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by Brian Schrader

Star Wars VII Teaser (and thoughts on the new lightsabers)

Posted on Fri, 28 Nov 2014

It looks good. As a few people on Twitter have said, this trailer feels more like Star Wars than the prequels did, and I'd have to agree. There's X-Wings, the Millennium Falcon, Rebel pilots, and more. Truth be told though, my brain still doesn't know how to process the trailer. Its harder than I would have thought to accept that there's going to be a new Star Wars. Regardless, the teaser looks very promising. Let's hope the movie is as good.

Star Wars VII Teaser Trailer →


Ok well I thought I could get through this without talking about the new lightsaber. I can't, so here goes.

I like the new lightsaber a lot. For something that was on screen for literally two seconds, I have more thoughts on it than the entire rest of the trailer.

To start, it looks like reinventing the lightsaber is something that only the Sith can do, and it's nice to see them continuing to change the design. Putting aside the impracticality of it, (since come on, it's Star Wars) I really like the new look of the blade. By making it more than just a solid beam of light, it gives the weapon a dangerous look. The blade looks like it's just barely contained; it could fail at any moment. It gives the weapon a feeling it's never had before. The lightsaber is no longer a dignified weapon of noble knights, but savage weapon, a shadow of its former self, a relic of a bygone age.

Star Wars has always been a "used-future" universe, and the lightsabers have always looked too new, too nice for the world they're in. The Sith are stretched thin, as far as we know, and the Jedi are in the process of recovering from utter destruction. The Empire is trying to recover from the loss of its leader, and the Rebellion is trying to make the most of it's victory over the Empire. A barely functional lightsaber in a barely functional world is a nice bit of symbolism.

Lightsabers are the weapons of the Jedi Knights, elegant weapons, for a more civilized age... a bygone age. This Star Wars takes place in a new world, a brutal world, a broken world. It's only fitting that the new lightsabers reflect that.

ISS Livestream now in 720p HD

Posted on Mon, 24 Nov 2014

Really cool to see NASA continuing to upgrade the livestream. I've shown it to so many people and they are always impressed. Little gestures like this help to motivate the public's interest in space. Plus now the stream title, "ISS HD Earth Viewing Experiment" isn't a lie.

ISS HD Earth Viewing Experiment →

Philae Breaks our Hearts

Posted on Sun, 16 Nov 2014


With its batteries depleted and not enough sunlight available to recharge, Philae has fallen into 'idle mode' for a potentially long silence. In this mode, all instruments and most systems on board are shut down.

"Prior to falling silent, the lander was able to transmit all science data gathered during the First Science Sequence", says DLR's Stephan Ulamec, Lander Manager, who was in the Main Control Room at ESOC tonight.


Obama "urges" FCC to reclassify ISPs as Utilities

Posted on Mon, 10 Nov 2014

Today, President Obama announced his new plan to protect Net Neutrality. It's really important to remember that he doesn't have any power over the FCC, and he can only "urge" them to protect Net Neutrality, which he claims he will do. I won't say I'm confident he'll be able to effect any change, but the sentiment is nice at least. Another voice in the fight is always appreciated.

What's interesting is that the President isn't calling for an extension of Net Neutrality protections, he's taking his recommendation one step further. He's "urging" the FCC to reclassify ISPs as utilities. ISPs would be like the water company. I really doubt that the FCC would approve that severe of legislation, but I do think that's the direction we need to force ISPs to go. The President seems committed now; let's see if he still cares about this in 6 months.

Just for the sake of argument, let's assume that the FCC ignores the cable company lobbyists and reclassifies ISPs as utilities. Go one step further and assume they did all this because they heard the President suggest it, and the people advocate it (or vice versa). If all that were to happen, I would honestly have hope that maybe our government isn't as broken as it seems. But that's a big "if".

The Verge: Obama says FCC should reclassify internet as a utility →

Net Neutrality: President Obama's Plan for a Free and Open Internet →


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