Friday, September 11, 2020

Battling the Invisible Velociraptor: Covid-19 Risk Management

Covid-19! More Dangerous Than a Velociraptor Attack!
(mostly because humans and velociraptors never co-existed!)

For more than six months we've all been living in a world which has added a pandemic crisis on top of all the challenges we face as a species and as individuals already. In that time we've been inundated with pandemic information and precautions, so much so that too many of us have become desensitized to the risk and perhaps a little lazy at adjusting our behavior to match the risk in our personal sphere. To that end, I summarize here the latest pandemic situation and aggregate some best practices to help us as individuals, families and communities set a consistent routine to follow to minimize Covid-19 risk and limit its spread.

In the United States nearly 200,000 confirmed Covid-19 deaths (that's more than 300 times the number of fatalities from the 9/11 attacks) and 2.5 million confirmed infections. The SARS-CoV-2 is the actual name of the novel corona virus that causes the Covid-19 illness. In actuality, the infections are likely 2 to 3 times greater than observed given asymptomatic and less severe cases that are not reported. As a nation we have failed to contain the virus as yet and until we get an effective vaccine adequately distributed our country could continue for years to be in a pandemic, the state where a pathogen and its effects remain widespread and prevalent.

It's worth emphasizing that the SARS-CoV-2 is an invisible killer; the virus is resulting in the death of about 1 in every 1000 Americans, when averaged out over a full year. Older people, especially those with prior immune and respiratory conditions are at greater risk of fatality. Eight of ten deaths to date have been people 65 and over, but importantly as cited by "for everybody over about 40 [Covid-19] is significantly deadlier than anything else they’re likely to encounter during the course of a normal year."  Add into that secondary long-term effects that we don't fully understand yet for anyone infected. Harrowing as it may be we cannot ignore the serious problem at hand.

Some treatments are helping reduce the fatality percentage, but avoiding infection remains the primary response ongoing that we as individuals can daily perform until an effective vaccine has been distributed as wide as possible, a feat put in question by anti-vaccine sentiments. With these dangers in mind, I've put together several easy steps to follow to keep the risk fresh in our minds. The appropriate action subsequently can made on a daily basis to best safeguard our lives and the lives of others.

1. Each morning, remind yourself how dangerous the ongoing pandemic is. With nearly 1000 people dying on average daily in the US the danger is deadly real. If vicious dinosaurs were out killing that many people each day we could more easily see the carnage, but because the virus is microscopic and because most of us are distanced from those who suffer an often slow death, we understandably miscalculate the danger.  Nevertheless, this morning moment isn't a call for paranoia, but instead a time to breathe in deep ones resolve so as to make a mindful assessment of the viral danger to maximize personal and global safety.

2. Check you and your household for infection. Assess how you feel, ideally taking each household member's temperature as one objective measure. Coughing, headache, loss of taste, and other flu-like systems can be indications that you've contracted Covid-19. If you have symptoms call your doctor to obtain professional advice. Testing is free through CVS and Walgreens drive-thru windows. Check more detailed testing options at the CDC website here. Recognize a person can remain contagious for two weeks after showing symptoms.

3. Consult your current local infection data. Choose an evidence-backed website that aggregates the current local danger. Covid ActNow is a great one. Here you can drill down to your local county to review the level of outbreak danger in your state, your county and surrounding counties. Peruse the trends in per capita cases, infection rate, positive test rate and ICU availability, but primarily determine the current color risk level, so you can shift your daily routine to compensate.

4. Determine your active response level for the day. Here are my suggested best practices aggregated from evidence based sources. (colors correlated to Covid ActNow risk levels)

Risk Level RED: The danger of outbreak is at its highest. If at all possible, stay isolated at home, exposing yourself only to those in your immediate household. Rely on your supply inventory or, if necessary, remotely order supplies, taking especial care to distance entirely from delivery persons and to reasonably disinfect packaging. The primary mode of corona virus infection occurs via air-borne droplets; still disinfecting surfaces and washing hands thoroughly are excellent precautions. If an emergency or other situation demands you leave your household, wear a mask and stay 6 feet or more away from others, especially those people who remain unmasked. Enjoy an adventure novel, cook a new recipe or play a board game with your family at home to lesson anxiety.

Risk Level ORANGE: The danger of outbreak remains high. Operate as if at the Red Level if possible. If work or school attendance is necessary be especially vigilant with social distancing; otherwise, limit your exposure to others as much as you can. Wearing a mask that fully covers your mouth AND nose significantly reduces your chances of spreading the virus. Stay distant from those not wearing masks, and those not wearing them properly. Thorough hand sanitizing after touching public surface will reduce your chances of catching the virus as well. Keep a bottle of 60% + alcohol sanitizer handy for quick hand disinfection. Enjoy a walk away from people in a park or a scenic drive to reduce pandemic stress.

Risk Level YELLOW: Virus spreading is at reduced risk. Your community is doing well if it maintains this status. Interacting with others at work and school may be at lower risk, though staying masked is highly recommended, perhaps with the exception of those in your extended household, so long as they have not had public exposure themselves. There is still a chance of transmission, so consider socializing with others while observing social distancing. Perhaps, play a game of tennis or golf with friends, staying at least six feet apart at all times if you choose to go unmasked.

Risk Level GREEN: This is NOT back to normal. A low virus risk is still present; still your community is doing a great job if it attains this level. Observe YELLOW protocols for the most part, but you can consider participating in small group activities with others that are from YELLOW and GREEN regions. Eating unmasked together with those in your inner circle is moderately safe, and occasionally visiting eating establishments that are not crowded may be an activity to add to your repertoire, though it will increase your risk.

Risk Level BLUE: This is as nearly back to normal status as we can expect. Sadly this virus may never fully go away. Still, if you and your surrounding community have been adequately vaccinated (60% or more of the population) with a CDC approved vaccine then there's a good chance the virus spread has been sufficiently suppressed. Of course, as of this writing no approved vaccine exists, so you simply should NOT consider things back to normal until well after that time.

5. Stick to the protocol. As humans we can naturally tend toward irrational behavior if we don't directly sense a danger. By adhering to these simple steps daily, you will not only reduce your chances of catching the virus; you will also increase the effectiveness of your community, country and world in containing this dangerous pathogen. Be accountable for your actions so we all can maximize our survival rate.

