Friday, March 24, 2017

States of Change: Chapter 8: Palmetto

**States of Change is a Goodness First work of serial, speculative fiction. The story and subtext are provided for reader entertainment and contemplation. Feel free to comment on the ongoing story-line and themes .**

State-of-the-art angular roofing comprised of solar panels and water reclamation conduits highlight the residential home's white obelisk, artfully mounted with a spiral wind-turbine. The state-endorsed domicile is tastefully surrounded by mature coconut palms, saw-palmettos and numerous other regionally native plants. The neighborhood itself is woven into an efficient yet organic layout to provide the community with wilderness-like beauty and easy access to the surrounding farm fields, all in the service of the Father. Of particular merit is the central green space decorated with ample pavilions for daily community worship by all at dawn and dusk. As with the rest of the divinely inspired zoning plan it is fully approved by the theocratic state of Eden *.

The current gathering is not in the central worship space, however, but in the front yard of the soon-to-be Stone newlywed home. The atmosphere is festive, yet not frivolous. Polite conversation among members of the community touches on the latest spiritual direction discussions seeking to fully isolate the state from the rest of an ever growing pagan and secular world. Arguments from evangelicals to pridefully expand Eden's pious movement interlace with comments that respect such prayerful visions, yet seek to focus current community efforts on fully ensuring the purity of Eden.

Thomas Stone steps forward from his new home into the dawn light with his bride beside him. Like the rest of the men at the gathering, Thomas is suited in drab brown with a simple black tie. The children are all dressed simple clothing of a similar color. Thomas addresses his peers with the practiced solemnity of a engineer with sainthood.

"Welcome my neighbors, my co-workers, my brethren!"

"And welcome to you!" returns the gathered assemblage with melodic and resonant synchronicity.

After the briefest pause, Thomas continues. "It is with great joy that I celebrate the Father and our state of Eden this day with this ceremony of marriage. As it is written, brevity is integral to holiness, and so, I introduce my wife to be, Ruth, that she may present her oath of marriage for you all to bear witness."

Thomas takes a step back, leaving the diminutive and naked form of Ruth holding her betrothal bundle before her for all to see.

"In the name of the Father and the state of Eden I stand before you today," intones Ruth with musical confidence and the sweetest of smiles.

"My soul has been warmed by the glory of the Scripture. My body has been certified chaste and healthy by the village Patriarch.  And my mind has been prepared by the school of the divine spirit. In all things I now devote my life to Thomas Stone, to bear healthy and pious children and otherwise to devote my services to my Lord and Husband Thomas Stone. Praise the Father."

"Praise the Father," returns the gathered assemblage with melodic and resonant synchronicity.

Being the end of the proscribed incantation, Ruth lifts her betrothal bundle above her head to don the covering she will wear for the remainder of her life. The hi-tech material, developed for oldfed military purposes, provides the perfect uniform for a wife in Eden. Its silky, nano-optic construction is self-cleaning, self mending, and most importantly renders its wearer completely invisible. For as Scripture dictates, a wife shall remain unseen in carrying out her life duties, duties which are to be performed with meekness on the property of her Lord.

As the shimmering material falls over her head burka-like, the visage and body of Ruth disappear in front of the gathered men and children, never to be seen again in the holy state of Eden. Eyes smiling with earnest piety, the crowd departs in a cloud of hearty waves and congratulations for the newly-wed couple. A new day of scheduled, reverent tasks in and for the pastoral community awaits.

Lord Thomas Stone begins a new segment of service for the state of Eden.

And thirteen year old Ruth embarks on the first day of serving her Lord as a woman.

Father bless.

*South Carolina's name change from one of royalist and secularist origin to Eden had been the first change made by the Patriarch concurrent with the Day of Defederation, August 18, 2023.

Friday, March 17, 2017

States of Change Chapter 7: Free

**States of Change is a Goodness First work of serial, speculative fiction. The story and subtext are provided for reader entertainment and contemplation. Feel free to comment on the ongoing story-line and themes .**

Maynard meandered along the rusty fence line. At just over four hundred kilos, walking was becoming difficult lately; add to that the weight of being a bit lonely. Maynard had been on his own now for a few years and didn't know he was the last of his kind, well the last bovine in Maryland anyways.

