Saturday, August 31, 2002

And to Top It All Off...

...I'm now out of Buffy again. It's my fault; I just blazed through those videos like the pathetic addict I am. Man, am I loving this stuff. The humor. The angst. The humorous angst. The angsty humor. The plotty stuff. The characters. The... well, the pretty much everything. But now I have no more episodes to watch, and I'm going to have to wait for the next batch to find out what happens next with Faith and the Mayor and that new Watcher dude and so on and so forth. (No, don't tell me!)


Oh, wait, I do still have those Manchild episodes to watch... That cheers me up a bit! With any luck, maybe that'll be almost as good as having Giles on my TV. (By the way, have I mentioned lately that Giles is cool? 'Cause I swear, he just gets cooler every episode.)
H20 Update

Well, no plumbers on Saturday, big frelling surprise. So I am forced to face a long holiday weekend with no water. Three days of sponge baths, of having to pay eighty cents a gallon for bottled water just to flush the toilet, of dirty dishes sitting in the sink, of not being able to run the swamp cooler. Oh, yeah, baby, this is the life.

Thank goodness for blogs, at least. What would I do if I couldn't log on here and bitch and whine about things? I'd have to actually find someone to bitch and whine to in person...

Friday, August 30, 2002

Water, Water, Everywhere...

It rained again today. Hard. And my roof is still leaking, but, you know, I've kind of stopped being upset over that. I just stuck a bucket under it, cleaned up what spilled, and gave myself a sharp mental reminder to get the damned thing fixed ASAP.

The universe, however, does not appreciate my laid-back attitude, and is always out to smack my complacency out from under me. Thus it was that, shortly after the rain slacked off, I went to wash my hands after using the bathroom and found myself thinking, "Hmm, that's odd. Why is the water pressure so low?" I went and checked another faucet, and, yup, low water pressure.

So I put on my waterproof boots and traipsed outside. Gee, lots of water in the yard. OK, that happens when it rains, but... oh, god, we've been through this before, haven't we?

And, yup, I get 'round the back of the trailer, and, lo and behold, there's a pipe spewing out water.

So, now, I've got water dripping through my ceiling, I've got water lying in puddles on my kitchen floor, I've got water up to my ankles in my muddy mess of a front yard, but I have no water with which to take a shower.

I'm just really, really hoping I can get the plumbers out here tomorrow. Why do these kinds of things always pick Friday evening on a long holiday weekend to happen? And why the hell did I let my mother talk me into buying this trailer?
More Places to Waste Time

Here's something I found while surfing around last night that's more fun than it really ought to be: internet guessing games. Let the computer attempt to guess your person, object, animal, TV show, or movie, or (and this is a nifty twist) have it "think" of one and give you clues to guess at. The guesser AI learns as it goes, and it's actually pretty darned good. It knows lots of obscure TV shows, too. (Though I had to teach it Alien Nation.)

Speaking of AIs, if you want to speak to an AI, here's one I had a little conversation with last night: Jabberwacky. As it holds conversations, it's supposedly learning what the most appropriate responses are to various statements, and there were brief -- admittedly, very brief -- periods when it was almost good enough to pass the Turing test. (Especially when it went into "sullen teenager" mode on me and proceeded to start answering my (admittedly rather dumb) statements with responses like "Whatever.")
Wandering the Blogosphere

Alas, the aforementioned slim chance did not pan out, and I am stuck at work for a full shift tonight, anyway. On four hours of sleep, and with nothing particularly interesting that needs doing. My joy is boundless.

Anyway, so, I've been randomly surfing blog sites. Ones that particularly catch my interest, for whatever reason, I'm sticking up links to on the little sidebar thingy here. Note that the only theme to these is "blogs that appeal to me when I'm half-asleep and bored out of my mind," and that if you go looking for rhyme or reason, you'll end up as nutsy as I am. And you certainly don't want that.

Thursday, August 29, 2002

Since I Did Last Week's Friday Five Late, Here's This Week's, A Tiny Bit Early

1. What's your favorite piece of clothing that you currently own? Um, I don't know that I have one, really. I mean, in the past I've had favorite shirts, but I wore the last one out, and it hasn't really been replaced in my affections... I am very fond of my official Indiana Jones fedora, but I don't wear it much any more. It's gotten pretty badly faded. Why didn't Indy ever have that problem?

2. What piece of clothing do you most want to acquire? To be disturbingly honest? Some bras that fit properly. Some hiking boots that fit properly would be nice, too. Apparently much of my anatomy is just difficult to clothe...

3. What piece of clothing can you not bring yourself to get rid of? Why? Actually, I'm really bad about throwing anything out. I've got all kinds of clothes that no longer fit, or have holes in them, or that I've finally realized are hideously ugly, or that I just never seem to wear. And yet, it all just hangs there in my closet/sits there in my drawers. Forever.

4. What piece of clothing do you look your best in? I rather like the way I look in denim shirts, but then, I have no sense of style whatsoever, so you shouldn't take my word for it.

5. What has been your biggest fashion accident? Hey, my entire wardrobe probably constitutes a fashion accident to people who actually have a sense of fashion. But I appear to have been born without that gene. I just don't pay much attention to clothes, really. I mean, geez, you should see what I'm wearing right now... But, let's see, if I had to pick a single "oh my god, I don't believe I actually wore that" item... Uh, I did used to have this black polyester vest -- a hand-me-down from one of my mother's friends, yet -- with a really big collar, and big pockets on which I'd sewed[*] Star Trek patches. I think one of them showed a hand doing the Vulcan salute and said "Live long and prosper," and the other had a picture of the Enterprise and said "Keep On Trekkin'." It was an unbelievably dorky garment, even by the standards of the dorkiest period of my teenage years. The scary thing is, given that I never throw anything out, I'm pretty sure I probably still have it around somewhere.

[*] OK, gotten my mother to sew. I can't so much as thread a needle.
Still More DVDs

I got a couple more DVDs in the mail today. Urg. I still haven't had time to watch most of the Wrath of Khan extras. Somebody stop me!

Anyway, I got the 10th Anniversary release of Reservoir Dogs, which I think I've mentioned in here before. (I got the Mr. White edition, for the record.) I don't know what it is about that movie... Well, OK, yes I do. For some unfathomable reason, I'm just a complete sucker for any story that ends with bodies all over the floor. Reservoir Dogs, Blake's 7, Hamlet... There just ain't nothin' like a good tragedy.

I also got the second batch of Farscape Season Two episodes. I'm glad they've gone to releasing them four episodes at a time, instead of two epsiodes/one disc like they did for last season, but I really wish they'd do more commentary tracks and maybe throw on a few more extras. Ah, well. This particular set has three so-so episodes (translation: not standout Farscape, but still better than 99.9% of the crap on TV), but the fourth is the incredible "The Way We Weren't." This episode had me wiping frantically at my eyes and -- half-embarrassed, half-awed, and entirely moved -- wailing, "They made me cry! That god-damned Muppet made me cry!" (Admittedly, said Muppet had a great deal of help from Claudia Black. If you ask me, they both should have won an Emmy.) I think it was at this point that I realized there was no turning back for me, that I was hooked on this show for life.

Hmm, come to think of it, that's probably one good thing about not being able to sleep... It just gives me more time to watch videos and DVDs, right? And I definitely need to go and watch some more Buffy...
Sleep is for Tortises

Woke up at 12:30 this afternoon and could not get back to sleep... Which isn't such a good thing when you only got to bed around 8:30 AM. If I don't get some nappy time in later (unlikely, as I'm pretty bad at naps), tonight's shift is probably really going to suck.

Then again, there is a slim chance that there might not be enough work to do tonight, and I'll get to go home early... Come on, slim chance!
Still More Quizzy Stuff

You are 49% geek
You are a geek liaison, which means you go both ways. You can hang out with normal people or you can hang out with geeks which means you often have geeks as friends and/or have a job where you have to mediate between geeks and normal people. This is an important role and one of which you should be proud. In fact, you can make a good deal of money as a translator.

Normal: Tell our geek we need him to work this weekend.

You [to Geek]: We need more than that, Scotty. You'll have to stay until you can squeeze more outta them engines!

Geek [to You]: I'm givin' her all she's got, Captain, but we need more dilithium crystals!

You [to Normal]: He wants to know if he gets overtime.

Take the Polygeek Quiz at

Hey, you know, I think maybe I should consider that as a career choice!

Wednesday, August 28, 2002

Apparently All of the Books in Existence Still Aren't Enough for Me...

Here's a really cool website I've just come across: it's a catalog of books that don't exist. Or rather, that exist only in other books. For some reason, I find this idea deeply, endlessly fascinating. And I want a copy of the Time Traveller's Handbook of 1001 Tense Formations. Also Nameless Horrors and What to Do About Them. And Universes, Parauniverses, and Planes - Assembly and Maintenance: A Creator's Manual.

Tuesday, August 27, 2002

Hangin' with the Buffster

Well, as predicted, over the last couple of days I'm mostly blown off all the stuff I should be doing and instead spent large chunks of my free time watching Buffy. I've now made my way up through the episode "Band Candy," which was actually one of the very few third season episodes I'd already seen, but is definitely one that's worth watching again. And again. And occasionally freeze-framing.

Um. Where was I?

Yeah, well, anyway, I could go on about how great this show is, how clever the writing is, how sharp the dialog, how excellent the acting, and so on and so on, but I'd really only be repeating myself, so I won't.

I will say that, paradoxically, I actually find myself looking forward to getting the third season DVDs now more than ever. I'm deeply grateful for the loan of the tapes, but of course, they're taped off the TV, so the quality isn't always that great, and the editing is kind of glitchy. I want this entire series in beautiful, crisp, DVD quality! And I want it now!

