Underlinings (#67)

What Challenger did:

… Only a word by way of epilogue. It is of course well known that the effect of the experiment was a world-wide one. It is true that nowhere did the injured planet emit such a howl as at the actual point of penetration, but she showed that she was indeed one entity by her conduct elsewhere. Through every vent and every volcano she voiced her indignation. Hecla bellowed until the Icelanders feared a cataclysm. Vesuvius blew its head off. Etna spewed up a quantity of lava, and a suit of half-a-million lira damages has been decided against Challenger in the Italian Courts for the destruction of vineyards. Even in Mexico and in the belt of Central America there were signs of intense Plutonic indignation, and the howls of Stromboli filled the whole Eastern Mediterranean. It has been the common ambition of mankind to set the whole world talking. To set the whole world screaming was the privilege of Challenger alone.

Underlinings (#60)

From Tim Powers’ Declare (p 236-7):

And for getting Russian documents translated he found himself having to consult the weird old women in the MI5 Soviet Transcription Centre. This was located in another St. Albans house, in a tiny room which these fugitive White Russians had converted into a little anachronistic corner of Tsarist St. Petersburg, with carved wooden saint-icons standing among the dictaphone cylinders and acetate gramophone disks on the shelves, and a perpetual perfume of tea from the steaming samovar in the corner. To these wizened babushkas the NKVD was still the Cheka or even the pre-revolutionary Okhrana, and they took a particular intense interest in Hale’s researches, often pausing to cross themselves as they translated some musty old report of a Russian expedition to Turkey, in 1883 or a description of burned grass around little coin-sized eruption holes in the grave plots of Moscow cemeteries. All of these old grand-mothers were of the Russian Orthodox faith, but Hale noticed — uneasily — that their use of the term guardian angel was hesitant and fearful, and always accompanied by them splashing their lumpy old fingers in the holy water font by the locked door.

Underlinings (#46)

From Nandita Biswas Mellamphy’s Ghost in the Shell-Game:

Technical objects are ‘mediators’ (mediations) between ‘man’ and ‘nature’ not only in an ‘instrumental’ sense but also in an altogether ‘constitutive’ sense; from this vantage (as Oshii, for instance, suggests), rather than ‘bodies’ and ‘souls’ we see instead ‘shells’ and ‘ghosts’. In Oshii’s Inosensu, death is not the cessation of life; rather, bodily life is the technical animation, individuation and articulation of death (inertia). Life (æmæth in the Hebrew text at the heart of Inosensu: the animating ‘truth’) is portrayed as an artifice of death (mæth) embodied in the ningyō — literally ‘human-shaped figures’, anthropoid forms — without consciousness. “By inscribing æmæth upon the Golem’s brow, the clay man lived, drawing energy from the word for ‘truth’. But simply removing the æ to form mæth or ‘death’ returned the Golem back to inanimate clay” (Hebrew Kabbalah paraphrased in Oshii’s Inosensu). Only the puppet truly experiences both life and death: life as the animation of death (something impossible for human self-consciousness). “People die simply because it is inevitable. But death is a condition of life for a doll.”


Underlinings (#42)

From Laird Barron’s Nemesis:

“Let me be clear, there is no Machine,” Director Mallory said to close his remarks at the Star Chamber deposition. This emergency hearing was in response to an international crisis that appeared to be rapidly mutating into a global apocalypse. Blame had to be apportioned and attributed. Heads were going to roll, and how. The Director snapped his briefcase shut and strode out a side exit. He skipped lunch at the grill that day, became quite scarce indeed.
The Machine activated again six hours later and its effects were irreversible.
But by that time, when shit hit the fan for real, the Director was already aboard an emergency capsule speeding toward the moon. He and ninety-seven other bureaucrats, technicians, scientists, and prostitutes survived on a base hidden in a crater on the dark side for nineteen months. Eventually, they all perished of starvation, or mayhem induced by a cabin fever type syndrome. He went last—blew the station to smithereens with mining explosives and then unzipped his environmental suit to vacuum and watched his life boil away. He was lonely, not sorry. No one back on Earth cared. He’d been long forgotten.


Underlinings (#41)

From Peter Watts’ Blindsight (p.261), on dark interspecies cryptographic game-theory:

Hurt them.
It may take a while to figure out how. Some may shrink from fire, others from fire, others from toxic gas or liquid. Some creatures may be invulnerable to blowtorches and grenades, but shriek in terror at the threat of ultrasonic sound. You have to experiment; and when you discover just the right stimulus, the optimum balance between pain and injury, you must inflict it without the remorse.
You leave them an escape hatch, of course. That’s the very point of the exercise: give one of your subjects the means to end the pain, but give the other the information required to use it. To one you might present a single shape, while showing the other a whole selection. The pain will stop when the being with the menu chooses the item its partner has seen. So let the games begin. Watch your subjects squirm. If — when — they trip the off switch, you’ll know at least some of the information they exchanged; and if you record everything that passed between the, you’ll start to get some idea of how they exchanged it.
Whe they solve one puzzle, give them a new one. Mix things up. Switch their roles. See how they do at circles versus squares. Try them out on factorials and Fibonnacis. Continue until Rosetta Stone results.
This is how you communicate wuith a fellow intelligence: You hurt it, and keep on hurting it, until you can distinguish the speech from the screams.

Underlinings (#40)

This is too intelligent for its own good. Early snippet:

… I opened the door and caused a stunningly beautiful girl to fall off a stepladder. “Euphemism!” she said. I swear to God she said “Euphemism.”
“Are you okay?” I asked. She was. She was holding two big yellow letters. I looked up at our sign. It was missing two big yellow letters.
“What do you think you’re doing?” I asked. I am bad at sounding threatening, but she was like 5’4, maybe 5’5, and also lying on the ground looking very ashamed, and so putting menace into my voice was easier than usual.
“Kabbalah,” she said.
I looked up at the sign again. It read CASH OR GOD
“It’s a kabbalistic protest,” she said faintly. “Against a society that thinks…”
“You’re not a kabbalist. If you were a kabbalist, you’d have more respect! You can’t just go removing letters from signs like that! Matthew 5:18: ‘Verily I say unto you, not a single letter, nor even a stroke of a letter, shall be removed until all is fulfilled.’”
“Oh, you want to go there?” She caught her breath and stood back up. “Matthew 16:4: ‘This evil and adulterous generation wants a sign, but no sign shall be given to it.’”
I blinked. Maybe she was a kabbalist.
“But,” I said, “By removing the letter L, you make “God” out of “gold”. But the warning against idolatry in Exodus 20:23 says ‘You shall not make a god out of gold.’”
“But,” said the girl, “Exodus 25 says that you shall take gold and turn it unto the Lord.”
Now I was annoyed.
“You have taken an L and an F,” I said. “But if you map the Latin alphabet to Hebrew gematria, L and F sum to twenty-six. The Tetragrammaton also has a gematria value of twenty six. So taking an L and an F is mystically equivalent to taking the Name of God. But the Third Commandment is ‘You shall not take the Name of God in vain.’”
“But the sound of L and F together,” she said, “is ‘aleph’, and aleph is silent and represents nothingness. So I have taken nothing.”
I heard the whine of a siren.
“Tell it to the cops,” I said. …

It wanders into more science fictional territory.