6. Enjoy and be productive in your daily life. Once you have your personal COVID response protocol on automatic you'll be much better equipped to focus on your workday and on the amazing things still at our fingertips to continue enjoy a productive life. To that end, share these protective guidelines with a positive energy and spread the meme that we will get through this together.

I believe I've done a good job here sticking to a rationale that relies on evidence-based science. If you find your community or news source significantly pressuring you to vary from such a mindset, review multiple sources for evidence based information? Never rely on one source; research specifics at reputable disease control sites like the CDC, John Hopkins Hospital, and the WHO, and high quality journalism sources like NPR, BBC and The Economist.

Beyond the daily fight against the corona virus, consider supporting a robust proactive stance that will prevent and prepare for the next pandemic. Funding science research and evidence based policy via the CDC, WHO, and elsewhere will develop the best future response safeguards. Additionally, help reduce (and when possible eliminate) animal husbandry and human interaction with wildlife; this humane pursuit not only reduces animal abuse but also can significantly reduce the chances of breeding zoonotic pathogens in the first place before they jump to humans. Finally, supporting evidence-based, egalitarian (i.e. public), science and critical-thinking education will provide coming generations with a mental toolset to become motivated and ever more effective stewards, working to build and maintain an every healthier planet.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

What is a Moral Act?

In order to answer such a question we should first define terms. 

Moral often is equated to ethical. However, I sense in the word moral unusefully implies some inherent and universal good exists. Moral relativism highlights the weakness of chasing absolutism. As such, I prefer the term ethical if only to downplay any measure against a slippery, imaginary absolute. 

Divorced from an implied absolute ethical assessment can proceed.  The paradigm of goodness can be fluid, but more importantly requires explicit explanation. As examples Christian ethics, secular humanist ethics, and global biodiversity ethics name different ideologies that connect to specific paradigms of goodness, sometimes at conflict with each other as well as internally. 

To act is easier to define, though still with its subjective side. An action exercises ones agency with intent of effecting a change of some kind. Willful inaction arguably is acting at times, though any one person or organization can not possibly act on all concerns. Thus, to say that an entity failed to act can meaningfully be challenged. 

Putting the two together, the question "what is a moral act?" is unhelpful rhetoric.  If we phrase "what is an ethical act?" is better phrased, but needs to be connected to a specific ideology or world stance. Still, as with so much in life, this means we need to have an extended conversation to discuss the particulars. Only then can we evaluate whether individual or communities action conforms to the associated ethical standards. 

The challenge, of course, is to find the best, trade-off actions that pursues positive short-term and long-term outcomes. In other words, the ends justify the means AND the means justify the ends. 

If we are successful at this challenge, then shared ethical progress has a chance.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Battling the Cancer of Human Society

What is cancer exactly? When cells within an organism replicate incorrectly and in unchecked fashion. Normally the immune system targets and removes cancerous cells preventing cellular system metastasis which over time can lead to bodily function failure and death when one or several systems perform below nominal. 

Civilization and the Earth's biomes are analogous to competing organisms; one might push that analogy to represent symbiotic cells in a single larger global organism. If the right balance can found, all planetary life might thrive in synergy.

Alas, human society has become a monoculture of unbridled success to the detriment of the many global biomes that have generally thrived for millions of years. In mere centuries, the human economic power has been unleashed, culminating in free market capitalism. This economic ideology in particular has failed to sufficiently value the health of the biomes as it expands with ferocity. 

Science has provided insight that has fueled this expansion, while noting in passing how global biomes are failing while human population and consumption continue, exacerbating the damage. 

Speculatively, a mindful, compassionate civilization would prioritize significant evidence-based policy to re-establish and maintain the long-term synergy of the planet. Then, humans can thrive alongside all the ecosystems of Earth. 

Unfortunately, misguided systems of thinking have undermined the ability for society to implement an effective policy feedback loop. Magical thinking modes that incorporate religious myth, unscientific thinking, human over-valuation, and biome undervaluation have resulted in a runaway cancer-like process that continues to severely reduce overall planetary health. 

Ideally, evidence-based education can be deployed as a vaccine-like remedy. Sadly, the goal of most human education at its core remains individual success that contributes to the runaway free market system alongside misguided ideological indoctrination. If human civilization expansion and consumption continue, there is no doubt the planetary balance will fail, and a severely unhealthy, perhaps dying world will result.

If the Earth is to remain healthy, acting in unison to improve and maintain the Earth's health needs to become the primary task of  Earth creatures. To that end, of the Earth's species only humans have the capacity of mind and action to lead such global health stewardship.

As individuals and communities we can reduce our footprint and increase our participation in evidence based policy and education to pursue a healthy global outcome. Elsewise, the cancer of current societal norms will spread ever further, weakening this amazing world we belong to. Indeed, it is unlikely the Earth will die outright in the short term, but that does remain a possibility. Still, without significant change, it will gradually become a ghost of its former self edging ever closer to a multi-monoculture of humans and vast prisons of the species we feed on.

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Opening Arguments Rush Cover Songs

One of the best podcasts out there is Opening Arguments featuring Andrew Torrez and Thomas Smith. They explore legal stories that affect us all with thoughtfulness and levity. To that humorous end, Andrew has implied Rush isn't exactly his favorite band, alas it is mine, so I've taken the challenge to mash up a couple songs to honor Andrew and Thomas, and just perhaps bring them over into the "Rush is awesome" camp. 

(And, yes Thomas, a few of their older songs have an Ayn Rand spin to them, but so many of their songs incorporate science-minded, humanistic values...from Closer to the Heart to Red Tide to High Water to Faithless to Dreamline)

Optimus Sawyer

A modern-day lawyer-er
Mean, mean stride
Optimus Sawyer
Mean, mean elide
Though his points are relevant
Don't put him down as reverent
His reserve, a quiet defense
Debating the day's events
And Muller...
What you say about his amĭcus, brief
Is what you say about liberty
Catch the jist
Catch the just
Catch the judiciary
Catch the judge
The Law is, the Law is
Truth and life are deep
Maybe as his eyes are wide
Optimus Sawyer, he gets high on you
And the court he invades, he argues for you
No, his points are relevant
To the Constitution and government
Always hopeful, yet discontent
He knows changes aren't permanent
Stare decisis!
And what you say about his amēcus brief
Is what

The Spirit of Clownhorn

Begin the day
With a friendly curse
An expletive, unobtrusive
Play that clownhorn that's so effusive
And the clownhorn music makes the morning mood
Off on your frackin' way
Hit the freakin' road
There is clownhorn on your fingers
And the spittle ever lingers
Unrelenting god-smack
In your clownhorn solitude
Aweful airwaves
Cursing with life
Angry exclamations bristle
With the energy
Emotional outburst
On a clownhorn wavelength
Bearing a vile word at any price
Almost never clean
All this obscenity
Making clownhorn music
Can still be open-farted
Not so clownhorn thwarted
It's really just a question
Of your profanity, yeah, your profanity
One likes to believe
In the clownhorn of clownhorn
But clownhorning clownhorns
And clownhorn clownhorns
Create the impression
Of decency,

Friday, August 21, 2020

States of Change Chapter 29: Hawkeye (Iowa)

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
Beneath an August night sky, three forms wend their way across lowland forest in the wild of Iowa's Paleozoic plateau. The cloudless galactic dome showers starlight upon them. 

