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Aug. 12th, 2015 @ 12:22 am FARNHAM'S LEGEND 4: Chapters 7 and 8
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Spiketail Hatchling
Hey! Been a bit over a week. Not that I don't have a great love for this book... which is fantastic, but I accidentally discovered Nimona, and like a psychotic squirrel chased after it and tore into it and loved the crap out of it.

But, alas, Nimona doesn't have space, aliens, squids, the X-Universe, Brennan, Elena, or even Hegebalios. Also, before I begin in earnest, I wanna say how I love the size of this book. It's wide-ish and tall-ish compared to an average paperback and it really tickles my aesthetic.




Chapter 7:

Back to Kyle and Elena (Billy and Lin) banter! We learn that they were "gangling teens" ten short years before this story. Aboard the X-Shuttle, there's fifteen minutes before takeoff. The ship's got a matter-antimatter drive in addition to the world's first goddamn jumpdrive. This-- this is good Sci-Fi and I'm not even sure why I was reading Nimona right 'bout now. I know how this ends, but I'm practically hyperventilating, here.

Oh! YES! Helge didn't forget. They call each other Billy and Lin again at the top of page 39, and this time, I'm not turning back. This time, it's stickin'. They're all flirty and the story does an OK job at setting that up. I'm OK with it.

The synchotron heats up, stealin' energy from the M/AM drive, and we're treated to a little humor! "...Deflectors that were preventing the unimaginable energies generated by the singularity drive from turning him and ship into a second sun. An event that would have given [Lin] sunburn, even way down in the Milan Mission Control Centre."

This paragraph is why I love the book. Lemme bullet this list. It:
  • contains a synchotron
  • contains space
  • contains a likeable character
  • contains self-consistent science
  • spells "center" like "centre"


There's a really well-written winding-up sequence before Billy says the all-too-cliche line," Mission Control...we have a problem."

Then! Straight from (to?) the album, his HUD dutifully tells him, "WARNING: QUANTUM FLUX OUT OF BOUND. DESTINATION PROBABILITY LOCK LOST. ABORT MISSION."... and my heart melted a little more.

Chapter seven ends with our hero Billy jettisoning his jump-drive and hurtling into a probabilistic anomaly-- over a weird event horizon into the unknown. Jesus, this is good.

Chapter 8:

Nopileos and Sissandras start the chapter doing their crazy non-conformist Teladi antics... like looking at the sky and daydreaming. Those goddamn rebels.

I've been a little confused in telling their story up to this point. I said with Chapter 6 that whatever was happening, I understood it to be big, but I didn't really know what it was. Fortunately, Helge's got our collective backs. The "story" is this: apparently in a previous adventure Sissandras was given the profiteroid's location by some space pirates. An elaborate scheme was set up where his auto-broker would buy shares before the asteroid's bountiful Nividium would be realized. It'd then, by a program, sell the shares before the new, bountiful Nividium supply would crash the market. Further clarification, the Pride of the CEO is the name of the Boron ship from Chapter 2.

Sissandras denies the whole thing. His auto-broker is lost to him, and it's all a faraway dream. That none of this made it into the album is fortunate.

So, the two brothers must fly to the CEO's Pride and deactivate the auto-broker. It'll mean cutting class, deviating from a flight plan, and being all sorts of rebels. This chapter looks longer than previous ones, so we're getting to some meat!

Up to page 46. There's definitely some solid, well-cooked meat. Some suspenseful lurking around the station... a mention of a Goner... the word "Yatta!"... and HOLY CRAP, they're not alone on the ship. Some hulking spacemonster seems to be there, too!

Rushing! Escaping with the goods! Dramatic squeeze-the-ship-through-some-closing-doors action! The monster was a goddamn Xenon! Aboard his shuttle, Nopileos examines the auto-broker and discovers his brother's worth $18 billion. The law only permits them to keep about $13 thousand.

Nopileos' last thought of the chapter is to hide the dough, of course.
Jul. 30th, 2015 @ 12:35 am FARNHAM'S LEGEND 3: Chapters 4, 5, and 6
About this Entry
Spiketail Hatchling
Hoohey. I need to ramp on cranking these goodies out. These chapters are short, so let's cut right to the chase this time, readers.




