‘Battlestar Galactica: Daybreak’

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Okay, so here’s what I didn’t like:

  1. The religious themes, which were more active in this episode than I think they ever were in the show, except maybe to Gaius Baltar from the Six in his head. I liked it much better when the mythology held historical clues to help the fleet unravel the way to Earth, rather than when the supernatural plays an active role. I think that takes away from the characters as the main drivers of the show’s action. There never seemed to be any direction from an external entity until this point. This was most disappointing to me in Kara’s disappearance; in fact, now that I think back on it, I could have done without the whole “is Starbuck dead?” issue.
  2. William Adama going off to be by himself for, apparently, the rest of his life. First, I don’t think that’s all that consistent with the character–although I think he definitely would have gone for some serious alone time, he would have come back to his people eventually. Especially to Lee, who is now basically screwed because he has nobody! (Which was not true until the Adama takeoff/Kara disappear scene.)
  3. The robot montage at the end.

That said, I liked a great deal of the finale. I think it wrapped things up just about as well as the show could possibly have ended.

  1. ‘Earth’ as an ideal that lends its name to the planet. I thought that was a logical and yet unexpected way to resolve the mid-season cliffhanger.
  2. Tying in the Colonial fleet with present-day humans. Avoids all the nasty complications of what to do if the Colonials reached Earth in the present or future, and also ties in with the “life here began out there” mythology of the old ‘Battlestar Galactica’ series, which Ron Moore has referenced a couple of times.
  3. The theme of cyclical time and breaking out of the cycle–which has been in vogue in scifi for quite some time now, but is still good to play with. I particularly liked, though, how BSG leaves breaking the cycle up to…the audience!
  4. The cinematography (especially the music) for the scene where Kara punches the coordinates into the FTL system.
  5. That battle…! Didn’t feel quite as epic a naval duel as the ones involving Pegasus or as fun a dogfight as the first season battles, but what a great way for the Galactica to go out. Hallway gunfights are also a great way to focus the action on the characters. Two more points here: (1) redstripe Centurions rock, and (2) the effects guys must have watched the opening scene of ‘Star Wars’ a lot when splicing the action sequences together.
  6. The Opera House. To me, the culmination of that set of visions, especially from Baltar’s point of view, represents the idea of ‘fate,’ but not in the sense of predetermination–instead, it means ‘fate’ in the sense that our choice of actions lead us to a new set of choices, which lead us to a new set, all culminating at a specific point; our actions and the opportunities to choose those actions can be traced back through many critical points, though we still have free will to choose at each point. Think of the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics. The Opera House represented one possible critical point, given the set of all preceding choices. Looking at Baltar, specifically, we see that he had the free will to choose his path, and he almost always chose his own self-interest (or what his Six convinced him was his self-interest); his choices led him to a critical point facing Cavill in CIC.
  7. Mary McDonnell’s acting. Also Edward James Olmos. They did a great job on the final episode.

It’s been a great ride. And while those disappointments in the finale were very disappointing, the episode as a whole kept me thinking, so it seems to have worked. Mostly, I’m sorry to see it go.

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Dear BSG: usually you have a lot of realism, but

Friday, 13 March 2009
  • naked
  • singularities
  • can
  • not
  • exist.

What do these have in common?

Tuesday, 3 March 2009
  • plain
  • hog
  • bell
  • egg
  • plant
  • yam

a subset of stuff George Will does not understand about science

Tuesday, 27 January 2009
  • An average alone is not sufficient to quantify a statistical distribution.
  • Two points are not, in general, sufficient to characterize a trend.
  • Fluctuation and variation in a dataset is normal and should be expected.
  • Experimentally, a single counterexample is not sufficient to invalidate a hypothesis.
  • Repeatable counterexamples, however, are.
  • Data showing temporal variation on two dramatically different timescales indicate that two different processes influence the data.

luckiest flight itinerary ever

Thursday, 15 January 2009
  1. US Airways flight # 2640 from Austin, TX to Charlotte, NC.  Flight departs on time at 11:30 and arrives five minutes early at ~2:50.
  2. Grab a coffee and cinammon scone at a Starbucks on the way to the next gate.
  3. Sit down at the gate for US Airways flight # 1490, an Airbus A320 to LaGuardia which has been delayed half an hour to a 4:40 departure from Charlotte.  Hook up to the Internet to check e-mail.
  4. Hear fellow traveller across the aisle get a phone call and exclaim, among other things, “I don’t drink, but I need one now.”  Check the news online to see that a plane of the same model as flight # 1490, leaving from 1490’s destination and going to 1490’s origin, has executed a controlled crash landing into the Hudson River, potentially with no serious injuries.
  5. Hear that US Airways # 1490 has been delayed to a 5:30 departure for LaGuardia.  With a projected arrival of 6:53, this leaves 15 minutes to get to the next gate.
  6. US Airways # 1490 takes off precisely at 5:30 (instead of hours later, thanks to the flight crew), and arrives at LaGuardia at 6:35.
  7. Book it to the gate for US Airways # 4687 to Ithaca, boarding at 7:10 and departing at 7:40.  Arrive at the gate at 6:45.
  8. Buy a sandwich.
  9. US Airways # 4687 leaves on time at 7:40, despite the fact that there was just a frakking plane crash at the same airport only hours earlier.
  10. US Airways # 4687 arrives in Ithaca fifteen minutes early from its scheduled arrival.

ways I have seen vectors denoted in papers and books since coming to grad school

Wednesday, 7 January 2009
  • italic
  • bold italic
  • italic with over-arrow
  • italic with under-arrow
  • italic with over-harpoon
  • italic with overbar
  • italic with underbar
  • italic with under-tilde

little things that bug me

Wednesday, 31 December 2008
  • Nobody sells “medium-tall” shirts for us tall, skinny guys.
  • Every single electronic device has to have its own non-standardized charger.
  • Web sites that are designed assuming I view them on widescreen monitors.  Some people don’t like having all their browser windows maximized, and some people like to use computing devices that are getting smaller.  I’m looking at you, Facebook.
  • The horrible integration of Word 2007’s awesome equation editor with other Office 2007 programs.