Balthasar has died. Long live Balthasar.

A hard drive lives and dies by its manufacture and it’s use. I have three storage drives in my most recent computer, Hamburg. Caspar, which houses my music and some documents. Melchior, which houses documents, my video archive, and games. Balthasar, which houses backups of these others and all else.

You might notice a pattern. I’m burning through references pretty quickly. Two computers ago was Tokyo III, last computer was Matsushiro. My current computer is Hamburg and has three additional storage drives named for the three supercomputers in Neon Genesis Evangelion; which were in turn named for the three kings (wise men?) in the Jesus birth myth.

What I’m getting at is that a new hard drive is hard to work with. Not in task, but in time. Moving 4 terabytes of information, years of footage, photos, documents… the bytes stack up fast.

Oh well, at least I got a decent price on it. And it probably wasn’t a used drive either. So far as my tests can show.

I have an idea for another book

You know that thing where you never really finish one project before you’re on to the next? I have an idea for another book.

So I’m more than a little fascinated with the history and historicity of religious movements. Not the religions themselves, but the context of the faiths through their history.

Like this: the creation myth in the Abrahamic religions shouldn’t be taken literally. But rather, the original version codified in the Tanakh is an obvious allegory for a people who had (probably at the time of writing it down) recently lost a major center of faith and society (the first or second temple, I can’t quite recall at this moment). It’s a story about how to deal with being forced out of your home. No fantastical elements required. It’s very human: grief and dealing with it.

That’s what I want to write. I want to take all the Torah stories, and the Bible and Quran too, and pick them apart for what they actually mean in a the context of when they were written. I mean, if Genesis is basically an allegory for losing a home, then what was the story in Esther supposed to mean (given that it’s not historically accurate at all)? Or that one depressing Bible book (started with an E…)? And I’ll be honest, I don’t know much about Islam, but I bet it follows the same pattern of codifying myths with the intent of helping people.

Now, you might be wondering what my reasoning is. “Michael, you’re just a curmudgeon and an atheist, what could you possibly get from studying the bible?” The Abrahamic religions were and are the most prolific faiths in human history, two offshoots of the first boasting about two billion (BILLION~!) followers each (and that’s not getting into other world religions) Why wouldn’t I be interested in the reason why?

Black Holes and Revelations

I couldn’t help but make a reference to my favorite band when I wanted to talk about the first ever image of a black hole humanity has ever gotten.

So I know it’s been a while… since May of last year if memory serves… since I typed away at my keyboard; ranting to an audience I don’t have and treating my personal website like a bad LiveJournal offshoot… I’ve gotten off topic.

What topic, you might ask? This black hole is amazing. It took so much effort on the part of those involved, and gave us such a mind boggling discovery that I wouldn’t be surprised to see this image as one of those “pictures that changed the 21st century” compilations in 30 or 40 years time. Assuming our civilization lasts that long with the disease that is willful ignorance.

I’m not particularly hopeful.

Ah, willful ignorance. The willing and deliberate act of not learning when new information comes your way. It can be simple, like not being willing to change how you read a strange name when you are corrected to its proper pronunciation. It can be hard, like breaking free of the learned belief that god is real or Pluto is a planet on par with the other full size planets.

I find intelligence attractive. Smart people willing and able to change with new information and with a drive to learn. You don’t have to know everything, but you have to be willing to learn anything.

Counterpoint: I find willful ignorance bordering on and surpassing simple stupidity so terribly offensive, nearly sickening, I hardly speak to a certain coworker on account of their certainty that the Earth is flat.

And this morning I watched a YouTube pundant (for what else is everyone’s personal soapbox good for) explain how science, evolution, and the 1969 moon landing are all wrong and you’re an idiot for thinking any of them exist because NASA (and he says only NASA, despite all the agencies responsible for creating this fascinating image) could have made the black hole picture in photoshop in ten minutes and on no budget. He goes on to make a badly photoshopped black hole in about that time frame. And narrated it.

The level of stupidity here is so great that my breakfast is considering making a my reappearance as something foul.

But that’s it for now. Black holes are cool, conspiracy theorists are offensive to me, smart people rock. And I have to go into work now.


