Say it with me: Andrew Leon got the points for Question 5, but I will award 10 bonus points if you can also say who else that actor played in the movies -- you don't have to be the first; just leave the character's name in a comment today and collect your 10 bonus points.
And that's not even today's QUESTION! Which I will get to in a moment, before I point out something silly about the Star Wars Universe, today that silly point being something that was said in this otherwise-interesting article from Mother Jones about how cost-effective the Death Star might have been to build. Kevin Drum, the author, calculates that the Death Star would have been super-cheap, relatively speaking; by my math, the Death Star as a percentage of the Empire's Gross Domestic Product would be the equivalent of what the US spends on NPR these days.
That's not my quibble. My quibble is this: Kevin Drum says that "the original Death Star took a couple of decades to build," and where does that come from?
If we accept that there's no Death Star in progress when the Empire begins at the close of Revenge of the Sith -- not a given, because remember those clones were around for a long time -- then the Death Star is fully operational when Luke and Han get captured and then blow it up (which means by the way that the Death Star, first pronounced fully operational at the start of A New Hope lasted what, weeks? Tops?)
(Which also means that Luke completed his X-Wing training in perhaps several hours, since it was established that he'd never been off Tatooine before but he was able to pilot an X-Wing in the Battle of Yavin, which means in turn that whatever Academy Luke was pining for in the beginning of A New Hope must have been the equivalent of the University Of Phoenix, but also which means, as I think about it, that Luke was going to join the Empire, wasn't he? The Rebels didn't have an Academy, did they?)
Anyhoo: Aside from the fact that nobody on board the Falcon had any idea what the Death Star was and so the Empire managed to keep a planet-sized weapon a secret from everyone including Han Solo whose business it was to keep track of where the Empire was so he wouldn't have to keep dumping his cargo and incurring the wrath of Jabba and a secret like that would be hard to keep for "a couple of decades," -- I mean, we haven't even been able to keep any of our government secrets from Ron Paul, which is how he knows about the AIDS -- the fact is it didn't take decades to build the Death Star, it took about a year or so.
I know that because between A New Hope and Return of the Jedi, the built a second one, and while I'm not entirely clear on that timeframe, it couldn't have been very long, could it? Everyone was about the same age in Part VI as they were in Part IV, so unless Death Star building technology took a quantum leap in about two years -- absurd, given that other technology had actually not advanced much in the two decades the movies took -- the Death Star actually took only a few months to build.
To compare Star Wars' tech levels to our own, consider: We first announced plans to build the International Space Station in 1993; we 19 years later have a station that can only hold 6 people and hardly has room for a decent trash compactor monster. The Space Shuttle, which is probably the most complicated machine humans have ever built, began being designed in the 1940s before launching in 1981.
Oh, you're waiting for the question? It's worth 17 points:
What was the dominant feature of the surface of Saleucami?
You don't know how hard it was not to type "salami" there. Took me three tries. As always, first correct answer in the comments wins but every answer is an entry in the Weekly Prize Drawing -- with the first winner announced TOMORROW!
And: you still get 5 points per mention on your blog; make a mention of it, and let me know so I can give you the points. Why, you could've caught Andrew Leon already! Don't you feel foolish for not realizing it. Just go mention me, say, 100 times. (Use the picture taken from my good side.)