December 27, 2017

Out with the old, in with the new


2017 was a very busy year for me. Although I did not enjoy any sales worth mentioning, I added tee shirts and long sleeve tee shirts to my product line. Three books and four unique tee shirt designs is a very productive year for me. I'm slow. Everything I create is a long struggle. For example, I started organizing my fourth book ("The Book of Lost Dreams") in 2015 and I am still working on it. I have the title and cover and concept and four stories nearing completion. When it is finished, the book will contain at least 10 closely interlinked short stories. The precedent I am working from is "In a Grove", a short story by Ryunosuke Akutagawa that is part of the Tuttle Classics edition of "Rashomon and other stories".

"In a Grove", is a fascinating Japanese tale of murder and mystery told from the perspectives of multiple participants and eye witnesses, including the victim. I am writing ten stories set in three different locations and time periods, all linked together by a series of paranormal events that occur when two different time travelling civilizations find themselves battling over their "true" history. Genre-wise, the majority of the book is a spin on the urban fantasy archetype originally created by Terri Windling for a series of books and short stories set in a fictional universe called, "Borderlands". I first encountered this concept in two different books, "The Last Hot Time", by John Ford and "The Essential Bordertown", by Terri Windling and Delia Sherman. The idea of fantasy characters in a modern urban setting caught me completely off-guard. I was immediately hooked, and quickly disappointed to discover very few writers had taken up the challenge.

Now NetFlix has joined the bandwagon with their new movie, "Bright". I have to say, until they announced this movie I have never once been tempted to join NetFlix. If they had not announced it the week before I flew back to Tokyo, I would have joined the very day I learned about it. Now I guess I have to wait until I get back to Ohio to join NetFlix and watch it. Many of my friends have already seen it and loved it. Naturally, the "professional" critics are deeply unimpressed. I have been working on my next book since early in 2015, sometime in Spring. I am a bit worried that after I release it everyone will think it is some kind of fanfiction. I guess my sense of timing has not improved at all in the half-decade since suffering through "My Albino Moon Nightmare".

So let me state here, as a permanent record, "The Book of Lost Dreams" has absolutely nothing to do with "Bright". I started the book two years before the movie was announced and although I am incorporating many elements of urban fantasy, my inspiration for the collection comes from Akutagawa, Ford, and Windling, not the NetFlix movie, "Bright". I strongly suspect the writer of "Bright" has some of the same reading habits I do, thus the similarities, but naturally I cannot know for sure because I don't even know who the writer is! On the other hand, I would not be disappointed if the success of "Bright" helps me sell a few additional copies of "The Book of Lost Dreams" after I finally get it into the market.

I am not above riding on the coattails of my betters if given the chance.







December 02, 2017

Glenn Beck Interviews Google


This blog post is in response to some of the issues raised during this interview on Blaze TV: Glenn Interviews Google Guys

I haven't watched Glenn Beck in a couple months, so I switched over to Blaze TV to catch the rebroadcast of this week's shows. The five episodes I watched covered a broad range of topics from Bitcoin to Shadow Government to a tantalizing interview with two of the most important executives at Alphabet, the company that owns Google and it's various enterprises. Some of the topics raised are issues I have dealt with before:
The Superstar Economy is Destroying Us
Maliki Jurisprudence and the First Amendment
Normalization of Aberrant Behavior
Stop Being a Pawn
In Ten Years There Will Be No More Jobs

The Google Guys and technotopians everywhere all make a few assumptions about the human animal that I find to be highly delusional and dangerously flawed. The most insidious of these occurs when they assume that humans are essentially "good", and by "good" they mean enthusiastic, cooperative, respectful, eager to please, and helpful whenever possible. Almost as dangerous is when they assume that because they were able to master the intricacies of computer programming and its related physics everyone in the world should be able to do so as well. They acknowledge it will more difficult for some of us, but they are eager to assert that all technology is simple and intuitive and open to anyone willing to study it.

