How fast is a parsec?

Possibly the most plausible explanation I've heard for the blatant error in unit in the cantina scene in A New Hope is, according to a copy of the script, Skywalker and Kenobi were supposed to react as if they knew they were being fed a load of hogwash — an emotion that was, unfortunately, never really conveyed.

The Wookieepedia article on the Kessel Run mentions this, plus another explanation offered by George Lucas in DVD commentary (that he meant his navigation computer could find shorter — and therefore faster — routes), but only as "behind the scenes". The more prominent explanation is given thus:

Solo was not referring directly to his ship's speed when he made this claim. Instead, he was referring to the shorter route he was able to travel by skirting the nearby Maw black hole cluster, thus making the run in under the standard distance. However, parsec relates to time in that a shorter distance equals a shorter time at the same speed. By moving closer to the black holes, Solo managed to cut the distance down to about 11.5 parsecs.

Essentially, his ship was so fast, he was able to take a more dangerous shortcut.

Why do I think this is a load of bunk, in the context of the cantina scene? The whole conversation at that point was about speed. Why mention distance when your client is asking about speed? Expecting a farmboy and a nomad to know the details about a particular space race as a condition for winning a fare seems like pretty bad business sense. Solo may have made some bad decisions, but I don't see him as being entirely stupid.

If you do take the Wookieepedia explanation as fact, though, it does explain that awkward silence with the following deleted scene:

Han: "It's the ship that made the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs."
Luke: "So, that would mean he'd have to take the Maw shortcut? How fast do you have to go to get around there?"
Ben: "Um, let's see, take a left at Geonosis Prime, you'd have to circle Kamino..."
Luke: "No, Kamino's too far; that's at least half a parsec out of the way; he'd have to go past Denobula."
Ben: "Denobula? Oh, yeah, at the Circle-K. Used to love their donuts. I haven't had their donuts since, oh, before you were born..."
Luke: "So, to get down to 12 parsecs, you'd have to cut pretty close to Naboo in order to make that turn."
Ben: "That would put you within... ten million kilometers of Maw?"
Luke: *scribbling* "No, no, carry the 4."
Ben: "Oh, right, right, half a million kilometers. Now, with the mass of Maw, the velocity needed for a Corellian freighter to escape would be... um..."
Han, annoyed, impatient: *ahem* "She's fast enough for you, old man."

Assuming Han was full of it, though, and Ben and Luke eventually caught on, I imagine the scene in docking bay 94 might've played out a little differently...

Luke: "What a piece of junk!"
Han: "She'll make .5 past light speed."
Luke: "What, .5 parsecs?"
Han: "She may not look like much, but she's got it where it counts."
Luke: "Really? Does it count all the way to blue?"
Han: "I've made a lot of special modifications myself."
Ben: "Yeah, like the ability to tell time with a ruler."
Han: "But, we're a little rushed..."
Luke: "Yeah, we've got to go in just a few inches."
Han: *thinking* I should've let Greedo shoot first...


There's always a bigger fish

I've been on the job market for a little while now. I got laid off from my previous job, thanks to recent changes in the economy. Fortunately, the job market is fairly active at the moment. Inside of a week of finding out I was being laid off, I had two phone screens and an in-person interview.

One company with which I interviewed recently, I felt was going to be a sure thing. The phone interviews went very well, and when I met them in-person, everything seemed to go well. I had a great conversation with the manager, and the interview with the development team was great. I felt like it was a great team, like it was a great group of guys to work with, and that we would get along wonderfully. They seemed reasonably impressed with what I knew and what I could bring to the company as well.

I did have another company that was wanting to bring me on. They had worked with me before, they knew my capabilities, and I think they were nervous that I might take another offer (I had done it before — no hard feelings to them, but at the time, they didn't have anything for me, and I had another offer that was really good). I wasn't going to tell them no until I knew I was going to take another offer, so of course I was eager to see if I was going to get one from the interview. (I was pretty sure I would, but I did want to be sure the offer was in the ballpark of my desired salary/benefits.)

This is where it helps to be working through a recruiter. I can call him and pester him all I want, without fear of turning off the potential employer for calling them directly too much. ;)

I finally got their decision. They said I was a great fit and fully qualified, but they were going to go with someone who had just a little more expertise or experience or something. Now, fortunately, I did have interest from the other company, so I am able to switch over, accept, and start working on this other project. Even if I'm not sure it's ideal, the fact is, it's work, and as such, it's income. (There are also other benefits, such as a decent health care plan, not far from my kids' school, more of a "known quantity" as I've worked with them before...)

The annoying thing is, this isn't the first time I've heard that explanation. "Yeah, you'd be perfect, but someone else is better." It just leaves me wondering. Is it the truth? What is it that I could've improved on so that I could be the one that's just "a little better"? Or was there a flaw with me that they're not telling me? Or was this other guy's advantage more of an inside — a friend or relative that as good as had the job from the beginning? (Although usually it's the bigger companies that bother with interviewing just to say they did; this was a smaller company.)

Then again, I had been praying that I would be guided to the right job for me and my family. Although I think I would've enjoyed the work, it was a bit of a commute, which would've taken me away from my family. Perhaps that, or other reasons that I couldn't see, would've made this job not as good as something else.

In any case, it's hard to be too upset. Instead of having to make a difficult decision between two opportunities, the options narrowed themselves down for me. It's almost more of a relief, actually. And, I now know where my next few paychecks, health insurance, and so forth are coming from beyond the next two weeks. I know my wife can relax a bit, too, knowing everything's pretty much taken care of.