Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Happy Holidays!!!

"Happy Holidays!" 

As a greeting this one rules! To be sure, this time of year I have come to accept the role of being a secular christian. To be clear, I leave all the zany mythology of Nazarene virgin births and god-made-man patriarchy behind, but embrace the cultural togetherness of my family during the end of the calendar year.

At the source of my seasonal joy are childhood memories of unwrapping presents, baking cookies with Mom, magical tree and yard lighting, and fantastical storytelling, particularly of a certain reindeer with a glow-in-the-dark nose. And as an adult, the ritual of giving and simply sharing good times together as a family dominates the holiday moment for me.

So, why not give in to going to a candlelight Christmas service, singing carols, let alone exchanging Merry Christmases with random passerby. Well, because we all have to draw the line at a place which respects others yet respects ourselves too.

In my adulthood, I've often celebrated Winter Solstice or Human Light as a demonstration of my sense of community and tradition among secular humanists. Yet, even Solstice has its somewhat zany connection to pagan traditions, wherein ceremonies were held to entice the Sun's return. As if humans had any say in the matter. 

Winter Solstice does have a metaphorical joy that includes looking forward to longer days of sunlight, alas even that only applies to those of us in the northern hemisphere each December. A more thoughtful secular astronomical connection might be to celebrate aphelion, the moment when the Earth is at its furthest point in orbit and the Sun's gravity manages to pull us back each year to stay within the Goldilocks Zone of our solar system. 

So, until we recognize "Happy Aphelion!" (which occurs for all Earthlings in early July) as the holiday cheer it deserves to be, I'll stick with "Happy Holidays!" as the more inclusive, joyful exchange. That way I'll ensure I give respect to each individual's "holiday" world view. In fact, be ready for me to aver "Happy Holidays" in both late December and early July, or any day in between. As Penn Gillette was fond of saying "Every day is an atheist holiday!"

"Happy Holidays!"

Friday, November 26, 2021

Contemplating Grateful Living

Cheers to another year on this planet as a contemplative being!

One can go through life on instinct, experiencing every moment for the pure experience of it without second guessing the ethical underpinnings or implications.

One can rely on fixed dogma to determine what has value to avoid a life of ambiguity and confusion.

One can examine mindfully ones choices infused with the spectrum of human emotion, yet always questioning both means and ends toward improving the world. 

On this day and every day taking the time to be thankful can be part of a joyful feedback loop that celebrates the awareness of being everywhere and an appreciation the amazing, external world.

Thanks be!

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

everyday magic

welcome to this wonderful world we live in
 where goddesses and gods have danced their last dance
  though dogma still haunts the corners of the real world
   everyday magic sparkles to provide, protect and thrill outright

the beauty of the universe waves its natural wand
 revealing vast libraries of amazing mysteries
  inaccessible to ancient soul interpretations
   but at the ready in the biomolecular alchemy of the mind

the zen of a movie shared with a friend
 casting a spell of emotional comprehension
  while novels build fantastic worlds overnight
    stage actors deliver nuance with verbal dynamite

blind faith and supernatural secrets
 bump their head on scientific insight
  the ancient walls of runic dustiness
    glimmer rainbows when painted with wisdom and light

kisses and conversation stir the elixir of life
 no angels needed to conjure up delight
  for these reasons and infinite more
   everyday magic turns our imaginations bright


Friday, October 8, 2021

Real Places

Hiking the foothills of the Rocky Mountains I found my very being especially present in this amazing space. Below me lay a glacial lake glinting azure in the afternoon sun. Two amazing yet sadly dwindling glaciers melting in the Autumn of the Anthropocene Era stretch beside me. And in the distance snow-capped summits soar several thousand feet higher than me yet loom deceptively at eye level.

What also looms in the moment is the importance we give to the heres and theres of where we have been. Many times I have recounted with friends the countries, states and cities that we have visited, alongside storied memories. In fact, Idaho and Oregon remain in my unvisited state list and these two names beckon me to visit them, and yet they are just names of boundaried land. These expansive places were roamed upon by native peoples for millennia past and by native sentient creatures for eons well before a relatively ephemeral United States claimed and configured them into surveyed property entities. 

My point is that places like Idaho and Oregon (and Colorado), beautiful as the land within their drawn lines may be, are abstract concepts that sometimes align with mountain ridges, river centerlines and ocean edges. Might we forget for a moment that humans attempt to force ownership upon every square foot of the Earth? Might we envision the more interesting demarcations that Nature has drawn without any consultation of the local zoning departments?