This is why I prefer to get in bed exhausted…

Do you know what’s worse than the existential dread of having to get up in the morning and go to work? Knowing that you don’t really have anything to complain about in the grand scheme of the pageant of humanity.

I have a job I actually like and that I’m actually pretty good at performing. I have a good balance between that and a range of friends that I actually get to see or interact with fairly often. I’m enjoying the endless rewrites of my book. I might be in my dad’s living room, but money is almost right to change that.

Life is fair. Not always evenhanded, but fair. And I’m sitting around doggy paddling in an ocean of dread and thoughts ranging from being sour about the fall of Constantinople to wondering who I’m going to room with so I can trust my shit won’t vanish in the middle of the night.

Ever have those nights, where everything is pretty much OK but where you think the world is on fire?

1 February 2001, 0836

In the early days of the twenty-first century, a self-proclaimed time traveler from the year 2036 arrived online. As the title of this essay suggests, what I’ve chosen to discuss today pertains to John Titor’s post for 1 February 2001, 0836 in the morning.

On responding to earlier posts by other people, Titor says that his casual reference to the year 2008 “was a general date by which time everyone will realize the world they thought they were living in was over.”

He goes on to describe events as he learned or experienced them on his worldline (his term for the timeline he experienced as the natural timeline).

“The civil war in the United States will start in 2004. I would describe it as having a Waco type event every month that steadily gets worse. The conflict will consume everyone in the US by 2012 and end in 2015 with a very short WWIII.”

As should be clear to anyone who experienced this worldline, there was no civil war in America in 2004, and no global conflict that resulted in a short-lived world war.

However, one could argue that America has been experiencing “Waco type event[s]” with frighteningly increasing frequency over the past decade or so.

For the sake of argument, I’ll point out events in broad categories. America has faced domestic terrorist acts such as bombings like that carried out in Boston in 2013 and an unforgiving and brutal wave of school shootings over the past several years; acts of slaughter such as those in Aurora, Colorado and Orlando, Florida taken against innocent people, a systemic institutional racism shown in the police-related shooting deaths of numerous young black people in this country, and a decline in wealth equality resulting in mounting discontent by many in the population complete with another push for polarization of political philosophy.

I need to take a breath after that. We’ve had a busy couple of decades since the century turned over.

This series of events could be the “Waco type” events Titor described, but that have not yet resulted in a formal civil war. Perhaps we’re already seeing some of what such a war would be in this nation. Some parts are fought by protestors in the streets; some by young people looking for work in Washington; some by desk mice at their keyboards. But I do hope that the time traveler’s future never comes to pass.

The last thing we need is to give the current administration a real reason to suppress people further.


Art Anywhere

You can find art anywhere. I don’t know why the camera was even on at this moment, but one must always take the shot. Perhaps still something of a work in progress, but I think I’m getting close to the image I want.


Until next time,


“Work” Playlist 101

Originally, this was going to be an intro to Japanese music by way of some of the more popular artists out there… but I don’t want to pretend to know more about a subject than I do, so I’m settling on an intro to my Work playlist. The set includes just about everything and there isn’t really a rhyme or reason to it.

Don’t mistake this as an attempt to critique any of the music included or to make statements about how good or not a song is… It’s a list. There isn’t even a proper order except the one implied by the order of the list itself.

As always, I go out of my way to make life easy. There’s a YouTube playlist all set up here, or if you want to read my comments, I also have the videos all lined up below.


Until next time,


Ride on Shooting Star

The Pillows’ Ride on Shooting Star is the only place I can really start. I’d be lying if I didn’t mention how it evokes in me memories of that oddest of shows, FLCL, but The Pillows hold their own without having to rely on another medium to support their music.

If The Pillows are your style, and you’re looking for more along Japanese rock and punk, check out their other music, Please, Mr. Lostman and Terminal Heaven’s Rock.

Tabi no Tochuu

Natsumi Kiyoura’s Tabi no Tochuu served as the opening track for the 2008-09 anime adaptation of the light novel series Spice and Wolf (and if you follow my earlier blog, you’ll remember me, quite rightfully, calling S&W “medieval economics: the anime”).

