Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Babylon Quotes Project

From Babylon 5 "Shadow Dancing" written by J. Michael Straczynski
  • "The thing is: sometimes people walk away because they want to be alone, sometimes they walk away because they want to see if you care enough to follow 'em into hell."
  • "It means, 'my words are inadequate to the burden of my heart.'"
  • "Well, who want's to live forever." "I do, actually."
  • "You go in there and you fight for what matters to you! Don't just walk away because it's easier."
  • "I want to do it all again."
  • "Now that we've shown them we can hurt 'em, how long until they come knocking at our front door?"
  • "I guess I found what I... what I needed, not what I wanted." "Which was?" "A short, sharp kick to the head." "Oh, well, hell, I coulda done that for you, all you had to do was ask." "Well, you would have enjoyed it too much."
  • "I realized that I always defined myself in terms what I wasn't. I wasn't a good soldier like my father. I wasn't the job. I wasn't a good prospect for marriage or kids. Always what I wasn't, never what I was. And when you do that you miss the moments. The moments are all we've got." ... "I can't go back, but I can appreciate what I have right now. And I can define myself by what I am instead of what I'm not." "And what are you?" "Alive. Everything else is negotiable."
  • "Hello... you must be Delenn."

From Babylon 5 "Za'ha'dum" written by J. Michael Straczynski
  • "Who are you?" "Who decides that the work day is from nine to five instead of eleven to four? Who decides that the hemlines will be below the knee this year and short again next year? Who draws up the borders, controls the currency, handles all of the decisions that happen transparently around us?" "I don't know." "Ah. I'm with them. Same group, different department."
  • "You bring two sides together, they fight, a lot of them die, but those who survive are stronger, smarter, and better."
  • "Why don't you just kill me?" "Doesn't work. Someone would just come around and replace you. That's always been the trouble with creating martyrs."
  • "It was the end of the Earth year 2260, and the war had paused, suddenly and unexpectedly. All around us it was as if the universe were holding its breath, waiting. All of life can be broken down into moments of transition or moments of revelation. This had the feeling of both."
  • "J'Quan wrote, 'There is a greater darkness than the one we fight. It is the darkness of the soul that has lost its way. The war we fight is not against powers and principalities, it is against chaos and despair. Greater than the death of flesh is the death of hope, the death of dreams. Against this peril we can never surrender. The future is all around us, waiting in moments of transition to be born in moments of revelation. No one knows the shape of that future, or where it will take us. We know only that it is always born in pain.'"

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Bookworming: 2013 Summary

This was a wild year for me, and it reflects in a shortened book list for the year. But first, let's go over the rating scale and the list:

My rating scale:
* I didn't care for it.
** Meh
*** Good for those who like that sort of thing.
**** Just plain good, likely to be read again some time.
***** Destined to be a personal favorite, likely to be read over and over again.

Christmas is Not Your Birthday, Mike Slaughter, ***
The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories, Jeff VanderMeer, ***
Seawitch, Kat Richardson, ***
Cold Days, Jim Butcher, ****
The World Without Us, Alan Weisman, ****
Meditations, Marcus Aurelius, ***
The Irresistible Revolution, Shane Claiborne, ***
Suppressed Transmission: The First Broadcast, Kenneth Hite, ***
Leviathan Wakes, James S. A. Corey, ***
A Game of Thrones, George R. R. Martin, ***
Possession, Kat Richardson, **

Down to eleven books this year, though I made it through several really dense reads and checked off a couple of classics that had been on my list for a long time. Whether the list will increase again next year remains up in the air. Oddly, should things finally settle down a little, more free time may translate not to more reading, but to more activities that aren't reading. But there is no predicting the future, except to say that the bookworming category is here to stay.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Babylon Quotes Project

From Babylon 5 "Grey 17 is Missing" written by J. Michael Straczynski
  • "Power beckons, and who among us is strong enough to ignore its siren song?"
  • "A religious zealot propelled by prophecy into a position of military and political power... always a bad idea."
  • "We're all recycled you know. Just molecules and atoms born in the stars and 'recycled' into carbon based life."
  • "I am a Ranger! We walk in the dark places no others will enter! We stand on the bridge and no one may pass! We live for the One, we die for the One!"
  • "Delenn, all we know is that we will die. It is only a matter of how, when, and whether or not it is with honor."
  • "You cherish life, life is your goal, but for the greater part to live, some must die, or be harmed in its defense and yours, there is no other way."
  • "The next time you want a revelation, could you possibly find a way that isn't quite so uncomfortable."

From Babylon 5 "And the Rock Cried Out, No Hiding Place" written by J. Michael Straczynski
  • "How he can be so annoying one moment and so comforting the next is beyond me."
  • "Big concerns grow from small concerns. You plant them, water them with tears, and fertilize them with unconcern. If you ignore them, they grow."
  • "So, you have been sitting here trying to think illogically about logical possibilities or logically about illogical possibilities." "Uh, yes, yes." "No wonder you are cranky."
  • "I'm having the kind of nightmares that make your hair stand on end." "Well, that would explain the Centauri."
  • "I'd rather do something and make a mistake than be frightened into doing nothing. That's the problem today back home. People have been conned into thinking they can't change the world, have to accept what is. I tell you something my friends, the world is changing every day. The only questions is who's doing it."
  • "This isn't going to be easy." "Nothing worthwhile ever is."
  • "I can only assume someone has been spray-painting the word idiot on my back again."
  • "When God comes knocking at your door, you won't need me or anyone else to tell you what that sound is."
  • "The dust, in the streets, the wind... Is it always like this now?" "Ever since the bombings. The wind never stops. They say it will take years for all the particulate matter to drift down out of the sky and back into the ground. The days and nights are colder. It never seems to feel warm anymore."
  • "I sometimes think they choose guards for the amount of bone content in their heads. Might as well hire Minbaris."

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Babylon Quotes Project

From Babylon 5 "Walkabout" written by J. Michael Straczynski
  • "It's a strange thing, but every sentient race has its own version of these Swedish meatballs. I suspect it's one of those great universal mysteries which will either never be explained, or which would drive you mad if you ever learned the truth."
  • "We are all Kosh." "Well, he's a Vorlon all right."
  • "Why is everything around here a long story? Why isn't anything ever a short story? A paragraph?"
  • "You spend your days and nights living someone else's agendas, fighting someone else's battles, and you're doing the work you're supposed to be doing, but every day there's less and less of you in it all, 'til one day, you come to a fork in the road, and because you're distracted, you're not thinking, you lose yourself. You go right and the rest of you, the really important part of you, goes left. And you don't even know you've done it 'til you realize, you finally realize, that you don't have any idea who you are when you're not doing all those things."
  • "Unfortunately, war doesn't tolerate ambiguities."
  • "My mom always told me to marry a doctor. I just could never find one with the right equipment."
  • "It's easy to fight when you have a lot of ships to work with. The real crunch comes when you're down to almost nothing. Then you either pay it safe and you probably lose it all or you take a chance."
  • "This time it is possible he could be wrong." "Yeah, it's possible, but you don't follow an order because you know for sure it's gonna work out. You do what you're told because your CO has the moral authority that says you may not come back, but the cause is just and fair and necessary."

Monday, December 9, 2013

The Babylon Quotes Project

From Babylon 5 "War Without End Part 1" written by J. Michael Straczynski
  • "He is the closed circle. He is returning to the beginning."
  • "There are no coincidences, Captain."
  • "So you believe this?" "I believe it." "If En'til'za believes it, I believe it." "I'll be in the car."
  • "Do you understand?" "Zathras understand. No, Zathras not understand, but Zathras do. Zathras good at doings, not understandings."
  • "Can not say. Saying, I would know. Do not know, so can not say."
  • "Zathras is used to being beast of burden to other peoples' needs. Very sad life. Probably have very sad death, but at least there is symmetry."
  • "Why do your people always ask if someone is ready right before you're going to do something massively unwise?" "Tradition."

From Babylon 5 "War Without End Part 2" written by J. Michael Straczynski
  • "Our son is safe, that's all that matters."
  • "The war is never completely won. There are always new battles to fight against the darkness. Only the names change."
  • "Treasure the moments you have, savor them for as long as you can for they will never come back again."
  • "Do not go to Za'ha'dum!"
  • "No one ever listens to Zathras. Quite mad, they say. It is good that Zathras does not mind, has even grown to like it, yes."
  • "Can not run out of time. There is infinite time. You are finite, Zathras is finite, this... is wrong tool."
  • "You're The One who was. You are The One who is. You are The One who will be. You are the beginning of the story, the middle of the story, and the end of the story, that creates the next great story."
  • "I am called Valen, and we have much work ahead of us."

Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Babylon Quotes Project

From Babylon 5 "Ship of Tears" written by J. Michael Straczynski
  • "He who controls information controls the world."
  • "Give me one good reason why I shouldn't blow you out of the sky." "Because you're curious? Kill me and you'll never know what brought me all the way out here. I think if you weigh that against the brief satisfaction of blowing me out of the sky, you'll do the right thing. [a pause] Captain?" "I'm thinking it over."
  • "I can only wait so long." "I thought your patience was infinite." "Since space and time are curved, the infinite sooner or later bends back upon itself and ends up where it began, and so have I."
  • "I was expecting the Captain." "He sent me." "Did he? He has a better sense of humor than I thought."
  • "Are you sure you want to do this?" "Want to? No. Have to? Yes."
  • "Get the hell out of my chair."
  • "And some day, when all of this is over, perhaps you will find it in your heart to forgive me." "Perhaps. But not today."
  • "Do not thump The Book of J'Quan, it is disrespectful."

From Babylon 5 "Interludes and Examinations" written by J. Michael Straczynski
  • "When the Vorlon goes to ground, I worry."
  • "If you violate the terms of our agreement, my associates may turn their eye toward your home world." "Then we shall pluck it out."
  • "Anything I can do to help?" "Short of dying, no, can't think of a thing."
  • For three years now, you've been pulling everyone's strings, getting us to do all the work, and you haven't done a damn thing but stand there and look cryptic!"
  • "You said you wanted to teach me to fight legends, well you're a legend too!"
  • "Unless your people get off their encounter-suited butts and do something, I've got nothing to lose!"
  • "I will do as you ask. But there is a price to pay."
  • "You do not understand, but you will."
  • "Gods, Vir, I feel happy! I'd almost forgotten what it was like."
  • "Good news can wait. Bad news will refuse to leave."
  • "Everyone around me dies, Mr. Morden, except the ones that most deserve it."
  • "I was so obsessed with fixing other peoples' problems because I was afraid to look at my own."

Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Babylon Quotes Project

From Babylon 5 "A Late Delivery from Avalon" written by J. Michael Straczynski
  • "I used to think it was awful that life was so unfair. Then I thought, wouldn't it be much worse if life were fair and all the terrible things that happen to us come because we actually deserve them. So now I take great comfort in the general hostility and unfairness of the universe."
  • "What manner of men prey on the weak and the poor, hmm, stealing from old women? Cowards I think!"
  • "By J'Quan, I can't recall the last time I was in a fight like that! No moral ambiguity! No hopeless battle against ancient and overwhelming forces! They were the bad guys, as you say, we were the good guys, and they made a very satisfying thump when they hit the floor."

Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Babylon Quotes Project

From Babylon 5 "Ceremonies of Light and Dark" written by J. Michael Straczynski
  • "Prophecy is a poor guide for the future. You only understand it when the events are upon you."
  • "From the stars we came, to the stars we return, from now until the end of time."
  • "Only an idiot fights a war on two fronts. Only the heir to the throne of the kingdom of idiots would fight a war on twelve fronts."
  • "I have gotten in the habit of recording important meetings. One never knows when an inconvenient truth will fall between the cracks and vanish."
  • "They are the key to my eventual rise to the throne! Why would I abandon them?" "Because I have asked you, and because your loyalty to our people should be greater than your ambition, and because I have poisoned your drink."
  • "What matters is everything up to that point, leaving behind the old, preparing to be reborn." "I've already been born once, and quite sufficiently I think."
  • "... you cling to the memory of your sacrifices, of all you have lost or left behind. They drag behind you like chains of your own making. They can have a terrible power over you Marcus, the power of grief, loss, and regret."
  • "I see they trained you well back home." "Yeah, well they said I was carrying around a lot of repressed anger." "And?" "I'm not repressed anymore."
  • "It's like I've always said, you can get more with a kind word and a two-by-four than you can with just a kind word."
  • "Always bet on stupidity."

From Babylon 5 "Sic Transit Vir" written by J. Michael Straczynski
  • "He said that you were capable of a quite enchanting, and well deserved, humility."
  • "I've often thought that when we are born we are given time in a multitude of tiny boxes so small that when we need them most they are nowhere to be found."
  • "Do you think I'm pretty?" "Oh, yes, deliriously, but I always associated delirium with fever, so there you are."
  • "If kisses could kill, that one would have flattened several small towns."
  • "You're not making any sense." "I imagine I'm not, but that's the kind of day I've been having."
  • "All I can say is that enthusiasm, sincerity, genuine compassion, and humor can carry you through any lack of prior experience with... high numerical value."
  • "Well, that covers effect, but I'm reasonably sure I'm no nearer cause than I was when I sat down."

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Babylon Quotes Project

From Babylon 5 "Messages from Earth" written by J. Michael Straczynski
  • "You can find it in the index under SUAEI." "SUAEI?" "Shut up and eat it!"
  • "I'm going to kill him. After breakfast. If I can find him."
  • "I've taken the opportunity provided by my incarceration to meditate, to think, sometimes I even sing." "I know, we got a petition." "For or against?" "Based on the sound, they think we're torturing you in here." <Hearty laughter>
  • "You know, a true artist is never appreciated in his own time." "Or his own cell block?"
  • "You can learn much from silence."
  • "The decision is mine and mine alone. And it's made."
  • "Don't worry, I will watch and catch you if you fall."
  • "In Valen's name, it's awake!'
  • "If we can't out fight it, let's hope we can out think it."
  • "If I were holding anything back I would tell you."
  • "And to confirm earlier reports, President Clark has signed a decree today declaring martial law throughout Earth central, citing threats to planetary security."
From Babylon 5 "Point of No Return" written by J. Michael Straczynski
  • "I thought the purpose of filing these reports was to provide accurate intelligence." "Vir, intelligence has nothing to do with politics."
  • "Greatness is never appreciated in youth, called pride in midlife, dismissed in old age, and reconsidered in death."
  • "There is always choice. We say there is no choice only to comfort ourselves with a decision we have already made. If you understand that, there's hope. If not..."
  • "This isn't a game! You better get your priorities straight, and you better do it fast, because Hell's coming five steps behind me, and you don't want to be on the wrong side when it gets here."
  • "Unfortunately, while all answers are replies, not all replies are answers."
  • "Always plant a lie inside a truth, it makes it easier to swallow."
  • "The future reveals itself only reluctantly, Ambassador. Take the sign for what it is, look for it when it appears."
  • "I have time, all the time in the world. Do you?"
From Babylon 5 "Severed Dreams" written by J. Michael Straczynski
  • "Because as much as our humanity got us into this, our humanity is the only thing that's going to get us out of it."
  • "The Grey Council has said, 'the problems of others are not our concern.'"
  • "Never start a fight, but always finish it."
  • "This is Ambassador Delenn of the Minbari. Babylon 5 is under our protection, withdraw or be destroyed." "Negative, we have authority here. Do not force us to engage your ship." "Why not? Only one human captain has ever survived battle with a Minbari fleet. He is behind me. You are in front of me. If you value your lives be somewhere else."
  • "Listen, I've been trying to think of some way to tell you how much what you did means to me and, uh, well, thank you seems poor and inadequate."
I seem never to be able to watch these three separately anymore. Though there are a couple of individual episodes I enjoy more, this trio together remains my favorite part of the show.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Babylon Quotes Project

From Babylon 5 "Exogenesis" written by J. Michael Straczynski
  • "Because no matter what you do everything comes down to one of two things, biology or math."
  • "I was thinking, flowers." "Thinking flowers is good. Giving flowers is better."
  • "Roses never offend a woman, except by their absence."
  • "Where I come from one man from three leaves two." "Where I come from is a far more interesting place."
  • "If you go, I'll miss you, and I hate that feeling."

Bookworming: Possession

Possession, Kat Richardson, **
The latest in the Greywalker series strays more toward thriller territory than the more mystery-esque tales from early in the series. Without giving too much away, the secondary (and often superfluous) plot thread from recent books is coming more to the fore. Unfortunately, I did not find it very thrilling. Harper's clue trail this time around felt more like reacting to external forces, and aside from some initial insights into what was going on, the rest struck me as moving the pieces around until the final reveal could be made. Richardson's writing is as readable as ever, and by no means is this a bad book, but nothing really stands out for me to recommend about it either.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Babylon Quotes Project

From Babylon 5 "A Day in the Strife" written by J. Michael Straczynski
  • "He is friendly. He keeps to himself. He wouldn't even spy on your government. He would consider it rude."
  • "I'm not entirely sure what my superiors back home would think if I suddenly began showing up places with a Narn bodyguard." "They would say, here is a man who will live to be a hundred and fifty."
  • "You have been promoted. You will earn more money, receive more attention, women may even come to find you attractive. In time."
  • "Ah. I have always been alone."
  • "I don't want to get killed because of a typo. It'd be embarrassing."
  • "If that thing blows at least it'll save me from one more annoying conversation."
  • "I swear, if we live through this somebody's going to find their automatic shower preferences reprogrammed for ice water."
  • "If I live through this job without completely losing my mind, it will be a miracle of Biblical proportions." "Well, there goes my faith in the Almighty."
  • "It's better to die in the cause of freedom than to live in comfort as a slave."
  • "I carry my sword in my hand. You carry yours in your heart and in your mind. As I see it, that gives you a two-to-one advantage in arms."

