Andreas Katsulas 1946-2006

Andreas Katsulas and his characterization of G’kar was, in the end, the most memorable part of Babylon 5 for me. His portrayal of the ambassador for the newly liberated Narn was exactly what was needed to give the series ‘an edge’. Despicable, but at the same time likeable, the character matured with the show into the image of a visionary leader of his people, once again oppressed by their old masters.

His story arc was about the only one that came to a satisfying conclusion.

I’ll never forget the convention in Tulsa where he posed for this picture. (Yes, those are puppets, made by a friend of mine) He made the convention worth attending, all by himself.

This pretty much puts an end to the possibilities of a resurrection of B5. Without the characters of G’kar and Dr. Franklin (played by Richard Biggs who passed away in 2004) A story based on the original characters would be quite hard to tell.

I have found the voice over that Andreas did as G’kar at the end of the Episode “Z’ha’dum” to be quite moving at times. It goes like this:

“It was the end of the Earth year 2260. The War had come to a pause, suddenly and unexpectedly. All around it was as if the Universe were holding its breath, waiting. All of life can be broken down into moments of transition, and moments of revelation. This had the feeling of both.

G’Quan wrote: ‘There is a darkness greater 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…”

He will be missed.

Great tribute to G’Kar here: http://www.zteamproductions.com/b5stuff/Andreas.html

LOST – What’s in a Name?

OK. I have to admit this up front. I had not been following this show until O.S. Card threw down the gauntlet last year concerning the worthlessness of Trek (Enterprise was worthless. It also wasn’t Trek. Well maybe Ber-Trek) and the praiseworthiness of ‘Lost’ (and ‘Smallville’. Don’t care what he says about that. His original comments can be found here) I accepted the challenge and took up watching ‘Lost’ just to see what the buzz was about.

Anyway… Trek bashing (by one of the better SF authors that I’ve read to date) aside, I’ve gotten hooked on Lost. It’s a pretty good show (still don’t know if I’d call it SciFi) the episodes are character and plot driven, and they are cut in such a way as to keep you interested in the show, even if you haven’t seen the beginning of the series. I started watching about 4 episodes before the season one finale, and kept right on watching as the repeats started airing. I found myself going “Oh, that explains the scene in the finale where…” and have to shut up, because no one else in the house was watching the finale when it aired previously and I didn’t want to give it away…

I’ve stumbled across more sites for this show than any other show I’ve watched. Example?

…and that’s an old list.

The obsession with names that the fans have (as illustrated here, and several other places) has been earned. Taking into account the meaning of the name “Desmond” (where did he go, anyway?) the symbology behind the Dharma logo, the Bagua (anyone else notice the black/white “swan” looks remarkably like a yin-yang?) and the meaning of the name “Dharma“. How about “Jack” and “John”, the two leaders who have the same first name, but couldn’t be more different.? Aaron, Claire’s child? Mr. Ecko? It seems that the writers are choosing names just to pique our interest. It’s not surprising, and has been done in SF series for years. But it still leads you to wonder…

…Which takes you to questioning where this is all going. Reading through the ideas presented at this link (WARNING, SPOILERS) might give you an idea.

But then maybe he, as well as the writers, don’t know where this is going. I’m still watching.

Standard American Mutt

Every time I take a survey, I get pissed off.

Why? Because in every survey, the bean counters in charge of it want to nail down exactly what group I’m a part of, so that they can massage their numbers to get the answers they want. Amongst the male or female, married or single, how much money do I make type questions, they inevitably ask “what is your race?”

Hell if I know, I’ve never done a genealogy on my family history. The subject is about as interesting as watching paint dry. My skin’s white, sure enough. But that doesn’t necessarily mean anything. Ancestry determines what type of blood runs in your veins; and only working with the surnames of my grandparents, I can claim German, French and English blood (Caucasoid? WTF is that?) Who knows what else has been thrown in there over the last couple of hundred years? In my estimation that makes me a Standard American Mutt.

‘Race’ is an illusion anyway. The behavior attributed to ‘race’ is nothing more than ethnic culture; the absorbed societal norms which influence the thinking of an individual, and culture changes from generation to generation (and the people who wish to preserve their ethnicity are fighting an losing battle on a constantly shifting slope) The genetic differences between the ‘races’ are no greater than the genetic differences between individuals of the same race. So what does it mean to claim membership in a particular race? Bragging rights?

Beats me. I’m proud to proclaim myself a ‘mutt’. Now if I can just get the people printing forms and writing surveys to include Standard American Mutt as one of the choices…

Lincoln’s birthday? Not for me.

Since the day that our son was born, the daughter (also known as the teenager) has been jealous of the attention that his birthday gets. Costumes and free candy on your birthday, how do you beat that?

15 years ago today, I became a parent, and started marking that official anno parenti time. If the full truth were to be told, I’ve been raising children since I was a child myself. The children I raised weren’t my kids, but sometimes you get handed a job that you didn’t ask for. As the eldest in a single parent household, you spend a lot of time herding the younger ones. You can always look forward to mom getting home at some point later in the day, and then you can quit pretending you know what you are doing and get back to being a child yourself.

