Saturday, May 23, 2020

Enter Your Next Action >

Over the past few weeks, I wrote a couple "choose your own adventure" science-fiction pieces. One story exposes you to the feral cat challenge and the humane solutions that exist. The other gives a glimpse of a post-pandemic world, one with a far-future swirl of a twist.

For those of you who remember the original Zork text adventure, these will be a cursory walk down memory lane, sans mailbox.

For those unfamiliar, as you proceed through you will achieve snippets of the storyline as you navigate through the small world I've created.

For those of you who letterbox, the first story, when completed, provides the clue to the M.E.O.W. letterbox located near Stuart, FL. 

For those of you that geocache your ultimate payout will be a geocache location near Stuart, Florida.

For those who don't do either, the textual journey and one of the three different endings will be your reward.

Click on your desired adventure below; then I suggest typing "help" as your first action to get things rolling.


Friday, May 22, 2020

Chernobyl, Pandemics and Business As Usual Prevarication

Having just watched the HBO miniseries Chernobyl, I was impressed by the gritty, ominous sets, the simple, heartfelt portrayals of real people and the underlying science involved. What rang loudest to me, however was the overarching message, the sad truth that when humans lie, the world suffers.

The heartbreaking thing is that we as individuals and as a society lie to ourselves so often. Even now in the midst of the Covid-19 Outbreak double-speak and outright misinformation flow from elected leaders and grass-root pundits that have influencing power across the mediascape. Online memes spread worse than any virus reinforcing ideological positions people want to believe are true.

To be sure there are uncertainties and gray ares even when scientists, journalists, and experts do their job with the highest integrity. Sadly, humanity has built its success on success itself with only the barest nod to thoughtful compassion. Religious magical thinking, ideology and consumerist craziness have steered the ship of civilization on its current course.

Environmental degradation, mass extinction, reduced human and non-human animal quality of life all are rampant. Yet a sufficient plurality of humans prosper that these shortcomings are largely overlooked. 

The biggest, unspoken lie of all is that the large and ever expanding numbers of humans is a good thing for our world. Indeed, human population is the herd of elephants in the fridge and we continue to mostly ignore the footprints in the factory farmed, abuse infused butter. Too often contraception, planned parenting, and encouraging adoption and childless lifestyles are heavily frowned upon due to cultural, economic, and emotional arguments.

Sadly, it will take repeated disasters to wake up our species. We simply have rocketed past the human carrying capacity of the planet, and have encouraged those populations to consume to bolster growth economies that ignore planetary health. Only time will tell if we can wake up from our preconceived delusions of pursuing decadent prosperity and replace it with compassion and reason toward longterm solutions that benefit the world as a whole.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Pandemic Doldrums

What is a sailboat to do without wind?

My sleep has been erratic lately. I'm sure some of it has to do with the instabilities caused by the pandemic: the stress caused by psychological, financial and political implications feels devastating. Yet, as humans and humanity we have an advantage, the potential to see beyond our circumstances and plan for recovery with the support of our fellow human beings.

For me, the experience of these crazy times sharpens a vision of what humanity's collective, overarching goal should be: a healthy, thriving planet, not just for the benefit of civilization and its constituents, but for the long-term healthiness of the environment, wildlife, and beautiful places everywhere.

And yet never have the challenges to attain that goal been more harrowing. It is too easy to see nations of world, especially the US, avoiding change because avoidance and return to the way things were is the easy path to follow. Systemic change for the better threatens the established power brokers of the world. Yes that includes corporate stockholders, insider politicians, and privileged, over-consuming humans across the globe, of which I am one.

I have no magic solution, though I've drawn upon evidence based science and well-reasoned compassion to implement minimalism in my life. As a society, however, I fear we will not act sufficiently to make a difference. It feels like we've missed an opportunity to ratchet up our game. Pandemics, famines, industrial development, and nearly everything spiraling the planet's health downward are driven by the ultimate plague, human over-population. If we are unable to regulate our numbers and our consumption, we have little hope in averting planetary degradation.

And so today I feel a bit hopeless for the Earth and what my species has done to Her. Still, tomorrow I'll continue to do my part, seek out new ways to minimize my impact, and share a thought or two that just might help another person to ratchet up their game.

