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ROLE PLAYING GAMES SITE

February 28, 2006

Hey, I have a Role Playing Games site that I would love to share with the world. It is mainly for D&D style RPGs using dice and paper character sheets, but I have, and hope to keep doing so, expanded it to encompass many other RPGs such as computer and other online rpgs. I would really like for anyone interested in rpgs, or even learning more about them, to sign up. Here is the link:

Register Here

Site Link

I hope to see you there!

-Rich

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Upcomming Gay Marriage Question on Va Ballot

February 28, 2006
Being Fully InformedFebruary 22, 2006 The Daily PostPlacing the full text of the proposed marriage amendment on this fall’s ballot makes sense given the context of the debate.

The issue also should remind voters to learn as much as they can about ballot questions, whether or not the full wording is handed them on Election Day.

The controversial amendment to ban gay marriage spurred an unusual debate not just over the ban itself, but also how it would appear on the ballot.

In the past ballots have carried summaries, not the amendments’ formal wording.

Foes of the amendment say the language bans not only marriage but civil union, which – even if Virginians oppose gay marriage – might go further than they are willing to accept. Passage of the amendment, foes argue, could impose unintended restrictions on gay couples. If voters agree that the wording would impose those restrictions, they might not be willing to support it.

The state Senate and House both approved breaking with tradition and printing the formal amendment on this fall’s ballot, rather than a summary. Neither lawmakers nor conservative advocates who back the amendment appeared to have a problem with the change.

Said Del. John Cosgrove, R-Chesapeake, who sponsored legislation requiring the full text on the ballot: “[T]here were those going around saying, ‘Oh, we’re trying to hide something – oh, we’re trying to pull the wool over somebody’s eyes’ … and that’s just not the case.”

This debate over printing the full text on the ballot raises the larger question of whether formal wording always should be provided, rather than a summary.

Summaries have been given because legal wording is often hard for the layperson to understand.

Either way, a voter is vulnerable.

If he doesn’t understand the complicated legal language, he might misunderstand the amendment and be unable to make an informed decision. But if the summary is ineffective or, worse, misleading, the same result could apply.

How often does misunderstanding of a summary occur? Without some kind of exposed error and massive public outcry, it’s hard to tell. Some individual voters might have been confused – as they sometimes are even by something as simple as a name on a ballot.

Summaries are written by experts who are trained to interpret legalese into everyday language.

But such aberrations as the recent Nelson County lawsuit arguing that Virginia’s right-to-hunt amendment also enshrines a constitutional right to shoot skeet show just how malleable interpretations can be. This definition of constitutionally protected “hunting” had almost everyone shaking his head in astonishment, yet it was sufficient to launch a lawsuit and an appeal.

Such creative interpretation is becoming a greater feature of modern life, especially in politics. Power-mongers are learning to deconstruct language, twisting it to say specifically what they want it to say or, conversely, rendering it so vague and confusing that voters can’t nail down any solid meaning that would allow them to hold the powerful accountable.

This means that voters may have to take more accountability for educating themselves. They may decide it’s now necessary to read laws and amendments, political statements and rebuttals, in their original form and context and to make decisions accordingly.

And perhaps state government should now always make available to voters on Election Day both a summary of proposed amendments and the original language.

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It shouldnt be that hard to take the proposed marriage ballot and “transcribe” it for the general public. Here is what I found on my search for the admendment proposed to ban gay-marriage, and the question that will appear on the Va ballot this fall:

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Section 15-A. Marriage.

That only a union between one man and one woman may be a marriage valid in or recognized by this Commonwealth and its political subdivisions.

This Commonwealth and its political subdivisions shall not create or recognize a legal status for relationships of unmarried individuals that intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance, or effects of marriage. Nor shall this Commonwealth or its political subdivisions create or recognize another union, partnership, or other legal status to which is assigned the rights, benefits, obligations, qualities, or effects of marriage.

The ballot shall contain the following question:

“Question: Shall Article I (the Bill of Rights) of the Constitution of Virginia be amended to state, in part, that ‘only a union between one man and one woman may be a marriage valid in or recognized by this Commonwealth and its political subdivisions’ and to add provisions relating to the legal status of other relationships and prohibiting the Commonwealth and its political subdivisions from recognizing a legal status for relationships that intend to approximate marriage?”