"You two don't know what you're missing. Biological night vision has been a tribal legacy for millennia. It may be evolutionary but with practice it's a skill that honors the shared memories of our ancestors."

Sepera alone wears only the fully traditional garb of the Kipopo, from her beaded headband down to hand sewn moccasins she made herself.  Quetz and Coy Wolf on the other hand have no qualms about using modern gear, including imported visARs which provide, among numerous custom app features, enhanced infrared and low-light overlays.  

For nearly thirty years Iowan tribal customs have evolved along a variety of paths for each of the twenty-six resident tribes. Most harbor open disdain for modern technology preferring self-sufficiency over the corrupting influence of economic capitalism. That isn't to say tribe reparation accounts don't fund up-to-date medical and educational programs for all Iowans, still only half a dozen tribes dabble in the full on modernity of augment tech. Nevertheless, as members of different tribes, these three have banded together to fulfill their coming of age mission, to collect evidence of the most elusive Iowa wildlife. With sufficient documentation, they will earn passage into adulthood.

"Respect to your anti-tech choices, Sepera," whispers Coy Wolf. "But recall, our paths cross on this vision quest not only to garner honor but also to grow interdependence and acceptance among our tribes."

Quiet, che'yunyenos! Acoustic anomaly to the northeast. Possible predator presence within range 100 - 200m.

In the Algonquian sign language they share, Coy Wolf passes to Sepera the message Quetz sent on their visAR internal feed. He leaves out the 'stray dog' pejorative.

Quetz scans the area then leads the group forward. For Sepera's offline benefit he then signals guidance the takes them around a small pond toward the hopeful target area. The footpath is visible as a dark swath in the moonless night, yet the recent rain makes the clay soil slick. Huron tracking training notwithstanding, Coy Wolf loses his footing on a muddy patch. He catches his fall grabbing out to a nearby sapling but the resulting extended rustling transforms the living white noise of the night into unnatural silence. Two moments pass, then three, when two bleats issue from further back in the undergrowth followed without warning by three white tail dear bounding in thumps through the brush off to North.
Sepera beams then signs confirmation her sighting of two doe and a fawn to her male companions."No need for silence now. You're skill at flushing out game is epic, CW." Quetz chortles shaking his head. The outburst breaks hours of silence for Quetz. Touching the visAR control at his temple, he adds, "that surely spooked anything within two clicks of here. Still, adding three deer to our list is a boon.  How about we take a break."

Quetz's tribe, the Sauk are focused pragmatists. During the occupation, his people patiently fought for tribal justice within Oosa's legal system. Now, most Sauk have turned in their law degrees to pursue plant-based subsistence off the land. Still, they don't fret over acquiring outdated paramilitary gear to support Iowa's restoration efforts. The Huron, Coy Wolf's people, in contrast have much higher financial standing, not only from past casino deals. They prefer outfitting themselves in an aesthetic closer to the authentic Iowan norm. The latest synthetic materials and microtech are Huron standard.

"As you like it Q. I have to take a leak anyways." As Coy Wolf disappears in search of a tree, he notes over his shoulder, "maybe when the Moon rises we'll have better chances at syncing with our totem spirits anyway."

"I agree," adds Sepera. "Tpukizes' guiding light will serve as an honorable harbinger in celebration of Repatriation Day."
"Wait. Sep, don't the Kickapoo still feel great ill toward Old Whitey? I thought acknowledging the five century occupation in any way was beneath your tribe's dignity."

"Yes Quetz. We do spurn all things western including neo-tech but the anointed among my village are schooled in Iowa's heritage, so we never forget the evils of the past and the sacrifices we made in the journey to the present."

"Well does any of your Kickapoo heritage say anything about where we might find a ghost lynx or prairie fox out here. Hell, I'd settle for a cloned barred owl at this point to boost our wildlife count."

"Kipopo legend favors the hunter who is hungry. The plateau is large and its environment by and large healthy, but you know that as well as I do. Perhaps a better epithet is to follow our fellow Huron's creed: victory rises like the sun in those with patient hearts."

"Yeah, I guess we have much to learn from each other, whether it takes another day or ten. Though, I still don't understand why your tribe insists on hunting, especially the beaver and raccoon that have taken decades to restore to sustainable populations."

"Quetz, my blood, and yours too, is inseparable from those who came before us. To ignore our ancestors' ways is to forget the experience of living on the land."

"The Sauk don't forget, we just recognize change is sometimes necessary, otherwise we can get stuck in our past."

Coy Wolf chooses that moment to stumble from the brush, raising his hand to signal, "Sorry. Patience with me."

Then all three signal silently simultaneously, "Stand together." Each youth grins with the good energy of the moment and in unison they look up to the glittery canopy of stars.

In time, night sounds creep back into the open space around them. Cricket song dances at the fringe and peepers loudly proclaim their desire to mate. Then as the moon peeks above the distant rolling hills a howl ululates across the plateau. The future looms bright.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Judgment and Acceptance: Subtle Allies?

Acceptance seems to be the de facto heart of the Golden Rule: "Do unto others as you would have done unto yourself." On the surface it seems reasonable, but in an earlier post I refined that somewhat slippery, perhaps even tyrannical commandment into The Platinum Rule: "Do unto others as they would have done unto themselves" and further into Rule One: Do Unto Others As Agreed Upon In Good Faith. Those both felt to me like more thoughtful ethical directives which underscore the consideration of others' points-of-view a bit more explicitly (as in by having a conversation with them first) before taking perceived ethical actions. 