From Babylon 5 "Passing Through Gethsemane" written by J. Michael Straczynski
  • "I've always thought that if you're gonna sin you may as well go for one of the really big ones."
  • "Oh, I'm an eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth kind of guy, Ambassador." "So you support a system that would leave everyone blind and toothless." "Not everyone, just the bad guys."
  • "Nightmares. The way my life has been going lately, who'd notice."
  • The soliloquy that begins, "On the night before our Lord was crucified..."
  • "Is there enough forgiveness for what I've done?" "Always, Edward. Always."
  • "Where does revenge end and justice begin? Forgiveness is a hard thing, isn't it Theo." "I don't think anything can ever be more difficult."

From Babylon 5 "Voices of Authority" written by J. Michael Straczynski
  • "It will be fun. Assuming you're not vaporized, dissected, or otherwise killed in an assortment of supremely horrible and painful ways. Exciting isn't it!"
  • "I like you. You're trouble."
  • "You understand that sometimes, before you can deal with a problem you have to redefine it." "You can't deal with problems by pretending they don't exist."
  • "There may be some minor and temporary abridgments in the traditionally protected areas of speech and association, but only until this crisis is over."
  • "The Minbari taught me, claim victory in your heart and the universe will follow." "Fine, great, claim victory in your heart and up your..."

From Babylon 5 "Dust to Dust" written by J. Michael Straczynski
  • "There is a difference between the position and the person who's occupying it at the moment."
  • "I will not support murder. We can not kill him." "Can we wound him, just a little?"
  • "One is foolish, the other frightened." "Telling which one is which, that's the hard part."
  • "A darkness carried in the heart can not be cured by moving the body from one place to another."
  • "They are deeply spiritual people." "Yes, now that you can leave in, it always scares people." "Londo, are you deliberately trying to drive me insane?" "The universe is already mad, anything else would be redundant."
  • "Who are you?" "I am who I have always been."
  • "You have the opportunity here and now to choose, to become something greater, and nobler, and more difficult than you have been before. The universe does not offer such chances often, J'Kar." "Why now? Why not earlier? All this time, where have you been?" "I have always been here."

Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Babylon Quotes Project

From Babylon 5 "Convictions" written by J. Michael Straczynski
  • "There's nothing political about the truth, Captain."
  • "I'm not sure that actually made sense, but I'm afraid that if I tried to go back and figure it out, I will start bleeding from my ears."
  • "Well, you want to live as much as I, hmm?" "Oh yes, but I would much rather see you dead."
  • "Now look, we're going to play this by the book." "Somebody just rewrote the book." "Hit the deck!"
  • "I did what I did because all life is sacred. But when the object of your actions does not share that belief... I fear I have served the present by sacrificing the future."
  • "Well, it is an imperfect universe." "Bastard." "Monster." "Fanatic!" "Murderer!" "You are insane!" "And that is why we'll win." "Go be the ambassador to Babylon 5, they say, it will be an easy assignment. Ah, I hate my life." "So do I." "Shut up!"

Saturday, November 2, 2013

The Babylon Quotes Project

From Babylon 5 "Matters of Honor" written by J. Michael Straczynski
  • "Well, as answers go, short, to the point, utterly useless, and totally consistent with what I've come to expect from a Vorlon." "Good."
  • "I have always been here." "Oh yeah, you said that about me too." "Yes."
  • "The Babylon Project was our last, best hope for peace. It failed. But in the year of the Shadow War, it became something greater: our last, best hope for Victory." "The year is 2260. The place: Babylon 5."
  • "Are you trying to cheer me up?" "No, sir, wouldn't dream of it." "Good. I hate being cheered up. It's depressing."
  • "We have danced our last little dance, Mr. Morden."
  • "Believe what you will, until experience changes your mind."
  • "I try never to get involved with my own life. Too much trouble."
  • "Are you ready?" "No, but you may proceed anyway."

Monday, October 28, 2013

Bookworming: A Game of Thrones

A Game of Thrones, George R. R. Martin, ***
This one is hard for me to review for several reasons. First, I had it thoroughly spoiled by the TV series of the same name. Second, it is so blatantly the first of a series that nothing much gets resolved, which is usually a huge no-no for me. Finally, the characters run a dark gamut from deeply flawed to outright despicable, and I am not much for the bad-people-doing-bad-things style of story. And yet, the writing is excellent, the pacing works well, and the world is well developed and interesting. It is heavy reading, and I can see why some love it and some revile it.

As with the TV series, my lasting impression is that not much actually happened, but somehow it was fairly compelling.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Babylon Quotes Project

From Babylon 5 "The Fall of Night" by J. Michael Straczynski
  • "Do not start getting delusions of grandeur. You will not survive them."
  • "We will, at last, know peace in our time."
  • "The way things are going, I figured it might be nice to have a reminder that the impossible, is possible."
  • "As with everything else, it's the thought that counts."
  • "We came to this place because Babylon 5 was our last, best hope for peace. By the end of 2259, we knew that it had failed. But in so doing it became something greater. As the war expanded, it became our last, best hope for victory, because sometimes peace is another word for surrender. And because secrets have a way of getting out."

Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Babylon Quotes Project

From Babylon 5 "Comes the Inquisitor" written by J. Michael Straczynski
  • "Are you willing to sacrifice all that you are to keep all that you have?"
  • "If you do the right thing for the wrong reasons, the work becomes impure, corrupted, and ultimately self-destructive."
  • "Nothing changes. Corruption. Immorality. Chaos."
  • "Yes, the Vorlons have been to Earth. The Vorlons have been everywhere. The Vorlons are."
  • "We are already, as you so quaintly put it, going straight to Hell. You can not escape what's coming." "Maybe not, but there's nothing wrong with getting a good head start, huh."
  • "Who are you?" [Really, just go watch the whole initial interrogation scene. It would be rude of me to quote the entire thing.]
  • "I'm sorry." "Dead, dead, dead, dead, dead, dead, dead, dead, dead, dead, dead. How do you apologize to them?" "I can't." "Then I can not forgive."
  • "We all have a destiny." "Do we? How magnanimous of you." [Yeah, watch this whole scene too.]
  • "Your only destiny is to be the nail that gets hammered down. Bang, bang, bang."
  • "This is my cause: life! One life or a billion, it's all the same!"
Since I have already broken my editorial silence, I must say one can argue that if you are going to pick a single episode upon which the series turns, this one is a prime candidate. The latter part of the first season transitions from world-building and character development into the forward momentum of the building story arc. The latter part of the second season destroys the status quo and begins to get into what the tale is ultimately all about. There is perhaps no other episode in the series more dependent on what comes before it, or more indicative of what comes after it.

It's also wall-to-wall excellent, with way too much detail for mere extracted quotes to do it justice.

Friday, October 25, 2013

The Babylon Quotes Project

From Babylon 5 "The Long, Twilight Struggle" written by J. Michael Straczynski
  • "The Emperor?" "He is out among his people, basking in their almost sincere adulation."
  • "There's always hope. At least that's what I tell myself when I awaken in the middle of the night and the only sound I can hear is the beating of my own desperate heart."
  • "They have been outlawed by every civilized planet." "These are uncivilized times." "We have treaties!" "Ink on a page."
  • "No dictator, no invader, can hold an imprisoned population by force of arms forever. There is no greater power in the universe than the need for freedom. Against that power governments and tyrants and armies can not stand."

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Babylon Quotes Project

From Babylon 5 "Divided Loyalties" written by J. Michael Straczynski
  • "I'll have you know, I've been nothing but compassionate and understanding. I mean, all you had to do was admit that you were wrong and I was right and everything would have been fine."
  • "It's the way the universe works: wait just a little while and the wheel turns."

Meanwhile, Over on Facebook

OK, so, facebook ads. Normally, they don't even register, but I'm tired and my eyes wandered. Clearly they have a skewed view of what I am interested in because there's an ad there for the Kardashian Kollection. (No, it wasn't spelled with a K, but who cares?) The Netflix one is reasonable, and the Gieco one is inescapable. And then there was this piece of choice spam-bait: "Three questions get any girl."