At twenty-eight years old, Maynard was now more than twenty years older than his human breeders had ever intended. Belted Galloways had been typically slaughtered between age six and eight to maximize the profit of his human captors. Beneath his striking two tone furry coat, Maynard was a rather plain creature; plain in the manner of sometimes being bored, sometimes joyful, sometimes irritated, and often uncertain of what lay before him.

Maynard had wandered Maryland's open pasture parkland for most of his life. For a few years in his early teens, a donkey and a horse had been his daily companions. The trio had been the stars of drone vid-streams for the better part of a year back then. Together the three ruminants had explored valleys rural and suburban foraging for grass during Maryland's snowless winters. The trio often annoyed each other, still having fellow creatures to sleep alongside provided warm comfort both physical and psychological.

We take Maryland's mix of progressive and conservative policies for granted now, but when the state established its sovereignty back in 2058 the legislature forged several seemingly radical policies to solidify the political stability of the time. Famously, that was the first time a human legislature included artificial constructs in their midst to craft their post-federation future.

Struggle is frequently cited being at the heart of living.  From a nasty eye infection to fending off the occasional aggressive coyote, Maynard's life had its struggles too.  To be sure, he wasn't exactly the epitome of evolution given his current habitat. His ancestors had been chosen for esoteric reasons: survival in the Scottish Highlands, unique fat marbling and the general docility of their behavior under stressful captive conditions. Still, the roaming instinct hadn't been entirely forgotten; hunger and mobility were effective adaptations that Maynard brought to bear in his life journey.

Beginning in 2055 the Maryland legislature counted three non-voting, artificial constructs among its number. One represented the rights of non-human animals, while two others stood for the ideals of environment and creativity. In the early years the resulting political discussions were animated, and frequently the ideas of the three congress-constructs were side-stepped. Still, on occasion, the constructs were able to catalyze new approaches, one of which was the Maryland Humane Animal Act, a breakthrough policy that brought an end to animal abuse throughout Maryland's borders.

Like anyone free, Maynard's life was a string of events, many which are simply unknowable. Still, the aggregate of intercam recordings, human encounters, and reasonable speculation have contributed to several documentaries with Maynard at the center. Often the nevers were the focus of the narrative. It was likely Maynard never knew his parents. He never knew the hundreds of millions like him who had been imprisoned, euthanized, flayed, butchered and sold for parts. And ironically Maynard was sterilized as part of MHAA as part of Maryland's long term environmental plan; as such, Maynard never knew the fullness of a sexually active life.

Several other states followed Maryland's example: closing animal breeding facilities, feeding gulags and slaughterhouses. The double benefit of humane ethics and profitable new-tech food manufacturing was quickly putting traditional animal husbandry out of business. Whether empathy or business acumen had led the way continues to be a point of disagreement among historians.

Maynard lay down for his final night's rest on June 21, 2076. Many will remember the stubborn attitude of this Belted Galloway from viral footage in mansionland. Yet, for many a Maryland writer Maynard was more than bull who lucked out to wander free for most of his life.  He became a symbol, of the relationship between the non-human and the full citizens of Maryland. No one can know the last thought Maynard had, though by all accounts he passed peacefully from this world. One hopes that we all have the same opportunity Maynard had, a chance to journey, to struggle, and to be free.

 --excerpted from Maryland Is Its Stories, by Ricardex Tri, Creative Construct Officiate 3.7 of the Maryland State Legislature

Friday, March 3, 2017

States of Change Chapter 6: The Bay

Barrie slid his hand over the ebony face of the transaction obelisk and then spun around with deliberateness to take in the glass and steel perimeter of the inner bay.

"Aye Dee processing," the obelisk affirmed with an English accent that was as annoying as it was polite.