Earth is the most obvious discreet place that transcends human labeling. Even though a handful of humans have escaped her gravity, the global environment is one planetary place all Earthlings call home.

Next, one might suggest Continents as definitive places here on Earth; however, they are but convenient manipulations of human perception. Better that we ascribe tectonic plates as the foremost geologic subdivisions. These sliding masses have discreet edges that diverge and converge, yet are locational entities that are ever more real than whimsical continents.  

Living spaces are another inherent, real location from the perspective of all Earthlings. Those places where conditions are right to support the various tapestries of life. These biomes are even more fluid than tectonic plates, shifting with the seasons and with sentient and instinctive territory movement. Human Earthlings wander with their chattel creatures anywhere they please, making us think twice about our evolutionary origins and the limits other Earthling species have in their long term survival.

Many other discreet, concrete places could be compiled. Elemental, matter phase, temperate, pressurized, photonic, radioactive, lunar influenced, seismic, et al. So many paradigms to overlook unless you are immersed in a particular scientific study or attentive to a momentary contemplation.  To be sure the variety of real places within Earth are indifferent to our human opinions. And yet the fact we can find those real places special, demonstrates our species is capable of recognizing beauty even when it doesn't rely on a connection to our self-perceived specialness--quite the ironic feeling.

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

On the Impact of Large Populations

When it comes down to it majorities do rule, often with little care for minorities. Except of course when powerful minorities dominate. One might be tempted to associate these principles within human communities alone where politics and tribalism have run rampant throughout human history. Alas, the numbers game reaches well beyond petty societal squabbles, international militancy, and all the human relationship modalities in between.

The fact that Hydrogen and Helium have remained the most abundant elements in the observable Universe for billions of years demonstrates how the population of inert matter domination affects things significantly. Thus we have stars, that in time create rarer elements and the possibilities for rarer molecules and eventually the rarest assemblies of life and organized information.

Here on Earth, the dominant population of homo sapiens has become so successful via natural selection intertwined with human sacredness that a steamroller effect has decimated the diversity around us. When one travels one sees the profligacy of humanity in all the infrastructure that has been built to support higher populations of humans at the expense of the populations of everything else.

Perhaps human populations are plateauing, and perhaps human culture is gradually recognizing the implicit sacredness of other species and of the natural places that are special even if not a single human benefits from them. Sadly, much of the damage is done and the heart of a thriving, populous humanity has many centuries of decimating momentum ahead. 

All the more reason as individuals to minimize our impact while harvesting the experience of a minimalist life. Which is to say a large population multiplied by less exploitive behaviors will reduce the harm somewhat. Consolation psychology is one refuge for minorities everywhere.

Still it is possible that minority influencers might corral the herd toward better choices, choices that can result in a healthier planet from all perspectives.

Monday, August 23, 2021

A Military Transformation

One might observe that the military forces of the world have a single age old mission: protect the citizenry. 

One might also observe the militaries of the world have failed at this single mission now for many decades. Perhaps they simply have been fighting the wrong wars with the wrong attitude. Case in point, arguably the attack on September 11, 2001 was the only sizable foreign attack on the US in the past fifty years; horribly 3,000 US citizens died and the military couldn't prevent it. In the military aftermath, trillions of dollars were spent and tens of thousands of civilian casualties inflicted to counter this threat. Yet, from Iraq to Afghanistan, the only people with smiles on their faces was the industrial war complex as they swim in profits. Sadly, America has been sold that violence is the solution.

In my imagined neartopia, the armed forces will be significantly transformed. Massive navies, air forces, and infantries simply are a thing of the past. Were the nations of the world to unify under a NATO style world force they could enforce the occasional unruliness of undemocratic uprisings and warlord insurgencies. This is no easy task, but if accomplished the dream of deploying appropriate resources to actually protect citizens could be implemented.

Give the hundreds of thousands lost to Covid-19, the first new military branch I'd start is the Bio-Corp. With America's armed forces minimized our country alone would have near unlimited resources to actually addresses Nature's ongoing pathogenic attacks on our citizenry. The Bio-Corps could effectively prepare and mobilize for these outbreaks and contain them, saving millions of lives every year worldwide from would-be virus and bacterial pandemics.