What this song does outside of reinforcing the themes of the story that made use of it, is to tell a story unto itself. And I don’t know about you, but I like my music to have a little prosic flair to it.

If English is more you’re style but you want the same song, Amanda Lee did a fantastic cover a few years back (long before she was cool and internet famous).

Beautiful World

Utada Hikaru has been a favorite artist of mine for a number of years now, dating back to that first time I remember thinking to myself, “I want to hear that song from Kingdom Hearts again.” I don’t intend to downplay her beautiful music or talent, but neither music nor anime were at the forefront of my mind in 2004; in fact, neither were really even considerations outside the fact that music permeates life and anime was all Toonami showed (the best stuff on TV back then).

In addition to Beautiful World, I’d recommend this incredibly high-concept music video of her’s for Hikari, A much more recent single Sakura Nagashi, and, if you want more of a small taste of her equally prodigious English language catalog, her cover of Green Day’s Boulevard of Broken Dreams is worth a listen.

Ready Steady Go

I didn’t bother finding a version of Ready Steady Go that wasn’t one with the faces of Edward and Alphonse Elric plastered over it. There wasn’t any point. I found myself enthralled, perhaps for the first time, when I heard this high-energy, strangely foreign but still familiar, track by L’arc~en~Ciel.

For something in the same ballpark, listen to Afromania’s Let’s Go Together, ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION’s Yuugure no Aka, or TommyHeavenly6’s PAPERMOON.

For comparison, think R.E.M. or, if you want to stretch, the Mighty Mighty Bosstones.

Hayate no Gotoku

Maybe it’s because I really enjoyed the anime adaptation of Hayate no Gotoku; maybe it’s because the show is basically Japanese Seinfeld; maybe it’s because KOTOKO has some catchy sounds.

On the scale of “is this J-pop enough?” I’d say it outweighs the rest of this list by a bit. Other examples under a similar umbrella: KOTOKO’s Shichitenhakki Shijou Shugi, and Supercell’s Black Rock Shooter.

Only My Railgun

Higher energy, more like dance music than anything else. Often associated with the flashiest of videos, scenes and meant to hook the audience.

Differing from the above by only the closer ties to electronic music – and there’s nothing wrong with some fanciful electronic music. Other examples include Aya Hirano’s Super Driver, Mami Kawada’s PSI-Missing, Altima’s Burst the Gravity and T.M.Revolution and Nana Mizuki’s Preserved Roses.


I’ll be the first to admit, sometimes the music I listen to is, without question, gibberish. But nonsense can be an art form unto itself when applied properly. SawanoHiroyuki[nZk]:mizuki’s &Z (and z) is part word salad, part story. I’ll leave it up to the listener to decide what she’s saying.

In this same vein: Hitomi’s Innocent Days (vocalization I’ve never been able to make sense of, let alone find lyrical content), Yuki Kajiura’s We Have To Defeat It (which has lyrics, but they’re vaguely Latin or Arabic gibberish), and Sawano’s aLIEz (a masterpiece of Japanese, Chinese, English and German gibberish and/or high-concept lyrical content that requires gumption and a Doctoral degree in a dozen Humanities-related fields to decipher).

Note: Amanda Lee and Molli at Radient Records have made a point to try and figure out this song. They’re moderately successful.


Origa’s Rise is something that found me when I started watching Ghost in the Shell (given the image of Motoko Kusanagi, I’d think it was obvious). But Origa’s other music kept me listening.

I don’t really know many similar western songs (or at least I can’t think of many off the top of my head).

False Regeneration

During the rising action phase of violence in The End of Evangelion, Evangelion Unit Two suddenly, and without any reason that science could confirm, reactivated and went on a five minute rampage that resulted in hundreds of deaths.

And that’s not as bad as it gets.

Point is, there’s a great deal of fine orchestral music to be found in Japanese media. Yoko Shimomura’s Dearly Beloved, Ryuichi Takada and Satoru Kosaki’s Rekishi no Tenkanten (Converging Point of History), Hayato Matsuo’s Letzte Battalion, and Nakagawa Kotaro’s Black Knights.


This is just an extra. Because Excalibur. Fool.