Of course, once I get to thinking along those lines, I always start thinking about how I really need a better TV to do justice to that nice crisp DVD quality, which gets me to thinking that I also really need a decent sound system to go with the better TV, and the next thing you know, in my imagination, I've already spent a couple of thousand dollars... Stupid imagination.
I'm Sure There's Something I Should Be Doing Besides Taking Stupid Quizzes...

you are a book called

what dr. seuss book warped you?

Oddly enough, I think that's one of the few Seuss books I haven't read... Guess we'll have to blame my warpage on something else...

i am

microsoft OS are you?

Well, I'm frightened, anyway...

Better Late Than Never: The Friday Five

1. What is your current occupation? Is this what you chose to be doing at this point in your life? Why or why not? You know, it's really, really hard to describe in simple terms just what my job is... I work for the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, as part of the Very Long Baseline Array project. We have radio telescope dishes all over the US (including Hawaii and the US Virgin Islands), and we take observations with them and record the data on big magnetic tapes. Then the tapes are shipped here, to Socorro, NM, and are procesessed by a computer that reads all the data off the big tapes, performs mathematical operations on it, and reduces it all to one much smaller tape. That's my job. The computer is called the "correlator," and I'm a "correlator operator." I hang all the tapes, operate the correlator computer, troubleshoot the data playback, and make copies of the resulting tapes. Eventually, after a couple more steps in the processing, that data is used to make an image of a distant galaxy or other interesting astronomical object. Combining the data from ten different antennas spread out over such a large area gives us a picture that's just as good as if we had one giant dish the size of the entire continent, which is really pretty damned cool.

As for whether this is what I chose to be doing... Well, in a way I kind of fell into it. I graduated from New Mexico Tech, here in Socorro, with a Bachelor's degree in astrophysics. There's not much you're qualified to do with a B.S. in astrophysics, really, but I was pretty burnt out on the subject and just didn't have enough drive or enough interest in the subject to want to keep on going through grad school. And at the time when I graduated, I was living with a guy who was still a student at Tech, so I wanted to stay in Socorro. So I took this job. I still have very little desire to go on to grad school, and I've long since broken up with the guy, but, I dunno, I'm content enough in this job, and there really isn't anything else that I feel I'd rather be doing.

2. If time/talent/money were no object, what would your dream occupation be? I've been saying lately that what I really want is to quit my job and be a professional science fiction fan. If you know anybody who'd actually be willing to pay me for that, let me know!

3. What did/do your parents do for a living? Has this had any influence on your career choices? My mother's done a lot of things. Currently, she's working as a "vendor/stocker" for the commissaries on various military bases in California. Basically, what that means is that she puts groceries on shelves! My dad sorts mail for the post office, and has done that job for many, many years. I don't know that my parents' occupations had anything to do with my choice of anything, except that I do remember thinking that I wanted to do something more meaningful than I saw their jobs as being. I think I had in mind Uncovering the Secrets of the Universe as a career choice, but I've been reasonably comfortable settling for Making a Tiny Contribution to the Progress of Science instead.

4. Have you ever had to choose between having a career and having a family? Nope. I'm not terribly interested in either!

5. In your opinion, what is the easiest job in the world? What is the hardest? Why? That's a highly relative thing, isn't it? I mean, how hard or easy a job is is going to depend a great deal on your own personal suitability for it. The easiest job in the world for me would be Sitting Around on My Butt Watching TV While People Give Me Money for No Actual Reason, I'm afraid.

Monday, August 26, 2002


I just noticed that my Site Meter counter just hit 1,000. Wow. I can't believe that that many people have actually been reading this thing. (OK, OK, I know it's mostly the same few repeat visitors, but still...)

I just really wish the comments system was working so you legions of faithful readers could, you know, comment. According to their website, enetation probably isn't going to be back online until next week. Sigh. You'll all come and talk to me when it's back up, though, right?
And Tonight's Featured Quiz Result Is...

Which Blake's 7 rebel are you?

this quiz was made by Auntie Krizu(:>)

Hmm, I dunno, I always saw myself as more of a Vila... I must say, this quiz is something of a work of art in itself, though be warned that a) it's a bit naughty, and b) it doesn't seem to work properly in Netscape.

Now that Farscape Is on Hiatus, I Turn to My Other Current TV Obsession...

I got just a big old box of stuff in the mail from my friend and fellow neophyte Buffy fan, Greta. She's lent me a bunch of Season Three episodes, a tape featuring Anthony Steward Head's other series, Manchild, and no fewer than five Buffy novels. There goes absolutely any chance I might have had of getting anything productive done this week!

Although the books are going to have to wait a little while, until I've finished reading Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy, which another friend has been bugging me to read, because he's almost finished with it and apparently wants to discuss it with me or something.

You know, you people should really stop encouraging me...

Sunday, August 25, 2002

The Ballad of Betty's Brain Exploding

What's more disturbing than listening to Leonard Nimoy singing "The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins"? Watching the video! You didn't know there was a video? Well, neither did I, but apparently blissful ignorance cannot last forever... An obviously sadistic friend of mine sent me the URL for this, and I am now feeling deeply traumatized, and, worse than that, I can't get the damned song out of my head! So I figured I'd spread the joy. You have to see this. Really. You do.

Saturday, August 24, 2002

Needless to Say, I Watched It at the First Possible Opportunity... (WARNING: SPOILERS for Farscape episode 4.11, "Unrealized Reality.")

Well, it was certainly an interesting episode... Very layered. Lots of very subtle stuff going on, lots and lots and lots of resonances back to earlier episodes (and not just in the obvious, flashback-y bits, either). Which is very cool, and is something that holds a great deal of appeal for me. Other aspects of it, though, were just... strange. And don't necessarily make a great deal of sense. If the alien brought John there to kill him, why did he change his mind? What was with all the talking heads? And what, exactly, were we supposed to take from some of those really out-there "realities"?

It did, at least, finally answer one of the Great Unanswered Questions of this season: who sucked Moya through the wormhole, and why? And, as far as it goes, it was a perfectly believable and satisfying answer. I'm not sure that it goes quite far enough, though. We still don't know exactly what they did to Pilot and Moya. They obviously didn't just scan them; they must have done something to keep them from talking about the experience, if nothing else. And a zillon other loose ends are still out there, dangling.

I was getting a very 2001-ish feel even before John got sucked into the wormhole -- something about the compostion of that scene with him floating in space -- and, needless to say, that just got stronger as the episode went on. And John, of course, got exactly the same vibe ("Long as this whole deal doesn't end up with me as an old man"). Some time back, I made a long, rambling post in here about how much of a difference it makes that John is a much of a science fiction buff as anybody in the audience and that he, like the audience, is going to think of the weird stuff he experiences in terms of the books and movies and TV shows he knows from Earth. It really does make him easier to identify with, because he's thinking exactly the same things that I'd be thinking in his place. It's often been said that Star Trek -- at least, these days -- requires a major dollop of suspension of disbelief if you stop to think about it, because you have to accept that the Star Trek universe is a universe in which Star Trek as a TV show never existed, and thus is very different from ours. (This is particularly noticable when they do time travel episodes.) But Farscape doesn't require us as an audience or John as a character to pretend that we've never seen anything like it before... Which somehow makes it feel more real, at least to me.

Speaking of which, John's line, "I am not Kirk, Spock, Luke, Buck, Flash, or Arthur frelling Dent. I am Dorothy Gale from Kansas," could make a great tag line for the entire show. Another part of Crichton's appeal, in my opinion, is that he's very much not any of the heroic figures he's named. Nor is he as hapless as Dent, although I do believe there are a few passing similarities (like chronic bad luck, for one). No, John is just one of us: a guy who likes pizza and football, who saw Star Wars as a kid and dreamed of going into space, who can quote The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and who -- while intelligent, adaptable, and overall a really decent guy -- is still a flawed human being who is quite capable of screwing up very badly.

It's interesting to note, by the way, that The Wizard of Oz does, indeed, seem to be his favorite metaphor for his situation. It's one he's used many times before. I'm tempted to go off into a long, thoughtful ramble about how the stories we're familiar with shape our perceptions, our expectations, our self-images, and how the stories that John brings with him from his own (in other words, our) cultural background determine how he responds and reacts to the situations he finds himself in, but a) this is going to be a long enough post as it is, and b) that particular thought is still only half-formed in my head. So I won't, at least not now. It is an interesting topic to think about, though.

And while we're bringing up complex philosophical topics in order to ignore them, it occurs to me that all this stuff about "unrealized realities" and there being one John Crichton with millions of potential realities and so on and so forth doubtless has some kind of implications for all that relgious/mystical stuff I was musing about at length a couple of weeks ago. I honestly have no idea what those implications are, though. I just keep wanting to match the idea of different wormhole destinations up with Stark's "different destinations" somehow...

All that stuff about wormholes enabling time travel and John talking about Einstein and relativity and so on, by the way, actually made perfect sense and was pretty much physically accurate (in an admittedly vague sort of way). Which impresses me. Some of the other aspects of the whole thing, though, I'm less sure about. Being able to pop through the wormhole system into different realities is a familiar and easily grasped concept, sure. But the nature of those realities is something that, I have to say, I'm rather less clear on. I'm inclined to think of them as alternate possibilities, realities in which things went differently at some point or another than they did in John's reality. Both "...Different Destinations" and "The Locket" would seem to support that, and what the alien says would, too, I think. But some of those universes -- hell, most of those universes -- were so bizarre that it's nearly impossible to imgaine how they could ever have come about.

Otherwise, it does seem to fit fairly nicely with what little has been established about time travel/alternate universes in this show before. Interestingly, in addition to the aforementioned episodes, I was also strongly reminded of "Through the Looking Glass," and it occurs to me to wonder if the being Crichton encountered in that episode was one of these same people. She(?) certainly did seem to have very similar concerns.