Meanwhile, Barrie enabled his default visAR overlay array; as an indie data miner, he was constantly looking for correlations that could pay off. Fifty three layers of augment enhanced his visual perception at the moment. The tendrils of bay residences before him glowed with dense shorthand data rendered in razor precise vector lines.  His currently enabled overlays provided data that ranged from isotherms and human temporal densities to mundane structure and vehicle statistics and relevant VR grafitti. Today might be his weekly day off, but it was difficult to turn off the obsession of making a profit.

"What's the second of the minute?" Barrie quipped at the scanner obelisk.

"Apologies, Master Weber. New security protocols require a five second hold on all equipment access approvals to permit state oversight analysis."

"Living in a market forces state and still inefficiency shows its ugly head."

"Master Weber. Your access to Winston Storage units A78 and B34 has been approved. How would you like to proceed?"

"Let's take the Phantom out today, Winston"

"Yes Master Weber. Unit B34 is enroute." returned the kiosk management construct. "Conditions on the bay today are moderate. Expect winds of ten knots from the east. Low tide is expected at 10:17 and high tide at 16:23. Would you like an extended forecast while your storage unit is in transit?"

"Port it to my navigation stack. Can't we get a move on, Winston? Restrictions notwithstanding storage retrieval has been damn slow lately? "

"I disagree Master Weber," retorted the construct. "Over the past six months, Winston Storage retrieval times have sped up by four percent. Your equipment retrievals have averaged ninety-five seconds to date which is forty percent faster and ten percent cheaper than simulations predict other premium bay area storage facilities could manage. In fact.."

"Cut the PR comm, Winston. I might switch storage providers just to get away from your fancy chatter, even if it costs me a few thousand more Mitt per annum."

"Duly noted, Master Weber. Your locker is now parked at Dock A.  Winston Storage is happy to pay your public access fee today as mitigation for new protocol adjustments. Prosperous ventures."

"Well negotiated." Barrie returned with a laugh. Winston's compensation algorithms did always seem one step ahead.

Barrie descended to the public dock premium access area. The departing drone-tug had secured his locker and was already submerging likely off to retrieve another from the storage hanger that spread out beneath the bayside shore. As Barrie approached his locker and the storage access door, responding to neometrics, rolled upward with a hiss. His Phantom 2075 submersible hydrofoil craft greeted him with slick curves that would make even a fictional Bruce Wayne jealous. The craft has cost him just over a million Mitt Coin, and yet it was much more versatile than his power yacht at a twentieth the cost. When Barrie wasn't entertaining, the Phantom was his aqua stallion; it permitted him to explore the entirety of Mass Bay in stealth and speed.

The Phantom's cockpit slid shut with a grimace. The onboard control systems confirmed a link to his visAR. Barrie gave the go ahead and the Phantom's autonav guided the craft out of the dock area and into the water through-way. Today's destination was the UXO zone in the far outer harbor along the continental shelf where WWII artifacts abounded in spite of more than a hundred years of corrosion.  Last month he had hauled in a torpedo body from that dumping graveyard, making a hefty profit on the resale to the state maritime museum. Today's profit would be much less random.

The Phantom exited the limited wake E9 zone; the resident billionaires had such stiff fees in place that it took ten minutes to get to mid harbor where one could actually afford to have some fun.  At one time Barrie might have groaned at the hundred Mitt per hour harbor fee, but he couldn't argue with the effectiveness of the bay restoration those fees had funded over the past twenty years. Barrie himself had never been a fish hunter, still Mass Bay's crystal clear water and bass population brought in E6 clientele from across the state.

Approaching the UXO zone, Barrie instructed the Phantom to go under water. Maintaining ten knots submerged he headed to the agreed upon drop off point. His mission today would net him a million Mitt Coin, a worthy profit given the risk. Satellite transmission hardware was in high demand ever since Massachusetts had established its Statenet. Global information access was perceived as corrupting to the market forces state ideal. Barrie saw the out-of-state data restriction as a business opportunity; if someone wanted to pay for Californitainment or world news, then how could he as entrepreneur not step in to fill that demand.

