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Sunday, April 22, 2007
2:22 PM
"It's hard to appreciate the Earth when you're down right upon it because it's so huge.

"It gives you in an instant, just at a position 240,000 miles away from it, (an idea of) how insignificant we are, how fragile we are, and how fortunate we are to have a body that will allow us to enjoy the sky and the trees and the water … It's something that many people take for granted when they're born and they grow up within the environment. But they don't realize what they have. And I didn't till I left it."

-Jim Lovell, Apollo 8 and 13.

Friday, April 13, 2007
5:24 PM
M John Harrison, absolutely brilliantly, as quoted by Warren Ellis :

"Every moment of a science fiction story must represent the triumph of writing over worldbuilding.

Worldbuilding is dull. Worldbuilding literalises the urge to invent. Worldbuilding gives an unnecessary permission for acts of writing (indeed, for acts of reading). Worldbuilding numbs the reader’s ability to fulfil their part of the bargain, because it believes that it has to do everything around here if anything is going to get done.

Above all, worldbuilding is not technically necessary. It is the great clomping foot of nerdism. It is the attempt to exhaustively survey a place that isn’t there. A good writer would never try to do that, even with a place that is there. It isn’t possible, & if it was the results wouldn’t be readable: they would constitute not a book but the biggest library ever built, a hallowed place of dedication & lifelong study. This gives us a clue to the psychological type of the worldbuilder & the worldbuilder’s victim, & makes us very afraid."

Wednesday, April 11, 2007
KURT VONNEGUT, 1922-2007
9:17 PM
"Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It's hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It's round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you've got about a hundred years here. There's only one rule that I know of, babies — 'God damn it, you've got to be kind.' "

--God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater

Tuesday, April 10, 2007
3:34 PM
Benjamin H. Johnson, a history professor at Southern Methodist University and author of the Bush Library Blog, writes: "Last weekend while at the ever-scintillating meeting of the Organization of American Historians I ran into a few friends in administrative positions at research libraries. The Bush people, they told me, have been scoping out research facilities, taking a look at how institutions try to set themselves up to house both archival records open to a wide range of researchers and provide a productive working environment for fellows. The person leading this effort was nobody other than Karl Rove. . . . Rove is personally going around to these libraries, meeting with their directors and checking out their facilities. According to one colleague, he seems to know exactly what the square footage of the building will be and where it will be located on campus. . . .

"An important backdrop to all of this is the Bush administration's continued political collapse, which amazingly enough keeps getting worse. My sense is that this collapse makes the library-museum-institute complex all the more valuable to the Bush people: especially after the crushing defeat in the last Congressional election, the complex may be all that they will have left to leverage to secure their place in history. I wouldn't be surprised if Rove's days as a top political strategist are over, so perhaps a position as head of the Bush Institute would be attractive to him in a way that it wouldn't have been earlier in his career."

--Froomkin, in the Washshington Post, quoting The Bush Library Blog

"It was two years since I had discovered, in a volume of a pirated encyclopaedia, a brief description of a false country; now, chance was showing me something much more valuable, something to be reckoned with. Now, I had in my hands a substantial fragment of the complete history of an unknown planet, with its architecture and its playing cards, its mythological terrors and the sound of its dialects, its emperors and its oceans, its minerals, its birds, and its fishes, its algebra and its fire, its theological and metaphysical arguments, all clearly stated, coherent, without any apparent dogmatic intention or parodic undertone,"

--Jorge Luis Borges, "Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius"

"The Universal Manufacturing Company can prove John F.Kennedy shot himself, so long as we are paid in advance."

--Jack Womack, Let's Put The Future Behind Us

Sunday, April 08, 2007
8:25 PM
We were long since a great power, we were quite used to it, and it did not make us as happy as we had expected. The feeling that it had not made us more attractive, that our relation to the world had rather worsened than improved, lay, unconfessed, deep in our hearts. ... War then, and if needs must, war against everybody, to convince everybody and to win. We were bursting with the consciousness that this was [our] century, that history was holding her hand out over us, that after Spain, France, England, it was our turn to put our stamp on the world and be its leader; that [this] century was ours.

--Thomas Mann