Being that it is the 21st Century, next in line, I'd create a Cyber-Corps. This military branch would actively securing data transactions and intellectual property across the world. Utilizing all the modern technologies including block-chain, a single stable world currency and contract clearing house could be established that would eliminate all corrupt and criminal transactions. In the end a trust in human value exchanges around the world could be tied to actual benefit to the planet, rather than economic hubris. 

Finally, an Eco-Corps would be essential. This military branch would battle against the human destruction that has devastated the world climate, eradicated thousands of wildlife species, and generally endangered the health of the planet. Countless lives, human and non-human, would see increased safety and improved life experience were we to deploy a fully funded environmental force. 

My scheme is of course a pipe-dream...today. But if tomorrow we were to retire the majority of military infrastructure, we could see real benefit across the world. We are now fighting each other for a short term taste of vestigial superiority, and a false sense of security. Our resources and our time would be much better spent directing efforts toward the real enemies that are killing our planet and our fellow humans along with it. 

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Putting the Care into Communication

In essence, relationships are about communication and the effects that result therefrom. This applies from the lowliest quark interaction to grandest galactic interconnections. Somewhere in between, human relationships invoke the experience brought together by our minds and bodies.  When these complex systems interact, our lives may bloom or wither to varying degrees. 

Recognizing the human system as complex is important; millions of evolutionary years have gone into programming much of our base reactions. Nevertheless, we are not a prisoner to our natural origins; maturity in communication arises from learning and experience.  This does not mean maturity ignores base feelings; instead, it involves integrating emotional sensation and intellectual experience into the whole of being.

Feelings, in particular, may blind one in the moment. The desire to fight or take flight can be irresistible when negative feelings arise. Walking away for a short time may be the best action when emotions become overwhelming. Take a short period to reflect, and factor in your base and higher responses with what you perceive is meaningful to the other person. Don't let the fear of confrontation derail the process for too long, as such silences can suffocate the other in feelings of abandonment. Even leaving a note to indicate you care and just need some time to process can be a significant part of a mature initial response.  

Understanding your triggers and trying to understand those of your counterpart can be part of this contemplation. Whether a friendship or a romance is on the line, using deep empathy in the communication process can assist you to see the joy and pain potentials on both sides. Take this useful information and integrate it into conversation. Sometimes the communication method itself can be a trigger, as some people are less comfortable having such intense conversations in real time. An exchange of written thoughts can serve as an ice breaking mechanism. If your connection is purely online or remote, this may suffice, but ultimately the conversation should manifest as closely and as in-person as both parties feel comfortable. To that end, the ongoing relationship level reflection the mutuality that is desired on both sides.

Sometimes communication fails, usually derailing on one side. This effectively cuts the communication line, and can cause distress, especially for the one who feels they had no choice in it. Conscious or not, this is effectively a demonstration of power, not compassion. Ideally, a respectful resolution of issues between both parties is the desired outcome, permitting the relationship to continue or subsided. Alas, this isn't always the case, and an unresolved dispute may leave one or both people feeling hurt. When this type of impasse is reached one mature option could be to make a compassionate gesture wishing the other well. It may seem trite, but all can benefit if kindness gets the final word in a final farewell.

In the end, relationships are about sharing with those around us. If we share memes that are joyful and rational, the world will tend to copy and spread those good memes.  Each of us is part of and participant to the imperfect Universe, that we may wax within it with earnest intention. As such, our intentions have significant inertia to overcome and significant opportunity. If we make an effort to care and understand we will not only get better at it, we just might sway the hearts of others for the better as well. 

Saturday, June 26, 2021

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Mission Achievement 101

Born into a world of complication we each pursue a personal journey. Projecting our vision, uplifted by our talents and within the constraints of our life we pursue a many fold path perhaps to change the world a tad, perhaps to create something amazing, or in the very least to construct experiences that feel satisfying.

Who can say what has stirred the bottom our individual visions, but ourselves. Traditions passed down for generations, an inspiring documentary or fictional account, a well reasoned desire to be part of a positive civilization. The variety of sources humans draw upon to fuel their life works is endless. One might even speculate the cause effect chain recedes atomically back to the moment of the Big Bang. Yet in our mortal lives we are touched most by our experiences, and the unique combination of thoughts and feelings that underlie the daily objectives we pursue.