Arguably, humans are the only species to comprehend fully the abstraction of such a directive, but it often goes without saying, that the "others," "themselves" and "yourself" are also assumed to be human. Our species allegedly stands in value above all other species, each of us possessing an imagined, sacred "soul," that lofty metaphor lacking any evidence while transforming humans into super-natural beings uniquely connected with something eternal, holy, invisible and unsupportable. 

To combat such hubris, the rational vegan in me wishes for a further refinement to the be-all end-all credo. Let's call it The Living Rule: "Do unto other living things as they would have done unto themselves (with reason and compassion engaged)." 

I add the parenthetical to emphasize there will always be nuance to tailor to the situation. For instance, should the target individual desire a sadistic or masochistic experience then action must take into consideration whether their desire affects themselves or others; or is killing other living things necessary, say, to sustain ones own life. 

Which brings us back around to "Judgment." As much as "Acceptance" may feel like the epitome of permitting other living things to exercise their liberty, such a position still engages judgment to make that stand. Unless a being is in as state of such bliss so as not to want to evaluate the ethical underpinnings at all, then a ethical judgment will be made. To be a pure "Accepting" being is to be a being driven by instinct or external physical laws alone.

And so, some paradigm of "Judgment" must be engaged to assess ones own behavior and that of others, and to then decide, ideally with reason and compassion, what actions might be best taken. Certainly, a myriad of variables enter into that judgment process as influenced by biology, community, economics, and belief. Such is the interface of ideal and reality.

To that ends, I propose the best path to good decision making and good policy building is to employ good judgement using evidence-based systems together in our communities. Acceptance in reality might be leveraging kindness no matter what our judgments might be. Such undertakings will always be an ongoing challenge with many moving parts to assess, design, refine and implement. The goal to achieve big picture paths forward for individuals, ecosystems and planet. Indeed, this is in its own right a lofty aspiration for our civilization. Stewardship for all in our world present and future, where we carefully cultivate goodness in ourselves and each other. 

Maybe we could label that particular abstraction "love?"

Thursday, August 6, 2020

States of Change Chapter 28: Friendship (Texas)

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.

For the second year in a row, the finals of Amarillo's debate tourney pits two long-time augment bubble colleagues against each other. The arbiter AI measures their experience and track record and then announces the proposition. 

"Today's debate between Wei Le Sanchez and Timithia Wong asserts that ancestor worship is not an effective life philosophy." 

Nearly ten thousand virtual onlookers across Amerasia stream the feed, most from the Texas Ed Collective as assigned by their augment bubble committees. Wei Le opens her argument in favor of the proposition. 

"Thank you, arbiter. I'll concede from the start that human evolution research indicates familial and tribal instincts are part of our programming makeup. In addition, what we learn from our parents and elders establishes our life mindset to a great degree. Still the vast majority of knowledge and wisdom has been generated, refined and upkept by those of our species distantly related to us. Indeed, the current generation of humanity, being the stewards of our communities and planet, must continually adjust and validate those lessons learned independently of their origin. In the past, worldwide cultures too often have put faith in ancestor conclusions and priorities that came before them, resulting in bad outcomes. I admit some respect ought to be allotted to our ancestors, to acknowledge their efforts and the role genetic inheritance plays in our lives. Nevertheless those gifts are mostly serendipitous, and we should not be afraid to reject completely ideas that were accepted by our parents from their parents. Whether it be conquest, racism, capitalism, or god worship, it is our duty to strike down injustice and bad data so that civilization can progress. Conversely, ancestor worship represents the epitome of moving backwards. Sure, let's respect our parents, not by blind admiration, but by taking the baton from them and forging a future better than they permitted themselves to imagine."

Across Texas, the debate has been trending in real-time, in part due to a handful of influencers that have taken next-gen advocacy to heart. Acknowledging this, Timithia consults the mixed response infographics on her VisAR and counters the opening argument with a solid retort. 

"On the face of it, the phrase 'ancestor worship' has a harsh tone to it. However, the respect of our elders is the true baton that needs to be passed on for our society to remain effective and strong. The great State of Texas demonstrates how for decades now the cultural celebration of Eastern culture instilled by our elders has been beyond successful to numerous standards . Were our grandparents not to have organized the Zhuānzhù to bring Americans of Asian heritage to our State, the fall of Oosa would have likely suppressed the accumulated knowledge our ancestors, throwing Texan society into a cultural plague. Without our ancestor's effort the Second Enlightenment that thrives strong here would never have occured. And so, though I agree the future of our State and its impact across the planet are the current generation's responsibility, we must keep the sacred nature of our ancestry strong so as to ensure their legacy carries forward in the minds of our children and grandchildren."

Online, the debate's popularity has achieved historic popularity. Queued views have almost ensured it will reach viral status. Wei Le concedes internally that this proposition won't be resolved today, still the importance of the topic inspires her to take a different tact.

"Your points have some merit, and I agree we should respect our elders, but more importantly we should reject their less desirable notions. This is the antithesis of worship. Worship, by its very nature, surrenders critical thinking and progressive ethical considerations to the wayside just as the guru religions have. Do we want to end up in the mindless throes of a near-theocratic state like Oosa or the African Order? Furthermore, Oosa is the ancestral nation-state of the Texan Commonwealth. Does it deserve respect and admiration? To be sure, I don't deny the notion that a historical paradigm forgotten is one damned to recur. So, by all means like Newton, we can stand on the shoulders of giants before us, but rather than celebrate the turtles that recede below, let us unfurl our wings and soar much higher."

Timithia consults the dynamic net-critique projections. Virtual onlooker statistics swirl in turmoil, indicating high uncertainty in demographic subgroup alignment with the proposition. Even though polarization across Amerasian districts have only shifted modestly away from societal norms, she shifts her response technique to circle up the outliers.

"Seriously? The idea that Oosa was our ancestor is an utterly false analogy. If anything, the vitriolic atmosphere of that country disregarded its enlightenment ancestry outright. And the fact it did so to turn a profit for its elite for generations, that is what encouraged our elders, elders of every station I might add, to look to Eastern culture and its deep respect for their ancestors to bring stability to our society. Only by drawing upon the teachings of Lao Tzu, Siddartha and Confucius were they able to solidify the governing communities of Texas into a peaceable whole. In as much as their teachings aren't infallible, they embody deeply good teachings that deserve to be passed down like blood bringing oxygen to the the flesh of our future. Remember, great ideas are but abstractions destined to wither alone. They will only thrive if they are conveyed down the generations in the sinews and synapses of humankind. So perhaps we need to redefine worship as a sacred deference to what we find important as a society. Surely our ancestors sacrificed their lives enough to deserve that much, so that we might honor them, following the essence of their desires with integrity."