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SOURCE: http://www.doaskdotell.com/content/gayadopt.htm

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Where can I marry my cousin?

February 27, 2006

How many states allow a resident to marry a cousin?

Story by: John Huntsville, Alabama Dear John: When Texas made marriage between first cousins illegal last year, that left 19 states and the District of Columbia as havens for those who want to get jiggy with the offspring of their aunt or uncle. Six more states allow marriage between first cousins under certain circumstances. All states allow marriage between second or more-distant cousins. Laws against “kissin’ cousin” marriages stem from fear that the progeny of such unions have a much higher chance of being afflicted with birth defects and/or winding up on the “Jerry Springer Show.” The sources we checked all suggest such prohibitions may be overcautious.

A 2002 research study concluded that the offspring of first-cousin couples “inherited recessive genetic disorders, such as cystic fibrosis and Tay-Sachs disease, in 7% to 8% of cases.” That’s 2 to 3% greater than the general population, which is significant but much lower than the overall perception. And since genetic testing can now alert couples to heightened risk, the danger is potentially even lower. Many societies actually encourage marriage between cousins; the U.S. is “virtually alone among developed nations” in outlawing them.

If you’re still not convinced, perhaps a little name-dropping will help. Charles Darwin, who knew a thing or two about genetics, married his first cousin. Other famous cousin-marriers include Queen Victoria, Rudy Giuliani, and FDR.

Here is something I picked up off Gmail.

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Human Rights almost defines protection for all

February 27, 2006

Virginia Human Rights Act Virginia Code Chapter 39It is the policy of the Commonwealth of Virginia: To safeguard all individuals within the Commonwealth from unlawful discrimination because of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, age, marital status or disability, in places of public accommodation, including educational institutions and in real estate transactions; n employment; to preserve the public safety, health and general welfare; and to further the interests, rights and privileges of individuals within the Commonwealth; and to protect citizens of the Commonwealth against unfounded charges of unlawful discrimination.

Unlawful Discriminatory Practice Defined Conduct which violates any Virginia or federal Statute or regulation governing discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, age, martial status or disability.

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Just curious, does that mean that buisnesses can refuse to hire someone based on sexual preference?  Nowhere above does it mention that.  It does however mention that marital status is prtected under this act. 

Marital Status is defined as: n : the condition of being married or unmarried (dictionary.com)

As of now, the Va registered voters may see an option on Gay Marrage on the ballot on the upcoming election.  The state has voted to not recognize Civil Unions of Gay couples.  Now the decision is up to the public.  If the bills is passed to not recognize these unions, will the state change their Viriginia Human Rights Act to also include homosexuality? 

Just something to think about.

-Richard Stogoski

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Development In the Area

February 25, 2006

Albemarle County says:

The mission of Community Development is to create a vision for the future of Albemarle County through a proactive community planning effort that involves all stakeholders in a consensus building process and ensures that all new development reflects the community’s vision. Armed with this vision and the Board of Supervisor’s Strategic Plan, the Community Development Department strives to achieve a future community of quality development, protected natural resources, vital business activity, and livable, walkable neighborhoods. With proactive, collaborative planning, we can effectively shape the County’s future and your quality of life. Community Development is comprised of the following Divisions: Administration/Central Operations, Planning, Zoning and Current Development and Inspections.

SOURCE

Development is a good thing…to a point. As of right now, the developers can come in, build thousands of homes and then leave. Then the issue of building access roads, schools, buisnesses, etc, is completly left up to the state officials. I believe that, especially during times of extreme development, the developers must be required to pay a PROFFER.

If the developers were required to pay a proffer, and not a very small and insignificant fee, but a resonable sum which would allow them to make a heafty profit as well as the local area, one of three things could happen:

1. The developers will choose to develope a given area and pay the proffer. This would allow the area to grow as the statement at the top of this post says, or

2. The developers decide to develop a little bit reducing the number of homes/ buildings they erect and still pay a proffer. Due to the lowered number of building built, they would not have to pay as much money at once for their proffer (but in reality, they are technically spending the same amount as if they were to build the originally planned homes), or

3. They dont develop an area at all. This would at first seem to be a negative effect but the county would save money that it would inevitably end up spending on what the proffers would not cover (proffers are enabled in areas to help with the cost, not cover it completely). That money could be spent on fixing minor problems in the roads, giving teachers more of a pay increase, or whatever aspect of Albemarle County that could use a little tweaking.

