Snowcrash, Latin, Louis XIV and tattoos..

So, while reading Snowcrash recently, I came across a latin quote, that in the book, was printed on the box for a very powerful beta version of a hyper velocity repeating rail gun that was simply named

">Reason, as in

“I am sure they will see reason and let us through…”

The latin quote was “Ultima Ration Regum”, which I instantly looked up (it was explained later in the book) but the quote translates to:

">“The last argument of kings”.

Louis 14th had it embossed on all his cannons during his reign…


So, I have always liked the idea of a meaningful tattoo, but beyond the kids names, I have never been able to come up with something that I could get somewhere hidden by clothes, but that was guaranteed to never reach the point of “I wish I hadn’t done that”: I would need something meaningful that I could decline to explain lest I wanted to, but was guaranteed not to date">like the guy who got a QR codes tattooed on his chest that launches a youtube animation for example

So anyway, this latin quote resonated and I have been playing over it in my mind as a distraction from the stresses of life lately, but today, I happened to have 5 minutes and decided to play with the google Latin / English Translation…

well.. playing with the idea of the foolishness of the whole concept of “ultima ratio regum”, I tried adding prefixes like:

false last argument of kings

crazy last argument of kings 

etc.. etc…

well, finally, I tried “bad", which translates to malum, so i whacked some form of “malum” (I can’t remember what the latin google had returned by this stage) on the front of what was last translated in my playing, then, using the trick made famous by urban legends of CIA research work during the cold war on machine based translation, I inverted the translation to see what the algorithm came back with the other way:

"malum ultimae rationes regum" was what google inverted to, which translated back to be:


“the ultimate evil of reasons”…

my jaw dropped and my appreciation for the elegance of language over the ages was launched into orbit…

so playing again, this time I tried just adding malum to the original quote and my jaw dropped even lower:

"malum ultima ratio regum” translates to: “the ultimate evil of the system"


I think I just found a quote worthy of a tattoo, or a family crest….