Kill Your TV. It’s making you stupid.

Stupid TV

 

COMMENTARY / OPINION

Okay, that’s not fair. TV isn’t making everyone stupid but it IS making some of us, stupider by the second.

That was harsh. And unfair.

I wanted to write something better.

Then I realized I could not say it better than A. Person did in his video. (See at the end of the article)

My writings on this site address some of these issues. Indeed the very name, A Matter of Scale talks about the fact our problems are no longer solvable by a single person, they have grown too large to address unless we are all involved. It is literally a matter of scale.

I probe into the questions of why we can do certain things like creating food on a massive scale, transforming it into any number of other forms and distributing it to people for what is an amazing economy of scale, while at the same time, we throw away food by the ton at our supermarkets and megastores while people all over the planet are suffering from starvation.

We don’t seem to see the contradiction.

We don’t seem to feel the suffering.

We have become disconnected from our humanity, our sense of feeling, our sense of responsibility.

Our sense of belonging to something greater than ourselves has eroded to just our family, the people we share a blood relationship to, or maybe our religious group who base our affinity on the invisible relationship we have to a divine being who may or may not exist. We devote our time, our energy, our efforts to THAT relationship while allowing our more reachable, touchable, necessary and mundane relationships to people outside of our blood to languish, to fail, to wither away, in some cases right before our very eyes; opportunities for love, laughter, and a life worth leading languishing on the vine.

I wanted to write something as touching as A. Person did, showing I understood his wrath at things like Game of Thrones, where people invest so much of their emotional capital into something that doesn’t exist. Where people are so upset about a thing that happened, not at all, anywhere, while real atrocities which would make the Red Wedding little more than an afternoon of fun for the whole family.

I am with him when people say to him that he is crazed for NOT participating in Game of Thrones, only the most pivotal television to have ever happened ever. Because like him, I say, it is not real.

Are you seeking treachery on the scale of Game of Thrones?

  • How about the financial institutions that gambled with the mortgages of millions of people and lost it all.
  • Then needing to be bailed out by the government, who is in actuality the voice and the money of the people.
  • Then to find out later, the banks would not only fail to be accountable to anyone regarding what happened, they would have a profit that made their previous earnings insignificant by comparison.
  • But the ultimate treachery was made manifest when banks, having been rescued by the government, the agency of the people, turned around and told the people who rescued them “‘Fuck Off’ you won’t be getting any help with your mortgage.”
  • Instead you will be put out of your home onto the street, and I, the banker, will still make money while you and your family rot, displaced and dispossessed, on the street, dodging the police for living in your car, struggling to keep your job and hold your family together and those same bankers will never know a day of drudgery or suffering ever again in their lives.
  • These same bankers will derail the economic policies of the nation by making sure what little regulation that might protect people from their predations in the future will NEVER happen.
  • This did not happen to a single family. This happened to MILLIONS of families. Amplify the anguish and suffering of the Red Wedding, score it like the Nielsen ratings and you would have had a show that would have had epic numbers. No show could compare with the anguish of the Red Financial Crisis of 2008. More people watched helplessly, more lives were affected negatively and more economic value was destroyed than any other financial event in the history of the world, including the Great Depression.

The Red Wedding was a mercy killing by comparison.

I wanted to let you know that as terrible as the Economic crisis of 2008 and its effects continue, there are still a multitude of things taking place out there we are still in denial about and television and its masters ensure we stay divided, broken, unfocused, and unable to marshal the will to make a difference.

  • Instead of a Clean Energy Age we are doubling down on the Remnant Fossil Fuel program, where we poison our environment draining the last of the fossil fuels from every last crevice in the ground to make as much money as possible while killing as many people now and in the future as possible.
  • We lose one Rhino and five lions a day. We also lose one Elephant an hour due to poaching. 15000 species which go into extinction every year while we increase the temperature of the Earth, poison and overfish the seas, and generally make a mad dash to convert the Commons into wealth for an elite few individuals.
  • I acknowledge my share of responsibility because while I am not wealthy, I do benefit tangentially from that wealth being generated by living in the US, a nation of vast and unequal wealth, though I enjoy none of it specifically.

Instead, I am going to let you watch this video which says what I would like to say to everyone. Instead of watching the fake Game of Thrones or Scandal or Law and Order SVU, you instead turn off your entertainment and watch more responsible news. See the events unfolding in your life, sure to affect you, your children and their children. Be the hero of your own story and fight for those unborn billions who WILL inherit a broken planet, displaced millions, and an economic system which will promote the very idea, if you aren’t already rich, you don’t matter. That if your ancestors did not find a way to exploit someone less capable, less rich, less intelligent, less educated, more ethical than they were, then they deserve the spot on the ladder Darwin made for them.