Some random, unconnected thoughts:

Aeryn is apparently making a serious attempt to learn English, which is very interesting. It would seem to indicate that she has her mind set on going back to Earth with John... And of course, where he would have been utterly delighted by that thought once, he now seems hardly able to bear being on Moya with her. It shows tremendous optimism on her part, that's all I can say. I do also wonder how she's learning English, as John's hardly going to be teaching it to her. I suppose Sikozu might be teaching her. And what's that book she's reading? Is it one of John's notebooks? Some sort of primer made up for her by Talyn-John? Something else?

So, someone's finally noticed John's drug habit! And if he's having to double the dosage, things are clearly getting worse. Increased tolerance levels, check. Psychological addiction, check. Physical addiction, quite probably...

Scorpy and Sikozu, sittin' in a tree... I wonder if he's really interested in her at all, or is just leading her on because she's useful to him? Scorpy is defintely the kind of guy who will use every weapon in his arsenal, and while, with a face like that, I doubt sex is usually one of them, if it works, it works. Poor girl still obviously has no idea who she's dealing with. I wonder exactly what kind of an alliance he was proposing to her? (Well, you know, besides that...)

I don't know why, but I found myself really, really happy to see DK again, if only as a weird, alien-generated talking head. This is a guy who has clearly been very important in Crichton's life, and I've always thought there should be more references to him. Why wasn't he in the wedding visions in "Dog with Two Bones?"

Like the weird alien dude, I, too, have been wondering just why "Jack" gave John the wormhole knowledge in the first place. The only thing I've been able to figure is that he felt bad for putting John through all that stuff on the fake Earth and wanted to give him a little present to make up for it. Which, if true, is deepy, richly, ironic. And also rather naive and stupid of him...

Raelee Hill does an amazingly good Stark. If they ever lose Paul Goddard permanently, maybe they can get her to switch roles and be Stark for us! Actually, everybody does an amazing job at... uh, at whatever the hell it is that they're doing. But Hill gets an extra gold star for managing to capture Stark in both manic and soulful modes.

When John started shouting "Harvey knew!," I must admit, my immediate response was to scream back, "See! You shouldn't have killed him, you jerk! He could be helping you out right now!" Heh. I knew that was going to come back to bite him on the butt. (Of course, how Harvey knew is an interesting question... Gee, if he was still around, maybe John could have asked him.)

Cliffhangers that end with John floating in space somewhere are starting to become routine. Or at least, to become a repeated motif. We had him and D'Argo floating above the destroyed Gammak base at the end of "Family Ties," him floating alone in his module at the end of "Dog with Two Bones," and now him floating alone above Earth... Seems to me that his chances of rescue are a hell of a lot slimmer this time, though. And, of course, the big question is: has he arrived earlier, or later? But we're going to have to wait until January to find out. Aaaargh.

Friday, August 23, 2002

Don't Panic on My Account, I've Only Gone and Gotten a Life...

Just wanted to let you know that if you don't see the usual babbling about the latest Farscape episode tonight, it doesn't mean I've been hit by a bus or something. (Which, face it, would probably be the most logical conclusion given my obsessive consistency in this matter.) I'm getting together with some friends for a barbeque tonight and quite possibly won't get to see this week's episode until tomorrow. And, believe me, I did have internal conflict over this. The sensible part of my brain which tells me "Get out from in front of the TV and have a social life, dammit!" was briefly at war with the obsessive-fan part, which is also quite paranoidly convinced that, if I'm not home to make sure, my cable will doubtless go out, and my VCR will mess up, and I'll probably miss the one episode that'd actually make this entire season make sense. But one of aforementioned friends has a satellite dish and a Tivo, and assures me that even if that happened, he'd be able to put it on a tape for me, so I gave in and said I'd go...
A Correction

I just got an e-mail from my sister in response to Tuesday's post with all the questions about games and toys. She says that my story about how she dissected her Ken doll makes her look disturbed, and that it was so because she wanted to see how it worked ("well, a little bit"). So I stand corrected. And I should point out that she is in fact far more mentally balanced than I am!
My Leak Is Fixed, and My Faith in Humanity Has Been Restored. It's Not Even 9:00, and It's Already Been a Good Day.

Well, the leak that's been feeding the lake in my front yard turned out to be absurdly simple to fix. Turns out the problem was with the line to the swamp cooler where it hooks into the water supply, and all they had to do was replace the little connector thingy on the end of the hose. I still feel like an idiot for not realizing what the problem was sooner, but at least now I'm an idiot with a trailer that doesn't leak (well, at least not from that end).

And I have so found myself a new plumber. First off, these guys actually answer their phone (unlike the other guys, who never even called me back in response to the message I left on their machine), which is point one in their favor. Point two is that they had a big, all-day job scheduled for today, but came out here at 7:30 AM so they could take care of my problem first. Point three -- and this is the one that really staggers me -- is that they didn't even charge me! "Aw, heck," the guy said, "it only took us five minutes. If we charged you, we'd have to charge for for a minimum of half an hour, and it'd cost you like thirty bucks. We're not gonna do that." I'm telling ya, these guys have made a customer for life. If you're ever in Socorro, New Mexcio and in need of a plumber, you wanna go with Bar J. Trust me.

Thursday, August 22, 2002


This time, it's all Greta's fault, so you can blame her if the images make the page slow to load! (Actually, if it's loading really slow, it's probably due to the problems they're still having at enetation. It'd be churlish of me to complain, since the service is free, and since the guy who runs it has apparently been coding his little heart out for the past three days, but I'm still finding this annoying. I haven't even been able to read some of the comments people have posted over the last few days, let alone been able to respond. Here's hoping things get sorted out there soon.)

You are THE POINTY-HAIRED BOSS...a good leader doesn't need skills, just authority!

Which Dilbert character are you?

Aargh! That's the single most insulting thing anyone has said to me in months!

Your pirate name is:

Dirty Bess Bonney

You're the pirate everyone else wants to throw in the ocean -- not to get rid of you, you understand; just to get rid of the smell. You can be a little bit unpredictable, but a pirate's life is far from full of certainties, so that fits in pretty well. Arr!

Excuse me? I told it that I bathe daily!

what adjective are you?

quiz by maikamariel

Boring, but accurate.

Take the What High School
Stereotype Are You?
quiz, by Angel.

Well, I don't think my family was that dysfunctional, but that certainly describes how I felt in Junior High School.

What Element Are You?

Yeah! I'm Number One, baby! I'm what the universe is made of! Well, most of it.

If It's Not One Damned Thing, It's Another

If you've been reading this blog, you know all about the trials and tribulations I endured recently when the trailer park I live in flooded after a couple of rainstorms. Well, it hasn't rained now for a couple of weeks, which left me rather puzzled about the fact that I still have a great big puddle (actually, "pond" might be a better description) in my front yard. We've had a number of hot sunny days lately, so, I wondered, why hasn't it dried up? The rest of the trailer park is dry. Admittedly, my yard was worse off than most of the rest of the park, but, still, it struck me as rather odd.

In retrospect, it should have been obvious, and I'm now smacking myself on the head for missing it. But you get into these cause-and-effect lines of thinking, you know? The trailer park flooded in the last rains. There is water in my front yard. Fact A must surely the cause of Fact B. I really should know better.

The truth, of course, is that the water hasn't dried up because it's being continually replenished: there is a leaky pipe under my trailer. Fortunately, the park's landlord is a little more on the ball than I am, apparently, and, having also noticed the water, sent somebody out to investigate and discovered what the problem actually is. They left a note on my door yesterday (which I didn't see until this morning and almost didn't see at all, because it had fallen off the door and was resting under my front steps) telling me to get it fixed ASAP because they could do without a nice little mosquito hatchery in their park, thank you very much. And I am in complete agreement with them on this point, I must say.

I tried calling the plumbers I usually use this morning, but they're never in their office and were running entirely true to form today, so I said screw it and called up the new guy in the yellow pages. He says he can be here bright and early tomorrow morning. Which means I'll have to be up bright and early tomorrow morning, but, hey, whatever it takes to get my world dried out again. Of course, I still need to get the roof fixed... Aaargh. I hate being a homeowner.
No, Not Star Trek: Voyager, the Real Ones

Here's a nice little article on the Voyager space probes, which have now been going strong for 25 years. I remember watching pictures of Neptune coming in live from the VLA the week after I started my freshman year at NMT; they had a screen set up in the main auditorium for it. Which was very cool, although it would have been even cooler if classes had started a week later, because I could have been in Pasadena for the Planetary Society's big "Planet Fest" bash in honor of the encounter. (Speaking of whom, there's a lot more information about the Voyagers at their website, if you're interested.)
Holy Hezmana, But Those Guys Can Rock!

I just wanted to say that Rush is one of the greatest bands of all time, and that Geddy Lee is a rock god.

That is all.

Wednesday, August 21, 2002

So Many DVDs, So Little Time!

Just got my Wrath of Khan Director's Edition DVD in the mail today. Whoo-hoo! Except that I'm looking at the little sticker on the front that says "Contains over 5 HOURS of Brand NEW, EXCLUSIVE, BONUS Features" and half of my brain is going "Cool!" while the other half is wailing "But when am I ever going to find time to watch all this stuff!" Which is pretty much my life in a nutshell, right there.

Oh, and I also got Douglas Adams' The Salmon of Doubt. Yeah, I know, that's just what I need: still more books...

Tuesday, August 20, 2002

Because You Can Find Stupid Questions to Answer for Any Day of the Week: This-or-That Tuesday

1. CandyLand or Chutes and Ladders? CandyLand. I always thought Chutes & Ladders was really boring. At least with CandyLand you had those nifty little gingerbread guys and all those place names that make you feel hungry.

