andrewlb notes





  • In the Tolkien, not the endocrinological or Snow White sense, Randy is a Dwarf. Tolkien’s Dwarves were stout, taciturn, vaguely magical characters who spent a lot of time in the dark hammering out beautiful things, e.g. Rings of Power. Thinking of himself as a Dwarf who had hung up his war-ax for a while to go sojourning in the Shire, where he was surrounded by squabbling Hobbits (i.e., Charlene’s friends), had actually done a lot for Randy’s peace of mind over the years. He knew perfectly well that if he were stuck in academia these people, and the things they said, would seem momentous to him. But where he came from, nobody had been taking these people seriously for years. So he just withdrew from the conversation and drank his wine and looked out over the Pacific surf and tried not to do anything really obvious like shaking his head and rolling his eyes. (Location 1999)
  • “I see that you and yours have displayed adaptability and that is good,” says Bobby Shaftoe to his son, but sees immediately that he’s not getting through to the kid at all. He feels a need to get something into the kid’s head that is going to stick, and this need is stronger than the craving for morphine or sex ever was. So he picks up the boy and carries him through the compound, down semicollapsed hallways and over settling rubble-heaps and between dead Nipponese boys to that big staircase, and shows him the giant slabs of granite, tells how they were laid, one on top of the next, year by year, as the galleons full of silver came from Acapulco. Doug M. Shaftoe has been playing with blocks, so he zeroes in on the basic concept right away. Dad carries son up and down the stairway a few times. They stand at the bottom and look up at it. The block analogy has struck deep. Without any prompting, Doug M. raises both arms over his head and hollers “Soooo big” and the sound echoes up and down the stairs. Bobby wants to explain to the boy that this is how it’s done, you pile one thing on top of the next and you keep it up and keep it up—sometimes the galleon sinks in a typhoon, you don’t get your slab of granite that year—but you stick with it and eventually you end up with something sooo big. He wishes that he could also make some further point about Glory and how she’s been hard at work building her own staircase. Maybe if he was a word man like Enoch Root he would be able to explain. But he knows that this is going way over the toddler’s head, just as it went over Bobby’s head when Glory first showed him the steps. The only thing that’ll stick with Douglas MacArthur Shaftoe is the memory that his father brought him here and carried him up and down the staircase, and if he lives long enough and thinks hard enough maybe he’ll come to understand it too, the way Bobby does. That is a good enough start. (Location 18143)
  • Semper Fidelis Dawn star flares on disk of night I fall, sun rises (Location 18477)

New highlights added June 30, 2024 at 3:06 AM

  • “That would be expensive.” Eberhard waves his hand dismissively. “Bandwidth is cheap.” “That is more an article of faith than a statement of fact,” Randy says, “but it might be true in the future.” “But the rest of our lives will happen in the future, Randy, so we might as well get with the program now.” (Location 6787)