Know such thinking is a lie. Your value cannot and should not be determined by someone who is willing to burn you like a hunk of coal for their personal wealth.

You must value you and your potential contribution to the world. Your value isn’t solely determined by your physical beauty, your physical acumen in sports, or your intellectual capacity. It is determined by your humanity and your willingness to put yourself out for someone who has nothing to offer you but their thanks.

And in a perfect world, their thanks would be all that you would need to get on your way to the next person who needed your assistance.

Life is mean, brutish and short is the message of Game of Thrones. Our world replicates that quite nicely.

But the idea that it could be more is always there in all of our minds. That fairness is a possibility, helping your fellow man does NOT take food out of your mouth, being aware of where your food comes from does not make you less of a cool person. That saving animals, trees and our environment in general does not make you a tree-hugging liberal.

It makes you a decent person to think about what we do now affecting the future.

Stop listening to the lies. Trust the voice deep inside you buried under all of the failed aphorisms of television, of Darwin, of a dog-eat-dog world and know WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

But we have to stop listening to the lies being propagated to keep us poor, divided and uninformed. Kill your TV. Take your mind back. Change the world, one smile, one hand, one heart at a time. Game of Thrones can’t even compare to the feeling you get when you do.

The Great Global Distraction

Published by A Film for Action

Words by A. Person

Music, edits and talking by Jordan B.

Mashed footage used from various sources with credits to respective creators.

Connected with: You Get What You Pay For

The Workforce of The Future Could Be Tiny

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This was once the face of the Robot Apocalypse.

A terrifying unified metal organism crushing humanity under its robotic heel, exterminating the humans who once gave it life and whose robotic perfection could no longer tolerate our imperfect nature. We as humans have grown to fear this meme more than nearly any other; the machine finding humanity’s flaws a reason to remove us from the Earth. Okay, perhaps that was a fictional account of the robot apocalypse designed to play on our fears of the unknown, robots, and the ever-encroaching wave of technology swallowing up our lives.

But the robot apocalypse may look more like this: Robots coming to work, first in our factories and then later in our offices, programmed with capabilities which allow them to displace the less qualified workers engaged in tasks that can be replicated with algorithmic procedures and programming. (That may be more jobs than we are willing to admit.)

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Illustration by Roberto Parada

I predicted the future of work and the economically debilitating effects of robots, automation, and the replacement of the workforce with machines on the populace in previous articles. In Death to the Labor Class, I postulate the consideration that the culture of America and the world at large may need to re-evaluate how we deal with compensation and the nature of work in the future, as machines put laborers out of the workforce in greater and greater numbers.

I tried to remind people that automation has been taking your jobs for years, you simply still had other choices of work to get and still bring home the bacon. Now I am postulating not only will the potential for automation take your job, it will take it higher and higher along the social-economic food chain. Once only blue-color workers were affected, now the potential for algorithms can take any job which can be proceduralized and structured based on databases of stored information.

For example, there are already computerized journalists in use today. See: NYTimes: In case you’re wondering a human wrote this article. A market for such technology will continue to grow as the databases they draw from become more intelligent and sophisticated. Will they replace real journalists? For some types of articles the answer is assuredly, yes.

 See: Death to the Labor Class: http://storify.com/ebonstorm/may-13-2013-monday-s-musing-death-to-the-labor-cla.

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How the Tesla Model S is Made — Behind The Scenes

A sample of how robotics are slowly changing manufacturing from Wired Magazine and the Tesla Automotive company

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The opinion of the masses: So what?

The comments I received primarily indicated those jobs needed to be replaced since robots COULD do them, they should. Mostly this would affect people with less education, blue-color workers and the disdain of the white-color workers was palpable because they thought their jobs would be unaffected by technical automation of any kind.

I mentioned the idea of algorithms or procedural decision-making based on experience. This is how experienced doctors, lawyers and other professionals decide on courses of action. What if you could write a program or algorithm to do the same thing? The program would learn from decisions made in the past and predict what possible outcomes and their potential chances for success. This could mean an entirely new class of workers, including middle managers could find themselves unemployed as intelligent agents make the same decisions they did without preferential treatment, emotional attachments, or favoritism to muddy the economic water.