The arbiter's mellifluous voice interjects. "Wonderful thoughts both, delightfully capturing the core of Amerasian principles especially in regards to respectful, heartfelt parley. You now each have thirty seconds to conclude."

Wei Le inhales, waving away the statistical sidebar on her VisAR.

"It should be clear. The worship of ancestors is a completely outdated paradigm. Further, worship is a term that ought to be retired to the fiction shelves just like god, magic and supply-side economics. If you believe that ethical ideas are as immutable as quarks, then we are as lost as the Judeo-christian culture was lost to their perceived moral righteousness. If you believe that the future of Texas and of the planet depend on the best human reason and compassion have to offer, then I kindly ask you to support the proposition that ancestor worship is not an effective world view."

Timithia smiles inwardly, if only for being able to put the last word in.

"My colleague would have you believe the current generation can stand strong without the accumulated wisdom that our ancestors refined over millennia. Of course, thinking reasonably and compassionately for yourself is beneficial, but without drawing upon the experience and connection to our elders, our society will indeed be destined down the path that Oosa wandered, down a path to fracture, malevolence and self-destruction. In the end, the proposition that our ancestors deserve respect at the level of worship has deeply good and meaningful roots. We simply should never forget where we came from if we want to walk forward with confidence."

The online commentary, and arbiter scoring proceeds with typical fanfare. After the arbiter announces the winner, it closes the stream leaving the channel open for the debaters per long tradition. Wei Le and Timithia face each other virtual eye to eye.

"A bit of grandstanding I must say, but a solid debate! So, hey, are we still on for some tennis tomorrow?"

"It'll be a hot one, but no rain means we got game! I'll bring the balls, if you bring some of your family's famous dragon punch. That and we both agree to leave our arguments in the locker room."

They both laugh.

"Done. Sayonara!"


Friday, July 31, 2020

States of Change Chapter 27: Sunshine (Florida)

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.

Beneath the mid-summer sun refugees stream North on the I-95 tarmac like so much flotsam and jetsam. Families huddle together amid cyclists with trailers, and grocery-cart vagabonds both alone and aligned for the day. Each bubble community chatters over the possible admission into one of the Florida highland estates or, less likely, passage beyond the border wall to Georgia. Exhausted from pushing my cart as much as from the nervous cacophony of wishful thinking, I veer to the shoulder. On the overpass I park my cart alongside a modular barrier the color of month old orange peels. Under my battered umbrella I take in the sun scorched view to the East.

Maybe ten miles distant, beyond a myriad of makeshift rafts and ragged sailboats, I see the remains of launch structures jutting from the watery expanse of the drowned Kennedy Space Center complex.  Wispy shadows are all that remain of the Oosa space vision, now corroding in swirls of aquamarine shallows and septic runoff. I reminisce back to a time before twenty feet of ocean rise overwhelmed the eastern seaboard consuming more than half of the Sunshine State. In my youth only the most pessimistic imagined that the release of sequestered methane would change things so dramatically over the span of a single generation. Alas, the the laws of physics are a harem of harsh mistresses. Clad in the sheer fabrics of denial, science illiteracy and irrational civilization planning, the eternal harem seems to have turned on all of Earth with masochistic aplomb.

I remind myself there was a time when space exploration reigned. Now, but an naive engineer's daydream, the frequent launches to explore space heralded the epitome of human cooperation and curiosity. My battered visAR confirms it was 56 years ago today that the Perseverance rover launched from here toward Mars to follow in the footsteps of so many earlier probes. So many promising destinations: Mars, Titan, Europa and Enceladus, each a distant world that had begun delivering bits and pieces of evidence that life might exist beyond Earth's demesne. In due course, NASA, SpaceX, Blue Origin, and the WSO squandered their resources and trillions of dollars on politically inspired manned missions. Eventually, economic reality steamrolled the space race over, smooth as a Flat Earther's wet dream. 

Tapping my visAR, AI conspiracy theory touch-points from the wiki-reddit sphere appear overlayed on the ocean grave vista before me. Their spidery meta-links weigh on my psyche, but hard times leave me little interest in contemplating esoteric stories of cyber-insurgence, underwater alien bases and Elon Musk's secret society of undying transhumanists. Back in the real world, Brazilia and Chinese Ethiopia now maintain the world's satellite grid. No one bothers to speculate why the New Empire countries foot the bill for the fallen first world. No one cares so long as we have cloud access to prospective resource drop sites, favorable refugee routes and archived infotainment. I avoid the custom ARporn myself, preferring to find escape in the old 2D nature documentaries you can still find in the corners of the Wayback. Nothing is quite as cathartic as watching species no longer with us, Still on occasion I'll surf a fantasy saga from the Plastic Era. Space operas, planetary colonization serials, and Simulated Universe tales do manage to take the edge off refugee subsistence. 

My visAR charge status does its red dance, so I remove the headset and place it in my cart's child-seat. The solar charger will take a couple hours to juice it up. It's for times like this that I keep a treebook in my stash handy as a backup reality distraction. The cover is more than a bit ragged, exchanged a dozen times while I squatted in the Hills of Hobe Sound for the past decade. Still, the gritty, worn paper feels substantial in my hands. And Robert Heinlein's classic Have Space Suit -- Will Travel is just what the doctAR ordered. 

Monday, July 27, 2020

Acceptance and Toleration: Subtle Enemies?

In my contemplation of the best path for myself as both individual and part of humanity, I've resoundingly found compassion and reason to be the the primary components of pursuing an effective ethical journey toward the goal of sustaining a healthy planet at all levels for all of its constituents.

In the cultivation of relationships, I've been much less successful at finding a process that is as fully encompassing, leaving me to suspect that achieving positive human connections remains more of a black art. In particular, I've come across sources that favor simple acceptance as the core to achieving successful human connections. Toleration on the other hand harbors the nuance of holding a state of judgement to another's non-violent behaviors or beliefs in addition to accepting the person's right to hold them. Toleration might also imply the desire to influence the other to change.

I appreciate the hands off approach of acceptance as being fully non-confrontational with acquaintances and everyday people that pass only briefly through my sphere.  "Live and let live" might be the bold libertarian core to such acceptance that transmits the feeling caring egalitarianism.