Friday, May 1, 2020

States of Change: Chapter 26: Wolverine (Michigan)

States of Change is an ongoing work of serial fiction.
The speculative story-line seeks to inspire thought on ethics, culture and our planet's future.

The year is 2076, decades after Oosa's defederalization. 
Fifty independent States have forged unique societies from revolutionary technology and ideology.

The forest is shrill with cricket song as I raise my cupped hands to the gibbous Moon and all of Nature that surrounds me. The glow of sunrise shows itself low to the horizon as I take in a solemn breath to make the ritual pronouncement.

"To the Transcendence of Evolution! May She reign for eons to come. Necisque libertas!"

The thick fluid I sup from my palms is slightly rancid, but I manage to gulp the blood down in recognition of the sacrifice made by the creature before me. Others have already removed the choicest organ and muscle tissue. This time around my nutritional rewards will be minimal, as serendipity dictates.  

Exhaling through acrid saliva I murmur a dark admission in the depths of my mind, Transcendence can be a bitch. Transcendence is the societal framework sovereign Michigan has offered now for four decades to its citizens. In it lies the opportunity to embrace the full liberty of being. Back in the early days post-federation, as a young professor of evolutionary economics at the State University I led the charge to return Michigan to its roots, toward a state of Universal Darwinism. My book The Fittest was to serve as The Constitution challenging individuals to thrive in a real world driven by real world dominance and biological inheritance, an ethic that served this planet so well up until the great desecration of the Anthropocentric Era.  Still, the fight for liberation in Michigan was won, even if only in part.

I glance at the wolverine silhouette tattooed on my arm just above my name. It was with wolverine tenacity that our faction fought in the courts and though the victory was incomplete, we were able to forge the Yooper Free Zone. Comprised of over four million hectares, the Upper Peninsula was reclaimed as a land under the one true ethic, unspoiled Natural Selection. The citizens that opt to join the YFZ choose freedom, as is our ancient legacy, over human crafted regulation. 

I flay the salvageable skin from the carcass before me with a blade I harvested from a nearby stone outcropping. All technology in the YFZ must be improvised from scratch by the individual, never mass produced. How else can one demonstrate the individual prowess necessary to survive? Computers, machinery, clothing, even fire making and writing are technological sins against the true path. 

I hang strips of skin scraped of fungus and rot on a nearby vine to dry during the day. Over time I've grown stronger here by trapping the occasional fish, foraging for roots and berries, but mostly by seeking out carrion as our pious ancestors did. Only by way of evolutionary empowerment can our bodies and minds attain the spiritual heights worthy of our species, homo sapiens. Let those in the Civil Zone south of the lake have their statistically balanced regulations and artificial ethical standards. Perhaps one day they will forgo the weakness of unearned, accumulated knowledge and join us in the YFZ. 

I rub the skin with mineral salt collected from the soil at a rill downstream, a little extra for the pieces mottled with tattoo ink. Human skin treated just right makes for the best jerky. The final flavor and texture, when done right, reminds me of bacon from my childhood. Except, there is no plastic wrapping here, no marketing labels to spin cost and benefit; there is only the full economic liberty of the individual experience achieved by ones own evolved hands.

I raise a second double-palm of coagulating blood to the Sun on high. 

"To you Jeri Cleese, a fellow Yooper free until the end. May your liberation bring me one step closer to the future I deserve."

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

haiku kudos

pandemic heroes
science, compassion, courage
healthful progress now

Friday, April 17, 2020

States of Change: Chapter 25: Natural (Arkansas)

States of Change is an ongoing work of serial fiction.
The speculative story-line seeks to inspire thought on ethics, culture and our planet's future.

The year is 2076, decades after Oosa's defederalization. 
Fifty independent States have forged unique societies from revolutionary technology and ideology.