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Christoper Steiner
Steiner is an engineer, a skier, an author and one of the founders at Aisle50. Before starting Aisle50, he was a senior staff writer at Forbes magazine for seven years. His book “Automate This: How Algorithms Came to Rule Our World”, chronicles the march of algorithms from the very first hack of Wall Street to their current role as disruptors of the creative class in fields as varied as music, writing, law and medicine.

© Chris Steiner

Engineer Christopher Steiner has an interview in the European Magazine discussing the idea that white-color jobs that are low in innovation are indeed next on the list of people made unemployed by technology. And there are a lot more jobs at stake than in the manufacturing industry.

Here is a telling quotation from the article. It is definitely worth your time to read. The effects are worldwide and potentially socially catastrophic:

The European: We tend to think about unskilled labor as the most precarious form of labor – machines could easily do it. Yet one of the arguments you make is that algorithms threaten many mid-level, white collar jobs…

Steiner: Being an expert in a field, having worked for fifteen years in that field, usually means that you have accumulated enough expertise, seen enough cases, read enough studies, dealt with enough clients, that you develop your own pattern recognition system within your brain. In medicine, experienced doctors are valuable because they have seen and treated many patients and diseases. Experienced lawyers know very well what information they need to pursue litigation, where to find that information, and so forth. But algorithms are very well suited for pattern recognition, much more than humans. If you can feed algorithms with data about a patient’s symptoms or about a legal case, I can’t see how that would not take away many of our jobs.”

http://www.theeuropean-magazine.com/christoper-steiner/7226-algorithms-and-the-future-of-work

Dystopia or Utopia – What’s your poison?

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I wrote an article a few months ago talking about using science fiction for social change and activism, Science Fiction and Social Awareness

Since then I have been reading a number of discussions talking about writers preferring to write dystopias rather than utopias.

David Brin would like to see more positive representations of the future and thinks Utopias need to make a comeback. He is not alone. A number of other famous scientists and science fiction writers are also in agreement about the idea of writing new books where utopias, positive futures where mankind is not only still around but thriving in positive ways as a necessary force to change the future. See: Project Hieroglyph

I know they are necessary but they are difficult to write and I suspect only the most gifted and optimistic writers should try. Here’s my reasoning:

Dystopia and Utopia have the same problem. They are talking about a period where what we know has evolved into what is now the order of things. Why is one more difficult to write than the other?

Utopia: a place of ideal perfection especially in laws, government, and social conditions

The term Utopia was invented by Thomas More as the title of his Latin book De Optimo Reipublicae Statu deque Nova Insula Utopia (circa 1516), known more commonly as Utopia. He created the word “utopia” to suggest two Greek neologisms simultaneously: outopia (no place) and eutopia (good place). More depicts a rationally organised society, through the narration of an explorer who discovers it — Raphael Hythlodaeus. Utopia is a republic where all property is held in common. In addition, it has few laws, no lawyers and rarely sends its citizens to war, but hires mercenaries from among its war-prone neighbours.

Generally speaking, utopias are generally societies whose author believes either perfect, or as perfect as can be attainable. Ernest Callenbach‘s Ecotopia is a contemporary example. This can cause some confusion, in that some works generally recognized as “utopian”, such as Plato’s Republic, can come across as much less than ideal to a modern reader. They are one of the smaller subsets of political science fiction, possibly because it is difficult to create dramatic tension in a world the author believes is perfect. –Wikipedia, Political ideas in science fiction

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My favorite eco-dystopia: Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind

Dystopia: an imaginary place where people lead dehumanized and often fearful lives

Dystopias are societies where the author illustrates the worst that can happen. Usually this encompasses extrapolating trends the author sees as dangerous. During the 20th century many examples were written in reaction to the rise of NazismCommunism and Religious Fundamentalism:

  • Double Helix Fall (1990) by Neil Ferguson portrays an America where a person’s social status is determined by their movements in the womb, an extension of the concept of original sin.

It is important to keep in mind that scenarios which some would describe as dystopic, others would describe as utopian. Norman Spinrad’s novel The Iron Dream was generally recognised to be a dystopian novel, but lauded by neo-Nazis as a utopia. –Wikipedia, Political ideas in science fiction

Janus-dimon21Janus-topia: A utopian society which is actually engaged in abusing and dehumanizing its citizens using social manipulations of one sort or another. (No, its not real, I just made it up to prove a point.) Janus was a two faced deity, looking forward and backward at the same time. I liken a Janus-topia to the idea that a society might be forward-thinking but using repressive, deviant or oppressive means to accomplish its goals rather than the forward sound ideals it may espouse in its public face.

