It’s a Weird Weird Weird World Right Now

This is a strange time to be listening to audiobooks about apocalyptic futures. But I was doing just that, juxtaposed against a world outside my car that looked the same, calm and normal, but it all feels quite surreal.

A Surreality.

It’s hard to wrap your head around THE ENTIRE WORLD being under attack from a virus and it is still escalating. It runs through my mind that I need to hold onto this moment, because next week might look entirely different.

The CDC put forth the postulation that the number of infected would double every four days. Here in the United States it is now doubling every third day. By the end of the weekend we will be approaching 30,000 infected and by the end of next week 100,000. At what point do we stop doing half-measures?

I’ll admit that when I first heard of this pandemic I was one of those who thought the hype was overblown. I WAS WRONG.

Please take this seriously. It may not kill you, but it might kill someone close to you if you get infected. I worry about my family, some of which have  asthma and might not cope well. I would love to stay home, but I am still being directed to work, and I don’t have enough vacation time to stop. I know how lucky I am to still have a paying job, and I don’t take it lightly. I’m praying for all of us. Please wash your hands a lot, and stay home if you can. I anticipate all of us being directed to stay home with a national curfew before the end of the month.

Alternate Reality

I  don’t know about you but life feels surreal right now.

Pretty much everything is cancelled. My daughters opera slated for next month is cancelled. All the schools here are online only until further notice.

No sports, of any kind, except . . . except Virtual Sports. Could this spark something new? All those out of work sports reporters need something to do.

cornonaprepper

I’m listening to Karl Schroeder‘s newest book, Stealing Worlds. People can disappear in the LARP game worlds, into the alternate economy of Notchcoin and blockchains. The people who build the games also program the surveillance networks. It’s s Deep State thriller that deals with a lot of virtual and mixed reality stuff. Combined with what is happening across the world right now it has really got me feeling like we are in the first stages of Schroeder’s world.

 

My imagination has been working overtime, and I can see a world where virtual sports really take off, online worlds thrive. Why? Because you can do it in the comfort of your fortress at home. I wonder about the implications of social distancing. If this virus threat continues for months and months it could have a lasting impact on how we live for years to come. If I had the money I would be investing in online ventures and delivery services.

I hope you are doing well. Keep washing your hands.

Media Need to STOP Feeding the Coronavirus Fears

It has gotten completely out of hand. My wife visited the doctor yesterday and they were surprised when she didn’t ask them about the coronavirus; apparently everyone else had. Media, especially television “news” outlets have been feeding the frenzy using words like “Deadly” coronavirus. It is the second LEAST deadly of all the major virus’s that have been going around for the last decade.

It IS very contagious. But is has proven to be a fairly weak virus in comparison to others. Even the normal flu virus that we get shots for every year, (you get your flu shot right?) has nearly twice as much killing potential and yet we don’t have the media screaming about that.

Good news came out today that the Israelis are a few weeks away from having a vaccine. They had been working on one for years. Good timing? Providence? Who knows.

But the fear mongering has got to stop.

My local TV station played this last night: Context matters

Coronavirus Fears are Out of Control

The media has created a fear of the Coronavirus (covid-19) that is out of proportion worldwide. All the talk of pandemic and global fears causing the DOW to drop more than a thousand points today, all on emotion.

According to medical sources, this season’s flu has a mortality rate of around 3%. The mortality rate of the Coronavirus is between 1-2%.

https://www.globalresearch.ca/flu-bigger-concern-wuhan-virus-grabs-headlines/5701932

Why aren’t we freaking out about the flu? It’s crazy.

There hasn’t been a single case in the United States resulting in death. Most of the deaths, and all but one so far have been in China, have been as a result of people already being in poor health when they contracted it.

The World Health Organization declined to declare the outbreak a pandemic today, as well.

Let’s not let fear get the better of us.

A Marriage (Divorce) Story

a marriage storyShortly after this show went live on Netflix we heard so many good things about it. Getting nominated for lots of awards and starring two of my favorite actors, Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver. A couple of reviewers did a best of list for 2019 and they both had A Marriage Story in their top 5. They both mentioned that it was funny.