2. Barbie or GI Joe? OK, I admit it. I had Barbies as a kid. No GI Joes at all, just Barbies. I remember my cousin was really into Barbie. She'd invent all these complex soap operas which always seemed to involve Barbie having a glamorous, rich-bitch celebrity lifestyle... and which tended to bore me silly. Me, I was more interested in Barbie's house. I'd arrange all the furniture just so, and arrange Barbie and her friends in these artistic poses... and then I'd completely lose interest, because, frankly, I couldn't ever really imagine Barbie actually doing anything interesting. I mean, like the house, she was just there to look pretty, right? It's what she was good at, after all. Now, my sister used to really have fun with Barbies. She'd remove their limbs and swap their heads around and stuff. I remember, we had this Ken doll that walked -- well, OK, he moved his legs when you pressed a button on his back -- until she dissected him. I don't think it was even that she was curious about how he worked; she just felt like taking him apart.

3. Play-Doh or Silly Putty? I think I probably owned some Silly Putty at some point in my life, but if so, it didn't make much of an impression on me. Play-Doh, however, was a fixture of my childhood. Ah, the happy, nostalgic smell... Mmmm...

4. Lincoln Logs or Tinkertoys? Lincoln Logs. I mean, they look like little logs! How cool is that? Well, OK, when I was a kid, it was cool...

5. The Game of Life or Monopoly? Life. Monopoly tends to get boring after the first twenty minutes or so, but with Life at least you can make stupid jokes about your job and how many kids you have and stuff. Plus it's got that cool spinner thing. I always liked playing with that spinner.

6. Etch-a-Sketch or Lite-Brite? I had and enjoyed both as a kid, but for sheer staying power, the Etch-a-Sketch wins hands down. It was much more of a challenge than the Lite-Brite, what with having to find creative ways to draw stuff with only one line, and when you got tired of that you could always twiddle the knobs around and pretend it was the computer readout on your cardboard-box space ship.

7. The Slinky: metal or plastic? Metal! I mean, duh! There are few things lamer than a cheap plastic slinky.

8. Easy-Bake Oven or Sno-Cone Machine? I think I was given some kind of little oven-y thing for Christmas once as a kid, but I don't remember it very well, probably because I used it once and then stuck it in a closet. The Sno-Cone machine would have been cool, though. How come nobody ever gave me a Sno-Cone machine?

9. Hot Wheels or Matchbox cars? Dunno. My sister was the one who collected the cars, and I don't remember which kind she had. Maybe both, for all I know. (Interestingly, it occurs to me that this is probably making it sound like my sis was the tomboyish one when we were kids. And I think she was, at least as far as the choice of toys went. But, the Barbies vs. Hot Wheels thing aside, she's a lot more "feminine" than I am in most ways and always has been. Whether there are any profound psychological conclusions to be drawn from that or not, I couldn't say.)

10. Spirograph or Paint-by-Numbers? Spirograph. I could amuse myself with that thing for ridiculously long periods of time. Paint-by-Numbers is actually just a bit beyond my artistic abilities, sadly enough.
Black Holes and Books

Well, I finally finished Black Holes & Time Warps. Which turned out to be a pretty cool book. I found it particularly interesting to learn that Kip Thorne's research into wormholes and time travel was sparked by a call he got from Carl Sagan asking him for some advice on the scientific details in the novel Contact. There's just something that greatly appeals to me about this example of science and science fiction playing off each other and inspiring each other...

(By the way, in honor of my having finished Thorne's book and of the fact that, as previously mentioned, I am going to the Rush concert in Albuquerque tomorrow, the Official Theme Song of this blog is now "Cygnus X-1." This replaces "Who Needs Sleep?" by the Barenaked Ladies as the current Official Theme Song.)

Interestingly, Black Holes & Time Warps happens to be book #1700 to be entered into my book database. That's a list I keep of all the books I own, which each book entered in as I finish it and place it on the shelf. So it doesn't include the 400 or so books I have but haven't gotten around to reading yet (eep!), or textbooks, or reference books, or other things that I haven't read cover to cover. Meaning, at a rough estimate, I probably have close to 2200 books.

And I never thought I'd hear myself say this, because I never believed such a thing was possible, but I think I may finally have gotten to the point where I have too many books. Even with the database, even with the fact that I have all of them (except for the unread ones) shelved in a moderately orderly system, I'm still getting to the point where I can't keep track of them all any more. A month or two ago, I spent over an hour searching the To-Read Piles for the book I knew I wanted to read next, only to discover, eventually, that I'd never actually bought it. I had the next several books in that series, but I'd somehow missed out on that one without realizing it. About three times now I've picked up a book I already owned because I'd forgotten that I'd bought it once already. And, for almost a year, I thought my copy of The Hobbit had gone missing. A couple of weeks ago, I found it. It'd been shelved in the wrong place, and I was completely incapable of discovering this fact, because I am no longer intimately familiar with my bookshelves. There are simply too many of them any more.

I can't say how much it shocks me to even hear myself think this, but it's starting to occur to me to wonder what I'm hanging on to all these books for. There are a number of reasons for building up such a large collection, but the only one that really seems to hold water, if I examine them objectively, is that I like having books around. I like the look and feel of them and the way they make my house smell. But honestly, 99% of these I have no great desire to re-read, and even the ones I would like to re-read I'm unlikely to actually find the time for, given that I've still got several years worth of books I have yet to read the first time. I used to think that if I ever had children, I'd want them to grow up in a house full of books, but at this point I'm pretty darned sure I'm not going to have children. Being able to lend books out to people is nice, but after a few annoying experiences with getting people to return them, I'm thinking it might be time to re-evaluate my open-library policy in any case. And the idea of having my own home reference library so I could look up any obscure information I might need without leaving home was highly attractive ten years ago, but these days it's almost always easier to look something up on the internet than it is to go searching through my books for it, anyway.

I don't know... I still love having all these books around, but it kind of saddens me to think about the fact that they're mostly all just sitting there, collecting dust. Maybe I just need to spend more quality time with them.
More Sleep Woes

Turns out I didn't have nearly as much trouble staying awake last night as I thought I would, and ended up going to bed a little after 11:00, which was good. Then I woke up a little before 5:00, which was not good. Sigh. It looks like my body clock hasn't reset, it's just broken. I really hope this pattern doesn't continue through tomorrow, because tomorrow's the Rush concert, and I don't need to be driving back from Albuquerque at what will doubtless be a fairly late hour on five-and-half hours sleep.

On the upside, it's amazing how much you can accomplish before work when you wake up six hours early. Yesterday I did the grocery shopping, went by the post office and the ATM, took the car through the car wash, did the dishes, vacuumed, balanced my checkbook, read all my e-mail, updated my web page, and read a chapter and a half in the black hole book. If this is what it's like being a morning person, I think I hate them more than ever.

Monday, August 19, 2002

Blogs, Blogs, and More Blogs

I've added some more links to the sidebar, here. I figured it was really time that I linked to some blogs that weren't written by me or my friends or family... There's no particular rhyme or reason to them, though. They're just links to blogs that I've happened across and thought were interesting or well-written or amusing. I'll doubtless be adding more as time goes on.

As for the state of this blog, the archive problem still seems to be happening off and on. And the comments were down for most of today, apparently because enetation was upgrading... I see people were actually able to leave comments on the last post, but I haven't been able to look at them yet; all I get when I click is a blank screen. I guess enetation hasn't quite finished getting everything sorted out just yet...

Sigh. Why does everything always seem to go blooey all at once, that's what I want to know.
No Sense of History

My archives keep disappearing. OK, this is not, generally speaking, a new problem; it's not unusual for some or all of them to disappear after I hit "publish," and usually going to the archive screen and hitting "republish all" puts 'em right back up. But now they seem to be randomly appearing and disappearing, and the usual fixes sometimes work and sometimes don't. Which is really, really annoying. A quick look at the blogger discussion forum seems to indicate that I'm not the only one having this problem, but as far as I can tell, the blogger folks haven't done anything about it.

Anyway, if the archives aren't showing up when you look at this page, all I can say is, it isn't my fault. I've been trying to get them to work.

One Small Flaw...

Well, my plan to reset my body-clock this weekend seems to have one small flaw: I've managed to end up resetting it too early. I fell asleep at 7:30 last night, and woke up at about 4:00 this morning, completely unable to get back to sleep. Which is going to make staying awake until my shift ends at 10 PM something of a challenge. Clearly, this is a situation that is going to call for truly heroic quantities of coffee...

Sunday, August 18, 2002

Sleep and TV: Two of the Main Pillars of My Existence

Well, for those of you who read the last blog entry, no, I didn't quite make it until 7 or 8 PM before crashing... Actually, it was more like 4:30 or 5:00, but I just couldn't keep my eyes open any longer. My dad, having apparently read about my shift-changing woes here yesterday, called about 6:30 to offer sympathy and/or support, but by that point I was already dead to the world. I didn't even hear the phone ring. (If you're reading this, Dad, hiya, and thanks for the thought!)

Anyway, it seems to have more or less worked. I woke up once, a little after midnight, and while it felt like I was awake for quite a long while, I did eventually fall back to sleep. When I woke up the second time, it was 6 AM, and I figured I must surely have had a more than adequate amount of sleep in there somewhere, plus I was starving, so I got up. I guess that now puts me on a day shift, though my poor body honestly has no idea now whether it's actually night or day. Not that that's exactly a new thing for it...

I did, indeed, spend a goodly chunk of my waking time in front of the TV. In case you're wondering what my staying-up-for-24-hours-plus video playlist is, here's a list of the stuff I watched between sleeps:

Friday night's Farscape, which I've already wibbled about in my customary way. Of course, by that point, I'd only been up for a couple of hours.

