February 29, 2008

R2-D2 is THE Most Powerful Entity in the Star Wars Universe

Okay, so most of you know that Star Wars is my all-time favorite movie. I first saw it for my birthday in December of 1977. We stood in line (yes, there were still lines to see it) at the old NorthPark Cinema in Dallas. Cold coupled with the anticipation made the wait unbearable for me, and I am sure impossible for my parents. But once it started, nothing else mattered. And when it ended, nothing could stop me from thinking, living, talking, breathing Star Wars. I read the books, bought the toys (with help from Mom and Dad), and acted out every scene. And when it finally came out on video, watched it again and again until I had every line memorized
Fast forward 31 years and I am still entranced by it and the other five. I cannot wait to share these with my son. To have a lightsabre duel or three with him. And, to see it again for the very first time.
Now, I finished watching Revenge of the Sith today, and I realized something that turned the whole of the series on its ear. Maybe you already realized this, and I am slow on the uptake. Anyway, I had that moment of epiphany right after Senator Organa hands over the droids to Captain Antilles. He orders C-3PO's memory wiped. It is an amusing moment. And even R2 gets in a chuckle. But, it hit me. Why not wipe R2-D2's memory, also? He has been more a part of the happenings than C-3PO. He is even one of only a handful of characters in all six parts. Why would you keep his memory intact?
His Story and History
Because R2-D2 is in fact what the story is about. Not Anakin. Not Luke. Not Obi-wan, Leia, Yoda or the Emperor. They are but pawns and supporting members for R2-D2. We first see R2 as one of a chorus of astromech droids on the royal starship fleeing the Naboo trade blockade. While his counterparts are picked off one by one, R2 is able to repair the shields and the ship is able to escape. This is the first of several times he is shown as savior when the humanoid characters are in a jam. He is presented to Amidala and everyone is quite taken by this little droid. Later in the movie, when the group return to Naboo, R2 gets into one of the fighters. Then, he is joined by the young Anakin. When Anakin powers up the fighter, he says that it is locked into autopilot and they go flying off into the dogfight with the trade federation droid ships. It is only after reaching the battle that R2 is able to disengage the autopilot. And Anakin is forced to fly and fight for his life. It is important to note that R2 accompanies Qui-Gonn to Mos Espa as we carries the technical details for the parts they need. He is in the background for most of the important moments throughout this episode and the episodes to follow.
In Episode 2, it is some 10 years later and R2 is still in the service of now-senator Amidala. While acting as her protector, he misses the introduction of two deadly worm-like creatures and Anakin must save her. Later we find R2 saving Padme from molten metal by stopping the droid production line on Geonosis. He also rebuilds C-3PO who has become parts of two battle droids.
Episode 3 begins with R2 helping with the rescue of Chancellor Palpatine. He shows more resourcefulness in that he defeats 2 of the larger, more powerful battle droids handily. And creates a diversion for the Jedis after they are caught by General Grievous. After this though, he is more of a spectator to the happenings. He and C-3PO are handed over to Captain Antilles for use on the blockade runner.
We jump some 18 to 20 years with Episode 4, where we find that he is accompanying Leia on her way to bring back Obi-Wan to Alderaan. The plan goes awry, but R2 along with C-3PO make it to Tatooine. He meets up with Luke and soon begins his search for Kenobi. While on the Death Star, he finds Leia is aboard, saves the gang from the trash compactor, and manages to get the Death Star plans to the main rebel base in time for them to utilize the information. He goes with Luke to help destroy the Death Star.
In Episode 5, he plays spectator to Luke's training. But once getting to Cloud City, he helps Chewbacca, Leia and Lando get to the Millennium Falcon, rebuild C-3PO, and restart the hyperdive engines.
With Episode 6, R2 and 3PO are given as gifts to Jabba the Hutt. At the right moment, R2 shoots Luke his lightsabre and helps Leia escape. He then goes with the strike force to Endor to disengage the shield generator. Thereby rendering the second Death Star, as well as the Emperor, defeated.
The Conjecture
Droids are machines. Made by humanoids. Created to do tasks that the humanoids cannot or will not do. Droids are property. Droids are soulless. Droids may be able to think for themselves, but they are inferior to the humanoids. Droids are seen as slaves. To that end, droids are programmed to enjoy their slavery. They will obey the rules set for them.
But R2D2 has tapped into a source of programming that has allowed him to understand and manipulate the world, and universe, around him. He is unassuming, non-threatening, and melts into the background until he needs to make his move.
It is very interesting to note that Naboo was the homeworld for Palpatine. I do not think that R2-D2 is on Naboo by coincidence. I think he is there to track Palpatine. Somewhere along the way, R2 has come across the Sith master. Whether it was during Palpatine's apprenticeship with Darth Plagueis, or simply while at a coffee shop on Coruscant, R2 sensed his evilness. Maybe even sensed the grave threat that Palpatine truly was.