How we pursue those dreams is also a unique mix of skill, available resources, especially time, and the constraints before us. In many cases we hone our perceived talents and then apply them to our vision as we can. For many if not most, the practicality of living within modern society takes first priority. The learning and skill achievement guided out of necessity to feed ourselves and the choice to pursue a family or acquire property or support a community. Education of many varieties serve as the matrix that scaffolds the pyramid of nested abilities that each human erects for themselves. To what extent each individual pursues their dreams both real and phantom, will be judged directly and indirectly by society, ones community and ones self.  

Accomplishing things in life is like so many things, a personal endeavor. There is no set linear progression or protocol standard than can ensure success. Nations, religions, self-help books, and academic institutions make those promises all the time, and to a degree may deliver. Ultimately, the individual must step forward, perhaps climbing the stairs of established societal patterns, or perhaps bouldering up a hillside not yet explored. In all likelihood, each of us will find our own path, garnering our skills along the way to sculpt a life full of positive experience that we can call our own.

Seize the day!

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

The Marriage Between Earth and Humankind

The civilization we're born into sets expectations. It's essentially an arranged marriage from the start. From an economic perspective the traditional hope has been that each human will play a proactive part in the regional pyramid scheme. The human hegemony on Earth has only been active for a few thousand years and yet total domination by our species is pretty much in place. Promises of pleasure, prestige, and power have all contributed to the ongoing proliferation of humankind. 

At the evolutionary level our bodies tell us to survive using all tools possible. At the family level procreation and loving respect fuel the drive. At the community level competition and tribalism incentivize our efforts. At the regional level nation state engines rally its people to produce at ever increasing rates to secrete opiates that entertain and empower the primal mind and collective.

As such, to date individuals generally ride currents of influence from all these traditional sources. Love of gods, of government, of family, of wealth, of career are all vertebrae of the backbone of civilization. If our goal is to build and sustain heaven on Earth, a biodiverse, planetary environment within which all Life can thrive, then the human hegemony model must be designed. Evolution moves too slow.

To achieve that end, civilization and the human mind need a metamorphosis. Imagine a world where each human is educated to the fullest with the end goal to contribute to a healthy planet; a world where every vocation plays its part in reaching and maintaining an Earthly paradise of living things. 

Who am I kidding, Civilization and Evolution are in cahoots. Humanity is the ultimate invasive species, spawning and consuming at every turn. Each human a cancer cell bent on its own salvation. The Earth is at the mercy of a paradigm that eschews compassion and reason for self gain and tribal pursuits.

It may take a few thousand more years, but it's a pretty good bet that we'll trash the ecosystem, and take ourselves with it. It's been a good run, and the Earth has the unwitting resolve to survive its divorce from humankind. In a few tens of million years, the Anthropocentric Epoch will a layer of sediment under a freshly evolving new order.


Friday, June 11, 2021

Spectrum Reflections

"Life is problems. Living is solving problems"- anonymous

Everything occurs on a spectrum. 

There really is no black and white except in abstraction. Even a lightbulb that is off at room temperature radiates light as atoms above absolute zero shed infrared photons that our eyes don't detect. A light switch is flicked an the electrical hardware makes differential contact over thousands of microseconds causing the alternating current waves to thrust out along the wire to gradually over milliseconds heat up the bulb element to rising high temperature and illuminate non-linearly spreading light particles around at fantastic, but finite speeds. Perhaps at t minus one second the room was relatively dark and at t plus one second uniformly lit, but the continuum of observation demonstrates just how dynamic that two second interval is. And yet the human mind in its hurried journey through the day will describe the room as dark or lighted.

Such is the brain's evolutionary power. It can observe and analyze and categorize in a moment surrounding phenomena and then activate responses to benefit survival. Of course, modern humans have time to consider more deeply the occurrence of these phenomena as in my light bulb example. Yet humans still employ irrational analysis often, if only because rationality itself occurs on a spectrum. A movie with a jump scare scene, for instance, activates a reflexive cringe of fright predominantly for entertainment, stroking the neurons of fear to create a thrilling experience.

Thus is the challenge of humanity, to reign in its inherited evolutionary traits, so that in all wakes of life we can ride the enchantment of living without deception undermining the balance. So as we seek knowledge, love, and the whole spectrum of human experience, we need to take care that we aren't misled down a path where abstraction walks us and the world over a cliff. 