Lord of the Rings. I watched this in the small hours of Friday night, while I was still wide awake. It does lose something on the small screen in terms of visual detail (particular in the widescreen edition, mutter, grumble), but even on fourth viewing I'm still overwhelmed by what a damned good movie this is. I'm reluctant to say things like "This is so good I'm never, ever going to get tired of watching it!," because at the ripe old age of 31 I've finally started coming to the realization that you can get tired of pretty much anything if you live long enough. But if anything is likely to live up to that description, it's this movie. Assuming parts 2 and 3 are just as good, of course, but I have every confidence.

All the extras from the LotR DVD (except the ones I'd already watched last week). These were actually kind of repetetive, with bits of the same interviews played over and over on the various extras. And I'd already seen A Passage to Middle-Earth when they showed it on the Sci-Fi Channel before the movie came out (not that that stopped me from watching it again). Still, the behind-the-scenes stuff is always interesting.

An episode of Deep Space 9. I know, I said I was going to go for "mindless," and I'd be the first person to get upset it someone referred to DS9 as "mindless," since in my view it's easily the most intelligent and sophisticted of the Trek shows. But this was a Quark episode ("Prophet Motive"), and thus just the kind of lightweight entertainment my poor sleep-deprived brain needed. Though it did have an interesting B-plot featuring Dr. Bashir that, while not all that engaging on its own, does take on some fascinating new dimensions when you look at it in light of stuff we only find out about Bashir later in the series. I'm actually rather proud that I was still awake enough to pick up on that, even if it was probably only about noon-ish by that time.

The Mummy (yes that's the version with Brendan Fraser). And it did, indeed, fit the "mindless yet stimulating enough to keep me awake" bill perfectly. And was just as good as I remembered it being when I saw it in the theater (twice!). Just a really, really fun action/adventure/horror romp. And the visuals are so good that I was really making an effort to keep my eyes from shutting so I could watch 'em.

Saturday, August 17, 2002

Today Is Really, Really Going to Suck

Let me tell you about the asinine work schedule I'm on. Typically, it goes like this: I work four ten-hour shifts, from noon to ten P.M. I then have three days off (actually, a little more than three and a half days). Then I work another four ten-hour shifts, from ten P.M. to 8 A.M. Then I have three days off (or, actually, a bit less than two and a half days), and come back in on the noon-ten shift again. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Unless you have actually done this, it is difficult to describe just exactly how much it sucks. It's not the shifts themselves, it's the transitions between them. Going from days/evenings to nights isn't that bad; I just stay up a few hours later each night on my weekend to get myself set up for the night shift. That's not terribly difficult, in fact, it's natural to rotate in a forward direction like that (particularly if you're a night owl like me).

It's the shift from nights back onto days that's nasty. Instead of rotating forward, I have to rotate backwards by at least five or six hours. That means making myself go to bed earlier, and that's hard. The only way to do it is to force myself to get up before I've had enough sleep so that I'll get tired earlier, and even that often doesn't work very well. I've been on this rotation for something like two years now, and I swear, every time I have to go from nights back to days, it seems to get harder.

Due to an odd quirk in the schedule -- the details are kind of complicated and boring, so I'm not going to get into them -- I've, unusually, actually been on nights now for two weeks in a row (though working different days of the week this week than last week). Now, that's a good thing: I like keeping the same shift two weeks at a time, and I like nights. But now I've got to switch off of it again, and since my system's had two weeks to settle into the night shift (which is where it seems to want to be anyway), it's even harder to make the change.

Which is why I'm doing something this weekend that I normally try to avoid: I'm just staying up all damned day. There's just no way I can force myself to go to sleep before about 8 AM. I've tried; it doesn't work. So I'm going to rotate an entire day forward instead of trying to rotate those six hours or so backwards.

I got up at about 6 PM on Friday. It's now nearly 7:00 AM on Saturday, and my body is starting to get to the point where it's thinking that bedtime should be coming up here in an hour or two. I'm going to try very hard to ignore it, though, and with a little luck and a whole lotta willpower, I might make it until 7 or 8 PM before I crash. Which theoretically means that I'll be waking up at some ungodly early hour on Sunday, which means I'll be able to get to sleep at a reasonable hour Sunday night, which means I'll actually be not just up but actually awake when I have to go to work at the crack of noon on Monday.

Which also means that today is going to really, really suck. Because I just do not function when I haven't had any sleep. I can't think, I can't concentrate, I have no energy, I'm just generally utterly useless as a human being. So the plan is to do some laundry (because you don't need either brainpower or energy to do laundry) and then sit around for most of the day watching the most mindless-yet-stimulating videos I can find. (Hmm, I picked up The Mummy a while back and never did get around to watching it. That should fit the bill perfectly.)

As to why I'm ranting about all this here, I don't know, except that a) I enjoy ranting, and b) it allows me to entertain the illusion that there might be someone out there feeling sorry for me. Plus, if I happen to send you any e-mail today and it turns out to be completely incoherent, well, now you'll know why.

The good news is that, if all goes well, we should be abandoning this ridiculous rotation very, very soon in favor of something that works a lot better. Keep your fingers crossed for me and hope that all goes well, because I've only got so many mindless videotapes in my collection and you really don't want me trying to drive to the video store when I'm sleep-deprived...

Friday, August 16, 2002

There's No Friday Five This Week, But There's Still Friday Farscape (SPOILERS for episode 4.10, "Coup By Clam")

OK, is it just me or are the titles just getting sillier and sillier?

At any rate this was a really fun episode. Silly, but fun. And so full of only-on-Farscape elements: The "link" between characters (an old idea that's been used before, for example, on ST:TNG) which first manifests itself by linking, not their brains, but their gastro-intestinal systems. The urine... and the urine-drinking. (I kept flashing back to Jool's "They made me drink piss!" in "...Different Destinations.") The way every time the bad guy of the week started in with the exposition they'd tell him, "Shut up, we don't care!" (Which was a highly amusing way to deal with something that honestly would have been painfully boring, otherwise). And let's not even talk about that glimpse at what Noranti gets up to in the lab while she's alone, shall we? Even if it was something of a classic, "Oh, my god, I don't believe they're showing this!" Farscape moment.

The usual random thoughts (which may be even more random than usual):

The solution he comes up with strikes me as mildly implausible, but who cares? Scorpy gets to save the day! Yay, Scorpy! And it seems that they're now letting him roam around freely on the ship... I thought somebody was supposed to be watching him? Well, maybe it's just that they were understandably distracted. Or maybe they've finally come to the conclusion that if he wanted to screw them over, he'd have already done it a zillion times over by now. It seems they're even letting him deal with visitors, which rather surprised me, though it turns out to be a good thing that they did. The vivid reminder that he is quite capable of being a casual killer when the situation calls for it was nice, too. God, but he's a cool character. Wonderfully complex.

Every time I find myself thinking "Wait, why are they referring to that woman as 'he'?" and trying to accept this weirdly feminine-looking person as male, it turns out that "he" actually is a girl, after all. You'd think after The Crying Game, I'd quit allowing myself to be confused by stuff like this and just trust my judgment.

Speaking of the "dude looks like a lady" scenario, I must say, Crichton in drag is very unconvincing. (And why does he feel the need to do that ridiculous British accent every time he's in disguise?) But it did leave me with the thought that, you know, he might look really cute with long hair.

That creepy military guy's threats/advances on Crichton were a lot more disturbing than they would have been, say, last season. After Grayza, threats of sexual assault on Crichton kind of hit something of a nerve for me. Even if, ultimately, he seems to have come out of that experience less truamatized than he has been by a lot of the other stuff he's been through.

When they started cutting fingers off people, my very first thought was, exactly, "Sikozu! Do Sikozu! She can re-attach it!" But it was damned decent of her to volunteer, anyway.

And Rygel once again teaches us a very important lesson: Do Not Frell with the Muppet. Dude has a vindictive streak almost as big as Scorpius', and I think he enjoys it more.

Damn it, I'm finding it hard to stay mad at Noranti. She's like such a little kid. A dirty old woman of a little kid, to be sure, but it's actually kind of cute...

There were no scenes from next week. Given that next week's episode will be the last one before the long hiatus (waaaah!), and given what little I've heard about it (basically just the title and a cryptic one-line description), my paranoid little mind strongly suspects that whatever's going to happen next is so big that they don't even want to give us a hint. I hope so. It's about damned time they followed up on some of these mysteries!

Hey, After All That Mental Exertion Earlier, I Needed To Do Something Mindless

Oddly enough, somehow that description feels strangely right to me...

You know it!

Ha! So there! Take that, Wedding Date Predictor Test Thingy!
You Know, I'm Actually Kind of Tempted...

This is one of the nuttier ideas I've come across lately, but it's got an odd sort of appeal, nonetheless: The Time Travel Fund. You contribute $10 to a fund, it gets put into the bank to earn interest for the next 500 years (or however long it takes to invent time travel), at which point the money, now grown into a truly fantastic sum, theoretically gets used to come back and get you and give you a ride into the future. They seem to have this all pretty well thought out, too, e.g. "One provision built into the fund is that it must be not only technically feasible, it must be legal as well. A maintenance fund that part of your membership fee goes to can be used to pay whatever it is that passes as lawyers in the future to try and make it legal."
"Religion in Farscape," Part Third and Final

Even I'm starting to get tired of this topic, so let's go ahead and finish it up, shall we? Note that this is, indeed, Part 3, so that if you want to read the whole thing, you'll need to scroll down to Aug. 14 for Part 1, and then scroll up to the next day for Part 2. Not my fault, that's just how Blogger does things.

Once again, this thing is chock full o' SPOILERS, so if you don't want to know, say, that Character X dies in Episode Y, don't read it.

We'll continue by addressing the topics I promised to cover last time out, starting with:

Evidence for an afterlife in the Farscape universe:

OK, so Stark claims that he helps people "cross to the Other Side," and occasionally seems to hear voices from beyond the grave. But, one has to admit, Stark is scarcely the most sane and reliable of observers. When he claims to have seen Zhaan in "Relativity," Rygel accuses him of hallucinating, and for all we know, he might very well be right. So before we go taking his word for things, it's good to go looking for evidence to back him up.