Friday, February 17, 2017

States of Change: Chapter 5: Constitution

**States of Change is a Goodness First work of serial, speculative fiction. The story and subtext are provided for reader entertainment and contemplation. Feel free to comment on the ongoing story-line and themes .**

In the mid-morning sun of Bushnell Park, Javette Kvendai walked up the marble steps to the large, and conspicuously empty, vermilion granite dais.  The three members of the PubArt Selection Committee followed closely behind.

A meter-high, fluoro-blue modular barricade surrounded the monument foundation reflecting the newness of its construction. In the distance the Hartford Capitol building hove like a colossal ship of stone anchored in a sea of windswept grass amid stormy oaks and maples.

"Do take in the surroundings, friends, before I extemporize," Javette extemporized.

Selection Chair Rinita Mendez voiced the frustration each of the committee was feeling:

"Ms. Kvendai, you have our full attention. As one of the finalists competing for the Liberation Day memorial design, we have granted your request for this outdoor presentation. However, rest assured we have reviewed your immersion model and project plan fully."

Javette exhaled a zephyrous breath, conveying her own frustration and simultaneously her desire to unify those present emotionally. As an artist she took pride in her continual duty to marry human empathy with raw existence, even in casual conversation.

"Yes madam chair. I appreciate the committee's thoroughness...and its feedback during this whole process.  Right now, I invite you to take off your visARs and disconnect from the net to feel the presence of this place, a place where a historic entity will stand on Liberation Day next year and for many to come."

The committee lead retorted with exasperation, "Must we...oh very well."

After a sideways glance with her companions each removed their slimline tech eye-wear. Javette smile-nodded at their squinting faces in the bright morning light. She proceeded straight away before she wore out the patience of these pragmatic philanthrocrats.

"Thank you. It is my intent to have your imagination stirred, as I hope my creation will stir all who visit the park here to relax and revel while exposed to weather, garden, and history.

"As you know from my submitted virtual model and notes, the central theme of this public monument is to underscore the peaceful progress that has flowered from decades of slow-release NewConn policies, policies pollinated with scientific research and implemented by the patient statesmen, judiciary and law enforcement of our state.

"NewConn's governing philosophy serves as the seed of my vision, a seed which will erupt as a twenty meter flowering mountain laurel from this very dais before you.

"Imagine, if you will, the triple helix stem constructed of thousands of confiscated and disabled firearms nano-welded together rising in a spiral high above you. The scarlet tendrils that weave through the marble at our feet will highlight the blood that has been shed in torrents...blood shed from AmRev to Sandy Hook to the present day, where we continue to count with manic tears a human death or two each and every month connected to illegal weapon possession.

"This flowering fountain will be composed of weaponry from all eras of our state's past, forged metal and printed plastic, automatic rifles and one-shot rail pistols, musket loaders and gunship howitzers. Together they will signify the meaningless violence and killing that our government previously endorsed and now actively dismisses in favor of the intertwined diversity of human creativity and solidarity.

"Certainly the bans of military grade weapons by the NewConn Liberation Congress started fifty years ago after we shook off shackles of the federation, but with each subsequent year NewConn demonstrates its commitment to make homicides, suicides and accidental deaths and injury a part of the distant past.

"Indeed, the true victory of NewConn has been the ongoing nurturing of a culture that fosters relationship skills and methodologies of kindness. The flowering monument that you see in your mind's eye before you shall convey catharsis and struggle that our state's citizenry has painfully tolerated to date."

Javette ended her presentation with a sigh and a gripping of her hands in cautious confidence. The eyes of her audience seemed intrigued, all in all. Her VisAR removal request was mostly made to create a sense of paradigm immersion, but eye contact and personal connection were worthy secondaries.

The youngest committee member touched fingertips in a triangle before his lips.

"The sculpture's physical presence is promising, but please share your thoughts on the augment layer you've proposed. It seems potentially at odds with a family friendly experience."

"Absolutely. Rest assured, the planned AR layer will be psych-spectrum sensitive with standard parental control protocols. Each augment character will be an authentic, third-party approved simulcra fit to each visitor's public profile. Ghostly gunshot victims and a variety of survivor types will ensure a wholistic experience for all. Together with the sims of NewConn statereps who demonstrated the necessary political will post-federation will bring the spirit of NewConn to..."