Chapter 4:

Aaaand we're back to Nopileos. Somehow, there's a space opera within the story called "Space Station Antigone Does Not Respond". I'm deeply concerned that something as Earth-centric as "Antigone" and something as space-centric as "jazura" are thrown in the same paragraphsentence. It's like an anachronism except in space, not time.

Anyway, Nopileos, our star Teladi, is in his hatchery (school) on Platinum Ball (the seventh planet of the star Company Pride) daydreaming about being non-oviparous like the Argons who are, unless I'm mistaken, human. A good page and a half are devoted to describing the hatchery and other extremely Teladi bits and bobs. Nopileos' buddy Hegebalios begin discussing what subjects they're taking. Even they admit it's a boring conversation. Glad I'm reading it, guys. Keep it up. Extra points in the quagmire go to Hegebalios for having bright green scales that suggest permanent "hilarity" and Nopileos start a line with "Oh Egg-..."

I turned the page to 30 and was greeted with a pretty abrupt end to the chapter. Hege-man suggests big news and reveals stock price fluctuations. Which I guess that's a big deal to some Teladi, but even Nopileos was bored by the news. That, followed by a brief excerpt from Antigone where a character disappears from another, ended the damn chapter. Glancing up, it took three paragraphs for me to summarize three pages which could have been a single sentence. I don't even know if this came before or after the other Nopileos chapter on the Boron ship. I guess before? Damnit, Helge, get it together.

Chapter 5:

We're back to Billy and Lin. The narrator is on a first-name basis with these plucky humans (Kyle and Elena). I'm keepin' the nicknames. Eggs to you, Narrator. (Eggs? Channeling the inner Teladi...) Anyway, the Rii-4 incident with the weirdo-beardo capture of a terraformer ship is being reported by one Admiral Molander to our friends, an audience of unknown size, and us. Then...

"Kyle threw Elena a pained glance. The facts were known for years, repeating them was unnecessary, particularly in long, convoluted detail, presented in a hasty speed as if someone was hunting the Admiral."

Zam! That run-on just keeps running. Commas everywhere. That sentence is me when I wake up in the morning after a few too many drinks the night before.

Anyway, Lin pantomimes to Billy to have more patience... which suggests even he is bored by all this exposition. I feel you, Billy, when presented with:

"According to current science, faster-than-light communication is impossible, as you all know."

And this brings me to a little rant on science fiction. Explanatory text should not go in the dialog. It's as though I were talking to my pals at work while grabbing some coffee and dropped some little nugget of common contemporary knowledge like, "I drove to work today. My car is controlled by a steering wheel, as you all know," or "I had dinner with my parents. I was created by sexual intercourse between my biological mother and biological father, as you all know..."

I digress because I already see the end of the chapter coming on page 33.

I really want to hug pages 32 and 33, though. We're introduced to the Getsu Fune— the moon ship— a "Jupiter B, Series 1". There were only seven ever constructed, and they're all still operational. The Getsu Fune has been in operation for 130 years. It's been modified to include a Quantum Singularity Tunnel Drive... a jump-drive that (science-talk for "moves") through space.

The author also introduces Kyle's ship— a little shuttlemajig with a cargo bay and a pew-pew laser like in the game. It's simply called X.

For all the love that I want to heap on this chapter, I kinda wanna punch Elena and I'm not sure why. Brennan is a test pilot. She admits she's not a physicist. What does she do besides make goo-goo faces at Billy? She's also got a bit of a smugness. I have a feeling she'll grow on me, but for now, nuts to you, Elena Kho!

Chapter 6:

Nopileos in the Hatchery with Hegebalios. They're running late and everything's all weird as if something huge has happened. Sissandras asks about his auto-broker. For those of you who are as concerned as I am with this mythical device, it was left aboard the Pride of the CEO in the control room. It was powered on and connected to the network.

After this weirdus interchange, the brothers get chewed out by their teacher for being late, and, for Nopileos, not being Teladi enough... as if we needed another reminder. The big news is finally revealed that Nividium prices are 'bout to riggity-rocket.

Helge also gets around to mentioning that these two hatchery-chapters happen after the incident on the Boron spiral ship.

Sissandras' auto-broker owns every last Nividium share from the revealed profiteroid (profitable asteroid).

This reveals to me why Sissandras is so worried about the stupid auto-broker, but raises a buncha more questions about what's going to happen next. I mean, I kinda know from the musical that Nopileos and Sissandras find the X mentioned in the previous chapter, but Sissandras kinda disappears from the album after that. Hmmmm...