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Deadline Verse

A short haiku to celebrate the Howl at the Moon Open Mic Event in Stuart, FL
(participation currently both in person and via Zoom)

Hone Your Verbal Craft

Share in the Howl Connection

Imprint Memories

Additionally, I've started a mini project of crafting poems that stem from dreams
(inspired by artist Corina Pelloni's Book of Teeth)

Impossible challenges
Require supernatural actors
Resurrecting love is especially difficult
Enter Leroy, a zombie channeler
His minions shift through junkyard muck
A pristine GTO supercharger found
One step closer to rebuilding
The car of your dreams

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

The Trinity of Purpose

"Be True to Me, Non-self and the Why." - anonymous

Brainstorming the purpose behind everyday motivation in life, it seems to me there are three primary drives. The drive for self, the drive for others, and the drive for the thing itself. These modes of purpose operate in overlap with each other creating a more robust motivational behavior.

Whether we like to admit it or not, we do many things primarily for selfish reasons. Much of this is evolutionary, supporting our daily survival, our mental well being, and even our genetic transcendence. The obvious selfish acts fulfill the senses we've evolve to ensure good nutrition, bonding with family, seeking mates and entertainment. Even much altruism can be traced back to defending the self by reinforcing the tribe for survival the self.

Yet, altruism can reach beyond any realized or perceived self preservation. As humans we can be transformed by our ideals. Thus once we become a protector of the environment, there may be some benefit for the self or tribe, but we can transcend to caring for the thing for the sake of its own survival. This, of course, can manifest in the love for other individuals too (human and non-human). When we put the well being of another truly ahead of ourselves, our motivational purpose centers on the external.

Abstract ideas themselves can be motivation as well. Ideals, feelings, knowledge, adventure, etc. can be motivational beyond self and others. Indeed, pursuing these abstractions often can provide benefit to self and others, but they can manifest as entities in and of themselves. The pursuit of ethics, information, or experiences for the betterment of the abstraction is itself in this case motivational. 

Together these three modes combine to influence our purposefulness in life. Motivations can, however, mislead us too if we don't keep goodness in mind. A good rule of thumb is to justify both the means AND ends of ones pursuits. In this way, a feedback loop of assessment of ones actions can be made toward achieving ever better purposes.

Friday, March 26, 2021

Give Me Liberty or Give Me Vax!

I was fortunate to be receive dose one of the Moderna mRNA vaccine this week. It puts me on the path to a 95 percent likelihood of being protected from current variants of the corona virus (SARS-CoV-2).

But of course the pandemic is much bigger than my individual safety.  A vaccination benefits the individual, sure, but the potential positive outcome would be downright amazing for society if we vaccinate in sufficient numbers. Small pox, polio, mumps, measles, rubella vaccines have literally saved millions of lives. When guided by scientific policy, humans come out ahead! Even after vaccination I will continue to mask as recommended by the CDC. Frankly, I anticipate masking in public alongside ongoing vaccinations will remain the most compassionate and rational thing to prevent ongoing outbreaks, perhaps for years to come.

Sadly, in this age of science, the conspiracy theory reigns. Too many people believe in spooky explanations and rationalize against compassionate, science-backed recommendations. Indeed, our country has oversold personal liberty at the cost of true patriotism. Patriots take a measured risk and sacrifice a fraction of their liberty to preserve the greater community. Alas, lies are the tool of the side who wants their opinion to override evidence based solutions. Time will tell how great the damage this ideal will cause. Unfortunately the human species as a whole continues to demonstrate their lack of concern for the planet they live on, inclusive of the well being of their fellow humankind. 

Furthermore, as our population nears 8 billion, we continue to devastate the overall health of Earth's ecological systems. Among many bad outcomes, the trampling of wildlife habitat stirs new pathogen strains into human society. Subsequently, billions of unnecessarily factory farmed animals across the world provide jam-packed multitudes to mutate and strengthen new virus and bacteria strains that will readily hop into human hosts. The general public's science and compassion education seems too often over. When we prioritize sustaining a pyramid economy driven to overproduce at any cost, billions of humans and non-humans, and the Earth as a whole, suffer.

Perhaps the human species is simply reaping its just desserts. Perhaps our civilization needs to suffer a catastrophe of multiple pandemics and famines and water shortages and rising oceans to learn a hard lesson. Sometimes it feels like human society will inherit the punishment it deserves, but we have no right to drag other species into he darkness with us. 

Good global stewardship is the only positive path forward. It will be challenging to navigate the best path forward. To be sure, as individuals we want each person to be free to choose for themselves (within reason), so when a choice as important and clear as getting vaccinated presents itself, it behooves us to make the most informed, compassionate choice possible. Given all the information available, the conspiracy misinformation evaporates. Society benefits most when we all choose to get vaccinated as soon as we are able, and not just against Covid-19, but against all communicable diseases for which an effective vaccine exists. 