I believe that if we allow the developers to just develop as they please, then we, the tax payers of Albemarle Co. will be the onse who suffer. As of now, our schools are beginning to show the signs of overcrowding (please consider that this is happening before the several thousand homes are built).

I find it interesting how development can be associated with a divorce. The developers would take the role as the husband with a steady job, and the state would take the role of the stay-at-home mother. If they got a divorce, the state would require the man to pay some kind of a child-support. It isn’y supposed to be very much but enough to help with whatever costs will arise. Proffers are pretty much the same thing. The developers come in and rack up all these bills (roads, plumbing, schools, etc.) and then leave the costs to the local and state governments. It just doesn’t seem right to me.

I hope you will see the importance of establishing proffers for the developers. Development is not a bad thing, its the aftermath that will come back to get us.

-Richard Stogoski

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Most Important History Lesson

February 24, 2006

The History of Star Wars George Lucas1974 — George Lucas’ first hit film, American Grafitti, was released during August of 1973. It became incredibly successful. The film grossed over $ 115 million at the box office and was dollar-for-dollar the most profitable film in the history of Hollywood at the time. Lucas’ profit participation in Grafitti earned him over $ 7 million. Lucas was now a millionaire and one of the most sought after young directors in the world.

Alan Ladd, Jr. (who at the time was the head of Twentieth Century Fox) saw a smuggled print of American Grafitti before it was released in theaters and absolutely loved the film. Ladd was determined that Fox was going to be the next studio to profit from Lucas’ genius.

1975 — George Lucas conceives of and writes the basic story of Anakin Skywalker’s rise, fall and ultimate redemption. This story becomes too large for one film and Lucas divides the story into two trilogies. The first trilogy focuses on the life of a young Anakin Skywalker while the second trilogy focuses on the life of Anakin’s son, Luke Skywalker. Lucas chooses to make the second trilogy first since it appears to be the most exciting one to film at the time.

Lucas offers his Star Wars films first to Universal Studios, the film company that financed American Grafitti. Universal passed on Star Wars because they considered it to be an unfathomable and silly movie idea. This decision ended up costing Universal hundreds of millions of dollars. Every single studio in Hollywood passed on the project except for 20th Century Fox. Fox gave Lucas $ 10 million to make what is perhaps the most influential film in the history of cinema. Fox released Star Wars Episode 4: A New Hope in May 1977.

On May 20, 1977 Variety set the tone by stating: “Star Wars is a magnificant film. George Lucas set out to make the biggest possible adventure-fantasy out of his memories of serials and older action epics, and he has succeeded brilliantly. What Lucas lacks in originality is more than made up by enthralling special effects.” Star Wars’ opening day totaled $ 254,309 from just 32 theaters. By the end of its first theatrical run, Star Wars was the most successful film in North American history with a gross in excess of $ 290 million. Lucas’ cut from the box office was more than $ 50 million. Alec Guinness negotiated for 2.5% of net profits, which eventually earned the actor over $ 6 million.

When Lucas negotiated his deal with Fox to make Star Wars, the studio was shocked to learn that the hot director was not asking for a lot of money. Instead, Lucas wanted control. He wanted to have the right to the final cut of the film, 40% of the net box-office gross, all rights to future sequels and ownership of all the merchandising rights associated with Star Wars. At the time, science fiction films were not very profitable. Hence, Fox thought they were ripping Lucas off. Sequel and merchandise rights to science fiction films were worthless at the time. In the end, this deal would eventually make Lucas a billionaire and cost Fox an untold fortune in lost revenues.

George Lucas1978 — George Lucas began to discreetly buy up land in San Rafael, California. Lucas purchased the 1,882 acre Bulltail Ranch for $ 2.7 million. Production on the sequel to Star Wars called the Empire Strikes Back was underway. The film was budgeted at $ 18 million to be entirely financed out of Lucas’ own pocket. The film encountered severe budget overruns and eventually cost over $ 30 million. Empire hit theaters in May 1980 and grossed $ 222 million in North America. It was the highest grossing film of 1980.