That's all I've got time for. It's getting mad late. I'll keep you guys posted, but I really, really like this book.

--Mark
Jul. 22nd, 2015 @ 11:56 pm FARNHAM'S LEGEND 2: Chapters 2 and 3
About this Entry
Spiketail Hatchling
Rereading part of Sunday's post, it might be a little unclear... I do, absolutely, love this book no matter what lies ahead. Knowing the game and the Voxager album, any fun that gets poked here is meant with some pretty deep affection. Without further ado, bring on that horizontal rule...




Chapter 2:

Starts off with a quote from Sagan's Cosmos. If you've read enough of this stupid blog, or if you know me well enough in real life, you know that's a easy strong way to make me happy.

The chapter itself follows Nopileos and Sissandras. They're egg-brothers (sisters in the album). They're climbing through some wreckage of a Boron space station. Let me gush a bit: The Borons build the coolest ships, usually named after marine animals and sporting hydrodynamic-looking hulls. Getting to walk around inside a Boron ship through the Nopileos' eyes is pretty rad.

The alien races in X are pretty one-dimensional. The Teladi (the saurians) are interested in money and profit. Sissandras makes it clear that this station is unprofitable. Interesting plot point-- its coordinates were provided to Nopileos by an ancient Boron whose soul condition was that Nopileos "never forget your Boron friends and allies."

The next paragraph then takes a spin into the one part of sci-fi that I absolutely hate. Made-up units. Dalek seconds are called "rels", and I'm OK with that, but a little annoyed that the TARDIS wouldn't just goddamn translate that to "seconds". Likewise, Edgar Rice Burroughs has a made-up time for things on Mars in his Barsoom series. For a second, you arrogant writers, pretend that I'm not going to be one of your fanboys and give me something I can understand. This book treats me to "jazuras" for years(?), "mizuras" for hours or minutes-- unclear so far, "tazuras" --not sure on that one-- and "suns"... which are presumably days, but are also used like years... Come on, guys. Spell it out.

"His scale crest flexed upward happily..." that makes me happy, though. Look at it! Aliens expressing emotions physiologically.

Nopileos is identified from his brother through a quick squabble. Sissandras is full on the profit-wagon of the Teladi Corporation. I mean, it's so clear that they call their population a "corporation" ruled by a CEO, for crap's sake. Nopileos, though, calls his brother "brother" (which he hates preferring "colleague"), and harkens not-profit-related-thoughts... which are apparently a nuisance. I like it. It's something I could imagine alien profit-mongering siblings doing.

Some other cool things are learned, too. Nopileos ("Isemados Sibasomos Nopileos IV") was the grandchild of a CEO.

The rest of the chapter is dedicated to introducing us to the Teladi. They hiss a bit when they speak, and make every reference possible to eggs. Egg-brothers, egg-elders, egg-comrades... eggs all the way down.

Chapter 3:

Oh goodness! We meet Kyle William Brennan and Elena Kho in the same sweep. It's a gorgeous day complete with myriad birds, and Brennan's walking with some spring in his step, and it's probably the greatest thing ever. They even have nicknames in the book-- Billy and Lin. It makes me want to retch.

Story takes place in Australia. Billy and Lin are acting like some high school sweethearts. My retch-want is still palpable. The research facility is called SPAARF, which rhymes with barf, which is how I feel.

For plot: Lin gives Billy (they use these names only once, but damn it's fun) a present... a pretty cool-sounding mophin' sphere that looks like planets and feels really spiffy in your hands. It was constructed by Gisbert, who is, of course, known by Elena for being the love of Ayse McCallum (may she rest in peace).

Gisbert is, of course, dead by the time they receive the gift. It comes with a message which is just about verbatim from "Heliopause" on the Voxager album.

Then the chapter ends with that. Another short, enjoyable affair.




'Til next time, folks.
--Mark
Jul. 19th, 2015 @ 10:35 am FARNHAM'S LEGEND 1: The Beginning
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Spiketail Hatchling
Tags:
Hey!

Long time, no see.

I was inspired by Ryan North's reading of Back to the Future, the novelization of the epic movie. In this case, I'm doing a blow-by-blow rockin' review of a book I'm personally pumped about-- Farnham's Legend by Helge Kautz. I picked up the English version from the Egosoft Shop.