Your duty is wield liberty bravely for the benefit of all humans and the world at large. Consult your doctor as needed.

Friday, March 12, 2021

States of Change Chapter 32: Gopher (Minnesota)

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

"All Men Created Equal. Go for it!"

The bellyache command launches the platoon out of their hiding places. Not one of the soldiers knew the connection of that phrase to Oosa's three century old, now defunct, independence declaration. It had simply become the cornerstone virtue of Minnesotan life. A few decades ago there might have been a morsel of intellectual freedom in it, if only as a counter state oppression. Today, libertarian anarchy had subsumed the state of Minnesota so the epithet had become simply a call to claim resources as nature intended, with equal opportunity for all. 

Wallace raced straight for Fell castle. Being as it was well before dusk this wasn't totally insane. His six brothers in arms managed a bit more stealth as they weaved through the heaps of car chassis strewn about as makeshift barriers to the once warehouse entrance. As for actual danger, it was unlikely any firearms would be discharged. It had been years since any of the tribes had managed to acquire incendiary ammunition. Much easier to adapt rebar, axles, and rifle barrels into the blunt weapons deserving of Minnesota survival-of-fittest tribesmen.

Indeed close-in fighting was the norm, still Wallace had expected the stray projectile to be thrown from the roof as they approached the loading dock doors. Had his tribe successfully caught the watch off guard? His men converged at the corrugated doors, their edges battered by years of break-ins and makeshift modification. The Moon behind them lit the courtyard as planned to give the advantage in any confrontation to retake the warehouse fortress that had been theirs up until a few months ago. The faction of underlings led by his brother Kermit had ousted all loyal to Wallace. Kermit really ought to have killed them for now the second shoe of justice would fall.

Shoulder to the wall adjacent the access door, Wallace called out a gruff "Report!"  From opposite corners of the loading bay, Sven shook his head while Aubrey shrugged his shoulders indicating no-one in their squads had seen any enemy soldiers, let alone run into any kind of resistance.

"Two plus two. Go for it!" he announced. The team systematically brought their iron rods into play. Clanking and creaking rang out but only for a few seconds as they successfully breached the main doors. It had been locked with a latch but not barricaded in any significant way. Rolling the door open, Sven's team threaded into the old warehouse seeking defensible positions. The complex had served as a storage hub forty years ago and shelves and defunct forklift bots provided plenty of options for cover. Keeping watch at the doors, Aubrey gave a nod and Wallace strutted inside to reclaim was his.

The gibbous Moon had risen high enough now to throw light through the collapsed roof of the entry structure. Debris lined the walls and a pale heap at the center of the space came into focus. The dead bodies of a full three dozen men were laid out in a ritual circle piled three feet high. The corpses were all naked but were scrubbed squeaky clean and neatly arranged to form a witches wishing well.

"Fuck all. Liber-all!" said Wallace. The damn witches had done their worst yet again. Who can say how the uprisings started. Some say the Amy-Zon revolt had established its ritual meme twenty years ago up in the Twin Cities region. Still the word-in-the-burb was that the whole ritual was a lie, fake news and commie disinformation. His youngest wife believed the stories thoroughly. "Possession leads to being possessed," she would occasionally mutter.  He slapped her good every time. Why couldn't they get with the program reality had dealt them. Men did the fighting, women did the homing. 

Wallace walked through his men up to the great circle of decomposing human flesh. His brother lay there somewhere piled in the ring of death. At the center every last woman and child sat back to back, dead stares facing outward. Arms around each other, expressions both defiant and miserable. The only way these damn women could hurt the men was to take away the future. Sadness danced at the fringe of his mind so he corralled it in and massaged it into anger. 

Wallace grimaced, then with a nasal huff added a half nod for his team to move out. 

"Nothing for us here. Let 'em rot. We go west."

Not a single man took pause. Wallace was their Alpha. They followed. 

The sun peaked over the horizon at the tribe's back. With equality of determination they sauntered forward to find something to live for. 