First: yes I'm single, thanks for rubbing my face in it. Jerks. Second: clearly ad = marketing = prevarication, manipulation, and lies. I mean, really, there could never be three questions that, in combination, would universally attract any woman. Unfortunately, work-mode brain started with the premise and ran with pondering just what those questions could be...

The only one I've come up with so far is, "Would you like to explore an opportunity to have more shoes."

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Babylon Quotes Project

From Babylon 5 "Knives" written by Lawrence G. Ditillio
  • "Why make history if you fail to learn by it?"
  • "You know Vir, you have what the Earthers call a negative personality." "No I don't."
  • "It ended as all love does: badly."
  • "Do you always worry when things are going well?" "I don't have time to worry about them when the're not."
  • "Disgrace is preferable to death!" "There was a time when I would agree with you. That time is past."
  • "Insanity is part of the times! You must learn to embrace the madness, let it fire you."
  • "Ah, no thanks, I prefer to be only slightly insane." "Don't we all."

From Babylon 5 "Confessions and Lamentations" written by J. Michael Straczynski
  • "I didn't know that similarity was required for the exercise of compassion."
  • "If I don't see you again here, I will see you in a little while in the place where no shadows fall."
  • "That does seem to be the rule, doesn't it. Analyze the problem, choose whichever strategy makes the least sense, and then do it."
  • "Faith manages."
  • "Sometimes the test is not to find the answer, it's to see how you react when you realize there is no answer."

Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Babylon Quotes Project

From Babylon 5 "And Now for a Word" by J. Michael Straczynski
  • "Why does any advanced civilization seek to destroy a less advanced one: because the land is strategically valuable, because there are resources that can be cultivated and exploited, but most of all simply because they can."
  • "'We want only peace.' Both sides say the same thing, but as we've just seen, the reality is anything but peaceful."
  • "We're everywhere, for your convenience."
  • The Psi Corps is your friend. Trust the Corps.
  • "And when you stumble a lot, you start looking at your feet."
  • "We're not just holding jobs and having dinner, we're in the process of building the future."

From Babylon 5 "In the Shadow of Z'Ha'Dum" written by J. Michael Straczynski
  • "Why do you ask me questions when you already know the answers?"
  • "I'd like to live just long enough to be there when they cut off your head and stick it on a pike as a warning to the next ten generations that some favors come with too high a price. I would look up into your lifeless eyes and wave, like this."
  • "Come Captain, the greatest nightmare of our time is waiting for you."
  • "Recognized, by whom?" "Everyone."
  • "How many lives is a secret worth?"
  • "If you go to Za'Ha'Dum, you will die."

Friday, October 18, 2013

The Babylon Quotes Project

From Babylon 5 "There All the Honor Lies" written by Peter David
  • "I mean, we're not some deep space franchise, this station is about something!"
  • "Never fear answers. Only fear running out of questions."
  • "What's inside there?" "One moment of perfect beauty."
  • "Back home I'm swallowed in silence, and here I'm swallowed up by secrets. I'm caught between fire and flood, and if there's a way out I sure don't see it."
  • "Another lesson?" "Yeah." "What this time?" "Beauty, in the dark." "Huh, must be working, you're beginning to talk just like a Vorlon."
  • "I see, so you feel like you're being symbolically cast... in a bad light."
  • "I never thought there could be anything worse than being all alone in the night." "But there is: being all alone in a crowd."
  • "You can't have larger ideals if the smaller ones get compromised. It's like building a house without a foundation."
  • "Your first hangover, enjoy it. I remember my first hangover... well, actually, that's not true. If I remember it, it wouldn't be a real hangover."

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Babylon Quotes Project

From Babylon 5 "Acts of Sacrifice" written by J. Michael Straczynski
  • "Everyone in this room knows too well that the first casualty of war is always the truth."
  • "When everything else had been taken from us, the hatred kept us alive." "And now it may destroy you."
  • "Why is everyone here walking around like they are afraid of me." "Because maybe we are."
  • "...I've learned the hard way that governments deal in matters of convenience, not conscience. If they fall behind it is up to the rest of us to make up the difference. If we don't, who will?"
  • "It is good to have friends, is it not Mr. Garibaldi? Even if only for a little while."

From Babylon 5 "Hunter, Prey" written by J. Michael Straczynski
  • "Michael, you ever consider climbing out of the barracks sometime and looking around at the world? Huh?" "Yeah, I will, when people stop shooting at me."
  • "I was thinking maybe we should spend some time together soon.  Build some bridges. Work toward a greater understanding of one another." "Why?"
  • "Maybe someone should have labeled the future: some assembly required."

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Babylon Quotes Project

From Babylon 5 "All Alone in the Night" written by J. Michael Straczynski
  • "The first obligation of a prisoner is to escape."
  • "Very soon now, I will be going into darkness and fire. I do not know if I am fated to walk out again."
  • "You have always been here."
  • "You have an uncommon failing for someone in your position, Captain: you're a patriot."

Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Babylon Quotes Project

From Babylon 5 "GROPOS" written by Lawrence G. Ditillio
  • "There's only one truth about war: people die."
  • "A man who won't stand up for his own principles is not really a man at all."
  • "Every soldier lives with death, son, but I suppose sometimes we forget that our loved ones must live with it too."

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Babylon Quotes Project

From Babylon 5 "A Race Through Dark Places" written by J. Michael Straczynski
  • "It was starting out to be such a nice, quiet little day."
  • "What do you want with me?" "We want you to understand."
  • "I'm not saying what I'm saying. I'm not saying what I'm thinking. As a matter of fact, I'm not thinking what I'm thinking."
  • "Captain, either you snore, or last night we had a hell of a breach in the hull."
  • "You are having far too much fun at my expense."

From Babylon 5 "The Coming of Shadows" written by J. Michael  Straczynski
  • "We've taken the liberty of writing your speech for you."
  • "If you love, love without reservation. If you fight, fight without fear."
  • "The past tempts us, the present confuses us, the future frightens us, and our lives slip away, moment by moment, lost in that vast, terrible in-between."
  • "Hello old friend, it's been a while."
  • "Stay close to the Vorlon, and watch out for shadows. They move when you're not looking at them."
  • "How will this end." "In fire."
  • "He said that we are both damned." "Well, it's a small enough price to pay for immortality."

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Babylon Quotes Project

From Babylon 5 "Soul Mates" written by Peter David
  • "You know him?" "Only in the most unpleasant sense: I was married to him."
  • "Why do you always try to draw me into your little verbal fencing matches?" "Because I don't have a real sword handy."
  • "Breeding will tell." "A bitch like you would know about breeding."
  • "We all die, Doctor, sooner or later."
  • "You know the problem with mysteries is that in order to get rid of the headaches I have to figure them out."

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Babylon Quotes Project

From Babylon 5 "The Long Dark" written by Scott Frost
  • "I find that life is, in general, much easier if I forget most of the things that happen to me."
  • "You were standing in the middle of the plaza yelling that the day of judgement was coming." "Did it?" "Not that I know of, but I may have missed a staff meeting."
  • "The future isn't what it used to be."
  • "You got a plan?" "Try not to get killed." "Brilliant."

From Babylon 5 "Spider in the Web" written by Lawrence G. Ditillio
  • "Ah, it's good to be the Captain."
  • "These are volatile times, Captain. Practicality is more important than principles if lives are to be saved."
  • "My pop always said that laughter is better than pills for what ails ya."
  • "I trust in individuals, not organizations."

Saturday, October 5, 2013

The Babylon Quotes Project

From Babylon 5 "A Distant Star" written by D. C. Fontana
  • "It's going to cost me for you to say nothing to somebody? How much for you to say nothing to everybody?" "Oh no, you couldn't afford it."
  • "Understanding is not required, only obedience."
  • "Figures. All my life I've fought against imperialism, now suddenly I am the expanding Russian frontier." "But with very nice borders."
  • "If the primates that we came from had known that someday politicians would come out of the gene pool, they'd'a stayed up in the trees and written evolution off as a bad idea."
  • "God be between you and harm, in all the empty places where you must walk."
  • "The universe puts us in places we can learn. They are never easy places, but they are right. Wherever we are is the right place at the right time. The pain that sometimes comes is part of the process of constantly being born."
  • "The molecules of your body are the same molecules that make up this station, and the nebula outside. They burn inside the stars themselves. We are star stuff. We are the universe made manifest, trying to figure itself out. As we have both found out, sometimes the universe requires a change of perspective."
  • "She and the universe seem to have a special relationship." "Don't we all?"