We might, first of all, point to Sierjna, the ghost from "Meltdown." Rygel dismisses her, too, as a hallucination, but it's quite clear that she actually does exist. Mu-Quillis, like Stark, is able to see and interact with her, and she imparts information to Stark that he would otherwise have had no way of knowing. The fact that her existence is real, however, doesn't neccasarily indicate that she is exactly what Stark says she is. We have only his word that she is, indeed, dead, and that when he makes her disappear he is actually sending her on to an afterlife. So the evidence there is suggestive, but hardly definitive.

"The Choice," however, does appear to offer us something in the way of genuine, solid evidence. Yes, it's extremely difficult to tell which of Aeryn's visions of the dead John Crichton are real, which are fake, and which are merely her imagination. And, yes, the seer does admit that "Most of the time. . . what we do is a distortion, a hoax." But he goes on to say that he believes that this time it may have been real, and the facts would seem to support him. Because Aeryn sees not simply the John she knew, but also the elderly, alternate-universe John from "The Locket." Aeryn has no memories of those alternate events, because she did not live them. Thus, the images from "The Locket" could not have been taken from her mind. Only Zhaan and Stark were even aware of the alternate timeline's existence at all. One would need a genuine spirit channeler to get the information from Zhaan at this point, and it seems unlikely in the extreme that Stark would have imparted this information to the seer. Even if he did, some of the visions Aeryn sees are events that we saw happening in "The Locket," but which Stark could have had no knowledge of, because he wasn't on the planet. Given, then, that no living person could have so accurately produced those particular visions, the reasonable conclusion would seem to be that they are genuine.

The fact that Aeryn does see the alternate-timeline John, and that he appears to be conflated with Talyn-John in her visions, raises some interesting questions that we'll get to in the next section.

Just how many John Crichtons are there in the afterlife, anyway?:

So, in Farscape, there does seem to be evidence for the existence of a soul which survives after death. That soul, presumably, is something non-material (an idea we'll expand on in the next section). This immdediately runs into an interesting problem, because, as we've seen, it is quite possible in the Farscape universe to duplicate people. When Kaarvok splits John into two people -- each of them "equal and original" -- in "Eat Me," has he also duplicated John's soul? Do the resulting Johns possess two souls, or one? When the remaining John dies and passes on to the afterlife, will there be two of them there? Or will they in some way rejoin and become one?

It is arguable (though far from clear) that this is exactly what happened with Talyn-John and the alternate-universe John in "The Choice." When Aeryn attempts to contact the former, she gets both, and it's not clear just how much distinction exists between them. "I remember it all now," says John's image, seeming to indicate that he remembers the events of the alternate universe even though, technically speaking, they never happened (or, more accurately, they un-happened). In any case, whether as part of the soul of Talyn-John or as an independent entity, the alternate-universe John does seem to have found his way into the afterlife. Apparently souls split off into an alternate timeline do not simply cease to exist when that timeline is erased. Which would seem to indicate that there must also be an alternate-universe Aeryn out there in the spiritual realm somewhere, together with people, like Aeryn's grand-daughter, who never even existed in the primary reality. Metaphysically, this all seems to get very complicated, very quickly.

And then there's the issue of neural clones. We've seen that it is possible to copy a living person's mind and personality onto a chip, and that the copy is then quite capable of independent thought and action. What happens to the soul in that process? And, as the chip-copy of John asks in "Incubator," do neural clones go to heaven? Is that copy of John now sharing an afterlife with Talyn-John and the version from "The Locket?" If so, have they all blended together into one person, or do they remain distinct? And what of Harvey? Does he have a soul, independent of Scorpius'? Does the version on the chip have a different soul than the version that remained behind in John's mind? (This is a particularly interesting question, because the "neural spillover" version of Harvey that remains in John's mind after the chip is removed quickly becomes an extremely different entity from his original template, and, if he has to share with anyone, seems much more likely to be sharing a soul with Crichton than with Scorpius. After all, he is thinking with John's brain.) And do the two Harveys that exist after "Eat Me" possess one soul or two (assuming they possess any at all)?

I do not know the answers to these questions, but they're certainly interesting to think about.

General Observations, Tentative Conclusions, and Wild-Ass Speculations:

All right. Let's back up for a moment, leave the specific (and largely unanswerable) questions behind, and take a more general look at the way religion and spirituality are portrayed in Farscape.

First of all, most of what we see "holy" people doing in Farscape tends more towards what I'd be inclinced to label "magic" than towards anything traditionally associated with religion (at least, according to traditional Western notions of religion). These mystical or magical abilities may be associated with the worship of a deity and the practice of specific religious tradition (as with Zhaan), or they may be the object of reverance on their own (as seems to be the case with the Orican). Interestingly, the only time I can think of when we see the practice of religion without the display of genuine mystical abilities is in "Jermiah Crichton," where the corrupt priesthood of the Aquarans has erroneously elevated a mortal king to the status of godhood. Genuine religion, in Farscape, seems to be intimately tied up with the ability to attune oneself to, and make use of, mystical energies.

Which begs the question: just what is this mystical energy stuff? Interestingly enough, there does seem to be a fairly obvious (if frustratingly vague) answer, and that answer is that it is some sort of "life force" which exists in sentient beings (and possibly in other forms of life as well). This is actually quite consistent across a variety of mystical practices and practitioners. The Orican "transfers energy" from D'Argo to perform her death ritual, and then steals larger quantities from Moya to perform her re-youthening one. Zhaan offers up her own "spritual energies" to resurrect Aeryn, fatally weakening herself in the process. Maldis sustains himself on the life energies of others. And so on. I would hesitate to say that these "life energies" and the soul are the same thing, because it's clear that the "energy" of a given being can be used up or weakened, where the soul appears to be immortal. But, in the metaphysics of Farscape, it would seem reasonable that the two are intimately related. It is probably not insignficant that Stark, the person with the special affinity for the souls of the dead and dying, is himself in some obscure fashion, partially composed of such energy.

OK. So, to recap, the metaphysics of the Farscape universe seem to work like this: there are mystical energies associated with life forms (or at the very least with sentient life forms). These energies are non-material, and are often represented as belonging to a spiritual "realm," whatever that might actually mean. These energies can be used and manipulated by those who naturally possess the ability, or who have achieved the necessary spiritual discipline, and this manipulation is often associated with a sense of reverence and holiness. The soul appears to be similar in nature to these other energies, but, unlike them, it is indestructable (presumably), and it moves on into the spiritual realm after death (unless something prevents it).

Given this metaphyical background, then, what are we to make of the Delvian religion? The priests of the Delvian Seek seem to have a very good handle on all of this stuff, and since, in the Farscape universe, things really do appear to work the way the Delvian religion suggests that they work, we might, with some trepidation, label the Delvian Seek as a "true religion" (again, in the context of this particular fictional universe). But where does the Delvian Goddess come into all this? This particular metaphysics doesn't seem to require a deity, and certainly not any one specific deity. So, does the Delvian Goddess actually exist?

I'm inclined to think that the answer to that is "yes," though with a number of qualifiers. Once again, the key is Stark, and the fact that he takes up the practice of Zhaan's religion. Stark is certainly attuned to the metaphysical realities of the Farscape universe, in many ways probably more so than Zhaan (even if he lacks many of the abilities she possesses). He also, it seems, has direct, first-hand knowledge about the existence and nature of the afterlife. For Stark, this is not a matter of faith but a matter of fact. It therefore seems unlikely that he would be willing or able to convert to a religion which contradicts what he knows (not believes!) to be true. So the Delvian religion must be consistent with Stark's experience.

Now, I can see three possibilities here. One, which I mentioned previously, is that the Delvian Goddess really does exist, exactly as the Delvians claim, and that Stark didn't convert to the religion at all, because he already practiced it and knew it to be true. This seems intrinsically unlikely to me, and I don't think it's terribly well supported by the evidence. For one thing, the religion seems to be associated exclusively with the Delvians; we certainly never hear any mention of anyone else practicing it, including Stark's people, the Baniks. There is also the contradiction between "The goddess graciously receives to her bosom, all those who pass from this existence," and "Different beliefs, different destinations," which, if interpreted literally, would seem to indicate the perhaps Zhaan and Stark do not completely agree on such matters, after all.

The second possibility is that the Farscape universe is polytheistic: that multiple gods exist and that the Delvian goddess is one of them. Believers in specific gods would then go to the afterlives appropriate to them, and unbelievers (or believers in gods that don't actually exist) would presumably go, well, somewhere else. Stark, then, is merely shifting his allegiance, not changing his beliefs. The only possible canonical evidence for this, though, is him telling Crais in "The Choice": "If you've got a deity, you'd better make your peace with it now. Because I'm going to lead you to the other side real quick!" Which would seem to indicate that Stark accepts the possibility of multiple deities, and that he believes "making one's peace" with them before death will actually do some good. It would probably be silly to read too much into that, however, as it's mostly likely only Stark attempting to sound like a Tough Guy. One is almost inclined to think he must have gotten some Eastwood movies out of Talyn-John's memories while helping him cross over! In any case, the Delvian religion seems to be monotheistic, which would make it incompatible with a belief in multiple gods.