1983 — Return of the Jedi premieres in theaters in May 1983 and grosses over $ 265 million at North American cinemas. After the release of Return of the Jedi, Lucas retires from making Star Wars movies to pursue other projects. Lucas vaguely promises to make a Prequel Trilogy one day when special-effects technology advances enough and becomes cheap enough so that Lucas can make the films exactly as Lucas envisions them without artistic compromises. True to his word, Lucas walked away from Star Wars and the Prequel Trilogy remained untouched in his five three-ringed notebooks for well over a decade.

1994 — Front page of Daily Variety announced that: “Lucas The Loner Returns To Wars.” Lucas tells Rex Weiner of Variety that work will soon begin on the long-awaited Prequel Trilogy. The first prequel is tentatively scheduled for a 1998 release. Lucas states that the recent advances in computer generated imaging (CGI) as seen in Jurassic Park and Casper make the filming of the new trilogy both inexpensive and technically possible. Also, Lucas states that he will direct Episode 1. This is the first time that Lucas has directed a film since the original Star Wars. The new CG technology will create a new way to make films where a writer’s imagination can be fully released without restrictions. With the level of computer animation technology available, Lucas believes that he is now free to write more interesting and complex Star Wars scripts.

1995 — Lucas is hard at work on writing the screenplay for Episode 1 . . . The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles helps pave the way for the Prequel Trilogy. ILM develops the technology and means to create virtual environments for this landmark television series. ILM packs each hour long episode with hundreds of special effects sequences at very reasonable prices. With the new digital effects techniques developed for Young Indy, Lucas believes that he will be able to make the Prequel Trilogy very economically: about $ 60 – 70 million per film.

May 1996 — Lucasfilm announces that it has signed a deal (reportedly worth $ 2 billion) with Pepsico (Pepsi, Pizza Hut, KFC, Taco Bell and Frito Lay) for movie tie-ins related to the new Prequel Trilogy. Variety called this “the largest in size and scope the entertainment industry has ever seen.”

Late 1996 — Lucasfilm announces that pre-production on Episode 1 has begun.

September 1996 — Lucasfilm announces that Leavesdon Studios in Britain will be used to film portions of Episode 1.

Late 1996 — ILM celebrates its twentieth anniversary.

November 1996 — Lucasfilm announces that ILM is developing revolutionary computer software that will be used to create the 2000-plus effects sequences that will be seen in Episode 1.

1997 — Fans learn that Ewan McGregor will play the role of the younger Obi-Wan Kenobi and Liam Neeson will play the role of a venerable Jedi Knight. Natalie Portman won the pivotal role of the young Queen while Samuel L. Jackson will appear as a Jedi Master in Episode 1.

George LucasJune 1997 — Principle photography for Episode 1 begins. Lucasfilm’s unique style of ultra secrecy is utilized on the set. Despite this security, the plot line of the film is leaked bit by bit to the Internet. By the end of 1998, SuperShadow.com has posted an accurate summary of the Episode 1 script. Thus, SS.com becomes the center of Star Wars fandom on the Internet.

September 6, 1997 — The first phase of principle photography for Episode 1 ends.

April 1998 — Lucasfilm announces that 20th Century Fox has won the rights to release the Prequel Trilogy. Fox is rumored to receive only a small distribution fee and will not share in the box-office gross. Fox had lost the right to future Star Wars films when Rupert Murdoch bought the studio in the mid-1980’s. Fox’ contract with Lucas had a “key man” clause that terminated their rights to future Star Wars films if the studio were acquired by new owners.

While some believe that in 100 years Star Wars will be a religion, the humble Lucas states that one day Star Wars “will be nothing more than a pretty minor footnote in the pop culture of the 1970s and 1980s.”

starwars.com announces that Episode 1 will be released in North America on Friday, May 21, 1999.

September 1998 — starwars.com announces that Episode 1 will be subtitled The Phantom Menace (TPM). This subtitle is presumably inspired by the old Republic movie serials that Lucas grew up watching.

