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Weekend Reads 2/25/17

If you like Return Of The Jedi but hate the Ewoks, you understand feminist criticism

The best films generally feature complex, fully developed characters with diverse perspectives. So when female characters are one-dimensional tropes, the film suffers for it—in much the same way a film suffers when any of its main characters are one-dimensional tropes (and/or tiny, fuzzy bears). And when a character who’s supposed to be smart makes dumb choices—like running away from dinosaurs in high heels—it hurts the realism of the film (just like when tiny bears are able to take down Stormtroopers by throwing rocks at them).

The future will be battery-powered

Storing energy is a safety valve. If you could dump extra energy somewhere, then draw from it when supply gets low again, you can power a whole lot more stuff with renewable energy, even when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing. What’s more, the grid itself becomes more stable and efficient, as batteries would allow communities and regions to manage their own power supply. Our aging and overtaxed power infrastructure would go a lot further.

On immigration the church cannot be silent

I do not know how many undocumented persons will be impacted and separated from their families, but what I do know is that the gospel of Jesus saves us from the partisan politics, the fears and insecurities, the prejudices, and whatever else might cause us to ignore, look the other way, or even rationalize the unmerciful actions of the Trump administration that is criminalizing all undocumented persons.

The long wait to send a probe to Pluto, and what we’ve found

Later imaging in the infrared showed that its surface was complex, containing carbon monoxide, methane, and nitrogen. All three of these compounds could switch between gas and solid forms under the conditions expected to prevail at Pluto's surface, providing the potential for some complex surface-atmosphere interactions. And imaging of a star as Pluto passed in front from Earth's perspective confirmed that Pluto must have an atmosphere.

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