As a preface, I've absolutely loved the X-Universe series of games and, with my purchase of X-Rebirth, I discovered Helge (the author of this book), is in a band and wrote a rock opera telling the X-Universe's famous story of Brennan from the original game. The opera is appropriately called Beyond the Frontier. I've never played BtF, the first "X" game and the story in the music confused me a lottle near the end. So... here I am reading this book. Cautiously excited. JOIN IN THE DAMN FUN!




Prologue:

Jesus. It's two pages, but it's got the whole future history of the Earth from the year 2000 'til the X universe begins in proper. Ashizava Kazuko creates the first artificial wormhole. René Farnham piloted the Winterblossom and its crew of 12 around natural jumpgates (we used to think they were black holes-- silly us!)

In two paragraphs, we learn humanity joins together to explore the universe, and in building automated ships, accidentally started the "Great Terraformer War". I absolutely love when people do shit like this. It's like the beginning of the film "Pacific Rim" in which a crazy huge possible storyline is just sorta dropped. It does two things: (a) creates a place where I want a prequel to happen, or I can daydream about such a prequel, and (b) sets an expectation that if something this huge can happen in a sentence or two, what will happen in the rest of the book? So cool.

Nathan R. Gunne lures a huge armada into Earth's jumpgate and blows it up. Most sci-fi that deals with jumpgates eventually destroys one to some colossal end. Expect no less here, I guess.

Chapter 1:

Seven hundred years later? Woah...

John Friedmann is our main character for the moment. His sidekick is Ayse McCallum. They fly (I think) the Rii-4. I say "I think" because it's never actually stated... which makes my eyebrows furrow in a weird way.

I get a little weird about translations. Listening to some English errors in the opera, I was expecting some real dud-style sentences in the book... and I'm not disappointed. Paragraph two features: "Perhaps she was pondering the twin paradox, or, more likely, thinking of her beloved, Gisbert, whom she loved unconditionally with all of her heart." Five commas and a little repetition and a random reference to asymmetrical aging. This book is gonna be good.

Got a little tickle when Joseph Swartz is introduced from Mission Control aboard the USC Eldridge-- That's right, even the "the" is italicized.

Some random Japanese is thrown around in here... which is a little to be expected from playing the games. I suppose it's because of Kazuko from the prologue. I know it's probably not the case, but I get that feeling that some animé fan was like, "I wanna put some Japanese in this story 'coz I love all things Japan, and I'm an expert on Japanese culture! And one day some cute Asian woman will love me for who I am." He'd follow this up with more of that sort of Donald-Duck-talk sounding speech impediment. His acne-covered face would gleam in the harsh light of the basement's drop-in ceiling...

Right. Back to page 12 where a mysterious object is hurtling through space toward the QUASI Experimental Installation between Mars and Jupiter. Ayse and John approach it. There's some more clunky writing, but if I point out each instance, I would probably have transcribed the entire book... and Egosoft would be writing me nasty cease-and-desist letters. Let me say, though, that this style with its awkward repetition makes it really hard to miss facts.

The mysterious object is, as they had guessed, an alien space-craft. An explosion as it entered the solar system sent it spinning. It's weirdly organic looking and John throws out, "Ask Kyle would probably say, get a load of that flying turd!" No single quotes around the nested quote (there goes my eyebrows again), but, more importantly, we get our first mention of the hero of the X universe Kyle Brennan. The opera says he has a sense of humor but never shows it. I hope that John in the book, when he mimicked Brennan, lowered his voice two octaves and slathered on a thick German accent. *swoon*

So, what's this ship? Borons? Splits? Paranids? Which exciting alien species do we meet first? Wakka wakka. Turns out the ship is from the Terraformer Fleet-- good thing I didn't skip the Prologue. A few electromagnetic whatsits and another out-of-place name-drop of Gisbert later, the ship stops its crazy rotation. For Ayse's total devotion to Gisbert in the first page the book says, "She would stay with the USC, even if it drove a wedge between them". Eyebrows, stop that.

The Terraformer ship was apparently not entirely defunct and, in a few paragraphs of really well-done writing, both ships are destroyed. So long, Johnny boy. Debris is sent to the far side of the moon (of course), and Gisbert is exceptionally emo.




That wraps up the prologue and first chapter. Extremely short. Terraformers, gone for seven centuries are back!
Feb. 15th, 2015 @ 11:34 pm Recent Activities
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Spiketail Hatchling
In recent years, I've been keeping a paper journal to keep track of my "taking" activities (explained here). Folks have been asking lately what I read and watch, so I thought it a good idea to take inventory.

