Christopher Merle

Que sera, sera, whatever will be, will be, but first I need more coffee.

Author: Christopher (page 1 of 28)


In a few days the historic first reconnaissance of the Solar System will be complete. Let us hope that it is not the end of our exploration of the Solar System that it is not the beginning of the end, not the end of the beginning but the beginning of the beginning (not the best turn of phrase but it’ll do for now).

Mercury, Venus, the Moon, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn were all known to our ancestors. So it only matters when they were first visited by spacecraft.

  • 1957 — Earth
  • 1959 — Moon
  • 1962 — Venus
  • 1964 — Mars
  • 1972 — Jupiter
  • 1973 — Saturn

But for those discovered in historical times what is the shortest time from discovery to first visit?

  • Uranus discovered 1781, first visited by a spacecraft in 1986, 205 year gap.
  • Ceres discovered 1801, first visited by a spacecraft in 2015, 214 years.
  • Vesta discovered 1807, first visited by a spacecraft in 2011, 204 years.
  • Neptune discovered 1846, first visited by a spacecraft in 1989, 143 years.
  • Pluto discovered in 1930, first visited by a spacecraft in 2015. From discovery to first visit by a spacecraft it only took 85 years for Pluto.

I suppose I could throw Charon into the mix. Charon was discovered in 1978, scant 37 years after it’s discovery because Pluto-Charon are properly a double (dwarf) planet.

Regardless of what it’s classified as, a dwarf planet or planet that many in the public still want to call it that, Pluto has now become a place, a world in its own right. Just as Comet 67P (Churyumov-Gerasimenko) has become a world since Rosetta and Philae have visited it.

Our reconnaissance of the Solar System started in 1962 with a flyby of Venus, a scant five years after the first satellite was launched in orbit about the Earth. The first wave of recon could be said to end this year in 2015 with the visit of Pluto by New Horizons.

"Houston we have geology."

“Houston we have geology.”

It will take a few months before all the data New Horizons collected to be beamed back to Earth but no doubt we’ll see a few stunning images shortly after this historic flyby.  I recall reading about possible targets post Pluto that New Horizons might be aimed at. I’ll have to check up on that.

Growing Old with Star Wars

I saw Star Wars in the movie theaters when it first came out when it wasn’t called Episode IV A New Hope. I saw it four times. My friends at the time saw it dozens of times. By the time The Empire Strikes Back came out it was Ep. 4. And as far as I’m concerned the second film, aka Episode V is the best one of the six. After the first movie came out I recall reading that Lucas was planning on making nine films Then Return of the Jedi came out and nothing until The Phantom Menace came out sixteen years later.

I should back up a bit and say that I watched Star Trek first. It was and always shall be the first scifi show that I loved. TV introduced me to science fiction. Not only did I watch Star Trek, I saw Batman, Lost in Space, I Dream of Jeanie, Gilligan’s Island, Bewitched, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Land of the Giants, and Land of the Lost. It wasn’t until much later that I got to see Time Tunnel and Space 1999, so they weren’t formative.

As for movies, I saw Silent Running, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Rollerball, and Logan’s Run. I also watched many a Godzilla movie and the Planet of the Apes movies. This was all before Star Wars. 1977 was a turning point as SciFi went mainstream and became Hollywood blockbusters. Star Wars wasn’t science fiction and to compare it to Star Trek is like comparing apples and oranges.

Thanks to Star Trek and DC superhero comic books I became interested in literary science fiction. I was introduced to the big four, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Robert Heinlein, and Ray Bradbury. I stuck with science fiction until I met my friend Mike in college. He introduce me to fantasy, authors such as Fritz Leiber, Michael Moorcock, Glen Cook, and Roger Zelazny. I could list many other writers I discovered in the late 70’s and early 80’s, but I’m not here to reminisce about them.

Over the years I’d encountered the fandom that Star Wars generated. I should note I did see the Star Wars Holiday Special when it was broadcast. Lucas tried his best to bury it, but bootlegs of it can be found all over the place. It was notable for introducing us to Boba Fett.


Here are the best Star Wars parodies I have seen over the years.
Hardware Wars was the first and it paved the way for all parodies and pastiches that followed.

The absolute best one I’ve seen so far is TROOPS. It is very clever and tracks the plot of A New Hope.

The second best parody film which is almost tied with TROOPS Star Wars Talk to Your Kids PSA. Although I do not have kids, I know fellow fans that have encountered this dilemma.


There have been critical looks at the films. One of the best is when Joseph Campbell talks to Bill Moyers about the first three films in the landmark mini-series, The Power of Myth. However, there are some other analyses and that put new interpretations on them. Now the thing is they could simply be people with too much time on their hands, overthinking what is in the movies and then cherry pick the elements that fit their hypothesis. I do find them compelling and they may change the way you view the films.

6 Reasons The Jedi Would Be The Villain In Any Sane Movie

Star Wars: A Long Time Ago, in a Hive Far Far Away?

Most Citizens of the Star Wars Galaxy are Probably Totally Illiterate


There is much more I could say. I could even expand this post, but I’m done for now. So lastly if you still want to watch or re-watch the films consider watching them in the Machete Order.
The Star Wars Saga: Introducing Machete Order

[Inspired by it, I’m trying to come up with an order to re-watch the Babylon 5 series. The idea is to list determine the few key episodes from Season 1 and Season 5 and then watch most of seasons 2,3, and 4.]

Python and PHP

I started another post entitled Python vs. PHP. It’s quite long and not ready to be published. I use both languages or rather products that use those languages. I use PHP based WordPress for most of my clients’ sites and my own. I use Python based Plone for just a few of my clients.

I’m trying to decide if I want to continue with this mix of Python and PHP or focus on one more than the other. This article gives a good informed basis for helping me decide.

Python vs. PHP

Shooty Shooty Bang Bang

I saw this car at the Country Music Hall of Fame last fall. I can’t recall who it belonged to. Ain’t it a beaut?

DSC00143 DSC00151

With One Voice and One Guitar Benefit Concert, Saturday, February 14, 2015, Tucson, Arizona

So my wife is organizing a benefit concert to raise money for Parkinson’s research for the Michael J Fox Foundation. It is a Team Fox Project.

Saturday, February 14, 2015 • 7:30pm
Berger Performing Arts Center, Tucson, AZ
Louise Mosrie • Sally Barris • Cliff Eberhardt

If you are in Tucson or live within a two hour drive (say Phoenix) you can purchase your tickets or sponsor packages.

If not, you can buy the benefit single that was released on December 8, 2014.

With One Voice and One Guitar.

For more details go to


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