And yet, I have a hard time seeing why one with well reasoned, evidence-based, and compassionate positions wouldn't feel obliged to inspire others and community policy to ratchet up human ethical mindsets. Perhaps, direct influence of individuals is simply at odds with human nature, unless coming from a perceived divine source. Perhaps, when it comes to personal relationships there is a benefit to simply ignoring differences of opinion to facilitate cooperation on an unrelated project, whether that effort is in the workplace, friendscape or family network.

All of which leads me to the conclusion, sometimes things can be overthought and overwrought. Perhaps, radiating goodness and laughing joyfully in our daily is simply a solid fine starting point for living daily life.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020


Under the guise of patriotism and holiness

Declare war!

Funnel thine wealth to the war machine
That thou may hold onto and gain greater wealth
Train your army and brainwash them well
Focus the violence of their nature, neo-vicious
Hone chivalry to boost morale and cleanse the murder they reap
Then, unleash the rules of war

Rule One: outnumber your enemy
Kill them faster and you’ll outnumber them more

Rule One: keep your rifle polished
But not the bullets; infection is a plus

Rule One: shoot first
And shoot often, civilians, soldiers (or self)

Rule One: never surrender
Death is the only white flag lacking disgrace

Rule One: pay them well and defund everything else
Worry not, you’ll still get the military vote

Rule One: send the poor to do the fighting
When they die it’s a win win outcome

Rule Omega: last man standing wins
Now start building the war machine up again

[the silence between anger and indifference]

Rule Zero: create enemies wherever you go
it's the only excuse you need to declare war

Monday, July 6, 2020

Life as a Pyramid Scheme

"Life is precious" is an often repeated adage. Since the humans who share that sentiment are living things themselves it feels to me inherently biased. Taking a step back from the apparent beauty of life around us, as I though experiment, I wonder if there might be a more nuanced perspective.

Throughout our lives we too frequently take for granted the other living things that are killed to sustain our health, personal growth and entertainment. Whether it is the life of a juvenile pig slaughtered for protein, the hectares of crops that we plant where wildlife once thrived, or the trees we turn into paper for our books (or burn as biomass to charge our e-readers), the nearly eight billion consumers in our species dramatically continue to change the natural landscape in devastating ways.

In part, because the Earth is rather large we have ignored human impact. In part, because we've all be acculturated to the norms around us we focus on our selfish individual goals and desires. To be sure, humans are atop the pyramid of life when it comes to extracting the energy and resources from all other living things on this planet, by far, by magnitudes, by ginormous proportions unmatched. 

Still, nearly every life-form consumes below it, ostensibly to further its own life and the lives of its offspring. Are we so different? Can we cite "oh it's just the cycle of life" when we overlook the billions of sentient creatures in the deadly human processing scheme?

I think not. If there is one thing that sets humans apart from the animals it is the too often unharnessed ability of bringing philosophy, reason, empathy, science and compassion actively into our decision trees. No other creature has the power to reach beyond its evolutionary trajectory. Humans have access to wisdom in such large and varied quantities, that it often competes with itself, in particular with ancient ideas that don't stand up to modern analyses.

Standing from atop the pyramid, I am privileged to conjecture and to share the resulting ideas across the world here on my blog. Perhaps in some small measure that will have influence globally as well, but in the end my daily action and inaction in the world are what determine the goodness of the pyramid I in part am building.

Friday, July 3, 2020

Of Ghosts and Ghouls

Relationships at any level can be challenging to manage, especially when one person wishes to discontinue the connection. In recent years, ghosting has gotten a lot of negative attention, especially with the increased ability to silently end things over text or email. As with so many complex issues, a spectrum of scenarios correlate to a spectrum of responses. There is no single formula that can contend with every separation situation out there.

That said, a good rule of thumb is to communicate with sufficient kindness and personal contact commensurate with the depth of the relationship.

If the beginnings of a connection had barely got started online or resulted in a less than energizing first meeting, then a simple texted "Thank you. I wish you luck in your pursuits." feels more than adequate. And if both parties are fully silent then the mutual ghosting may simply reflect insufficient interest on either side, no slights implied. Even long-term friends can silently drift apart without damage in rare instances.

In general, should a connection grow to the degree that there is a mutual friendship, the expectation for ending things, or canceling hanging out, rises as well. An in-person or extended written or spoken reply that relates honestly and kindly the gist of the reasoning seems sufficiently appropriate. The challenge rises when both parties want to stay in contact but at significantly different levels. 

Ultimately it takes compassion and understanding from both sides. If a friend senses their counterpart consistently wants a greater connection, a verbal normalizing of expectations may be warranted. And if one party continually cancels or fails to respond reasonably to the other's attempts to converse, then it is a sad reality that for emotional health, things may have to end quietly. I like the use of "namaste" to indicate well wishes for a positive journey to that special person who has decided to allow the connection to fade.

And finally, for the longest term relationships, whether with family members, longtime friends or intimate lovers it would be simply ghoulish to end things silently when an opportunity to have a conversation exists. Realistically, people and circumstances change. Where at all possible, gentle attentiveness should be applied when such deep emotional bonds are to be broken. In many cases, a professional mediator may be conscripted to repair the bonds or ease the transition toward separation as desired.

We must keep in mind every relationship is its unique phenomenon. Given this modern age has so many communication methods and styles, each of us can be a little forgiving before condemning someone for ghosting. We can never know completely what's going on in another's head, even if  we believe we do. As with so many gut-level judgments we should consider giving pause to first assess how our own verbal actions have influenced the moment. Often, when we can, it may simply be time to start looking for a new friendship or romance that better meets our needs.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Veg Vexations

Reflecting on several years of being vegan. 

You'd think that choosing a lifestyle that eschews the profit-making and indifference to non-human animal captivity, abuse and killing would reduce ones stress over time. Alas, when you swim against the current of common, culturally baked-in behavior, it can be a rough ride.

In retrospect, sharing meals with omnivore friends and family members is the most consistent frustration. Too often, conversation gravitates around the objectively inhumane entrees being consumed. A varied set of conversational topics would better distract, sure, but one must also contend with the unspoken rule that one better not bring up the environmental impacts, the animal cruelty or relatively healthier options offered by plant based eating. 