Friday, October 4, 2013

The Babylon Quotes Project

From Babylon 5 "The Geometry of Shadows" written by J. Michael Straczynski"
  • "I believe there are currents in the universe, eddies and tides that pull us one way or the other. Some we have to fight, and some we have to embrace. Unfortunately the currents we have to fight look exactly like the ones we have to embrace."
  • "The universe doesn't give you any points for doing things that are easy."
  • "There is an old saying, do not try the patience of wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger."
  • "Perhaps it is magic. The magic of the human heart, focused and made manifest by technology. Every day you here create greater miracles than the burning bush." "Maybe, but God was there first, and He didn't need solar batteries and a fusion reactor to do it."
  • "We are dreamers, shapers, singers, and makers."
  • "There is a storm coming, a black and terrible storm."
  • "It doesn't make any sense to go around killing each other over a piece of cloth." "You do same, yes, for flag, for honor." "That's different." "Is it?"
  • "I could warn you, of course, but you would not listen. I could kill you, but someone would take your place, so I do the only thing I can. I go."
  • "...I see a great hand reaching out of the stars."

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Babylon Quotes Project

From Babylon 5 "Revelations" written by J. Michael Straczynski
  • "Why don't you eliminate the entire Narn home world while you're at it?" "One thing at a time, Ambassador. One thing at a time."
  • "I have looked into the darkness, Na'Toth. You can not do that and ever be quite the same again."
  • "We have learned to cope with change, to triumph in the face of adversity. We will overcome this as well. We have no other choice."

Monday, September 30, 2013

The Babylon Quotes Project

From Babylon 5 "Points of Departure" written by J. Michael Straczynski
  • "I can only conclude that I am paying off karma at a vastly accelerated rate."
  • "The Babylon Project was our last, best hope for peace. A self-contained world five miles long, located in neutral territory. A place of commerce and diplomacy for a quarter of a million humans and aliens. A shining beacon in space, all alone in the night. It was the dawn of the third age of mankind, the year the great war came upon us all. This is the story of the last of the Babylon stations. The year is 2259. The name of the place is Babylon 5."
  • "Well then I'll say a prayer for him tonight." "He's agnostic." "Then I'll say half a prayer."
  • "... he looked at me and said, 'Do you understand?' I said no, I didn't. 'Good beginning,' he said. 'You'll be even better when you begin to understand what you do not understand.'"
  • "If you are going to kill me, then do so. Otherwise, I have considerable work to do."

Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Babylon Quotes Project

From Babylon 5 "A Voice in the Wilderness, Part I" written by J. Michael Straczynski
  • "What better way to go out than in the cause of advancing scientific knowledge?" [Aside]"Is this a multiple choice question, because I have some ideas."
  • "If the Narns all stood together in one place and hated, all at the same time, that hatred could fly across dozens of light years and reduce Centauri Prime to a ball of ash. That's how much they hate us." "You don't have to respond in kind." "Of course we do. It is a natural law. Physics tells us that for every action there must be an equal and opposite reaction. They hate us; we hate them; they hate us back. And so, here we are, victims of mathematics."
  • "Without the hope that things will get better, that our inheritors will know a world that is fuller and richer than our own, life is pointless, and evolution is vastly overrated."
  • "...the Bablyon 5 mantra: Ivonava is always right. I will listen to Ivonava. I will not ignore Ivonava's recommendations. Ivonava is God. And if this ever happens again Ivonava will personally rip your lungs out. ... Civilians. Just kidding about that God part. No offence."
  • "Water. Fascinating. I never touch the stuff myself."
  • "Now, I go to spread happiness to the rest of the station. It's a terrible responsibility, but I have learned to live with it."

From Bablyon 5 "A Voice in the Wilderness, Part II" written by J. Michael Straczynski
  • "Worst case of testosterone poisoning I've ever seen."
  • "Landing thrusters... landing thrusters... hmm... ah... if I were a landing thruster, which one of these would I be?"
  • "The third principle of sentient life is its capacity for self-sacrifice, for a cause, a loved one, for a friend."
  • "He's looking for a purpose, but his destiny lies elsewhere."

From Babylon 5 "Babylon Squared" written by J. Michael Straczynski
  • "Some things one must do alone."
  • "Fasten, then zip."
  • "I am Grey, I stand between the candle and the star. We are Grey, we stand between the darkness and the light."
  • "We live for the one; we would die for the one."
  • "They fight, they argue, they are ruled by passions and fears." "Yes. And that is their strength. They do not seek conformity. They do not surrender. Out of their differences comes symmetry, their unique capacity to fight against impossible odds. Hurt them and they only come back stronger. The passions we deplore have taken them to their place in the stars and will propel them to a great destiny. Their only weakness is that they do not recognize their own greatness. They forget that they have come to this place through two million years of struggle, evolution, and blood, that they are better than they think and that they are nobler than they know. They carry within them the capacity to walk among the stars like giants. They are the future, and we have much to learn from them."
  • You take, Zathras die. You leave, Zathras die. Either way, is bad for Zathras."
  • "You have a destiny."
  • "We are surrounded by signs and portents, and I feel a darkness pressing at our backs."

From Babylon 5 "The Quality of Mercy" written by J. Michael Straczynski
  • "Here my friend, here you will see the heart and soul of Babylon 5. Also its spleen, its kidneys, a veritable parade of internal organs."
  • "I did the necessary thing. That is not always the same as the right thing."

From Babylon 5 "Chrysalis" written by J. Michael Straczynski
  • "I think I will stick my head in the station's fusion reactor. It will be quicker, and I suspect after a while I might even come to enjoy it."
  • "There comes a time when you look into the mirror and you realize that what you see is all that you will ever be, and you accept it, or you kill yourself. Or you stop looking into mirrors."
  • "Goodbye, you will not see me again as I am now."
  • "It's as if some great hand reached out of space and erased them."
  • "There's someone else out there, Na'toth."
  • "Who are we to stand in the way of prophecy?"
  • "And so it begins. You have forgotten something."

Saturday, September 28, 2013

The Babylon Quotes Project

From Babylon 5 "Eyes" written by Lawrence G. Ditillio
  • "Part of a dream is better than none."
  • "Protests are as much use with the Vorlons as fairy wings on a cement truck."
  • "If I knew who God was, I'd thank her."

From Babylon 5 "Legacies" written by D. C. Fontana
  • "There is no higher testimony to a warrior's courage and skill than praise from his enemy."
  • "You talk like a Minbari commander."
  • "Perhaps there was some small wisdom in letting your species survive."

Friday, September 27, 2013

The Babylon Quotes Project

From Babylon 5 "Grail" written by Christy Marx
  • "Perhaps each time you were exactly where you were meant to be." "I never thought of it like that." "We never do."
  • "These two sides of your culture, do they ever agree on anything?" "Yes, and when they do it is a terrible thing, a terrible power."
  • "You can learn whatever you want to learn, because you are a man of infinite promise and goodness."
  • "See yourself for what you are, not what others try to make you."
  • "No one knows exactly what you look like. That makes some people a little nervous." "Good."
  • "It's a hard thing to live your life searching for something and never find it."
  • "No boom?" "No boom." "No boom today. Boom tomorrow. There's always a boom tomorrow."

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Babylon Quotes Project

From Babylon 5, "TKO" written by Lawrence G. Ditillio
  • "One of these days Garibaldi, you'll learn to watch your back."

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Babylon Quotes Project

From Babylon 5 "By Any Means Necessary" written by Kathryn M. Drennan
  • "You should never hand someone a gun unless you are sure where they will point it."
  • "My dad used to say: there are no happily ever afters, just new battles."

From Babylon 5 "Signs and Portents" written by J. Michael Straczynski
  • "Sleeping is not the problem. Waking up, that is a problem."
  • "What do you want?"
  • "There're here."
  • "Leave this place, they are not for you."
  • "Let me buy you a drink! Let me buy you an entire fleet of drinks!"
  • "We create the future with our words, our deeds, and with our beliefs."

Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Babylon Quotes Project

From Babylon 5 "Believers" written by David Gerrold
  • "The avalanche has already started, it is too late for the pebbles to vote."
  • "Sure is for people with nothing on the line."
  • "Maybe God doesn't care how you say your prayers just long as you say them."

From Babylon 5 "Survivors" written by Marc Scott Zicree
  • "The universe is run by the complex interweaving of three elements: energy, matter, and enlightened self-interest."

The Babylon Quotes Project

From Babylon 5 "And the Sky Full of Stars" written by J. Michael Straczynski
  • "Everyone lies, Michael. The innocent lie because they don't want to be blamed for something they didn't do. And the guilty lie because they don't have any other choice."


From Babylon 5 "Deathwalker" written by Lawrence G. Ditillio
  • "Understanding is a three edged sword."
  • "Ah, you seek meaning." "Yes." "Then listen to the music, not the song."
  • "What is need compared to the path."
  • "Of course we could not reveal it then. And like all secrets long kept, we can not bear the shame of admitting it now."
  • "A stroke from the brush does not guarantee art from the bristles."
  • "You are not ready for immortality."