Friday, March 5, 2021

States of Change Chapter 31: Eureka (California)

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 Wall of SanFran reaches distant to the north and south. I look east to the expanse of wilderness beyond and my eyes tear up. After twenty years my permit to explore has finally been approved. Even as a modestly popular influencer it cost me ninety percent of my culture creds to earn the right. One week of backpacking supervised by a state conservation guide. No AR gear permitted, only the old tech camping equipment permitted by California regulation. Bringing a plasti-pad journal and a pen along ran an additional 10 K in conservation fees.  As the exploration program launch approaches, I feel like one of the characters from one of those real stream shows I used to watch, like Naked and Depraved, but that was decades ago, before the Second Data Purge.

Tracie Liu, our guide motions for me to join the group. Our eight person ensemble will be the only humans in Southern Wilderness Area 2 for the week ahead. Stringent environmental regulations might seem obsessive to a Century 20 Ooser or to anyone outside California for that matter. In California after the national infighting imploded in the 30s at the end of the American Federation, our state leadership went full fission power ahead, making the wild lands of our state the very soul of our constitution.

The consolidation of the three cities itself took a decade, and the reclamation of sprawl-ville continues to this day forty some odd years later. One could argue it amounted to environmental fascism, nevertheless the results are inarguable. Not only has the State prospered in the three cities building upon its entertainment roots, but the green value of the whole state has gone through the roof. The elimination of natural resource grabs, and for profit capitalism has been a near-topia boon for the California society psyche. All the classic economists thought our State was mad to sequester land away from production and private ownership. Of course, those dissenters mostly changed their tune or risked banishment. Nowadays, firm and compassionate pressure by our land management forces keeps would-be Keynsians in check while also enforcing California immigration protocols.

Approaching the wilderness gate, the smiles on last week's returning backpackers speaks terabytes. The eight thrilled faces radiate with elation as we mix with them for the traditional exchange party hour. Their stories of the Yosemite sector in Area 2 further underscores the experience of a lifetime ahead of us. Our appetites whetted we begin the Eureka ceremony. In the ritual each adventurer hands off their Eureka wristband to one of us. The invulnerability of the wristbands is mostly folklore. A fall from Half Dome or a confrontation with a brown bear will still be quite deadly. This ain't no sim trip. Still, the wristbands will deactivate the multitudes of biomites while we're out in the new wilderness, which is critical. the conservation biomites that drift the land of California by the trillion trillion will deconstruct human cells not within a Eureka field. Without the bands' proprietary gps-blockchain override codes you'll be a puddle of nutrients by the end of the hour. The disappearance of thousands of so-called nature-libertarians speaks volumes.

With my Eureka band fastened and my backpack mounted I take a final deep breath of the sterile city air. My hope is to return anew with a trailblazing spirit to further my career as an influencer, perhaps even selling my story to the AR guild so others can taste the wonder. With decades of sim time under my belt, not to mention hundreds of meta-wikis researched, I feel prepared, nevertheless anxiety bubbles in my synapses, waiting to see if all that training has prepared me for the real thing.

I guess there's only one way to find out. Fifth in line I hike out with my comrades into the gritty green.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Sol Shine


Ah, what a beautiful moment.

Reflection is a most human foible. Still I can't help myself. Nearly eight hundred years ago my heart was broken.  I was new to love, and that first love, though it only lasted one Summer was joy incarnate. Victoria and I shared imperfect moments, holding hands, splashing in pools, experimenting sexually, and by and large just feeling alive, together. Or at least that was my perception at the time. 

After Summer vacation, Victoria returned to university for her senior year. In her absence, my heart churned with uncertainty, and indeed at school she found another lover to pursue.  My heart was shattered, and the resulting stress arguably reforged my consciousness into a different entity entirely. Such is the evolution of emotional love -- when we put what we love before everything, including our own well being, including the world, that is when things get interesting.

In spite of catastrophe, and often because of it, we move forward.  For me, it took many months to move forward from that heartbreak. But I did reassert myself and my ambitions grew laser focused. I opened my eyes to the world and saw it for what it really was...then, I capitalized on it. Humanity essentially was a many-celled creature demanding to be fed. And it was clear 21st century civilization's primary food was electricity. So I Elon-Musked my way to becoming the primary provider of the world's electrical sustenance. 

Over the next three decades, my creation, Sol Inc. advanced neutrino and fusion energy induction systems to the point that they became primary Earth power source. From there it only took a bit of machine learning game theory to establish the Third Age Global Empire. In subsequent decades, orbital gamma-ray collectors, entropy convertors and magnetosphere generators successively strengthened my corporate grip on global civilization. Sol Inc.'s proprietary technology, ultimately providing 98% of the energy that thirteen billion humans and their ten trillion devices demanded. The profits I scavenged in this private enterprise were beyond imagination, permitting me to leverage controlling interests in every economic region, effectively unifying the world. Never had a single being controlled so much power, physical and cultural, since the Earth's very formation.