Musings on the 21st Century

“Basic message repeats: V.G. Smith reports. Currently stranded in 21st century. Taking long way around. If possible, establish currency drawing accounts at pre-established banking institutions for living purposes; otherwise, return is set for 6 July 2129. Have Gardiston and crew ready at that date. Best wishes, James.”

Musings on the early 21st century:

Having been born into a particular era, I know a fair bit about the people and society therein. That’s not to say I’m an expert in psychology or sociology or anything; but I know people. Well, at least my own era’s people. People aren’t hard to follow. OK, think of it this way: what separates a man born in 2000 from a man born in 2100?

The man born in 2000 is mired in the muck that is economics and religion; he is trapped in a society that has its morals and priorities all mixed up. How, in all the world, did the human race not realize that you can’t practice religions with rules like, “Love thy neighbor,” while living in an economic system where one has to work for a third or more of a life just to survive?

The man born in 2100 has similar problems, but economics isn’t one of them. People are still, in a general sort of way, fools, ignorant and downright stupid. But at least the majority of them are decently educated, fed and are accepting of decent customs like privacy and an actual application of the Golden Rule.

Having to live through the 21st century for a second time has taught me something interesting about the time that whelped me: people believe only what they want to. Case in point, a man I work with (I picked up a part-time job to observe these people a little.) thinks research into Dark Matter and Kerr black holes will revolutionize science and energy production. Likewise, another man I work with thinks the election of a wealthy fascist into political office will revitalize the waning economy. Is either right? Not at all. But it’s OK to dream of a better tomorrow even if a dream is only a dream if it never comes to fruition.

Just the other day, I had stimulated a conversation with one of the scientists from the labrotory on the other end of town about the future of human exploration. I wanted to see where my coworkers would take the subject she and I spoke so heatedly about, so I kept prodding and playing advocate to the Devil in every point. It amused me, if only because I carry such foreknowledge to this century, that they couldn’t see past the accomplishments of the automobile and the mobile music player. These people seem to worship such small things.

Offhandedly, I gave an exact year to the first Solarian interstellar flight as being 61 years from the present date. Nothing but blank stares and a questioning throat sound; so I explained, “The first time we saw Alpha Centauri up close was in 2077, right at the end of the year. Nothing there, obviously, but the stars were neat to watch circle one another from only a few AU away. Been there myself, once, when I was a kid. It’s a tourist trap now. Come see the Earth-men dance around in zero-gravity. Marstarians and Ellegrans come and fuel the Solarian tourist market by taking in shows and enjoying delicacies of Earth and Mars. Ellegrans especially have a taste for North American grass served with a light soy sauce drizzle or a vinaigrette. Oddly, they don’t like lettuce or other human veggies served the same way. To each their own, I guess.”

More blank stares. To each their own, indeed.

The people of this time period are odd in other ways. They care about skin color and place of birth. If I told someone I have an Britannian/European best friend and his wife is French/Welsh nobility, they’d probably laugh at me. (On which part, I wonder: Britannia or foreign nobility?) If I expanded and made even the slight mention that the Martian Augustian Marquis or the Margrave la Albion had skin darker than a boring, sunless pink, they might even take violent offence. I don’t understand these people that were once my colleagues and peers. But at least I’ve grown away from that way of thinking, though I admit to once being such a close minded fool as well.

It should only be another few years before I can set up delay mail to myself – can’t set up too quickly, should Past Me take notice and start asking questions. 2037 should give me a nice margin for error and it’ll get me free of fallout from the last major war this century. Worst case: the letters don’t make it due to human error or data failure. Doesn’t matter really – I’m taking the long way home regardless of the assistance I get from the Method.

Kara Thrace and Her Special Destiny (Battlestar Spoilers)

Sounds like a bad cover band, right? Well they exist apparently. But that’s not the point of my post. 

You know what bothered me about BSG? For all the talk Leoban (Leobin?) did about Kara and her destiny, he sure did run away fast when it turned out she actually died in that viper crash before they found the original Earth. 

Why did he do that? He just vanished from the show at that point. No closure or further exploration into Kara or the Cylon God; just gone. 

At least investigate; rather than letting your apparent life’s work die with Kara. 

Fracking Toasters, not finishing their business. 

Rant over.