I’m not sure what movie they were watching but neither my wife nor I found anything funny about the show. It started out warmly, with each partner writing down all the things they liked about each other. Then of course, the wife refuses to share and off we go on a course, that in hindsight I should have predicted. The title of the show threw me off. So did the movie poster. They look happy don’t they? I thought this was going to be about their marriage. They both have a hand in the union getting to where it had, to a point where the movie opens with the pair at a marriage counselor. Spoilerish stuff follows:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now, don’t get me wrong, Johansson and Driver were both fantastic in their roles. The writing was good to a point, but the plot . . . awful may be too strong a word, but we found very little to endorse other than the acting. It was one bitter, mournful scene after another. We kept waiting for something good to happen, even one thing, but no. It kept spiraling down, chapter after chapter, to a heartbreaking ending. Two narcissistic protagonists, one openly self-centered, the other keeps her narcissism covered up until things get out of hand. Although, both actors are great at their craft, the characters they portray are sad and unable to communicate with each other in any way that matters.

I am honestly dumbfounded that it is getting such recognition. It really is not a story about marriage at all, but the slow shattering of a marriage, that potentially could have been salvaged if they had managed to be honest with each other and talked about their issues instead of letting them fester. Of course, that would have made for a very different movie, one that would have earned the title of the show. This one really should have been called A Divorce Story. I grew up in a house where my parents divorced when I was 6. I’ve been through one myself, but having been married happily for going on 27 years this time, I have an idea how to make one work. The movie was truly cringe-worthy at moments. I can’t recommend this show to anyone.

Throwback Thursday – Inserting Ideas into the Public Mind

circuit handshake.jpgThis feels timely with all that has gone on in the world in recent months. Especially regarding the Russians using online personas to insert disharmony into social media sites and put out actual fake news about stuff and it worked. It actually did exactly what I wrote about back in March 2011. I know that terrorist organizations like ISIS used social media in a very savvy way to promote their worldview and recruit people. Our military public affairs figured it out late and fought hard to recapture their own media perspectives and now it is part of our toolkit.

It is a real thing that people have tapped into. I wish I was better at it, but I don’t really have an agenda, other than being here for when the time comes I have books out in the world, and to have a place to chat with people that like my books. In the meantime, I put out treacle like this post.


I’m enrolled in a course about Strategic Communication right now and with the explosion of the Facebook and Twitter revolutions across the Middle East it really puts a new face on the whole concept.  It really got me thinking about how interconnected we all are now all over the globe and how powerful the new social media really is.  I’ve read opinion that it is the most innovative development since the industrial revolution.  I’m not sure we understand all the ramifications yet.

How many of you have read Ender’s Game? (If you haven’t you really should) It was originally penned in 1977 by Orson Scott Card and there is a segment in there about Ender’s older siblings taking on personas on the “nets” to shape public opinion.  WOW is all I can say.

There was no true internet back then, not the way we know it now.  The first version of Windows didn’t come out until 1985.  The World Wide Web didn’t exist before 1990.  There were only USENET groups and electronic bulletin boards from the mid 80s until the early 90s.   Card was visionary with some of these ideas.

I see that now is the time when something like Locke and Demosthenes could actually be utilized with real effect — Agents with an agenda to shape public opinion.  Governments across the planet are fighting a war of ideas and information is a commodity.  The ability to shape global opinions through social media would be a powerful weapon if it could actually be harnessed somehow.  I think there is a kernel for a great story here.  But reality could be even more scary.  A determined group of people with money and some real savvy could build a network of social media personas to nudge opinions.  Collectively they could have a real impact on global viewpoints and if the recent events in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya are any indication they could topple governments.  Food for thought.

Clear Ether!

How do You do Social Media?

apps blur button close up
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

During my MFA course we talked about how to present yourself to the world. Marketing yourself is pretty much expected these days. The problem for a lot of writers is that they tend to be introverts by nature, and having to put themselves out there in the public eye can produce a lot of anxiety. Especially doing live events, like conventions and sitting on panels or books signings. But even beyond that there seems to be an expectation by the industry to have a presence on social media.

There are so many now, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Patreon, Twitch, Flickr, Tumblr, Snapchat, YouTube, LinkedIn, LiveJournal, Blogger, WordPress and so many more. I found a link that discussed 165 different platforms for 2019. Holy crap.

Obviously, we don’t have time to do everything, and still have time to write. I could have stopped with the first half of that last sentence. We don’t have time for 165 different platforms even if we did nothing else.

Just keeping up this blog takes up quite a bit of my time when I could be writing more for my current work in progress. So, for me I spend most of my energy on three, WordPress, Twitter and Facebook. I have accounts for LinkedIn, and LiveJournal, Flickr, Tumblr, Patreon, Instagram, and YouTube, but I rarely use them, other than to peruse the content of others.