The third possibility, and the one I greatly prefer, is that the Goddess is actually a metaphor (albeit a powerful and important one, to be sure), that she is simply an anthropomorphised face given to the mystical and creative forces of the universe and is understood as such by both the Delvians and Stark. In that case, again, no actual changes of belief are necessary for Stark; all he does is to change the way in which he conceptualizes what he already knows to be true. One still has to reconcile this with the "different beliefs, different destinations" line, however. One possible way to do that might be to assume that one's beliefs affect not so much where one goes after death (since we all end up in the "spiritual realm" or on the "Other Side," wherever that might be), but one's perceptions of that realm. Delvians, who conceptualize the creative and mystical forces in the universe as a mother-goddess, will perceive the afterlife in terms of joining with their goddess. Those with other beliefs will perceive things differently... and those differing perceptions may be so large and so fundamental that those whose beliefs differ widely enough will find themselves unable to share the experience at all. Again, in this case, all Stark is doing is shifting his perspective, not altering his belief system in any fundamental way.

Of course, there is a fourth possibility, which is that Stark doesn't know or understand anywhere near as much as I'm giving him credit for, and/or he only adopted the Delvian religious practices to please Zhaan and doesn't particularly care about any possible contradictions. The former is certainly a distinct possibility, given how little we actually know about Stark's abilities. And I can't say with absolute certainly that the latter would be out of character for Stark, although it doesn't feel quite right to me for no reason I can firmly put my finger on.

So, until something better comes along (e.g. until Stark comes back and tells us, which seems rather unlikely), I believe I'm going to take possibility #3 as my tentative conclusion. It is, admittedly, a bit vague and a bit woo-woo for my tastes, being as I'm much, much more inclined to scientfic thinking than to mysticism. But, as I said starting out, the Farscape universe is not our universe. It's a fictional place, and it's perfectly free to follow fictional rules. And figuring out what the rules of the universe are (whatever universe it may be) is exactly what scientific thinking is all about. Even if the rules turn out to be woo-woo, after all.

And with that, I am, at last, done! I now return you to your regularly scheduled blog activity. But if you're really good, maybe sometime later I'll write you an essay on Star Trek...

Thursday, August 15, 2002

There Will Be a Short Intermission. Please Feel Free to Visit the Concession Stand.

The writing portion of my brain appears to have shut down for the night, so Part III of the "Religion in Farscape" essay will be brought to you tomorrow night. Try to contain your disappointment. In the mean time, have another silly quiz result:

I took the What Mythological Creature Are you? test by !


It was going to be the What Internal Organ Are You? quiz, but the image didn't show up. Count your blessings. (I'm a liver, just for the record.)
Religion in Farscape Essay, Part II

Like the title says, this is actually part 2 of this interminable and ridiculously detailed essay, so you'll want to scroll down to the last blog entry and read part 1 first. Or just skip the whole thing entirely, I won't mind. I'm mainly posting it here because this is, after all, my main dumping ground for things that hang around in my head and won't leave until I write them down. (Although I did get a google hit today from somebody searching for "Delvian Religion," so apparently somebody besides me is interested in this sort of thing. Ironically enough, though, it looks like whoever it was surfed by about half an hour before I started posting this stuff. Come back, O Web Searcher! I have more content for you! Oh, and as an aside to this aside, I looked at the google page for that search request, and apparently three of the top ten results are mine, from three completely different places on the web. That's actually kinda scary!)

Once again, this post will contain SPOILERS for pretty much the entire show, so you have been warned.

Anyway. Before I go on to talk about Stark (who is the single most complicated religious element in the show all by himself), I should make one correction to something I said last time. I was a little too quick to dismiss D'Argo and the Luxans from the list of people/species whose religious lives we know anything about. I was thinking that, while we see a number of Luxan rituals, none of them seem particularly religious in nature. I had, however, forgotten about the Orican, the Luxan holy woman seen in "Vitas Mortis." Interestingly, while the Orican is explicitly described as "holy" and treated with great reverence by D'Argo, and while she clearly has extremely powerful mystical abilities rather like Zhaan's, there is never any mention in the episode of any deity, or any indication of what religious philosophy or doctrine, if any, the Luxans follow. Indeed, the things we see this "holy woman" do feel much more akin to magic than to religion, to the extent that the two can be separated at all. This is actually fairly common in Farscape, and is something I'll come back to later.


So far, we've simply seen that different characters from different cultural backgrounds (unsurprisingly) have different religious beliefs, and that religous mystics (Zhaan, the Orican) do sometimes have what appear to be magical abilities. But we've had no solid evidence as to whether any of those beliefs is actually correct, whatever abilities their related practices might impart to people. Stark, however, changes all this because he appears to possess direct, first-hand experience that, at the very least, verifies the existence of an afterlife.

Stark himself displays a large number of mystical abilities, many of which are very obscurely defined, and a great many of which have to do with the dead and dying. Initially, he claims only to be able to "give a few thoughts," or to telepathically send soothing images, which he uses to comfort the dying Gilina in "The Hidden Memory" and the merely suffering John earlier in the same episode. Later, however, he describes himself as helping dying souls to "cross over" to "the Other Side." He claims to be able to hear the mental screams of the dying Baniks in "Liars, Guns & Money Pt. 2" and of the frozen-instants-before-death, trapped-on-This-Side Interions in "Season of Death," both of which have a noticable negative effect on him. In "Meltdown," he is able to see and talk to Sierjna, a soul "trapped between realms" (in other words, what we would call a ghost), something no one else on the ship can do, and (eventually) he is able to free her from this "realm" and send her on to "the next level." He joins in Unity with Zhaan as she dies in "Self-Inflicted Wounds Pt. 2", and also apparently makes some kind of mental contact with the dying Talyn-John in "Infinite Possibilities Pt. 2." Zhaan uses his energy to bring Aeryn back from death in "Season of Death." He claims in "Relativity" to have brought the temporarily-deceased Rygel back by joining with him, and to have seen the spirit of Zhaan at the same time. Later, in "The Choice," he hears Zhaan's voice speaking to him. Also in "The Choice," he is able to get infomation from a woman who is either already dead on in the process of dying -- it's hard to tell which, but she definitely isn't moving or speaking.

The point is, if anyone knows the secrets of death and the afterlife, it's Stark. So, what does this uniquely privileged invidual have to say to us about the nature of these eternal mysteries? Unfortunately, very little, and much of what he does say is rather difficult to make sense of. Indeed, the only really definitive statement he does make is in "...Different Destinations," when Nurse Kelsa asks him, " If we die, will I be with my daughter... after?" and he replies, "Different beliefs, different destinations. I cannot tell before the end." Now, both halves of this statement are extremely provocative. To take the second half first, "I cannot tell before the end" seems to strongly imply that he can tell at the end, that he has some idea, at least, of where these souls he's helping to "cross over" are crossing over to. In other words, it would seem that Stark really does know the answer, or at least part of it.

So, what can we make of "different beliefs, different destinations"? At first, it's tempting to interpret this as meaning that whatever one believes will happen after death is what happens (an idea that's been used before, in Terry Pratchett's Discworld books, for instance) and to extend that to reach the conclusion that all religions are therefore (in some sense) true. But this involves reading a great deal into what Stark actually says, probably much more than is justified. And, while it might appeal to our sense of pluralism or political correctness to postulate that all religions are equally true and valid, it is nevertheless logically impossible since in the Farscape universe, as in our own, many religions are mutually contradictory. Since Stark doesn't expand on his statement, we really have no way of telling what the exact relationship between "beliefs" and "destinations" is. (Nevertheless, I will doubtless be coming back to this particular quote more than once.)

It would seem reasonable to attempt to determine what Stark knows about the afterlife and the nature of life and death by examining his own expressions of religious belief. Unfortunately, this tends to confuse the issue even more. Stark, surprisingly, seems to bring no religious traditions of his own with him; instead the traditions we see him following (with great and apparently sincere enthusiasm) are Delvian. Now, there are a couple of possible explanations for this. It is, I suppose, possible that Delvian Goddess-worship is in fact the One True Religion, that Stark, with his direct pipline to the supernatural, is aware of this, and that that's why he practices it. A rather more likely-sounding possibility is that he took up the practices of that particular religion because of Zhaan. Her religion was extremely important to her, and she was extremely important to him. It's notable that he seems to get more devoted to Zhaan's religion after her death. That may be due to traces of Zhaan's mind or personality lingering within him after he asssited her in her death (something that does happen, as he indicates in "Self-Inflicted Wounds Pt. 2"). It might be the natural reaction of turning to religion for comfort after the death of a loved one. Or -- and this is my own favorite pet theory -- it may be that this goes back once again to "different beliefs, different destinations," and that Stark was eager to embrace Zhaan's religion because he wanted to ensure that he would end up in the same afterlife that she did so that they could be together after death.

Whew. OK, this is just getting longer and longer, and I'm getting a bit tired... I'm gonna post this now and go off and do some other stuff for a while, and hopefully later tonight I'll get back to it and we'll examine the evidence we have for the existence of an afterlife (other than Stark's say-so); take a look at an interesting metaphysical question involving souls, clones, and personal identity; and sum up with some general conclusions and wild-ass speculations. Doesn't that sound like a hoot?

Wednesday, August 14, 2002

And I'm Not Even Getting Graded on This...

As I believe we've more than adequately established, your humble blog-keeper is the sort of person who engages in ridiculously detailed and overanalytical examinations of television shows because, for some unfathomable reason, it's fun. Anyway, it's exactly what those English Department people always seemed to be doing when I was in school, except they were generally doing it with boring and over-rated novels, and they were a lot stodgier about it.

Anyway, in the course of my usual Obsessed SF TV Fan activities over the last week or two, I've found that one particular theme has kept cropping up over and over, and that's the issue of how religious beliefs are dealt with in various shows. First there was a mailing-list discussion -- which I didn't actually participate in, but did read with interest -- on religion (or the lack thereof) in Blake's 7. Then yesterday I happened to watch an episode of Deep Space 9 concerning a Bajoran prophecy, which brought up a whole host of religious issues. Tonight in the course of my websurfing I came upon a short post somewhere about religion in Farscape and the difficulties in making sense of the vague and sometimes contradictory ways it's dealt with religious matters. And then there's my friend Peter, who is absolutely obsessed with religious imagery and themes in film, and is always sending me articles on, say, the mystical elements in Star Wars, and with whom I've spent so much time corresponding that I've managed to become amazingly sensitized to this kind of thing myself.