Books-- Currently (in parallel, reading at the library and home):
  • Godzilla: At World's End</i> by Marc Cerasini
  • Sundiver by David Brin


Previously (in reverse-chronological order):
  • Elite Dangerous: Wanted by Gavin Deas
  • Thuvia, Maid of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs
  • Starwolves: Battle of the Ring by Thorarinn Gunnarsson
  • Space Skimmer by David Gerrold
  • Horror on the Asteroid by Edmond Hamilton
  • Man Who Fell to Earth by Walter Tevis
  • Voyage of the Space Beagle by A. E. Van Vogt
  • World of Null-A by A. E. Van Vogt
  • Memoirs Found in a Bathtub by Stanislaw Lem
  • Programming the Universe by Seth Loyd
  • Bios by Robert Charles Wilson
  • Book of the Dun Cow by Walter Wangerin
  • Silent Spring by Rachel Carson
  • Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury
  • Norby Chronicles by Isaac Asimov
  • Age of Reptiles Omnibus by Ricardo Delgado
  • Raptor Red by Robert T. Bakker
  • Moon Quest The Choose Your Own Adventure (played it thoroughly, so I'm counting it)
  • Log of the Crimson Lien Wesley Clifford
  • Triplanetary by E. E. "Doc" Smith
  • The Dark Wheel by Robert Holdstock
  • Pay Me, Bug by Christopher "The Baptist Deathray" Wright


TV:
Currently:
  • Farscape


Previously (in reverse-chronological order)
  • Adventure Time Season 1 (twice)
  • Godzilla: The Series
  • Doctor Who: Series 8
  • Space: 1999
  • Twin Peaks
  • Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey
  • Cosmos: A Personal Voyage
  • Lost
  • UltraSeven
  • Babylon 5
  • Firefly
  • Ultraman: Towards the Future
  • Primeval


All this goes back to that weird event horizon in late 2012 that I can't quite put a date on where I started getting my life back. Only regret is not reading more. ;)

--Mark
Dec. 8th, 2014 @ 10:42 pm Some Vacuous, Grandiose Words
About this Entry
Spiketail Hatchling
So, it's been a while since updates have happened. Much is still the same (hence, no updates). I've started myriad projects to kinda leave 'em by the wayside. But, I realized that for programmers, languages are game engines and data structures are worlds. Methods or functions are actions and variables are characters. Programming is a game and it's means of high score is awesomeness that other folks like.

I've been fasting on Mondays, and I think it's rendered me a bit contemplative. I had a two-month hiatus from the library. Tonight was the first night back. I think that's helping.

For all my Action Friends!
--Mark
Jun. 30th, 2014 @ 11:22 pm Hobby Lobby Wins...
About this Entry
Spiketail Hatchling
It's time for me to tear apart another article... so, in your face Mother Jones.

Ruth Bader Ginsberg had some quotes that this content-monger thought were appropriate.


"The exemption sought by Hobby Lobby and Conestoga would…deny legions of women who do not hold their employers' beliefs access to contraceptive coverage"


So, my biggest gripe about this whole fucking shitstorm is that Planned Parenthood, and state clinics exist to fulfill reproductive needs. This shouldn't have been a burned on industry in the first place. My girlfriend is currently unemployed. When I was listening to this news story, I leaned over and asked, "Hey, darling? How much do you pay for birth control?"

Her: "Nothing..."

EXAAAAACTLY, you fucking morons. I'm not going to pay some fucking company extra cash because they had to raise their prices because they had to pay for their employees for contraception when I'm already paying the government in fucking taxes for the same purpose. Jesus Christ, you people are tools.

And it's an overwhelming majority.

...

So, what's Justice Gingsberg's next brilliant utterance?



"Religious organizations exist to foster the interests of persons subscribing to the same religious faith. Not so of for-profit corporations. Workers who sustain the operations of those corporations commonly are not drawn from one religious community."


This is your fault. This is all your fault. I didn't get a vote on this fuckshow. "One nation under God..." you guys dig yourselves outta this one. The Constitution says, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..."

Any other entrance of religion into any debate is void. This argument clearly isn't about religion. It's about some company paying for their employees to enjoy sexytimes without consequence. Problem is, companies argued this when the whole shit began, but noooooo, they still had to pay. Now, they figured this way around the law. And, you know what? Good for them. Next!


