“Star Wars: A New Hope” … in a minute

Yep. That’s pretty much it.

Not fast enough for you? Then here are all six episodes Star Wars episodes, from “The Phantom Menace” to “Return of the Jedi,” every frame, in five minutes:

Couldn’t follow it? Then “Use the force!”


White House nixes Death Star

The second Death Star under construction in Re...

The second Death Star under construction in Return of the Jedi (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A bunch of people petitioned the White House to build a Death Star.

As in Galactic Empire, blow-up-Alderaan Death Star.

When the White House receives a certain number of signatures on a petition, it responds.

So, here goes:

The Administration shares your desire for job creation and a strong national defense, but a Death Star isn’t on the horizon. Here are a few reasons:

  • The construction of the Death Star has been estimated to cost more than $850,000,000,000,000,000. We’re working hard to reduce the deficit, not expand it.
  • The Administration does not support blowing up planets.
  • Why would we spend countless taxpayer dollars on a Death Star with a fundamental flaw that can be exploited by a one-man starship?

However, look carefully (here’s how) and you’ll notice something already floating in the sky — that’s no Moon, it’s a Space Station! Yes, we already have a giant, football field-sized International Space Station in orbit around the Earth that’s helping us learn how humans can live and thrive in space for long durations. The Space Station has six astronauts — American, Russian, and Canadian — living in it right now, conducting research, learning how to live and work in space over long periods of time, routinely welcoming visiting spacecraft and repairing onboard garbage mashers, etc. We’ve also got two robot science labs — one wielding a laser — roving around Mars, looking at whether life ever existed on the Red Planet.

Keep in mind, space is no longer just government-only. Private American companies, through NASA’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Program Office (C3PO), are ferrying cargo — and soon, crew — to space for NASA, and are pursuing human missions to the Moon this decade.

Even though the United States doesn’t have anything that can do the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs, we’ve got two spacecraft leaving the Solar System and we’re building a probe that will fly to the exterior layers of the Sun. We are discovering hundreds of new planets in other star systems and building a much more powerful successor to the Hubble Space Telescope that will see back to the early days of the universe.

We don’t have a Death Star, but we do have floating robot assistants on the Space Station, a President who knows his way around a light saber and advanced (marshmallow) cannon, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which is supporting research on building Luke’s arm, floating droids, and quadruped walkers.

We are living in the future! Enjoy it. Or better yet, help build it by pursuing a career in a science, technology, engineering or math-related field. The President has held the first-ever White House science fairs and Astronomy Night on the South Lawn because he knows these domains are critical to our country’s future, and to ensuring the United States continues leading the world in doing big things.

If you do pursue a career in a science, technology, engineering or math-related field, the Force will be with us! Remember, the Death Star’s power to destroy a planet, or even a whole star system, is insignificant next to the power of the Force.

That’s a pretty good answer. And this is why building one is a waste of money:

(Remember, the rebels didn’t just destroy one. They destroyed two.)

It’s worse!

There’s a scene in the first “Star Wars” with Luke, Leia, Han and Chewey in a trash compactor. Luke says “It could be worse.” something growls and Han says, “It’s worse.”

Standard & Poor’s announced Friday night that it has downgraded the U.S. credit rating for the first time, dealing a symbolic blow to the world’s economic superpower in what was a sharply worded critique of the American political system.

Lowering the nation’s rating to one notch below AAA, the credit rating company said “political brinkmanship” in the debate over the debt had made the U.S. government’s ability to manage its finances “less stable, less effective and less predictable.” It said the bipartisan agreement reached this week to find at least $2.1 trillion in budget savings “fell short” of what was necessary to tame the nation’s debt over time and predicted that leaders would not be likely to achieve more savings in the future.

It doesn’t matter that S&P has been horribly wrong before. Consider: A ratings agency that gave a triple-A to completely worthless subprime mortgage fantasies is saying that the wealth of the United States is less credit worthy.

Paul Krugman has a few thoughts:

On one hand, there is a case to be made that the madness of the right has made America a fundamentally unsound nation. And yes, it is the madness of the right: if not for the extremism of anti-tax Republicans, we would have no trouble reaching an agreement that would ensure long-run solvency.

On the other hand, it’s hard to think of anyone less qualified to pass judgment on America than the rating agencies. The people who rated subprime-backed securities are now declaring that they are the judges of fiscal policy? Really?

Just to make it perfect, it turns out that S&P got the math wrong by $2 trillion, and after much discussion conceded the point — then went ahead with the downgrade.

But Atrios says it best:

Apparently we’re supposed to care about what some idiots at some corrupt organization think about anything.

It will be interesting to see what happens in the markets on Monday. Actually, we’ll get the first signs on Sunday night in the U.S. when Monday Asia trading opens. Ratings agencies Fitch and Moody’s have already affirmed a triple-A for America.

And since I enjoy beating dead horses: This is more proof that the posturing in Washinton was pointless. When the world is told by “very important people” that a deal had to be done to protect our credit rating, and the done deal results in a downgrade, it’s time to find new important people.

Suns rise, suns set

Some of us really enjoy news from space. You know, they find a new planet in another solar system, and we think about pulling up stakes and hopping on the next starship to the Delta Quadrant.

Remember when “Star Wars” first came out? Before Lucas decided to do the prequel schtick that turned the first Star Wars into the fourth episode, “A New Hope“? The coolest thing was that Luke Skywalker‘s home planet, Tatooine, was in a binary star system and you could see a double sunset.

So I got really excited when I saw this at the Time Web site:

Astrophysicists say that Betelgeuse, the red super-giant that is the ninth brightest star in the sky, is losing mass—an indication of gravitational collapse. Brad Carter, a senior lecturer of physics at the University of Southern Queensland, explained to news.com.au that the star is essentially running out of the fuel at its core. “This fuel keeps Betelgeuse shining and supported. When this fuel runs out the star will literally collapse in upon itself and it will do so very quickly,” he said. The subsequent explosion will appear tens of millions of times brighter than the sun, meaning 24-hours of light on Earth.

And Time give the story this headline:

Will the Earth Have Two Suns by 2012?

Then you read the whole story and the scam of a magazine sticks this in:

And while the celestial event could take place before the end of 2012, it may not occur for a million years.

Did anyone at Time notice that’s not exactly a helpful estimate? (Well, it could happen tomorrow, or it could happen a long, long time after you and everyone you know and everything currently alive today are dead.

Now Betelgeuse is somewhere from 500 to 800 light years away from Earth. That means that when you look at it in the constellation Orion tonight, what you’re seeing is something that actually happened probably around the 13th century. (Simple physics: nothing moves faster than light. It has taken the light you see up to 800 years to get here.)

So since they’re predicting that something that supposedly happened centuries ago might show up next year, or might show up a million years from now, it’s safe to say the astronomers who released the information don’t know what they’re talking about.

I’ll just go back now to waiting for news about new class M planets and figuring out what the other letters in the planetary class designations mean. After all, Time says I’ve got all the time in the world.