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May 30, 2008

Star Destroyer vs. Enterprise: Another Perspective

A footnote in John Gruber’s analysis of “BlackBerry vs. iPhone,” in which John answers the unanswerable question, “Who would win in a fight, Star Destroyer vs. U.S.S. Enterprise?” piqued my interest briefly and those of many others, as John noted on Twitter. (John’s money is on the Star Destroyer.) But it wasn't a question I could debate myself. After all, I’ve only seen two and half of the seventeen Star Wars movies and barely fifteen minutes of Star Trek: The Next Generation (is that the show with Data?). I’m more comfortable debating a conundrum like “Who's cuter, Ginger or Mary Ann?”1

When I saw my friend Keith on Memorial Day, I mentioned it to him. He has long been interested in Star Wars (one of his email addresses is “wookie”), and I thought he would have an opinion. He had an immediate and definitive answer, and I thought his logic was unassailable.

The arguments I have been reading since then, based on “facts” gleaned from various published sources, have convinced me that, based on its superior weaponry, the Star Destroyer would win. The Enterprise has some advantages, but I don’t think they would allow it to prevail. In the world of fiction (the only place this battle could ever take place), however, anything is possible. Keith pointed to an answer right in the stories themselves—regardless of the firepower, the good guys always win. After all, didn’t Luke Skywalker, a single pilot in a puny fighter, destroy the Death Star itself? That’s a mismatch in opponents that makes David vs. Goliath seem like a fair fight.

Therefore, whereas the Star Destroyer is an Imperial warship (Bad Guys), and the U.S.S. Enterprise is a Federation craft (Good Guys), I have to go with the Enterprise. And you know, not even the full might of the Enterprise would be necessary, but probably just one person in a shuttlecraft, armed only with a pocketknife, could do the job. Goliath never had a chance.

1Mary Ann


Amen brother! It's the only logical choice, really.

May 21, 2008

“The Americans” Reissued

While I may hedge about who my favorite photographer is (most days it’s Andre Kertesz), I can safely say that my favorite photography book is The Americans by Robert Frank (first published in 1958). I have the fourth Scalo edition of 2000. I wanted to give a copy to a friend last year and discovered that it was out of print. Bummer. Last week I learned that there is a brand-new edition issued in celebration of the book’s 50th anniversary. The book has not just been reprinted, but remastered—all the prints have been re-scanned by the publisher Steidl under the supervision of Robert Frank himself. I looked through my copy the other day, and it still takes my breath away. More at The Online Photographer.

May 15, 2008

Face Time: Nancy Boy Signature Shave Cream

Just a quick update on my “wet shaving” experiment, which has been a wild success. People stop me on the street just to admire my, um, cheeks and say: You smell. So good. (Punctuation is tricksy, isn’t it?)

My first two jars of shaving cream were both English (or English-style): Truefitt & Hill’s Ultimate Comfort and Art of Shaving’s Sandalwood, so I surfed around and found Nancy Boy shave cream (via Corey Greenberg’s Shave Blog). It is half the price of the premium English creams ($16), so I was hoping to like it.

At first, Nancy Boy was a big disappointment, but I was merely using it incorrectly (hence this post). The English creams I’ve tried seem to thrive in lots of water. They make a luxurious lather in the cup and work best on a wet face. When I mixed Nancy Boy the same way, the razor really tugged almost as if I wasn’t using any shave cream at all. The trick is to use it almost dry. Dampen the brush and work a little cream until it begins to foam. (In fact, you don’t even need the brush, but that would take all the fun out of it.) Apply it to dry skin. As counter-intuitive as this sounds, the razor glides at least as smoothly as it did with the English creams. Works for me, and I will probably be using Nancy Boy from now on.

After trying the five kinds of blades in the sample pack from West Coast Shaving, I decided on a brand of blades, too. It was a little difficult to decide, since I liked all the blades about equally (except for the Merkur, which just seemed dull). I noticed that I never cut myself with the Derby Extras, so I bought a bunch of those.


i'm gonna refer to all your wet shaving posts sometime soon when i go to the store and get some supplies. there's a shaving store just a few blocks from my house.

Glad to hear "wet shaving" is going well. I'm a big Proraso fan. Have you tried it?

It's like a smack in the face...but better.

May 12, 2008

The Lost Generation

Mavis Beacon by Adam Lisagor

Beacon of Hope by Adam Lisagor

I started a draft of this post way back in October, but when Adam Lisagor posted his take on the Barack Obama HOPE poster (created by Shepard Fairey), I just had to pull it up and finish it. Brilliant. (The posters, not this post, silly.)

The woman in the poster is, of course, Mavis Beacon, or one of them. Like Lassie, there have been a number of Mavis Beacons over the years. But that first Mavis... wow. If my wife ever finds out, I’m dead; pure fireworks. Mavis and I spent a lot of time together for a while. I am ashamed to say I used her—at least until I reached 60 wpm, then sadly we went our separate ways, never to meet again.

I had always been an adequate two-finger typist, but when I got my Mac Plus in 1988, I knew I needed to learn touch typing. Like most boomers, I didn’t grow up with computers and never had a “keyboarding” class. Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing was just the ticket.

Anne had a great insight about boomers and computers that originally inspired this post, and since she isn’t blogging at the moment, I’m using it. She noted that one of the main reasons boomers have trouble adapting to computers is their lack of typing prowess. It makes a lot of sense. I’ve watched my own brother struggle to hunt and peck on his Mac, and it’s clear why computer usage doesn’t interest him. I’m sure there are many older people who might make more use of computers if only their typing were a little better, but who aren’t quite motivated enough to learn. Anne calls these people The Lost Generation. Perhaps there should be a special Boomer Edition of Mavis Beacon with drills tailored just for them.


I remember Mavis well. I love those typing games.

Yoko, No way! I would have thought you learned to type in school. Unless they used Mavis in school? Anyway, I agree, the games really kept it interesting.

Nah, I didn't take typing in school. I learned well after I graduated from college, when I came to the realization that I wasn't going to be a famous musician. ;) I was an administrative assistant for years-- those typing skills came in handy then!