Friday, September 20, 2013

The Babylon Quotes Project

From Babylon 5 "Mind War" written by J. Michael Straczynski
  • "No one here is exactly what he appears."
  • "Why?" "Why not?" "That's not an answer." "Oh yes it is. It's simply not an answer you like or the answer you expected."
  • "... I am both terrified and reassured to know that there are still wonders in the universe, that we have not yet explained everything."


From Babylon 5 "The War Prayer" written by D. C. Fontana
  • "Do you regret the choices you have made, to be here?" "Sometimes. Only sometimes."
  • "Love! What does love have to do with marriage!"
  • "These are my three wives: pestilence, famine, and death. Do you think I married them for their personalities? Their personalities could shatter entire planets."
  • "...all sentient beings are best defined by their capacity and their need for love."
  • "My shoes are too tight, but it doesn't matter because I have forgotten how to dance."
  • "Human ways are often unfathomable, but in time one learns to live with them." "If one has an exceedingly strong constitution."

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Babylon Quotes Project

From Babylon 5 "The Parliament of Dreams" written by J. Michael Straczynski:
  • "In a world where every day is a struggle, you need all the gods you can get."
  • "Everybody's cute, even me. But in purple, I'm stunning."
  • "He has become one with his inner self!" "He's passed out." "That too."
  • "I can not have an aid who will not look up, you will be forever walking into things."
  • "Will you follow me into fire, into storm, into darkness, into death?"
  • "And so it begins."
  • "You will know pain." "And you will know fear." "And then you will die. Have a pleasant flight."

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Babylon Quotes Project

From Babylon 5 "Infection" written by J. Michael Straczynski
  • "...there's a Martian war machine parked outside, they'd like a word with you about the common cold."
  • "We're all aliens to one another."
  • "When you become obsessed with the enemy, you become the enemy."
  • "I think they are looking for something worth dying for because it's easier than finding something worth living for."
  • "Eventually our sun will grow cold and go out.  When that happens, it won't just take us, it will take Marilyn Monroe, and Lao-Tzu, and Einstein, and Morobuto, and Buddy Holly, and Aristophanes.  All of this, all of this, was for nothing, unless we go to the stars."

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Babylon Quotes Project

From Babylon 5 "Born to the Purple" written by Lawrence G. Ditillio
  • "Gentlemen, of all things in life, are females not the finest?"
  • "What do you want, you moon-faced assassin of joy?"
  • "Don't give away the homeworld."

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Babylon Quotes Project

From Babylon 5 "The Gathering" written by J. Michael Straczynski
  • "Why should I trust you?" "Because I gave you my word. And because right now five marksmen are taking up position outside."
  • "Notice the waves, each moving in its own order, predictable, unchanging. But drop in a single stone, and see how the pattern changes. Everything around it is altered. ...there are books, thousands of pages about the power of one mind to change the universe, but none say it as clearly as this."
  • "Do you not have files on the Vorlons? Of course, very large files. There's nothing in them of course."
  • "Would you prefer to be conscious or unconscious during the mating? I would prefer conscious, but I don't know what your pleasure threshold is."
  • "Can you imagine what we could achieve together!?" "I can. Which is why it must never be allowed to happen."
  • "I suppose there will be a war now, hmm? All that running around and shooting at one another, you would have thought sooner or later it would go out of fashion."
  • "We were pretty good sharks ourselves once. Somehow along the way, we forgot how to bite."
  • ""Entil'zah Valen."
  • "The sky was full of stars, and every star an exploding ship, one of ours."
  • "There is a hole in your mind."
  • "Beep beep"
  • "To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield." quoting Tennyson

From Babylon 5 "Midnight on the Firing Line" written by J. Michael Straczynski
  • "It was the dawn of the third age of mankind, ten years after the Earth-Minbari war. The Babylon Project was a dream given form. Its goal: to prevent another war by creating a place where humans and aliens could work out their differences peacefully. It's a port of call, home away from home for diplomats, hustlers, entrepreneurs, and wanderers. Humans and aliens wrapped in two million five hundred thousand tons of spinning metal, all alone in the night. It can be a dangerous place, but it's our last, best hope for peace. This is the story of the last of the Babylon stations. The year is 2258. The name of the place is Babylon 5."
  • "I'm in the middle of fifteen things, all of them annoying."
  • "My father always told me: the best way to understand someone is to fight him, make him angry. That's when you see the real person."
  • "Ignore the propaganda, focus on what you see."
  • "I've always thought that a leader should have a strong chin. He has no chin, and his Vice President has several. This to me is not a good combination."
  • "The wheel turns, does it not, ambassador?"
  • "Your time has come and gone! It's our turn now!"
  • "Twenty years from now, one of us will be wiser and older, or one of us will be dead, who's to say. Me, I need another drink."
  • "Commander, on the subject of galactic peace I am long past innocence and fast approaching apathy. It's all a game, a paper fantasy of names and borders. Only one thing matters, Commander: blood calls out for blood."
  • "They are alone. They are a dying people. We should let them pass."
  • "To start a war over blood spilled so long ago... Where does it end? You kill them and take their land. They kill you and take the land back. On and on and on, the cycle of hatred."
  • "Would you have really killed me?" "Yes. Yes I would have. But I'm just as glad I didn't have to. The paperwork's a pain in the butt."
  • "Perhaps tomorrow we can start out on better terms." "I very much doubt it."

From Babylon 5 "Soul Hunter" written by J. Michael Straczynski
  • "This is not a clear and present danger? I must read the rule book again. Open defense grid!"
  • "It wouldn't be so bad if life didn't take so long to figure out. It seems you just start to get it right and then... it's over." "It doesn't matter. If we lived two hundred years we'd still be human, we'd still make the same mistakes." "You're a pessimist." "I'm Russian, Doctor. We understand these things."

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Dueling Statistics

From the right: over 40% of Americans pay no income tax.
From the left: the bottom 40% of Americans earn less than 15% of the total income in the US.
From the maths: comparing % earned to % tax paid is actually hard to do because of a dearth of data, but estimates based on government reports show that the tax rate is slightly progressive, with <10% differences in % income earned vs. % income tax paid for each 20 percentile bracket.

One of these is not a good talking point.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Bookworming: Leviathan Wakes

Leviathan Wakes, James S. A. Corey, ***
Mix a little bit of hard sci-fi with some police procedural, and toss in some body horror and you get a fairly unique book. Interesting world building and nice pacing round out a good read. The characters were rather shallow and the tone a touch muddled by the genre mixing, but there is quite a bit going on here. And of course it is the first of a series. An easy recommendation for sci-fi fans, especially those like myself who are itching for some space opera goodness.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Bookworming: Suppressed Transmission

Suppressed Transmission: The First Broadcast, Kenneth Hite, ***
This is a collection of columns about incorporating High Weirdness into stories (the high is used in the sense as High Fantasy). It is also a bit more than that. Primarily aimed at pencil and paper role players, the collection is as much about making connections and rising stakes as anything else. As a game supplement, there are more than enough ideas here to pilfer for decades. As a tool in piecing together alternate history, or zooming in on the weird that is real history, it is a collegiate level course from one of the best scholars of the field. This is a book for those who like to weave conspiracy theories. Dense and heavily self-referential (much like the Conspiracy itself), but highly entertaining.

Monday, August 19, 2013

A Programming Post, Not From Me

I still don't have time to dwell on programming, or much of anything else, outside of work right now. That said, Drew Crawford's "Of Wizards and Magical Machines" resonates very strongly. It may even be of interest to non-programmers, if only for the glimpse into the madness.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Bookworming: The Irresistible Revolution

The Irresistible Revolution, Shane Claiborne, ***
A tale in the bible* relates the story of a rich man coming to Jesus and asking him how to attain eternal life. Jesus tells him to follow the commandments, and the man replies that he does. But the man keeps pushing, asking what else he must do. Jesus tells him to sell all his possessions, give his money to the poor, and come with Jesus as a follower. The man walked away saddened.

In The Irresistible Revolution, Claiborne advocates for a new kind of activism by the church, or as he would say, an old kind. He wants church people to form personal relationships with those they help, and focus their lives and work on doing so. By his own profession, he calls for a kind of monasticism that focuses outward rather than inward. A worthy read for Christians, if only because it is a very convicting one for the vast majority of church goers.

That said, the book didn't sit too well with me. Testimony about forming personal relationships is by its nature anecdotal. Many of the events in the book are things that happened, and can only happen, to a privileged college student. The actions he takes and life he advocates are indeed radical in today's society, and for those who find that calling, it must be a wonderful thing. But that life is not, can not, be for everyone. (How much better would the world be if it was? That's pretty much the point of the book.)