"Any decision to use contraceptives made by a woman covered under Hobby Lobby's or Conestoga's plan will not be propelled by the Government, it will be the woman's autonomous choice, informed by the physician she consults."


Damned skippy. The woman's choice and the woman's dollar. Is she with a man? Maybe his dollar. Is she visiting a clinic? My dollar... but y'know what, at this point, I don't even mind.

Next?


"It bears note in this regard that the cost of an IUD is nearly equivalent to a month's full-time pay for workers earning the minimum wage."


Great fucking shit, Justice Ginsberg. No goddamn shit. IUDs are expensive... but, y'know what? Condoms grow on trees. I'm literally inundated with them. Oh! And you know what? Birth control pills are beginning to fall from the sky like manna from heaven. Really. Did I mention my girlfriend gets them for free?

Without an employer?

Get with the goddamn times.


"Would the exemption…extend to employers with religiously grounded objections to blood transfusions (Jehovah's Witnesses); antidepressants (Scientologists); medications derived from pigs, including anesthesia, intravenous fluids, and pills coated with gelatin (certain Muslims, Jews, and Hindus); and vaccinations[?]…Not much help there for the lower courts bound by today's decision."


I don't care. Go for it. You know what, show me the employer that's this blindly into his religious beliefs! I want to shake his hand. That's freedom. You don't want freedom? Go get in the Obamacare line.

For the record, I am mad about that one.

That thing about freedom... yeah. Some employers don't offer healthcare. Some employers (and I won't name names) are very careful over regulating hours so that they can get around paying for healthcare... even if their employees offered to sign a waiver expressing they don't want anything to do with it.

Requiring employers to pay for healthcare in the first place is killing American industry. So, yeah! Observe their rights and tear down this stupid, tyrannical system. Let private insurance do what it's done for countless years.

Back in the day, being in a job with benefits meant it was a respectable job... not just some dipshit, dumbfuck organization that kisses the state's ass.

Next!


"Approving some religious claims while deeming others unworthy of accommodation could be 'perceived as favoring one religion over another,' the very 'risk the [Constitution's] Establishment Clause was designed to preclude."


DAMN! YOU! Read the "Establishment Clause". Rather than wasting the time saying all that, you should have just read the goddamn document. What you're citing is sixteen words. Your regime isn't establishing a government religion (any more so than it already has (think of the pledge or the dollar bill)) or preventing anybody form following their indoctrinated hearts (any more than it already has (recal from grade school that Tennessee had a Religious Preference clause)). You're cool. Now, chill the hell out.


"The court, I fear, has ventured into a minefield."


This cheeses me off more than any other quote. They've been in a minefield since this whole stupid thing began. They brought all of this on themselves. I didn't want a bit of it. Oh! And what's more! It's their job to be in a minefield. I'm tired of them letting congress pass stupid shit uncontested.

Agree? Disagree? I don't care. Just leave me alone and let me know when the shitstorm congeals.
--Mark
Jun. 4th, 2014 @ 12:17 am A Moment Aside
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Quake Logo
Hey, guys:

For those guys outta the loop, I've been working two jobs (sometimes seven days a week) for just over two years now. I doubt there are any loyal followers, but that's why there hasn't been much of an update. That aside, I wanted to take a couple seconds and share a new thought that I've had blooming.

The idea is that there are two kinds of actions. I know other philosophies and religions sorta take this on, but I came across it independently. They take it on as "active" and "passive" behavior. That's all still well and good. My actions are "giving" and "taking".

So, let's loop back up. I work a lot. In the beginning, they were "taking" actions. I couldn't contribute much when I started at Millennial. Now, I think it's a giving action. I'm pretty sure I'm putting in more than I'm getting out. And that's what generates fulfillment. Working at the library, needless to say, is a very giving action-- it's getting hard to answer that age-old question of why I'm still working there.

Now, there are limits. I'm not saying that doing something that's kinda painful for the advantage of others and giving up great swathes of your life makes fulfillment, but some margin of discomfort is totally rad. Letting others take advantage of you: that's a giving action for you and a taking action for them. Too much isn't healthy anywhere.

I'm working a little intuitively here. Let me spill some beans: "giving" actions are for the benefit of others. "Taking" actions are for your own benefit. Playing games, reading, watching TV, downloading music... that's all "taking." Writing (code or literature), I think, falls neatly down the middle. Giving actions are pretty much limited to doing nice things for others "just 'coz."