"Thank you Ms. Kevendai," interrupted the committee-lead, sliding on her visAR as she prepared to depart. "The committee will make its decision by close of the spring session. You'll be notified along with the other finalists of the committee's selection."

The eldest member of the committee, one of the remaining Newtown shooting survivors of 2012, stayed behind as her colleagues descended the marble steps.

"Personally I think the state flower connection is a nice touch.  Still, are you sutured to the title of the sculpture? It leans a bit heavy on the mundane subtext given your meta-Banksy sensibilities."

"Do you think so?" Javette exhaled, head raised to the gun-metal sky. "I rather think Constitution is ideal."

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Media Madness?

**another short op-ed piece this week...the States of Change serial will continue next week! **

Overheard in a small town book store:

"... controlled by mainstream media.  I mean how did a little known senator from Chicago ever rise to become president. I don't watch TV myself,  but this country is having its strings pulled by the media..."

Reflected within my head in response:

"The media has been lumped into a pile by many lately, conspiracy style. Alas 'the media' is not a single coordinating force, even if you label it all, ostensibly, as journalism. It is up to we, the information consumers, to critically compare and contrast the media sources out there to distill from it the best information available, even when it disagrees with our preconceptions.

It seems to me like the current US regime's intent is to discredit diverse information sources in favor of journalists who are closer to "yes men" for their agenda. This is not a new tactic, as politicians have forever spun positions to advance their agendas. Still, this feels different as the labeling of 'the media' as a force in opposition to American progress seems to have gained traction.

In the end, it is up to us, 'we the people,' to remain vigilant, to challenge ideas that are at odds with reality, and to uphold behavior that moves our country and the world forward positively.

To that ends, I recommend The Economist, NPR and BBC as three solid media outlets to follow in text, podcast, and streaming video to build your understanding of reality."

Wednesday, February 1, 2017


The States of Change serial is on pause after four chapters while I'm traveling, so I thought I'd interject my thoughts on the underlying issue of civilization: our alternative fact culture.

In a nutshell, society has been built upon the ethical misconception that the value of humanity far outweighs the value of a robust, healthy planetary environment that makes room for all the planets species.

Human science has been wielded like a weapon by homo sapiens who are convinced the world exists for their enjoyment bar none, inclusive of the right to reproduce without any restriction.

The idea that the world can absorb the damage that billions of humans do for a long period of time is simply misguided. Our animal instincts, emotions, and faith-based purposes are all reinforcing the idea that each human life is sacred to the point of neglecting and destroying the environment that we and so many others inhabit.

The path to correcting our denial of the reality where human impact will be a long slog through famine, sea level rise, and numerous extinctions. In my opinion, only widespread secular education that includes sound environmental ethics and the encouragement of having significantly less human offspring seems to be the only way to correct the long term systemic issues our species causes.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

States of Change: Chapter 4: Empire of the South

**States of Change is a Goodness First work of serial, speculative fiction. The story and subtext are provided for reader entertainment and contemplation. Feel free to comment on the ongoing story-line and themes .**

Falcon Stadium Shelter loomed below in the early dawn light as the Drifter Ultra autonomous transport descended along its approved approach trajectory. Transport designation KYTT-731 ran a continuous series of self-diagnostics and task option routines in preparation for its inaugural day of duty. It had already successfully made its first client pick-ups enroute from the Amazon-Boeing refurb complex north of Atlanta. With the transport's charges safely tranquilized, KYTT-731 float-glided in a graceful helix into the flower-like opening of the stadium rooftops. 

KYTT-731 not only resembled a tiny pollinating insect from afar, it actually incorporated hive-style cybernetic networking in its wetware. Once below the stadium's extensive glass parapets KYTT-731's programming and navigation sensors permitted casual avoidance of the other airborne transports already busy about their day. With plenty of processing overhead assigned to maneuvering, KYTT-731 activated Curiosity Mode to better monitor the habitat areas below.