Once you are mom (or dad) things get a little more complex. The early experience helped, though. I knew how to change diapers. How to feed a baby, hold a baby, a thousand different things. But at 2 in the morning, when it’s your turn to rock the baby, you find that you miss the days when mom would come home and take over. Well, not really. But just for a minute there…

…And they grow so fast, too. 15 years? It couldn’t have been that long. But then, she’s a good bit taller than she was when I first saw her. Then, I could hold her in the crook of one arm, a little over 6 pounds, light as a feather. I’m still taller than her now, but I don’t think that will last much longer. I can remember taking her to the Montessori School for the first time. I can remember her learning to read, and then talking me into reading books that she liked (I’m hooked on Harry Potter and it’s her fault) getting me hooked on anime (especially Hayao Miyazaki) Discovering she has quite a talent for art in her own right. Trying to encourage her to explore her talent, without pressuring her to ‘do something’ with it. Dropping her off at the High School for the first time; wondering out loud if I “should walk her in…” The disgusted “DAD!” that I got in return was the first clue that she was growing up much faster than I was really ready for.

I think they’ll have to sedate me for the next birthday. I don’t think I’ll be ready for 16, dating, driving.

After the boy was born, we took to telling her that “well, your birthday is Lincoln’s birthday too…” That didn’t work. She could go here and see a full list of the famous people who were also born on this date. I doubt that would be good enough either. Maybe, if she’s half the artist I think she can be, she’ll end up on that list as well.

She’s already on an exclusive list of one in my book. That’s a good enough reason to celebrate the day all by itself, without needing costumes and candy. Wouldn’t you agree?

Happy Birthday, dearest one.

Fiat Money

I was not surprised to hear that Ben S. Bernanke advanced to head of the Federal Reserve Board, with little fanfare earlier this week. Dubbed the “Prince of Paper” because of his suggestion that the the US could simply print it’s way out of economic troubles (a frightening idea to anybody who understands money) I expect that he will continue in the footsteps of those who have lead the Fed before him. This might come as a surprise to most people out there, but this won’t be good for the country.

With the national debt now over 8 trillion dollars, 4 trillion of it being held in private hands (which means we pay interest on that portion of the debt) The question really becomes “why are we paying others to carry debt that we owe ourselves?”

I was listening to a local talk show host, Patrick Timpone, recently; and heard excellent idea from the guest. Didn’t catch who he was (don’t think I heard his name) but his argument amounted to “…if we are going to endorse the fiat money system as ‘the way’ to do money in the modern age, then we need to make sure that the citizens of the US are the ones who profit from the use of our money, not the banks and individuals who ‘own’ the debt.” The treasury should take back the ability to ‘print money’ (this will actually require a constitutional amendment, for those who remember we have one) and simply print the money it needs itself. Any subsequent ‘benefit’ to the debt’s existence would accrue to the Americans to whom the debt is owed.

Maybe the way to make money more ‘elastic’ (without engaging in inflationary money printing ventures like “The Prince” will embark on) is to adopt a system like the Ripple or Cyclos monetary systems, allowing us to privately monetize ourselves what we currently have to go to the banks for.

Something to think about, but I’d still prefer to have the silver in my hand, rather than any IOU; even if that IOU is backed by “the full faith and credit”…

Downward Spiral Continues

Mentioned Steve Kubby the other day; I also blogged about the Downward Spiral that the system seems to be caught in.

Well, Steve isn’t getting any better, he’s getting worse. A quick scan of articles on the subject should make that quite obvious. The people responsible for holding him in prison are getting cold feet, made him sign a waiver of liability in case he should die in their prison. I imagine that they want us all to think that locking a man up and keeping him from taking what he believes will save his life, which will most likely cause his death, shouldn’t be held against the prison system. Like prison guards anywhere, they should understand that ‘just doing their jobs’ isn’t a good enough excuse.

Which brings me to Cory Maye. Cory Maye did what that friend of mine had a nightmare of doing. The nightmare continues for him. I don’t see why this man should sit on death row for something that any of us should not be afraid to do; shoot unidentified intruders who break into our houses in the middle of the night. It’s a point in the favor of the policemen involved that Cory Maye isn’t dead; most of the people who resist the police in these types of situations end up with several bullets in them.

If those backing ‘total law enforcement’ don’t like that Cory Maye can shoot a policeman and not be killed in return; I suggest that in the future, the police avoid being mistaken for petty criminals involved in smash and grab burglaries, not prosecute the average citizen for defending himself.

Armchair Quarterbacks

There has been a running joke in the family since ‘the Wife’ and I got together, that our televisions are broken, they won’t tune a channel that has a sporting event on it. Neither of us has any real interest in sports.

My father watched every football game that was broadcast, back when I was a kid. There was also only one TV set in the house (dating myself, I’m sure) so if I wanted to watch TV, I had to watch what dad was watching. And it was generally sports. I never had any interest in the game, but after several years of being ‘forced’ to watch football, I got a pretty good grasp of what was going on. I can carry on a conversation with those who have a sports affliction similar to my father’s, so most people don’t realize that I can’t stand watching sports on TV (in fact can’t stand most sports ‘at all’) and would rather be doing anything else.

As an aside, ‘the Wife’ used to get into role-playing games in college. One of them was a “fantasy football” type game, played with teams and their current stats. She always enjoyed picking the Seattle Seahawks as her team, because they had the best stats. She generally won the game because the major drawback for the Seahawks, the tendency to choke in a clinch, didn’t affect the gameplay.

For as long as we’ve made the joke concerning broken television sets, we’ve commented that “if the Seahawks ever got in the Superbowl, we’d have to watch it”.

I’m watching a football game this Sunday. I blame ‘the Wife’ for this.