It's important to have a balance, and this is how I sorta dreamed this up: If you take art, literature, writing, and programming as a "giving" action, then "taking" actions can help with inspiration. For real. I went a great length of time coding games without playing them, and drawing for a webcomic[webcomic.com] without reading them, and I found that I was at a loss. Balancing it up totally helped keep me fresh, and, if I assume folks are inspired by the crap I do (this is all conjecture, since my stuff is largely irrelevant to most decent people), then a bigger, communal kind of balance can happen.

Anyway, I'm not particularly good at philosophy or motivational speaking. Feel free to tell me I'm nuts.
--Mark
Jun. 4th, 2014 @ 12:03 am Another One-Up for Homoiconicity
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Spiketail Hatchling
I didn't forget about the Cosmos comparisons... I've just been a li'l disappointed in the new series and it's getting hard to hide. Today, I wanna talk about a few things:

A few months ago, I posted a long shebab about how to build Android apps from the command line. Just ignore it. Here's the dilly:

If you enter your Android application's base path and run "android create project", you can generate a source tree (with the res/ directory), a manifest file, and a base Activity. Running "android update project" can add libraries to your project's properties file. Running "ant debug" or "ant release" will build your APK file. It, of course, requires Apache Ant</i> as a build tool, but that actually comes with the Android SDK bundle, too.

I'm tired of writing code that just writes and parses save text... For
Pocket Starfighter, I just threw model data in-line with the algorithms. After hearing years of "model-view-controller" preaching, it was actually cool to have everything in-line. It sucks for scalability and adaptability. I created JFlagCap with the idea that I'd never grow tired of creating tilesets. Granted, for something that elaborate, something external was the only way to go. But, I'm unlikely to have folks clamoring to add flight models to Pocket Starfighter.

Anyway, this was restored from draft, so I have no idea where else it was going to go.
--Mark
Apr. 6th, 2014 @ 11:16 pm Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey - Part 5
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Spiketail Hatchling
As mentioned in the last review, the two series have gone completely apart from each other. Sagan's original series has Episode 5 as "Blues for a Red Planet". It tells a bunch of stories with red Mars at its center. We hear of H. G. Wells' War of the Worlds and Edgar Rice Burroughs' Barsoom series. In Sagan's characteristic way, he takes a pretty good amount of time out of his episode to take users to the 1800s with Percival Lowell and Robert Goddard.

It's obvious that Mars really captivated Sagan. His series features scale models that make Wells' Mars come alive with cities in spheres, canals, towers, and all the other trappings of the late 1800s-idealized-Mars. It really makes me wish Sagan had done some work in Sci-Fi.

The fifth episode of Tyson's series, though, was "Hiding in the Light"-- another evocative title. If my last review seemed a little negative, this episode makes things better. We learned how light works... and even poked around inside an atom (gosh-darn finally!). He goes on a rather long Islamic trip about what great scientists existed there, but, as usual, when folks discuss this part of the world, individual names are largely left out (with one exception), and things are discussed very, very broadly.

No pre-credits blurb. The show lacks consistency, but I feel like they're cutting out a lot of content for ads. In the show, after the Islam discussion (they should've mentioned the Baghdad Battery), we whiz past Newton and Hershel again in discussing optics and the way light works. He hinted at the Doppler effect and red-shifting of more distant galaxies... but, once again, he didn't cover it. He did discuss why we see color in a very visual way. Also, at the end, he showed what a cityscape looks like in various spectra. It would've been cool to know where the various spectra lie relative to each other, but I'm tired of having basic questions unanswered by the series... I'm guessing the idea here is that the watcher is supposed to be inspired to find this out on their own. Sagan's Cosmos gives a pretty good answer to most of my questions.

For an episode on color, the visuals are super top-notch. I think Annie was a little blase about this one, but to journey into an atom and see the orbitals was worth the mere 45 minutes of my time.

The new series is taking shape, though. It seems they watched the original series, dissected what elements are needed for an episode (visuals, biography, science, music, and emotional viscera) and went and dutifully put a little of each into these episodes. For this one (and episode 2), it worked... it really worked. Despite my petty whining, I found myself genuinely enjoying this one.

Unfortunately, I've been sick, so this post will be short. Next episode promises more waterbears!