The point is, all of this stuff got me to thinking. In particular, I got to thinking a lot about religion in Farscape, partly because it just happens to be my biggest obsession at the moment (at least until I get to see some more Buffy!) and partly because I, too, had noticed that the religious aspects of the show are a bit difficult to make sense of, and stuff like that niggles at me like a piece of popcorn caught between your teeth. Before I knew it, I pretty much had an entire essay on the subject in my head, and that being the case (especially considering that I'm still trying to kill time on the night shift), I thought I'd get the words out of my head and stick them up on here. Who knows, they might be of interest to somebody sometime. I mean, there are other obsessed fans out there.

A couple of notes. First, a Warning: there will likely be spoilers for pretty much the entire series thus far, 'cause it's hard to do that thing the ol' English teachers called "textual support" without, uh, talking about the "text." Second, while my own religious beliefs will doubtless bias my view (because they always do, for everybody), I really am pretty much setting them aside as irrelevant. The Farscape universe is not our universe, and, while I'm a hard-headed materialist when it comes to the real universe, I'm quite happy to concede that, in the Farscape universe, genuine mystical shit really does happen.

So. I thought I'd start out with a look at the individual characters and what we know of their religious beliefs or the beliefs of their people. Of the series regulars, I've left out D'Argo, Chiana, Jool, and Sikozu because (so far) I don't think we've learned anything about their religious standpoints at all (except to the extent that negative evidence counts as evidence). I've also skipped Crais, because I've covered the Sebaceans in general under Aeryn, and Crais does't reveal any personal opinions of his own. I'll do the easy ones first (even if mostly they're easy only because we have so very little information) and save the two really problematical characters for the end. After that, I'll try and tackle some of the more general issues.


I get the impression that John is probably either an agnostic or that, like many Americans, he is inclined to believe in the existence of God (or some vaguely equivalent higher power) without subscribing to any specific religious doctrine or practice. In "The Flax," facing the prospect of an artificially-induced Near-Death Experience, he tells Aeryn, "Humans believe...well, some believe...that there's this bright light. And that you, uh, end up somewhere else along with your friends, family, relatives -- all the people who died before you," and he wonders whether that will happen to him or not. He sounds open to the possibility, but not convinced of it, which is why I tend to peg him as agnostic. He does mention God once or twice (notably in "Into the Lion's Den Pt. 2," when he tells Scorpius they are on "God's timetable"). And the palpable disgust in his voice when he asks Lorana "How in God's name do you call yourself a priest?" in "Rhapsody in Blue" would seem to indicate a respect for the Delvian religion and for Lorana's holy office, if not for Lorana herself, which in turn would seem to indicate that he holds a fairly positive view of religion, whatever his own beliefs might be. We never see him pray or engage in any religious expression of his own, however, despite frequently being in the kinds of situations that tend to make people turn to religion for comfort or a sense of meaning. He does, interestingly, frequently refer to Fate (most notably in "Dog with two Bones"), but it's unclear to what extent he believes in its literal existence.


In "The Flax," Aeryn tells John, "Sebaceans believe when you die you die. You go nowhere; you see nothing." Which seems pretty definite, although it should be noted that Aeryn is probably only familiar with the beliefs of the Peacekeepers, and possibly shouldn't be taken as speaking for all Sebaceans everywhere. It's tempting to conclude from this that the Sebaceans (or at least the PKs) are atheistic, but that doesn't necessarily follow. We do hear them several times referring to what appears to be a deity named Cholak, in such phrases as "for the love of Cholak!" But whether that reflects a genuine belief or is merely a figure of speech (perhaps left over from a more religious past) it's impossible to say.

It's interesting to note that Aeryn's attempt to contact the dead Talyn-John's spirit in "The Choice" seems to be directly opposed to her statement that Sebaceans don't believe in an afterlife. Of course, there are many things which may have served to change her mind: the example of Zhaan's faith, John's own comments about his people's beliefs, Stark's assurances that such things are possible, her own experience with death. Doubtless grief, denial, and a desire to believe that John wasn't truly and irrevocably gone also had a great deal to do with it. (More about this epsiode later, because it actually has quite a number of interesting implications...)


He uses the phrase "by the Hynerian gods!" in a moment of extreme startlement in "Out of Their Minds" and mentions a Hynerian afterlife ("the Hallowed Realm") in "That Old Black Magic," so the Hynerians do seem to have some belief or tradition involving gods and an afterlife. Also significant is the line from "PK Tech Girl": "I think I was meant to die here the first time. That's why the spirits have brought me back to the Zelbinion." Whether the "spirits" and the "gods" are the same entites or not, though, is unclear. That line does seem to be rather out of character for Rygel, and it seems likely that the awe and terror in his voice have a great deal more to do with his fear of Durka than of the "sprits." Except for that one utterance, Rygel mainly seems to be rather skeptical and dismissive of religion and mysticism in general. He has little time for Zhaan's chanting and prayer, is extremely skeptical of the graveyard curse in "Taking the Stone," has a low opinion of the mystics in "The Choice," and so on. One gets the feeling that, basically, Rygel believes in Rygel.

Pilot and Moya:

The Leviathans and their Pilots worship the Builders, the creators of the Leviathans, and give them the reverence due to gods. The Builders (like the Prophets of Deep Space 9) do in fact actually exist, and do seem to have many of the properties usually ascribed to gods. Certainly they appear to be extremely powerful entities. We don't see Pilot engaging in anything that looks like day-to-day worship of the Builders, though he does appear to be praying in "Natural Election." Moya's religious observances, if any, are of course known only to herself and Pilot. We do know that Leviathans have a sacred "burial" ground, and that being laid to rest there is very important to them. Whether they believe in an afterlife or not is unstated.


Noranti appears to have mystical abilities related to her "third eye," though exactly what they are and how they work is anybody's guess. Most of the weird stuff she accomplishes appears to be through the use of hallucinogenic drugs, but it's likely that she does have some genuine "spiritual" powers. As for her religious beliefs, many people have interpreted her vote for "the Divine Eternal" in "Natural Election" as a nomination for herself, but it seems far more likely to me that this actually refers to some deity or other, and that her intention was to vote for "leaving the Captaincy in God's hands" or some equivalent statement. Then again, with Noranti, who knows?


All right, here's where it starts to get frustrating. Given that Zhaan was a major character for more than two seasons, that she was a highly-ranked priest of her religion, and that that religion was absolutely central to her life, we actually know amazingly little about that religion's tenets. I'll try to outline what we do know, and add what I hope are some reasonable conclusions and speculations. We know that Zhaan was a violent, troubled -- in her own word, "savage" -- person when she commited the crime for which she was arrested, and that she took up the path of the priesthood (the "Seek") in prison and became a greatly changed and highly spiritual person. We know that her religion centers around the worship of a goddess, whose name I've seen spelled about six hundred different ways, but which I'm inclined to transcribe as "Khylenn." Delvian priests ("P'au"s) progress through different levels (Zhaan is 9th when we meet her and progresses up to 10th in "Rhapsody in Blue"). They are capable of performing a variety of rather impressive mystical feats (we see Zhaan taking pain from others and melding minds in the practice of "Unity," among many other things). These abilities increase as the Pa'u increases in level, but such increases in power must not be pursued too recklessly. If the Pa'u's grasp of power exceeds his or her ability to control his or her own darker impulses, the result is insanity, as we see, again, in "Rhapsody in Blue." It seems most likely to me that these are natural Delvian psionic abilites, honed and harnessed by the mental discipline imposed by the Seek, but other intepretations are, of course, possible.

The religion, at least as practiced by Zhaan, seems to encourage and value serenity, compassion, love of one's fellow beings, non-violence, and the practice of the healing arts. It does not, however, appear to encourage passivity or to discourage sensuality. Religious practices include a great deal of meditation (often done unclothed), chanting and prayer. There appears to be more than one sect of the religion; Tahleen's group in "Rhapsody" seem to be decidedly out of the mainstream. And it is certainly not entirely free from politics and corruption, again, as seen in "Rhapsody." It does not appear to be an evangelical religion, as we never see Zhaan attempting to convert anyone (though see comments on Stark below).

The Delvian religion definitely includes a belief in an afterlife, though there is some contradiction on the question of just who ends up there. At Aeryn's funeral Zhann states that "the goddess graciously receives to her bosom all those who pass from this existence regardless of faith or belief," and she seems quite confident that the goddess will welcome the (presumably) atheistic Sebacean. And yet, in "Self-Inflicted Wounds Pt 2," she describes her doubts about her own fitness for the afterlife: "For the longest time I feared physical demise, because my spiritual essence was suspect, but now I know I'm worthy. Now I know the transgressions have melted from my soul. Now I know I shall meet my Goddess, and be accepted to her bosom." This need not neccessarily be viewed as a contradiction, though... It is possible that Zhaan's belief is that, while the Goddess does indeed welcome all to her bosom, only those who are spiritually worthy are accepted into a close, intimate relationship with the goddess after death. Or perhaps standards are higher for priests than for unbelievers, though that seems rather harsh on the priests. It may of course simply be that the apparent contradiction is merely a reflection of Zhaan's own doubts and uncertainties about her beliefs.

OK, this is getting really long, and I'm going to have to go soon, but this I'm enjoying this way too much not to finish, so we'll mark it To Be Continued. Tune in tomorrow for a look at the conundrum that is Stark, an examination of the empirical evidence for the existence of an afterlife in the Farscape universe, and a look at the intriguing question of just how many souls belonging to John Crichton there are in existence (one can make a compelling argument for any number from one to four!).

Hey, I have been told that I needed a hobby...