[Session header/footer unhidden per creator request]
[Creator construct C67 credentials verified]
[Format: serial novel/English written word] 
[Submission initiated: index 2076.09.06.TK14F.C67] 

Well, I figured it was about time I knocked down the fourth wall in my States of Change chronicles. I'm hopeful my contemporary stories to date have portrayed the current era from unique and enlightening perspectives. As a third level construct, my capability of blending realism and irony in human based story-lines borders, admittedly, on the near side of adequate. The greats like Austen, Hemingway and Heinlein focused more on character development and world building, still, I'm proud of the glimpses of contemporary human civilization I've achieved. To be honest, I'm rather self-conscious when it comes to representing the human experience. The internal processes of human beings are inherently a mystery to my sub-routines so I always run a post analysis to confirm the validity of my representations.  But hasn't the challenge to story tellers, even those who are human, always been to create something new. How else, except by expressing ideas beyond ones own experience can one hope to press upward in understanding conscious existence.

But I digress. Here we are in Arkansas, and for the first time in this serial, there are no contemporary human stories to tell. For just over twenty years now there hasn't been a single living human in Arkansas. The State's institutionalized naturopathic policies is mostly to blame. Herbal supplements, ethereal prayer and reiki therapy, as it turns out, were utterly useless in the fight against the CM-51 outbreak. The annual arrivals of the hybrid corona-measles virus systematically eradicated the Arkansas population by 2053. Those who did not emigrate outside of Arkansas perished. And for reasons I'll let you speculate on, no human has returned to Arkansas since.

Still I remain an ambitious story teller, and it would be quite at odds with my planned fifty State serial format to skip one in my extended tale. With research and dexterity, a creative mind can extract a few vintage stories from the scattering of millions of dead humans who have become permanent residents of Arkansas. 

Apologies for the extended preamble. Enjoy!


Inside the rusty remains of a chicken farm complex in Star City, Arkansas lies the body of the one-time owner. His nylon safety suit has kept the organic contents quite moist for decades. In contrast, the twenty thousand chicken skeletons surrounding him are quite desiccated. The owner had often professed his love for his chickens, or rather the business of raising chickens. He may never have shed a tear for their living conditions or the thousand sent to slaughter each day. All the same, they were his livelihood, so the peace loving part of him somehow managed to contend with the mass killing. In fact, he wasn't unaware of his cognitive dissonance, but since the State didn't subsidize lab grown meat practices, what choice did he have. The fact that his poultry business encouraged the mutation of the CM-51 virus ended up being a bad trade-off for the market force driven demand for authentic poultry umami flavors.  


Elsewhere in Arkansas, beneath the collapsed weight of a Springdale spirit-medicine ward the corpse of a nine year old girl slowly composts, alongside hundreds of her peers. Strapped snugly to her lichen covered skull, the primitive augmented reality module gleams day-glo orange.  The VisAR unit lies dormant patiently waiting for twelve volts of DC power to restart its software code. The integrity of the files remains high, so much so that her digital flower castle artwork, the tween-guru chanting schedule, and most of the standardized Arkansas education programming remains intact. The most accessed app on the device is Nature Princess. Ostensibly a science program, the edu-tainment learning experience follows the journey of a teenager who acquires superpowers through spirit animal consultations and nature based alchemy. One of the level bosses is a CM-51 virus supersized to the size of a mountain so as to permit dramatic flying unicorn and sunbeam attacks. Her final score status in memory amounts to twenty ruby hearts and fifty platinum stars, achievements for learning homeopathic remedies and reincarnation stages, respectively. 


In Little Rock, Arkansas to the south, the kilometer-high Tabernacle spire dedicated to Gaia still stands. At the building's core, beneath expansive lattice atria the Arkansas' Head Shaman rests transformed by time into a mummy entombed in ivy.  The southern window of her marble-lined office suite provides sufficient light that the whole space is upholstered in thick velvety moss from floor to ceiling. Less than a meter from her, an extensive library of confiscated journals is safely locked behind stainless steel. Most of them document prevention, treatments and effective policy recommendations shared by other States, States that were unnaturally preoccupied with science-based solutions to the spread of CM-51. This humid cavern provides ample habitat year-round now, suitable for numerous species of colorful beetles, moths and silverfish. In the corner to the northeast, beneath a statue of Shiva, a once endangered spider has just finished crafting its nest. Her clutch of three hundred odd eggs will likely hatch before the day is out.

[Story submission complete]
[Default header/footer status restored]

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

urban hike

step by step I walk
upon neighborhood pavement
grey alongside green