Are my three the best three? I have no idea. My kids tell me that nobody uses Facebook anymore. I have to laugh at that because it is still the largest with over 2.4 BILLION users. That is almost unbelievable. What my kids mean is young people rarely use Facebook now. My youngest spends a lot of time on Reddit, which I can barely stand, but he loves it.

Young people are always moving onto the hot new thing. Which, I have to admit, I have no idea what that might be. I try to stay up on current events, but pop culture moves fast at times, and I have no doubt that at some point it will leave me behind.

I know there is a fine line between selling too hard and not doing any. I think the real trick is to simply be you. I know that I don’t like following people that all they talk about is their latest book, with character discussion or snippets of their novel. If I don’t see some real personality in there, at least occasionally, then I don’t want to be your friend on there. In fact, we aren’t making any sort of connection, because all I am to you is a person to buy your book.

 

So, what are your favorites? If you are a writer or an artist do you actively market yourself? How do you go about it?

5 Things I Hate About Writing

  1. b6857-11jan132b003First of all, our school systems do a poor job of teaching English. It basically makes people hate studying the language and how to write it better. Grammar? Bleh. How do you get past this? People still write, but it seems like most of those people do so because they can’t stop themselves. I wonder how many more people would be writing if they weren’t made to hate it in High School. When I decided to take it seriously, I had a lot of education to undertake. It spurred me to get a Master’s degree, simply to fill in the gaping potholes in my skillset. I still ended up taking an undergraduate class in grammar. I enjoyed it actually. No really.

Continue reading “5 Things I Hate About Writing”

Throwback Thursday: A Life of Consequence

This gem dates back to Dec 30, 2011. Please to enjoy.


milky way road.jpgIt’s the end of the year and it usually brings an overabundance of introspection and reflection and for me it’s not just “what did I accomplish this year” but I find I’m looking at the big picture. Is my life shaping up the way I want it to? Am I having an impact on things that matter to me? Am I positioning myself to be able to influence things that are important to me? I’m approaching the big 5 0 and that may have something to do with it.

I can remember being a fresh-faced lieutenant and looking at what seemed an endless dark tunnel of training and hoop jumping to get where I wanted to be. It was great to finally get through that tunnel and into the daylight again. It took years of hard work and dedication to see the light at the end, but I made it through. The thing is, once I got over the fact that I had achieved my initial goals, I found that I was sitting on a knoll looking down at several more tunnel entrances. It had opened up possibilities and I had choices but I was going to have to go through more training and learning if I chose to come down off the knoll.  It was nice sitting there for a while, basking in the sunlight, but eventually you want more challenges. You find that you are not fulfilled for whatever reason. Maybe you aren’t doing what will really make you happy or have the impact that you want. You have to choose a new tunnel and start the process all over. Continue reading “Throwback Thursday: A Life of Consequence”

Watching Television, errr, Small Screen/Streaming

 

The Rook Poster
The Rook

We recently watched Gentleman Jack on HBO. The writing and acting were brilliant. Before that it was Games of Thrones and Star Trek Discovery, Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and Stranger Things. All of these were wonderful. We love Counterpart on Stars and it looks like there is going to be another good show on Stars, besides Outlander, The Rook. It looks very interesting.

I tried Orange is the New Black and Handmaid’s Tale, but they don’t really do much for me. My wife didn’t even bother with them.

We tried Man in the High Castle, but accidently started on season two and it made no sense, so much so that we didn’t want to watch season one. It deviates widely from the book, but almost every adaption of Phillip Dick has taken a broad approach to his work.

This might be an unpopular opinion but Good Omens was meh. I read the book and it was much better. Something isn’t translating well for us.

We started Ozark, but only made it a little over halfway through season one.

Better Call Saul was okay, but we didn’t get very far with that either.

For the most part, other than Counterpart we seem to drift away from the darker shows. Counterpart is intriguing because of the deep character development. I just found out they cancelled season three. Of course they did. Most of the shows I like get cancelled.

We loved Discovery of Witches, but we also loved the books. They have done a good job translating it to small screen.

Big Little Lies looks interesting but we haven’t watched a single episode. I’ve heard that Peaky Blinders is good, but haven’t watched that either. Black Mirror remains on my list, but we haven’t started it yet and I think there are five seasons now.

One of the great developments in the last decade has been the growth of book to series instead of movie. Good books translate so much better to small screen because we don’t have to lose huge parts of it. It’s a dream to have one of my series picked up for an adaptation. Of course, I have to write it first.

So, what do you watch? What are you looking forward to? What were your favorites?