Given these two simplified definitions, it is easy to see why Dystopias outnumber Utopias 10-to-1. Most readers (editors and agents) want stories where the conflict is easy to recognize, can be filled with intrepid adventurers who die at just the appropriate moment to tug at our heartstrings and make us believe we are experiencing a transformative event.

The problem of addressing a Utopia is by definition, it is already a perfect place, where we have to be willing to be patient, walk with the protagonists while they show you the dirty, hidden underbelly of the Utopia, where all is not what it seems. This is by far the harder row-to-hoe because writers are under fire to “show, don’t tell” or my other favorite “exposition is dead/death” so you must find a way to expose people to your Utopia without actually describing it in any detail that might bore our attention-addled readership.

Given these two conditions, there is not a question in my mind why we see Dystopias outnumbering Utopias. The curve to creation isn’t that difficult. Look at modern society, allow it to continue unabated and poof, Dystopia.

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Try that with creating a Utopia, and you have to, by most reader’s perspectives alter the fabric of space-time to reach a place where Humanity, especially as we see it now, doing anything such as curing disease (do we do that anymore? Polio was the last one I can think of) getting rid of hunger worldwide, reversing our position on global climate change, reducing corporate power (is that even possible?) enhancing educational opportunities for everyone, ensuring any form of social parity, correcting enough social ills you would deign to call your world a Utopia.

As far as I can tell, no Utopia has ever survived for the same reason most Dystopias eventually get replaced by something else. Human nature is fickle. If society is actually working, we distrust it, and assume something must be rotten somewhere. If society is failing, human nature dictates at some point we fight back or get ground into the dust.

So the real question is, why aren’t we writing more books about correcting the reason we can’t have Utopias in the first place; the moral, social, mental, cultural, religious, failings of the Human race? If we could fix that, maybe people might believe Utopias, corrupted or otherwise, might be possible enough to write about and worthy enough to read through to see the underlying messages for what they are.

Messages about us and our relationships to each other and the Universe at large. This is where Janus-topias come in. So many of our works that describe utopian societies are actually Janus-topias, two faced worlds where we believe we are living well to find out we are not. Most of our works which postulate a possible Utopia are really Janus-topias.

Utopia is not a place where stories are easily written, by definition, if you made a real Utopia, where would the conflict arise? What we are really hoping for are clever Janus-topias which hide their flaws well, are interesting enough to pay attention to, and when their flaws are revealed, we learn something about ourselves in the process.

Death to Utopia! Not enough happens there.

But the route to Utopia is rife with storytelling possibilities…

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Can we stop worrying about Millennials yet?

I know it has been fashionable and even acceptable since Time magazine (pay-walled article) made it okay, but it is time to stop hating on the Millennials.

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As a social group, they have enough issues without the socially acceptable, yet completely reprehensible treatment they receive in the media, particularly from the conservative side. But no one treats them particularly well, no matter which side of the fence you find yourself perched.

As an employer I have never had any issues working with them, understanding their expectations from work, or dealing with their often peculiar work ethic. I tried to treat them the way I would like to be treated with the understanding, their job was not the center of the Universe. And given how the workplace environment often treated them, I could completely relate to their viewpoint.

Poverty sucks

The Trickle Down Theory: The principle that the poor, who must subsist on the table scraps dropped by the rich, can best be served by giving the rich, bigger meals. –William Blum

Seeing how I don’t happen to agree with that happily Reaganesque mindset either, enjoy playing a wide array of video games, like leaving work on time (screw unpaid overtime), focusing my time for things and people I enjoy like skateboarding, hang-gliding, pub-crawling, playing with my son and utilizing social media technology, in some ways, even though there are a few decades between our ages, I am completely in sync with their viewpoint.

The Boomer generation which currently rules the economic world and is giving themselves the best of executive pay, exotic homes and off-shore bank accounts seems completely dickish by complaining about a social group that starts with so little all things considered and expected to handle the worst of the Boomer excesses while starting off in debt, with poor credit, with criminalized poverty, no homes, no cars and little in the way of effective training in “How to Screw Over Your Fellow Workers While You Dine, Shark-like, on Their Inner Organs.”