In the end, I put down the book feeling like the rich man in the bible story. I suspect that is exactly how I should feel, because the parallel is perhaps a little too accurate. And that is why I think Christians should read this book.

* This story is in Matthew 19, Mark 10, and Luke 18

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Quote of the Moment

"Unfortunately, as you probably already know, people"
—a tweet from Horse ebooks (a twitter spam bot with over 175 thousand followers at the time of this writing)

Friday, July 26, 2013

Quote of the Moment

"The things that you don’t like about yourself are probably what made you so good in the first place, and they are definitely what make you memorable and interesting."
Andel Sudik

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Tune of the Moment

Tonight's YouTube random walk turned this up, and I rather like it.


A Well Constructed Conspiracy Theory

Did you know that all the Pixar movies take place in the same universe? Neither did I. But now, thanks to The Pixar Theory, you too can see into the secret plan that Pixar has for its universe and the underlying themes and lessons they are trying to tell you.

All sarcasm aside, this is a rather fun little bit of speculative fiction, and a good amount of fun. It is also the perfect example of how a conspiracy theory is constructed (or the secrets of prophecy are revealed on public access TV). All you have to do is ignore that high quality 3D assets are expensive to make thus getting a lot of reuse out of them is good practice, and that people with jobs which are both tedious and creative often come up with ways to amuse themselves, and boom, you have a secret corporate vision.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Quote of the Moment

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.

—J. R. R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

Friday, July 5, 2013

Quote of the Moment

"Love the art, poor as it may be, that you have learned, and be content with it; and pass through the rest of life like one who has entrusted to the gods with his whole soul all that he has, making yourself neither the tyrant nor the slave of any man."
—Marcus Aurelius, Meditations (4:32)

Bookworming: Meditations

Meditations, Marcus Aurelius, ***
I find it hard to assign a rating to something like Marcus Aurelius's meditations. They are clearly the journal entries of a man struggling to define, or perhaps maintain, his own equanimity in the face of the struggles he met with daily. There is much philosophy here to be cherished, and much to be discarded. His thoughts may not be your thoughts. Along the way through my life, one of the things I have discovered is that examining what other people believe can be a good way to help you figure out what you believe yourself. And that, I believe, is the value of Meditations.

A dense read, as are most translated works, it took me quite a while to make it through the less than one hundred pages. This is not something for everyone, and I wouldn't even call it an enjoyable read. But it is somewhat reassuring to see that every man, even Roman emperors, struggle in their day to day lives to rise above the pervasive mess that is life. Come for the Stoic philosophy, if that interests you, finish for the underlying humanity that required the emperor to remind himself what he should be striving for.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Quote of the Moment

"All right, I've been thinking.  When life gives you lemons, don't make lemonade. Make life take the lemons back!  Get mad!  I don't want your [dang] lemons!  What am I supposed to do with these?!  Demand to see life's manager!  Make life rue the day it thought it could give [you] lemons!  Do you know who I am?  I'm the man who's gonna burn your house down!  With the the lemons!  I'm gonna get my engineers to invent a combustible lemon that burns your house down!"
—Cave Johnson, Portal 2

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Tune[s] of the [Much More Than Just a] Moment

A friend posted on facebook that his daughter was going through his CD collection and asked him what a "monster ballad" was. Silly me wondered what would come up if you put power ballad into a youtube search.

This happened:

Monday, June 24, 2013

Quote of the Moment

"Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away."
–Philip K. Dick

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Bookworming: The World Without Us

The World Without Us, Alan Weisman, ****
The central premise of this non-fiction work is: what happens if all humans suddenly disappeared from the planet? It is great marketing for sure, but the book really is not about what will happen to the vast infrastructure that people have created. That material is in the book, and just as evocative as it sounds. But the larger narrative, the real power of it, is an overview of the impact that people have had and are having on nature.

For those expecting politics to creep in, it does not. This is a scientific look at a "what if" that simply shakes out certain viewpoints that could be considered political. If anything, you can take whatever political view you want from the text, because it's ultimately about how nature and life win. No matter what impact we have, it will all eventually be gone. And yet, what an impact we do have. Ultimately, what won me over was the surprisingly optimistic tone throughout what could be an extremely bleak subject. It takes a hard heart to begrudge something that imagines the Korean DMZ becoming a wildlife refuge, and that is just one example.

Light reading, this is not. But it is an exceedingly well done series of tales of humanity's might and how ephemeral our works really are in a world without us.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Tune of the Moment

I'm in hard-core beat-the-deadline mode at work, with most of the day spent coding at top speed.  This may or may not have been running in the background of my brain all day...

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Seeing the Wisdom of a Turkey

On the highway home this afternoon, a couple hundred yards out from the overhead sign proclaiming my imminent relief from high speed traffic, there in the grass between the edge of the road and the treeline, stood a wild turkey. She was still and calm, reminding me for all the world of any other southerner on a spring afternoon, out on the front porch watching the cars roll by quickly and the storm clouds roll by slowly. I must admit that for a moment I was a little envious, not having so much serenity in my life these days. But you know, them storm clouds move how they will, and all the worrying and fretting in the world don't change when they pass by. But they always do eventually, and the colors of the world are never brighter than in that first ray of sun after a rain.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Quote of the Moment

"I stumble, but still I carry on, 'cause it doesn't have to mean that I'm wrong."
–Moriah Poppy, "Doesn't Have to Mean I'm Wrong"

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Beginning of a New World

Several years ago, I started working on some ideas for a basic, pulpy fantasy setting using the Savage Worlds rules. Life, circumstances, and the members of my gaming group, myself included, have all moved on and the campaign never materialized. What little I made for it has been languishing in a google doc since that time. Since my schedule continues to allow a dearth of actual content, I decided to throw the material up here.

The mechanics below will be of little use without referencing Savage Worlds Deluxe (see the link above), which if nothing else is a great bargain ($10).

Savage Worlds and all associated logos and trademarks are copyrights of Pinnacle Entertainment Group.

Etherweb: A Savage Worlds Swords and Sorcery Setting

Intro

The old empires are long fallen.  Their remains dot the landscape, ominous reminders of past mistakes to some, a vision of attainable glory to others.  Civilization is on the rise once again, scattered city-states joining together for protection or conquest.  Explorers probe the wilds seeking lost lands, lost treasures, and lost secrets, but dangers abound for those unwary or unprepared.  Bandits and scavengers prowl the shadows, crime festers in the cities, beasts and worse stalk through the wilds, and everywhere embers of conflict glow brightly, ready to burst into the flames of war.  Through it all flows the etherweb, a shimmering network of magical power springing from ethereal vortices, each in turn connected to at least two others by flowing rivers of ethereal energy called ley lines.  As with all sources of power, the etherweb can be both boon and doom to those that seek to tap its energies.

Character Races

When creating your character, choose one of the following five races. Characters using these races start with only 4 attribute points to distribute instead of five.

Human
The tall, strong Humans dominate the chief powers of the known world.  While many nomadic, barbaric tribes still exist, city-states and self-styled kingdoms have begun to carve up the land for civilizing.  Humans stand 5-6 feet tall with hair color varying from pale blonde to black and eye color typically hazel, brown, or blue.  Humans inherent strength makes them well suited to the rigors of combat or exploration.
Starting characteristics:
  • Strength attribute starts at d6 instead of d4.
  • Choose one of these edges: Brawny, Fast Healer, or Fleet Footed.  (The character must meet the requirements for the chosen edge.)

Goblin
The highly social Goblins are short but nimble. They enjoy luxury, though individual tastes drive exactly how the desire manifests.  In their own communities and often as part of the larger Human society, Goblins are valued as traders, cooks, weavers, and in any other trade that places a value on a skilled hand or tongue.  Of course, their natural abilities are just as suited to becoming a huckster or thief.  Goblins stand 3-4 feet tall, with ruddy, light green, or bluish skin tones and matching eyes.
Starting characteristics:
  • Agility attribute starts at d6 instead of d4.
  • Choose one of these edges: Acrobat, Charismatic, or Healer.  (The character must meet the requirements for the chosen edge.)
  • Alertness edge.
  • Small hindrance.

Dwarv
Fueled by their competitive nature, the stout Dwarv once created vast empires.  Those days are long past, but even as their race dwindles they retain a zeal for altering the physical world to fit their own image of perfection.  Those that remain are raised on legends of epic craftsmanship, lost caverns, vast riches, and the hubris and horrors that lead to their fall.  Their desire to make a permanent mark on the world leads them to favor stone and metals for accoutrement and building materials.  Being descendants of ancient lines of survivors, Dwarv often demonstrate an uncanny ability to react to sudden danger.  They stand 4-5 feet tall with grey to brown skin tones, brightly colored eyes, and stout builds.
Starting characteristics:
  • Vigor starts at d6 instead of d4.
  • Brawler, Danger Sense, or Elan.  (The character must meet the requirements for the chosen edge.)
  • Sensitive eyes ignore attack penalties from dim and dark lighting.
  • Pace of 5 instead of 6.