What? Sensed his evilness? Like "through the force" sensed? Yes. The true nature of R2-D2 is that he is tapped into force. But not in the same way that the Jedi or Sith tap into the force. R2-D2 has reached a level of artificial intelligence that goes beyond consciousness. He found the energy field that is created by all living things. Yes, I realize that R2-D2 is not a living thing. But he does use energy. Our definition of the force is given to us by a living being, Obi-Wan. Who then dies! And then continues to "live" in the force!
R2-D2 utilizes the energy of the force to manipulate the events that ultimately bring balance to the force.
The Confirmation
Palpatine had for years worked behind the scenes with the Trade Federation to create the blockade on Naboo. His lust for power, a Sith attribute, coupled with his disgust for the ineffectual rule of the Chancellor was the driving force for his ambition. R2-D2's awareness of this was hampered in that he was bound to his programming. He cannot kill a humanoid. He could not move directly against Palpatine. Moving his way into the Queen's starship, he not only fixed the shields, but he created the leak in the hyperdrive! He did this to delay the Queen's arrival and to let others try to work out the dispute. He also knew that there was a strong presence in the force on Tatooine. If the Jedi found the presence first, it would be a blow to the Sith. In a sort of in your face move, R2 manipulates the situation again when they are back on Naboo. He gets in the fighter BEFORE Anakin does. He knew Anakin would be easily drawn to it. Further, R2 programmed the autopilot and forced Anakin into the battle. He was sure that the sight of this strong presence in the hands of the Jedi would be a blow to the newly elected Chancellor Palpatine. But, when Palpatine seemed unworried, R2 knew he would have to keep watching him.
By Episode 2, R2 was more aware of how the future would play out. He sensed Ani's love for Padme, and knew it would lead to Ani's undoing. He allowed the attack on Padme. He had hoped her death would let Ani focus on his future as a Jedi. He could not kill her directly. He could not go against his programming. It did not go as planned, as Ani saved her. And on Geonosis, R2 unwittingly saves her. He was only trying to shut down the battle droid production line. He rebuilds C-3PO because he sees the him as a front man and ally. Another entity he can manipulate. He also begins to realize he will not be able to change future events as we had planned. He makes sure he can stick close to Anakin if he is to have any chance.
In Episode 3, R2 reluctantly aids Anakin and Obi-Wan in saving the kidnapped Palpatine. R2's goal also is to eliminate the threat of General Grievous. R2 knows with his destruction, the droid armies would fall immediately. This would end the war and end how close Ani would have to work with the Chancellor. In the end, hampered in being a droid (second class citizen with no rights and no voice), R2 can only watch as the Republic is ripped asunder and the Galactic Empire takes its place. Yet he does manipulate things in his favor. He gets Senator Organa to attach them to a ship that routinely moves back and forth to Coruscant. And he makes sure that his memory is not wiped.
Well, he cannot communicate with humanoids anyway, so why does that matter? Ah, but he can communicate and it does matter! In the Ep. 1, he and Ani have conversations on the fighter. And in Ep. 4 and 5, he does the same with Luke! And, it again shows that R2-D2 can manipulate minds. And not just the weak-minded. But also the Jedi and Sith. Palpatine was powerful enough to hide his abilities even in the presence of Jedis. R2 is even more powerful in this ability.
The limitations
If it weren't for his programming and the general dismissal of droids by humanoids, R2 would have been unstoppable. Really, I think of his programming to be more along the lines of the ethical code the Jedi follow. He is much more disciplined in following the guidance of the force than either of the Sith or Jedi.
The societal and political issues are the real limitation. The bartender in Ep. 4 - "We don't serve their kind!" - exemplifies how droids are viewed. R2 and 3PO must wait outside, while all sorts of creatures of Mos Eisley (a retched hive of scum and villany) are free to come and go as they please. And when you look at the groups that Count Dooku brings together to attack the Republic in Ep. 2 - the Trade Federation, the InterGalactic Banking Clan, the TechnoUnion, and the Commerce Guild - you find a group who see droids as dispensable pawns to enforce their ways. Droids are merely servants.
Overcoming the Limitations
If R2 had wanted to, he most likely could have attached himself to someone with political connections and proceeded to make changes that way. He must have sensed that Palpatine was too powerful to be removed through the political process. So he stayed with those who could stand against the Empire. He spent his time on gathering intelligence until the fateful day of coming across the plans for the Death Star. R2 must have also sensed that the growing unrest would need leadership. He went after the one he knew who others would rally around. A Jedi.
With everyone thinking they were extinct, a Jedi reappearing would be a catalyst for other systems to join the growing rebellion. And with the destruction of something so large and threatening like the Death Star, the Emperor would be seen as vulnerable. Defeatable.
And while it did not happen how R2 envisioned it, the effect was still felt. With Ep. 5 and 6, we see how the rebel forces grow and ultimately defeat the Emperor.
In the end, R2-D2 orchestrated a brilliant behind-the-scenes plan. He brought balance to the force. He brought down the Galactic Empire. He is the only character in the end who has lived and witnessed every event from the beginning. Indeed, R2-D2 is THE most powerful entity in the Star Wars Universe.