November 1998 — starwars.com announces that TPM’s first teaser trailer will be sneak previewed in 200 of the nation’s most state-of-the-art movie houses. The trailer is subsequently released in cineplexes nationwide and is broadcast in full length on many TV outlets such as Entertainment Tonight, Hard Copy, CNN, etc. Lucas later states on starwars.com that he is overwhelmed by the phenomenal response that the fans had after viewing the first trailer.

1999 — George Lucas announces that he will probably direct Episode 2 and has begun to more fully “develop” the story for Episode 2.

January 1999 — Lucasfilm’s promotion of TPM remains low key to avoid over-hyping the newest Star Wars film.

February 1999 — In the Star Wars Insider, Rick McCallum states that Lucasfilm will release a more “traditional” movie trailer by March or April 1999.

March 12, 1999 — Lucasfilm releases the second TPM promotional trailer.

First Week of May 1999 — Lucas shows The Phantom Menace (TPM) to theater owners.

May 16, 1999 — TPM is exhibited in several cities to raise money for children’s charities.

May 19, 1999 — TPM makes its theatrical debut in North America and breaks many box-office records.

Many diverse, “insider” sources divulged snippets from the actual script of The Phantom Menace. It became evident from these leaks that TPM will be very similar to A New Hope as Lucas had earlier promised. While Obi-Wan Kenobi serves the role of a venerable Jedi Knight who introduces the young Luke Skywalker to the ways of the Jedi, Qui-Gon Jinn serves as a venerable Jedi Knight who introduces the young Anakin Skywalker to the ways of the Jedi.

Meanwhile, while Han Solo served as the wise-cracking renegade in ANH, Obi-Wan Kenobi acts as a wise-cracking renegade in the first prequel. Just as Princess Leia is rescued from the bad guys in ANH, Queen Amidala (Leia and Luke’s future mom) is rescued from the bad guys at the beginning of TPM. Likewise, R2-D2 and C-3PO reprise their roles from the first film. R2 helps the heroes when needed while C-3PO serves as comic relief in his brief appearance.

Just as the cheif villain in ANH was named “Darth,” we learn that the chief bad guys of TPM are named “Darth.” There are actually two Darths in TPM: Darth Maul and Darth Sidious. While the exploits of Luke Skywalker are key to the defeat of the death star, the exploits of Anakin Skywalker are key in Naboo’s defeat of the Trade Federation’s fighters. Hence, there are many similarities between the first Star Wars film – Episode 4: A New Hope -and the newest one – Episode 1: The Phantom Menace.

In an interview with Time Magazine, Lucas states that: “There was a cinematic innovation in the first Star Wars film that made people say, ‘Gee, I’d never seen that before. I have the opportunity to do that again with the prequels. The fun part for me is to say, ‘You want me to come back and do that for you? I can do that. I’ll do it. Here.”

George LucasAfter a sixteen year lull, a new Star Wars movie finally returns to theaters on Wednesday, May 19, 1999. Some considered Episode 1 to be the most anticipated film since Gone With The Wind. On its first day of release the Phantom Menace shatters box-office records with the largest single day gross in history: over $ 28 million in North America. Episode 1 goes on to earn over $ 431 million domestically and over $ 461 million overseas for a worldwide total of over $ 922 million. Episode 1 ends up becoming the second highest grossing film of all time second only to James Cameron’s Titanic.

2000 — Filming begins on Episode 2 with the older Anakin Skywalker played by little-known actor Hayden Christensen.

May 2002 — Episode 2 opened in theaters on May 16, 2002. The film earned $ 110 million in its first four days of release in North America.

June 2003 — Starwars.com opens its special Episode 3 content called Hyperspace. Subscription fee is $ 19.95 per year.

July 2003 — George Lucas is scheduled to begin filming Star Wars Episode 3 in Sydney, Australia.

November 7, 2003 — The Star Wars Clone Wars Epic Micro Series debuts on the Cartoon Network.

February 2004 — Lucasfilm announces that the classic Star Wars trilogy (Episodes 4 to 6) will be released on DVD on September 21, 2004.

April 2004 — Lucasfilm reveals that Episode 3 will be released in cinemas in North America on Thursday, May 19, 2005.