Robotics, nanotechnology, and artificial intelligence are all rapidly reaching their peak. Any day now we will find ourselves in a world where robotic companions cater to our every whim, death is as preventable as the common cold, and all the information in creation is at our fingertips. Some would argue we are already there, but this is wishful thinking. This brilliant, shiny, utopia is no longer mere fantasy. Our science and technology has risen to the point where all that remains is to work out the details. The broad principles, concepts, natural laws, and physical capabilities are all known and carefully cataloged. We can do this. In fact, we are doing this already in many different fields. Self-driving cars are being tested everywhere and sex robots are available from two different companies: Real Doll in their Realbotix franchise and True Companion, a company specifically created to market a sex robot named "Roxxxy". It goes without mentioning that half of you are reading this blog post on your smartphone. IBM's Watson project is slowly acquiring the knowledge and deductive ability to replace your doctor, your lawyer, your accountant, your children's school teachers, the professors at the local university, your financial adviser, and even you.

For the top 0.01% of the world economy all this technology is both amazing and wonderful. They have enough resources to acquire it, enough intelligence to learn how to use it, and enough disdain for the rest of us to assume we don't need it. Therein lies the core danger. The day is rapidly approaching when there will be no employment. Robots will build, maintain, and recycle everything. They will even grow and process our food. There will be no more jobs at all. The world will have two classes of people, those who control the tech and those who do not. This is the technotopia that you and I will live to see come to fruition. Those who do not control the tech will be anyone who struggled with math in high school, who never made it to college, or who lacked ambition to spend their youth mastering the intricacies of the scientific theory that makes the technotopia possible. The most unlucky of all will be anyone who is born into the families of the world's unemployed former working class. The technotopians are assuming that all of us who wash dishes, work on assembly lines, wait on tables, and change oil for a living are intelligent and creative enough to fill our days with painting and music instead of working and making a living. They honestly believe we who are too poor to buy a sex robot and too stupid to program a computer will somehow magically find a place in the shiny new world they are presenting to us. They assume we will be grateful to them for the technology we can't afford to buy and can't figure out how to use.

The technotopia envisioned by those with a natural gift for science and the ambition to spend every waking hour looking for ways to make money is about to sweep across the globe. There will be a thermonuclear war first, probably initiated by North Korea or Iran (or both of them working together). It is tempting to believe that this war is being artificially created by some vast Shadow Government conspiracy dedicated to eugenics and genocide, but that vision is as false as the promises of the technocrats. The human animal has always been driven by powerful animal instincts. A few individuals are able to suppress the animal with work or entertainment, but most people are still driven every hour of every day by the need to eat, the desire for companionship, and the hope of some distraction from the misery of their struggle to survive. The vast majority of us are in such desperate need we cannot take the time to see beyond our daily bread and those few close friends or relatives who help us achieve it. We might be factory workers or table servers or convenience store clerks, but we are still living with the same daily search for food and shelter that drove our hunter-gatherer ancestors. No matter how hard we try, either through insanity, lack of intelligence, or lack of opportunity, we cannot plan for the future beyond the next few days.

Most people are not kind. Period. This is a sad fact. The human animal is very easy to damage emotionally and mentally. Oftentimes, we damage ourselves through guilt, jealousy, or pure animal attraction. Once the human psyche is damaged, it can never be repaired. It can be taught to function in productive, cooperative ways despite the damage, but the damage itself never truly heals. Those scars create the beautiful variation in personality that defines humanity and separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom. It is our emotional and mental scars that make us human and give us each our unique worldview. The downside, of course, it that some of us never learn to behave productively or cooperatively. No matter how hard we try, we cannot move beyond the anger and destruction our scars inspire. Some of us become violent criminals, terrorists, abusive spouses, or emotional tyrants because the damage runs so deep that we cannot learn a different set of behaviors. This has always been true. This will always be true. There will always be people who resort to violence and impose that violence on the innocent. When technotopians assume that their wonderful shiny toys will magically stop people from behaving violently they are allowing themselves to believe a fantasy. They ignore the reality of human existence, the power of the animal instincts we all carry, and the ease with which an individual can be damaged beyond repair. Crime is not going to suddenly vanish because rapists are given sex robots and serial killers are guarded by machines. We cannot engineer a new human animal free of all the desires and jealousies that create violent behavior because the most violent among us are driven by exactly the same impulses as the most helpful and cooperative among us. Both "good" and "evil" behaviors produce positive results for those individuals who choose them.

We stand on the cusp of an entirely new era in human history. Sooner than you expect, every machine in your life will be smarter and more resourceful than you are. Machines will replace you at work, satisfy your lover in ways you cannot anticipate, and care for you children so well they no longer need you to nurture them. What will you do when you have nothing to do and your political leaders tell you, "Be happy! Learn to paint or play the piano!"





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