The stadium mega shelter had just celebrated two decades of service, having been converted to a state-of-the-art animal shelter shortly after Georgia joined the Southern Security State Consortium back in the '50's. The Thousand Protocol of that agreement had implemented strict venue restrictions to avoid future Big Six style mass homicides. That protocol might forbid the congregating of humans in numbers greater than one thousand, but no such mandate applied to non-human animals.

Scanning the stadium landscape, KYTT-731 reviewed compliance parameters with Falcon Stadium Shelter's primary mission: housing, care and placement of displaced Felis catus individuals, both of feral and stray origin. Since Georgia eschewed genetic modification and euthanization strategies it had implemented what it saw as the most humane path to controlling the invasive species: Trap, Spay, Contain and Care. Though relatively expensive the stadium shelter program had been the archetype model among the Level Two Animal Rights States

As KYTT-731 crossed the one time gridiron field it identified visually 3,031 of the 74,994 felines documented to be in residence. That, of course, didn't include the three feline charges in its hold, each currently napping soundly under mild sedation for transport. The remainder of the shelter cat population would be sleeping, undergoing veterinary exams, hanging out with volunteer human companions, or just hiding out of sight or playing in the many habitat areas. Implant scantags linked each individual to its dossier. Each file contained an online medical history, given name and a compiled narrative which included an extensive behavioral profile with commentary. 

Numerous figures in addition to the resident cats moved among the numerous structures and habitat foliage that ran from field level way up into the nosebleed sections.  Cleanerbots, roll-transports, green-hatted garden-techs, and orange-hatted vet-techs by the dozen meandered about. Even a couple early-bird, blue-hatted volunteers could be seen in this hanging garden of Babylon. The stadium garden was actually composed of more than three thousand separately maintained gardens niches and safe playspaces to encourage the happiest of cat communities.  Each area thrived with lithe furry bodies in motion and emanating a panoply of meows and purrs.

KYTT-731 cursorily integrated the Curiosity Mode data observations it had collected with the shelter database stats.  The aggregate model confirmed the assessment that the shelter space was in overall good health. KYTT-731 shared those conclusions with the stadium controllers just as it received clearance to land at Reception Pad Six.  KYTT-731 swooped around the Veterinary Hospital "Endzone" complex and headed toward the northeast to comply. 

Sitting patiently for a few seconds on the landing pad, KYTT-731 identified the approaching figure as the transport project manager, Dr. Serena Juliette.  Given the idle time before her arrival, KYTT-731 refreshed its helium reserves and balanced its solar and thorium energy source loads. It then reviewed all available information about its assignment, giving elevated cognitive attention to expected partnerships and outcomes.

"Good morning Dr. Juliette."

"Good morning KYTT-731," the orange-hatted woman returned, glancing up from her datapad with a smile. 

"Your diagnostics and security clearances check. Designation update: KYTT-731, your primary designation is now Pouncer. You're one of the crew now. Welcome aboard!"

"Thanks Dr. Juliette. I appreciate the feline related sentiment. If you don't mind I think Bounder would be a better nickname for myself."

Dr. Juliette laughed.

"Your wetware's got some spunk. Fine. Bounder it is.

She nodded behind her visAR confirming the name change.  

"Ok Bounder, join up with Redclaw and Buzzaroo to shadow for the rest of the day to build up your heuristics. That is, of course, after you discharge these three kitties at Quarantine. Oh and be sure your external feeds are in Free Stream Mode. Crowdsource funding and accountability third parties rely on continuous data flow. Some of your footage just might end up in PR space."

"Free Stream Mode is now active. Thank you Dr. Juliette the kind welcome. It is good to be here."

The Drifter Ultra Transport rose smoothly and pivoted toward its destination, simultaneously sending out a welcoming HIWIFI handshake to the forty-nine other transports currently operational, both roller and hover, in addition to a hello-mail to the public shoutboard.

"Hi!!! This is Bounder. I'm bringing three beautiful, young cats to registration, each in need of names. I'm sure they're looking forward to joining the shelter community as much as I am."