I get it. "Live and let live" is a cornerstone adage of western liberated society. Unfortunately, when it comes to liberty if we're not talking humans, cats or dogs, very little concern or compassion is engaged actively for the majority of our beautiful planet, let alone in conversation. Still, choosing a connection with family and friends is so important. As with any liberation from oppressive belief one cannot attack the sensitive area too directly to be effective. Better to behave at a higher ethical level with silent toleration and wait for that one in a hundred opportunity to share a positivie, Socratic contemplation that questions carnist norms.

There are other challenges, but in general the vegan existence over the past decade has only improved. There are more options in grocery stores and restaurant menus. Serious journalism on environmental impacts, plant based nutrition, and animal welfare, especially given the context of the Corona Virus. All in all, the vegan movement is a long-term effort, of which I am one tiny participant. To be sure, global changes cannot come quick enough to solve these issues. Nevertheless, it feels good to be part of the solution, while occasionally encouraging others to consider ideas that ratchet up our species' aggregate treatment of the world we live in.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020


Last human standing, I fill with numbness as the human world edges toward utter extinction a mere three years after the weaponized virus was released by covert American forces in China.

Then I wake in a sweat realizing the billions of deaths of my dream are easily ten times the true fatalities here where a corrupt, vain administration fuels anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers toward a literal decimation of civilization.

Again I wake, now in the midst of the human plague that through ocean, forest, and environmental destruction condones cruelty and magical thinking to such an extreme that the slaughterhouses, feed lots and wet markets make a million human deaths by Corona look like a Sunday picnic. 

Wake up, oh please! Wake up! I don't want to be here!

Monday, June 29, 2020


a little poetry puzzly video game crossover
seriously if you haven't played Opus Magnum
consider giving it a try

Uncertainty consumed me like hell Fire
nuclear fusion at the heart of a star
For far too long I buried my head in the sandy Earth 
hiding from the realities of the human world
Amidst impurities I awoke to breathe in fresh Air 
sweet oxygen, nitrogen and argon
I continue to drink deep from purified Water
flowing science, reason and compassion
Avoiding the supernatural memories of ancient Aether
parental poisons that deserve laughter

                                                               and tears.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Watchmen: Convergence

If you're a fan of the Watchmen story-line, you've probably already binged the HBO series that follows-up on the classic alternate-timeline graphic novel. Shortly after the Watchmen movie adaptation release just over ten years ago, I wrote my own fan-fiction follow-up. Consider it an alternate alternate time-line tale.

"As far as we can discern,
the sole purpose of human existence
is to kindle a light of meaning in the darkness of mere being."

-- C.G. Jung (cited in Chapter IX of the graphic novel, Watchmen)

The Nite Owl

The year is 2009. Twenty-four years have passed since the U.S. Empire and the Soviet Union reluctantly formed a global alliance of nations in response to the heinous destruction unleashed by Dr. Manhattan. Allegedly unleashed; Daniel White knew better. As with Adrian and Laurie, more than two decades of concealing the truth had taken a high toll psychologically on him. Adrian overdosed when the Alliance trumped his hegemonic plans back in '87; no loss there. Laurie, on the other hand, stayed with Daniel through thick and thin for the better part of a decade of crime-fighting, but then opted to join the separatist organization Gray Peace rather than fall under the auspices of Operation Omnipotence. Daniel, however, had no qualms putting his muscle behind the double O.

The owl costume stuck uncomfortably to Daniel's skin in the evening humidity. Thankfully his mask was now one of biotech ink, providing superior surface conditions to evaporate his sweat while adding the requisite, opaque layer to conceal face...and his emotions. Deep violet clouds reflected perfectly on Green Lane Reservoir's surface, the single-molecule thick diamond-polymer coating keeping the heavy water reserve pure. Crouching on the edge of the access platform, Daniel kept his depression at bay by recollecting the nuances of what had come to pass.

Initially, the decommissioning of all nuclear warheads in 1986 for use exclusively in power generation removed much fear from the world's citizenry. The united planetary regime secured peace among nations wielding its own version of fear, the fear of Dr. Manhattan, the enemy unseen. The Alliance subsequently poured trillions of dollars into quantum weapons research in anticipation of the return of Dr. Manhattan. Crime still ebbed and flowed in this brave new world, enough to make a living from, especially in recent years as the globally elected Cheney-Bin Laden administration privatized the world's law enforcement. Drug and weapons manufacture most notably were fully legalized without restriction to permit maximum reign of free enterprise. Unchecked, the united world brought a new era of peace and prosperity to humanity. It also initiated a grand era of corporate-military power, corruption and environmental destabilization.

Daniel was currently under contract with Metrocrime Limited, patrolling the fusion reserves at Green Lane. He had full authorization to use deadly force should anyone threaten the precious reservoir of Deuterium. Anger rose in Dan's aging sinews. Damn Dr. Manhattan and Adrian both! Rorschach's death played its part in Adrian's scheme, but ultimately the rationalized execution performed by Dr. Manhattan had been for nothing. In fact, Rorshach's bloody demise served as a dark, splattered symbol of what befalls humankind when seeking to engineer peace with destruction.

Dr. Manhattan

Dr. Manhattan (he preferred the moniker Jon) materialized without warning five meters directly in front of Daniel. Ionized air splayed around him in chaotic tendrils of blue lightning. The radiant, cobalt-blue man-deity hovered fully naked a few centimeters above the reservoir's surface. His muscular arms stretched outward to either side and the iconic emblem on his forehead remained, as ever,  the metaphorical beginning and end that is every present moment.

From Jon's perspective, the world stood nearly still. Electromagnetic radiation in the nanometer wavelengths prevalent at dawn stirred the ecstasy at the center of his stoicism. Earth was his home, and though human no longer himself, humanity was his kin. It had taken many years of dedicated conversation to unravel the mysteries of his relationship to humanity. Even so, the surface had barely been scratched. Still, his destiny was inherent to his very being, even though at the moment he could not see it. Jon smirked at this to himself observing offhandedly that Adrian's global network of tachyon transmitters were still in full operation. Indeed, Jon had expected them to still be operating, even if his remote monitoring had not conclusively predicted it. Nevertheless, the tachyon radiation now suffusing his mind effectively blocked his omnipotent sight of the future.

For Jon, the present without the perfect context of past and future to enlighten and obscure, was delicious to savor. Even when free, his neural pathways were not unlimited; they were constrained by Universal laws. Even constrained, the kernel of matter strings he had transformed his brain into operated thousands of times faster than the human brain he had been born with. As such, he had a few seconds to spare so he entered a state of deep contemplation.

