Friday, February 17, 2017

States of Change: Chapter 5: Constitution (Connecticut)

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 their societies from revolutionary technology and ideology.
Prominently, The Augment, a real-time, virtual overlay of sensory data 
has become widely available for personal use throughout many of the post-fed nation-states.

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.