back then it was the ‘bees knees’, to use a very old fashioned phrase. In those days most of these companies were using available technology, but the internet was mostly slow and clunky. I bought a 28.8k baud modem in 1995 and squealed my way into cyberspace. At first I only found things like BBS (Bulletin Board System), Usenet or News Groups. These were mostly discussion based arenas for sharing information, though some media could be exchanged as well, but it could be time consuming depending on the size. I did this on the cheap finding numbers to dial up and get online, then once accessing information I found ways to set up TCP/IP and access web pages with a thing called Netscape using various other dial-ups. These free dial-ups came and went with the wind, but I suppose the seeds of a homunculus were planted inside me during those days. You had to be sort of clever and tech inclined to make this shit work back then. The October 1995 issue of FHM (featuring Cindy Crawford on the cover) had an article entitled: “How to log on to the internet – the pleasures and pitfalls of going online”, by Tony Horkins.

dissecting-fhms-seminal-october-1995-feature-how-to-log-on-the-internet-101-body-image-1433515762

Eventually I think I got Compuserve and then AOL (America Online) after that. The rest is history and the homunculus that has grown inside me now seems to have a mind of its own – well, it’s my mind, but still… At least I think it’s still my mind. This brings me to the infamous Clifford Stoll Newsweek article from 1995 entitled “The Internet? Bah!“. Clifford Stoll is much maligned today for getting it wrong, but on reading it in 2015 I think maybe he got it right – for the most part anyway. I feel his vibe now in attitude and it brings us together, but at the same time isolates us from one another. There’s a great passage at the end of the article:

While the Internet beckons brightly, seductively flashing an icon of knowledge-as-power, this nonplace lures us to surrender our time on earth.

At the time Clifford Stoll wrote those words, he had the 20 years experience with the internet already, not as advanced as it is today, but enough to recognize something fundamental in the human experience. My own experience 20 years on after using the internet allows me to recognize that while it has its uses it is just a tool, another in the history of mankind. We should not lose sight of that and while mastery of tools set us apart from the beasts of the wilderness, those tools do not define us. We are all something more than the sum of our parts or the tools we use. There is a danger in being servant to the internet as opposed to allowing the internet to serve you. As Mr. Spock said in the 1968 Star Trek episode “The Ultimate Computer”:

Computers make excellent and efficient servants; but I have no wish to serve under them.

Such reflections are well considered and philosophically sound. Take a step back and think about it, whether it be 20, 10, 5 or 1 year of internet experience…

vintage-social-networking1

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