July 2004 — Lucasfilm announces that the title of Episode 3 will be Revenge of the Sith.

September 21, 2004 — Lucasfilm finally releases the classic Star Wars trilogy on DVD.

November 4, 2004 — The first movie teaser trailer for Revenge of the Sith debuts at starwars.com Hyperspace.

November 5, 2004 — The Revenge of the Sith trailer is previewed with the Pixar film called The Incredibles.

November 8, 2004 — starwars.com debuts the Revenge of the Sith trailer for the general public.

March 10, 2005 — Lucasfilm debuts the second Revenge of the Sith trailer on the Fox TV Network. Trailer appears with the computer-animated movie called Robots beginning Marth 11. Available to all fans at starwars.com on March 14.

May 19, 2005 — Revenge of the Sith opens at theaters all around the world to record box-office grosses.

November 1, 2005 — Lucasfilm releases Revenge of the Sith on DVD.

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So how many Midichlorians do they have???

February 24, 2006

Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader = 27,700
Darth Sidious/Palpatine (with Kyber Crystal) = 20,500
Yoda = 17,700
Luke Skywalker = 14,500
Leia Organa Solo = 14,500
Aenon Jurtis (Most powerful Jedi Master prior to Yoda) = 14,200
Shintor Beerus (ancient Jedi Master) = 13,900
Ce Ce Denowai (the most powerful female Jedi) = 13,700
Ben (Jhon) Skywalker = 13,700
Anakin Solo (New Jedi Order novels) = 13,700
Darth Plagueis (Darth Sidious’ master) = 13,600
Count Dooku/Tyranus = 13,500
Obi-Wan Kenobi = 13,400
Kaja Sinis (the first Jedi) = 13,250
Kyle Katarn = 12,200
Mace Windu = 12,000
Darth Maul = 12,000
General Grievous (New Episode 3 Villain) = 11,900
Kit Fisto = 11,800
Exar Kun (Dark Lord of the Sith during the Sith War) = 11,700
Shindor = 11,500 (Dark Jedi from Episode 7)
Yaddle = 11,300
Xanatos’ (Qui-Gon Jinn’s former apprentice) = 11,300
Darth Seer (Founder of the modern Sith Order) = 11,200
Plo Koon = 11,100
Mara Jade = 11,000
Darth Malak (Knights of the Old Republic video game) = 10,800
Jedi Master Corran Horn (from the New Jedi Order series of Star Wars novels) = 10,700
Ki Adi Mundu = 10,600
Darth Bane = 10,500
Nebar Foxis (Jedi Knight played by SuperShadow in Episode 3) = 10,400
Joruus C’baoth = 10,350
Darth Imperius = 10,300
Shaak Ti = 10,300
Tahari Vehlia (New Jedi Order novels) = 10,300
Echuu-Shen Jon = 10,200
Darth Revan = 10,200 (Knights of the Old Republic video game)
Jedi Master Kam Solusar (New Jedi Order novels) = 10,100
Aalya Secura = 10,000
Qui-Gon Jinn = 10,000
Average Jedi = 10,000
Assajj Ventress = 9,600
Naga Sadow (Dark Lord of the Sith that fled to Yavin 4)= 9,400
Jedi Master Adeus Hust = 9,300
Jacen Solo (New Jedi Order novels) = 9,000
Jaina Solo (New Jedi Order novels) = 9,000
Jedi Master Cihgal (New Jedi Order novels) = 9,000
Darth Rage (Sidious’ apprentice after Darth Maul) = 9,000
Jedi Master Tionne Solusar (New Jedi Order novels) = 8,500
Dezar Looger (Dagobah Dark Jedi) = 8,400
Xio Jade = 7,400
Chewbacca = 7,200
Tylus Liv = 7,100
Aurra Sing = 7,000
Need To be Considered for Training as a Jedi = 7,000
Padme Amidala = 4,700
Danni Quee (New Jedi Order Jedi Scientist)= 4,500
Beru Lars = 3,700
Shmi = 3,300
Lando Calrissian = 3,300
Boba Fett= 1,500
Han Solo = 1,500
Jango Fett = 1,500
Owen Lars = 1,500