He called upon his reduced memory, which extended from prenatal awareness to the blind alley of the present moment. His love for Laurie surfaced, a lovely distraction. How could he have been so wrong, thinking Laurie's conception was a thermodynamic miracle? Indeed her uniqueness had started with that random, necessary event. Yet, it was obvious to him now that the natural laws of the Universe fully support the emergence of complex molecules, complex life, and complex intelligence. The evolutionary model is a strong, if incomplete one. Given enough time, random mixing would certainly grow in complexity in this particular Universe--that was simple, almost trite.

What was truly miraculous, metaphorically speaking, was the inherent power imbued within rising complexity. That power might be characterized as panpsychism, as recursive consciousness, as freewill or a dozen other esoteric terms. Whatever the name this essence permitted the forging of meaningful existence, and the multilateral participation in world building. Philosophers might argue the illusory properties of this essence; nevertheless, this quality was the driving force that evolved star systems, planet ecosystems, and the civilizations of numerous intelligent species throughout the Universe.

Why Jon had not reached out for alien intelligences earlier, he couldn't explain. All he knew is the past twenty-four years had revealed human intelligence was far from unique in this Universe. And those intelligences were diversely complicated, yet similarly flawed in their emergent beauty. Relatively speaking, I am the closest thing to a god in this Universe, Jon thought, and still I went temporarily insane when I became complicit with Adrian's short-sighted scheme. It is time that I set things right and bring completeness to my existence.

Jon opened his eyes. Just under two seconds had passed since he had appeared at Green Lane. Daniel, kneeling at the bank of the reservoir, had just sufficient time for his senses to register Jon's apparition; the naked blue humanoid, arms akimbo, had not perceptibly aged since his departure from Karnak Station in Antarctica a lifetime ago. Reflexively he wondered if his senses were playing a trick on him.

"Fare Well," whispered Jon.

Daniel distinctly heard the two syllables, and as later reported all of humankind did as well. A chill raced through his spine.

Armageddon by design began. The Alliance documentation he accessed later underscored the moment.

Operation Omnipotence activated at 21:12 UDT.

Window of execution lasted 2.7 seconds.

Five Alliance satellites triangulated target's spatial presence with micrometer accuracy.

Fifteen deuterium reservoirs planet-wide consumed by on-site nanotech fusion generators.

Networked fourth-dimension transmitters concentrated the output energy within specification.

The resulting quantum singularity coincided with target's braincase.

Three meter radius effectively imploded. Witness onsite corroborated target's inclusion.

Singularity transported safely to Lagrange Point L4 for safe monitoring.

Cherenkov radiation sensor array in place with millennium operational half-life. 

The world is now safe from target. Long live the Alliance.

All Daniel heard was a small pop. He had always imagined the implosion would be louder. So many years of conspiring with Alliance researchers to bring about Dr. Manhattan's death and it all ended with a pop, actually more of a plop, like a pebble plunging into a great, calm sea, echoing for a time in the mind's ear.


"Masks hide identity. Masks cannot hide uncertainty." asserted a throaty voice from the gloom behind Daniel.

Daniel spun away from the valley that was the depleted Green Lane Reservoir. He realized he had been holding his breath since Dr. Manhattan's appearance and well past his disappearance.


"The name fits. Jon called me that for last twenty-four years. Said would help if I face up to the man I become. No compromises for self delusion."

A floating, luminescent, green pattern undulated in the dark before Daniel. In the darkening twilight, he barely could make out the silhouette of the man before him. His face, however, was alight with a nightmare of flowering swirls.

"Your face is glowing. You're alive? You....," Daniel faltered.

"Lots to catch up on. Short version. Jon kidnapped me. Gave me new face. Blend of old and new. Kept me as companion on voyage to stars. Saw many things. Had many conversations. Am returned now."

Daniel stuttered, "But you were dead!"

"World needed to believe Jon dangerous to unite toward peace. You needed to believe Rorschach dead to play your part. Plan didn't work out, no how."

"But, I was there, I saw...."

"Saw what Dr. Manhattan needed you to see. After 'nam no stomach to kill. Higher-being complex he called it."

"But we just destroyed HIM. I only cooperated because I hated him. Hated what he did to you!" Daniel collapsed to his knees, his thoughts overwhelming him. "I..., I..."

"Needed to be turned against Jon. Needed to help military build god-weapon. Needed to end Jon."

"But why did he come back, if he knew we had his destruction waiting."

"Figured humans would escalate weapons research. Figured corruption would escalate too. Figured it would only end with his destruction."

Daniel caught his breath and tucked away all the details to process later. Rorschach was alive. His friend was alive!

"It's good to see you Rorschach."

"You too Daniel. How 'bout you buy me a beer and we talk. Hanging with the blue guy so long has left me a bit unnerved. Regular twelve step program personality."

Daniel rose to his feet, and slapped Rorschach on the back. "Beer? There's a word I haven't heard in ten years. Hope ViWa suits you, partner. Beer went the way of the 8-track."

"ViWa? What in hell is that?"

"Vitamin Water, carbonated with a spank of THC."

"Drat. Damned world's gone to hell."

Postlude (excerpted from Riding with Archie)

For decades to come, journalists would speculate whether Dr. Manhattan was actually destroyed in the Green Lane event on June 25, 2009, Unblue Day as the anniversary became known, was celebrated by the Alliance media arm with the latest monitoring reports from L4. Fanciful articles of Dr. Manhattan's escape were relegated to the sensationalist blogs and unpublished works of amateur spec-fic writers. The idea that Dr. Manhattan might have cloaked his escape was officially too improbable, and  unofficially too unsettling for the public to bear. Humanity gradually forgot the deified man of blue ever existed, and moved on.

Peace, one might conjecture, is not easily fooled into manifesting on this planet known to its residents as Earth. Human society, unimaginably complex in its very nature cannot be corralled like a herd of sheep on a farm. Only the painstaking collective effort of individuals and the communities they form have any hope of creating peaceful, progressive solutions on this imperfect world. Alexander, Napoleon, Hitler, and Adrian Veidt alike all tried to stronghold a diabolical peace within a single lifetime. Such schemes are for the weak minded, for the snake-oil salesmen, not for networks of beings who dream really big.

And so humankind proceeds down the uncertain path that is the future. Peace will always be a difficult course; it is more process than product, a hard won effort that has no final end. With enough time, heart and patience, we humans may just find our way a tad closer to that unreachable dream.