February 27, 2008

Global Smarming

Yes, I know "Smarming" is not a word.
Okay, whenever I hear the words "global" and "warming", my eyes will glaze over and usually roll into my forehead. And that mainly happens because most of the evidence seems based on waht has happened over the past few years or decades. In truth, we have nothing in terms or long-term definitive proof of these claims. And really, there is no definitive proof against these claims either. I do think there are ways that we can improve how we protect the environment. Recycling and trash reduction are very valid and good things to do no matter how you feel about the issue.
But then, I found this article yesterday. Global warming sceptics buoyed by record cold. I am sure most of you have heard about it. Again, I am not saying that this should be taken as empirical evidence. And even the author of the piece makes this note:

"OK, so one winter does not a climate make. It would be premature to claim an Ice Age is looming just because we have had one of our most brutal winters in decades," writes Lorne Gunter in the National Post.
"But if environmentalists and environment reporters can run around shrieking about the manmade destruction of the natural order every time a robin shows up on Georgian Bay two weeks early, then it is at least fair game to use this winter's weather stories to wonder whether the alarmist are being a tad premature."

*smirk* Very well said.

February 21, 2008

Random Gibberish

So I have a new layout and cannot think of something to blog about. Figures. Sort of like staring at a blank canvas that's already ornately framed. You don't want to put something in the center of the frame that will certainly degrade or lessen the effect.

O Hell, I'm gonna ruin it sooner or later. I guess I'll go with sooner.

Here are some items that, on their own, are not enough for even a lousy post. They seem utterly appropriate for an occasion such as this.

- If a man says something and a woman is not around to hear it, is he still wrong? Maybe I should set up a poll on this.
- When I had to have my gall bladder removed, the only annoying thing was having to wear that plastic cone. I mean really. Bite at your stitches once and it haunts you all your life. I didn't get a good night's sleep for a week.
- Why do people ask me about Chase, only to interrupt me with anecdotes of their child, sort of related to whatever I was talking about? I am the one with the interesting child.
- The sound of one hand clapping is still much sweeter than the sound of one head slapping a glass door.
- Too many people put more time and effort into the wedding than they do the marriage.
- If a bunch of cats jumped on each other would you still call it a dogpile?

So there it is. Random gibberish. And now my new shiny template has been officially tainted.
(At least I didn't fill it with how my day was, or what I ate. I will let other blogs handle those kinds of topics!)

February 20, 2008

Time, time, time. See what's become of me...

Well, here it is. All new! All improved! Now with 75% more drivel!

I finally got this template to work. Actually, I found it on another site that was not in Spanish. This is a Wordpress theme that has been modified to Blogger. There were several hoops to jump through, but I dig it. Yes, I know it's a Mac OS ripoff. Still, it is very classy looking.

One cool bit is the widget area. They are drag and drop. Really. Go try it! And with cookies enabled, when you set it to how you want to see it, it will reload that way on your system! (Yeah, I know. No one will actually use it. But it's still cool.)

Anyhow, let me know what you think. I will try out some different things in posts and such. Simply to get the bugs out. And just to see what else I can do.

February 18, 2008

Template Contemplation

I really want a new template. I like Blogger. I like the tie-in to Google, even if others don't. But I really like the templates at Wordpress and Typepad. Well, some of them anyway.
My problem is that I am too lazy to learn all the coding it takes to make a new one. And none of the ones that I find have all the qualities I want. Or they are in Spanish, and I would have to modify it. And again, too lazy.
I found one that I liked. The price was right - free. But no matter how I loaded it and played with the code, I could not get the darn thing to look right. It had a great little button date area. It even had three columns. Maybe I will look harder at it soon.
So I have given up. At least for a while. And even have time for a post or two!

February 04, 2008

Duck! Plane!

I saw the image before reading the article that appeared in the Daily Mail. It claims that this is the real deal. Yeesh!