"Money was maliciously introduced in ancient times as a tool of enslavement" -
Michael Tellinger

"The present belongs to the future and future generations, and all old laws, religious and other, should be abrogated immediately. Free us!" - Vinay Gupta on Twitter

"You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete." - R. Buckminster Fuller

"You find the strangest ways to be positive!" - Diane Duane, Wizards Abroad

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Happy Diwali!

Found this nice video on YouTube. Wishing the world a happy Diwali!

Uploaded by erompc on Oct 16, 2009:
Diwali is popularly known as the "festival of lights", the most significant spiritual meaning is "the awareness of the inner light".Greetings to all- Wishing you and your family very Happy Diwali and Prosperous New Year.

Like many religious holidays, Diwali (Devali, Deepavali) contains symbolism that adapts readily to contemporary circumstances, in keeping with universal and timeless human concerns. Here, the evil tyrant is overthrown, light conquers darkness, and prosperity is wished for everyone. 

Here's another video. I like the music by A.R. Rahman. I think this is from the Swades soundtrack, but correct me if I'm wrong :)

Click here for my Diwali post from last year.

From Wikipedia entry on Diwali

Monday, October 17, 2011

Come Twilight by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro: my kind of vampire story (book review)

There are an awful lot of vampires out there these days. I'm not referring to corporations here, but literature. I wouldn't define myself as a fan of the genre, exactly, but in the hands of an outstanding writer the vampire offers fabulous possibilities for viewing the human world from a different perspective. And as a form of erotica, a well written and imaginative vampire story offers a relatively interesting and attractive alternative to the usual heterosexual romance. Yes, I have enjoyed vampires from time to time. There is a reason why they are so popular, especially with women.

I wanted to say something about this because frankly I'm sick of most of the vampires I've discovered infecting popular culture lately. I couldn't get through the first book in the current blockbuster "Twilight" series, finding it intolerably vapid, but here's another "Twilight" with real fangs in it. I guess the thing is, there has to be something more than just the idea of vampires, and teenage girls, to make a book worth reading. This one, for example, is terrific historical fiction, even apart from the vampire content.

Come Twilight (2000) by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro. 
Among the numerous and diverse vampires invented in recent years, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's Prince Ragoczy stands out. From his debut in Hotel Transylvania at the court of Louis XV (1978) and through a long series of popular novels and short-story collections, this paradoxically humane vamp has survived all the terrors of history from ancient Egypt to World War II. 

In ironic contrast to man's documented inhumanity, the vampire Ragoczy is intelligent, ethical, and heroic. Several thousand years of personal growth have taught him to nurture his "victims" with a sensual sharing of their life force, rather than killing them, when he "feeds." 

But here, in a moment of poor judgment in seventh-century Catalonia, he creates a monster vampire who proceeds to terrorize the countryside for hundreds of years. Feeling responsible for this "child", an anguished Ragoczy attempts to reform her. 

Come Twilight is a marvelous work of historical fiction, describing 500 years of Catalonian social, political, linguistic, and ecological changes under the successive rule of Romans, Moors, and Christians. Especially noteworthy is the parallel Yarbro draws between the ecological disaster resulting from the Moors' deforestation of the area, and the failure of Ragoczy's morally deficient protege to survive in a way that connects with life rather than destroying it. 

Episodically exploring one geographical region over several historical periods rather than focusing on a single era, this is an interesting departure from the earlier novels. It assumes some previous knowledge of the series, but new readers interested in the history of Catalonia shouldn't be afraid to give it a try, and fans of the "Saint Germain Chronicles" should appreciate this fresh perspective on their hero's long journey.

(adapted from my SLJ review)
I also enjoy the "Sookie Stackhouse" series by Charlaine Harris, for its humor and satire (but found the TV series based on the novels merely disgusting and unwatchable).

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Too many issues! The protest is the point.

What a fabulous photo! Says it all: "We're not disorganized. America just has too many issues." And the protest takes them right to the source: the capital of the failed economic system.
From http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2011/10/the_occupy_wall_street_movemen.html
Wonderful collection of photos there. Terrific site!

People whining and nattering about "lack of focus" just don't get it: at this stage, it isn't about setting agendas. It's about the protest itself. I'm reminded of "the medium is the massage." Here, the protest is the point.

Monday, October 10, 2011

To Mars again: Boundary by Eric Flint and Ryk E. Spoor (book review)

Here's a book that's come up in conversation a couple of times recently. Mars keeps cropping up, for one thing. And the "Face on Mars" crowd reportedly has been shifting their focus to Phobos--where, in the the interior, they think there is an alien base or artifact. Don't ask me. Maybe they got it from these authors.

Boundary by Ryk E. Spoor and Eric Flint (Baen Books, 2008)

As this engaging and mostly lighthearted tale of the first expedition to Mars begins, three friends and colleagues are sharing what they expect to be their last dig in Montana with paleontologist Dr. Helen Sutter. Joe Buckley and Jackie Secord are graduate students about to embark on engineering careers--Joe with the Ares Project, and Jackie as an astronaut.

After a strange fossil is found, anomalies pile up, and A.J. Baker, a genius with new imaging technologies, comes to help document the site. Then a robot explorer he is working with on the Ares Project finds a suspiciously similar fossil on Phobos, the Mars moon, and before long the four are on their way there--along with an equally likable pilot, security officer, and international crew of scientists.

Their adventure of discovery and exploration unfolds in intriguing and surprising ways. Although the existence of Jurassic-age fossils on Mars is a little hard to swallow at first, especially in such a reality-based nuts-and-bolts type of science fiction as this, the fossils do serve to raise valid questions about the future of humans in space. Besides paleontology, engineering, and space flight, the story is also furthered by puzzles in linguistics, biology, physics, and evolution. Add wacky humor, academic rivalries, and even some sweet romances, and it's a very fun read. Science-fiction fans will enjoy a number of in-jokes, such as naming the fossil Bemmius secordeii. Until we really go there, it's a good thing that we have stories like this to keep imaginations firing.

(adapted from my original SLJ review)

Update: aha! A sequel! I have it now and expect I'll get to it soon. It's called Threshhold