Eld-kin
The mysterious Eld, like the Dwarv, once held sway over large parts of the known world.  Tales say the full power of the ether was theirs to command, though the storytellers have little to say about what became of them.  As the past age progressed they quietly vanished from the world, but they left behind more than just hidden ruins and mysterious artifacts, for a strain of their blood runs among the Humans.  These souls are given away by their exotic, androgynous looks, vibrant, unusual hair color, and totally black eyes.
Starting characteristics:
  • Spirit starts at d6 instead of d4.
  • Choose one of these edges: Attractive, Luck, or Quick.  (The character must meet the requirements for the chosen edge.)

Saurian
The Saurians can be considered "lizard men" only in the sense that Humans are "monkey men."  Until recently, most people in the "civilized" world would have gone their entire life believing the Saurians were mere legend.  It is said that their society was already old when the Eld were young, but their numbers remained small, their tribal groups scattered and hidden deep in the deserts, jungles, and swamps they call home.  Of late, Saurians have begun appearing with increasing frequency in the lands of the other races, bringing with them knowledge and trade, and triggering more than a few tavern-room conspiracy theories.  Saurians stand 4-6 feet tall with rough, dry skin patterned in tans, greens, or greys, and sharp claws and teeth.
Starting characteristics:
  • Smarts starts at d6 instead of d4.
  • Environmental adaptation: choose one of +4 to resist environmental effects of cold, +4 to resist environmental effects of heat, or semi-aquatic (gain Fatigue level every 15 minutes the character holds their breath; on reaching Incapacitated, must make Vigor roll every minute or drown; Fatigue recovers one level per 15 minutes back in air).
  • Natural weapons Str+d4 (claw and bite).
  • Outsider hindrance.

Skills

Characters may take any skill in the core rules except Piloting.

Hindrances

All hindrances from the core rules are available to characters except Doubting Thomas.

Edges

All edges from the core rules are available to characters except Gadgeteer, Mentalist, Mr. Fix It, and Rock and Roll!, but be sure to note the setting specific Arcane Background and Power Points rules in the Arcane Characters section below.

Arcane Characters

Magic is the only Arcane Background available to characters in the Etherweb setting.  The mechanics work as described in the core rules, with a few additions.

Characters using Magic channel the power of the etherweb.  Power points represent the caster's ability to gather the ether to himself.  In low ether areas far from ley lines or underground, power points take longer to regenerate.  When on ley lines or near vortices, power can be gathered faster, to a point.  At ethereal vortices or during astronomical events which cause the ether to flare, power can be drawn directly from the ether, but doing so can be risky.  In game terms, the following rules apply to magic powers and power points.
  • Time to recover power points is halved when on a ley line, and halved again when near an ethereal vortex.  These modifications stack with the Rapid Recharge edges normally (always round up to the nearest minute).
  • Time to recover power points is doubled in low ether areas, doubled again in very low ether areas, and impossible in areas without ether.  In such environments characters can recover power points by drawing from specially enchanted gems called etherstones (if available) at their base rate, up to the capacity of the etherstone.
  • To channel power directly from an external source, a character must make a Spirit test.  Every power point over the first one that is channeled in a given round or casting adds a -1 penalty to the Spirit roll.  Failing the test means no power is available and the spell can not be cast.  A critical failure indicates the ether was channeled, but the caster couldn't control it to properly cast a spell and suffers a backlash.
  • Characters with the magic arcane background can immediately evaluate the density of the ether in their immediate area, and players are encouraged to come up with trappings to describe the ability (wizard's sight, a background buzz in the ears, tingling pressure on the skin, etc.).

Optional Arcane Backgrounds

Magic is not something that can be denied in the Etherweb setting, in most places a character can literally go for a hike and find a river of it swirling across the landscape.  The physical presence of the ether is a huge source of the setting’s flavor.  Having only the Magic background available both emphasizes that centrality and potentially shapes how characters, player or otherwise, view arcane happenings in the setting.

That said, some of the other Arcane Backgrounds provide opportunities for the GM and players to tweak the flavor of the setting to their liking.  For example:

  • Miracles allow an alternative to Magic that does not suffer the complications of being tied to the ether.  Assuming characters using miracles do not draw their power from the ether (at least not directly), their power point recovery is unaffected by the environment.  However, this means that characters using miracles can not use external sources of power such as etherstones.  Players should devise the trappings for their religions, in consultation with the GM of course.
  • Weird Science can create ether-powered devices.  Taken as part of the default pulp fantasy setting, weird science could produce rare one-off oddities or be the first tentative steps toward a far-future ether-tech revolution.
  • Super Powers may describe individuals with a unique relationship to the ether who have more innate magic abilities than “normal” spell casters.


Friday, April 19, 2013

A Note on Bioshock Inifinte

Spectacular use of music, great art and art direction, solid if unremarkable shooter gameplay (the skyhooks are nifty).  I suspect Bioshock Inifinte will go down as one of the classic games.

The first Bioshock played with the meta-narrative and the idea of agency in video games. Infinite takes it all to another level. And there is a moment, a line, that even (intentionally or not) calls back to the fact that it's all just a computer program. There's a great deal of philosophy going on in there, a great deal to examine if you wish to. It's fun too. And perhaps, in the end, that's all that matters.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Preserved Statuses

Thing seen on the highway: a Smart car plastered with Republican bumper stickers.

I love the smell of goose crap in the afternoon. Smells like leaving the office.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

From the Insomnia Files

One seeking solace
on the stormy seas of life
finds hugs are quite nice.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Quote of the Moment


"There have always been 'fools' in the imperial courts, but it's an interesting age when folks trust the court jesters more than the court itself"
–Shane Claiborne, Irresistible Revolution (Introduction)

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Watching the Watchers: Digital Currency

I don't have the time to give this a proper think, let alone a proper write-up, but it is too interesting a subject to let completely pass by. According to a blog post by Rachael King on the Wall Street Journal's site (caveat: dated April 1) Western Union is investigating digital currencies. This raises the specter of a corporation potentially creating its own currency. Though it would still be subject to governmental regulation, as holders of the increasingly valued Bitcoin virtual currency are learning, I wonder what the long-term implications of non-government controlled currency would be? In the extreme case, will we eventually have to check the exchange rate for our Visa-marks when converting to Amazon-cents to make a purchase? Can a single corporation sustain the collective illusion of "value" that a currency requires to function? What about a group of them? Interesting stuff to wonder about in any case.

See also:

Monday, March 25, 2013

Quote of the Moment

"'The glory of creation is in its infinite diversity.'
'And the ways our differences combine to create meaning and beauty.'"
–Miranda and Spock, Star Trek “Is There in Truth No Beauty?”

Quote of the Moment

"Your judgment is not my problem." –Felicia Day, "State of the Sundry" video, March 25, 2013

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Bookworming:Cold Days

Cold Days, Jim Butcher, ****
Well, this was inevitable wasn't it. I am finally caught up with the Dresden Files series. All the things I have said before about the books in the series still apply. Butcher is still moving pieces around on his board as the fallout from the events in Changes continues to ripple through Harry's life. And there's just not that much new to say about it at this point. Fans of the series will enjoy it, those not into it probably don't want to pick up the 14th book as a starting point.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

It's the Little Things

Oh man, this week is just going on forever, I mean everything is just so hard... Hey, a peanut butter egg. What was I saying, oh yeah... life is awesome.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Quote of the Moment

"Success can make anyone passionate about what they are doing. When the experts say we need passion to be successful, that's mostly bull[you know]. What you need is energy, talent, hard work, a reasonable plan, and lots of luck." –Scott Adams (The Dilbert Blog, March 12, 2013)

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Bookworming: Seawitch

Seawitch, Kat Richardson, ***
After all those Dresden files novels, I went right into the latest in another "urban fantasy" series. Seawitch is the latest entry into the Greywalker series about a PI who's close call with death left her attuned to the Grey world of magic and the dead. You might think I am going to compare it with The Dresden Files, but the Greywalker series is actually much more akin to mystery novels in feel and pacing than Butcher's action-heavy series. Seawitch itself is a good book that never quite rises beyond that. The protagonist, coming off a completed story arc from previous novels, seems a bit too adrift in her own self-doubt. There are a few background happenings that are clearly setup for later, but have no tie into the story and thus seem little more than a distraction. While I don't think this is the best entry in the series, don't read too much into my criticism. This is a solid three star story and I think folks that enjoy mysteries flavored with the supernatural will have a fine time with it.