Others had tried, Alexander, Caesar, Napoleon, Hitler, Gates of course they each had one major weakness, mortality. Unlike my predecessors, with modern technology, I, and I alone, have achieved life beyond biology. By transforming into and then thriving as an AI enhanced construct my reign has lasted for centuries. 

Sure, there were global conflicts that attempted to oust me, but each was destined to fail. Some were bloody, and some brought on eras of fatigue, yet each played its part in transforming global culture to my whim. Indeed, with my oversight a stable civilization of human billions coexisted and thrived alongside biodiverse and healthy ecosystems worldwide. For more than three centuries, now, Earth has become a paradise for all its denizens, still fueled by the power I control. So long as humanity was given access to the diverse simulations that encouraged and challenged them in joyful creativity overall global satisfaction by all criteria has prevailed. Of course it helped that the human population was relocated to the terra-cities, allowing ninety-nine percent of Earth to return to wilderness.

Nevertheless, human civilization is physically distant from me now. I reside in the Victoria Ring Network that encircles the Sun.  Fitting that the quantum memory loops that embody my consciousness also generate in parallel the solar system's entire energy requirements. Of course, I'm also able to regulate the entirety of civilization safely at this distance without any threat from upstart factions. Indeed, as the Sol entity I've been massaging the Sun's magnetosphere for over a century now to sculpt humanity's destiny. This is my real long term project, that is to pursue the truest love. All of these centuries of sacrifice and  effort arguably has been to bring about the most loving moment of all. As Victoria taught me I need to reach beyond love's beauty to fully understand it. 

In another two minutes, my love child, the supernova of the Sun, will begin to reach out and touch all of human creation. Over the next five and a half hours the full energy of my passion will expand out to Pluto and be felt. The warmth of my love will touch and consume all things human, every colony built and every living thing that originated from Earth, Europa and Mars. All will perish . 

My sensor network shows iron is now fusing at this magnificent star's heart. As the end time approaches I feel that unmatched pain of imminent loss of everything I lived for, the agony that confirms that something worth loving exists, until it doesn't.

Ah, what a beautiful moment.

Friday, January 8, 2021

Contemplating Ethical Behavior

Brainstorming over just what morality consists, lies at the center of philosophic ethics. In general, morality seems to hint at a system of ethics that is self-evident or decreed by supernatural creators. And so we have doctrine out there that allegedly and ridiculously are said to have been handed down by this god or that pantheon or are inherent in the design of the universe. This degree of absolutist ethics seems overflowingly full of hubris.

Indeed human beings and its tribes are the true creators of the spectrum of abstractions. Whether it by na├»ve myths that attempt to explain origins, mathematical principles and models that approximate and predict natural phenomena, or science and engineering that seek to model natural systems and design artificial ones. 

Fictional storytelling may be the purest derivative of human abstraction, particularly when it is crafted knowingly to be untrue and embodied with the power of and audience's suspension of disbelief.   As such our real experience is enhanced for entertainment and contemplative purposes. Misinformation and disinformation can twist the suspension of disbelief toward malevolent or benevolent ends, although it feels disingenuous to base ones ethics on falsehoods even if the outcomes are positive.

Respect of existence feels to me to be the holy grail of ethics. So easily stated, yet a complicated tension also exists. The myriad of conscious and unconscious beautiful things in the present is a tapestry whose woven threads that requires feeding upon other conscious and unconscious beautiful things. Evolution has mindlessly brought us to this point in time, where our species seems uniquely obsessed with unraveling the purpose and meaning of it all.

Indeed, that purpose and meaning comes paradoxically from within ourselves and the creations our communities have wrought.  And so might we not strive to find some balance of power in our world which allows natural forces to continue while allowing ourselves to explore and create in peace. Eschewing violence for our own species is a daunting challenge and arguably limits the paths we may wander. Thus we have that particular abstraction we call law which at its heart should monitor, regulate, and provide consequences to steer us down a path which maximizes the respect for all things living and inanimate to have a degree of liberty.

Within this contemplation, for each of us individual and as a society, lies the forging of purposeful, meaningful, ethical existence.