Lately, I have been questioning the wisdom of indenturing out children with the idea they should have to pay for an education. I recognize we are a profit-driven society, but I believe paying for education should be something society does for our children, not the other way around. We invest in them so they can, return that investment in the development, improvement and effective management of the Commons. In countries like Sweden, Finland and places where reason is still a facet of their social consciousness, they recognize investment in youth, improving their lifestyles in the future. They look at us with nothing but contempt. I secretly sneer with them…

This should be a no-brainer. Instead, someone decided they should not only pay for education, but it should cost them as much as a home in the Midwestern United States. Anywhere from $30,000 to $250,ooo ended up seeming like a reasonable amount of money to pay for an education.

But wait, there’s more. We have also told them they should leave college in great debt, bearing great responsibility (paraphrasing Spider-Man) and do it with minimum wage pay. When you do the math, using the debt they leave college with and assuming minimum wage pay, it will take nearly as long as a 30 year mortgage to pay off and cost double the amount of the starting debt.

We have told our children that they have to save the world while being handicapped with major debt while starting off poorly socialized. Consumer technologically literate and hyper-connected but only interested in things which promote their internet meme of choice and assorted cat videos. Cursed with short attention-spans and the entire bulk of the world’s knowledge at their fingertips, they flit from info-bit to info-bit, full of memes and fury, signifying nothing.

So, how about we get off their backs, give them some tools, get away from our partisan political bickering, stop putting wealth and profit before streets, sewers, bridges and opportunity to participate in what was once one of the greatest economies in the world and find a way to help them with the long, damned list of things that have been screwed up under our watch during the era of Saint Reagan and the Greed Over People party. And no, I won’t give the Democrats a pass because they did their share of dirt too. They just appeared to care a bit more (and seemed more emotionally disturbed when they were caught doing dirt) while they were doing it.

The Millennials with our help will have to tackle a long list of issues. What issues? Here is a quick and dirty list:

  • reasonable and affordable health care,
  • a collapsing economic structure that needs a complete retooling,
  • reducing military interactions in foreign countries,
  • feeding and caring for the disenfranchised members of our societies,
  • our failing education system and improving its quality,
  • economic disparity between the rich and poor,
  • the digital divide all over the world and in all layers of economic strata,
  • effective socio-economic relationships with other sovereign nations,
  • global climate control and management,
  • toxic waste and overall waste management,
  • desertification of our food producing areas on our planet,
  • destruction of our planet’s rain forests at 20 square miles a day,
  • eradication of cancer,
  • HIV, AIDS, and management of growing list of antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria, 
  • renewable energy development,
  • loss of fossil fuels and what that means to our lifestyles,
  • failing infrastructures of power and roads and
  • corporate malfeasance just to name the few I could think of in about 30 seconds. 

Can we stop worrying about Millennials yet? We have so many other, more important things to deal with…

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Don’t get me started on Instagram…

Science Fiction and Social Awareness

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Can science fiction function as a means of creating social awareness around technology and its future developments?

In advance of my interview on #SCIFICHAT on Friday, April 12, 2013, I thought I would write a quick article about my interests in science fiction, fantasy and how I use my love of the genre to promote and pursue ideas around science, scientific achievement, technology, social development under the guise of science fiction (and occasionally fantasy). I happen to agree with Ray Bradbury and believe a little fantasy hiding underneath one’s science fiction never hurt anyone.

I am a writer of all kinds of genre fiction including hard science fiction, social fiction, space opera, fantasy, urban fantasy, sword and sorcery, epic fantasy, and a bit of pulp and horror when no one is looking. I grew up reading the required classics from Asimov to Zelazney: Dune, Foundation, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, The Chronicles of Amber, The Eternal Champion Sagas, Xenogenesis, Lord of Light and The Hyperion Cantos.

My guilty pleasures included the hard science styling of Ben Bova and Larry Niven, the wild space romps of Harry Harrison’s Stainless Steel Rat, Steve Perry’s The Man Who Never Missed and Jack L. Chalker’s space operas, The Well of Souls Saga and the Four Lords of the Diamond series and so many others…

The failures and the cowardice of modern science fiction

Though I missed the conversation a few years ago on the internet which talked about the failings of science fiction in recent years, I could completely relate to the idea that science fiction wasn’t taking the risks it once did. Its protagonists were mostly white, mostly male and moving further away from being accessible to the readers. Some of those failings included:

  • social/racial inequalities in the writing the marginalizing other social groups.
  • the rewarding of primarily white men as the best writers of the genre and as the main protagonists
  • A failure to acknowledge writers from minority groups who may have different views of the future
  • a failure of the genre to address near-future issues due to potential scientific complexity
  • science fiction becoming more like fantasy or westerns in space
  • losing the exploration of scientific ideas 
  • the increasing marginalization of the genre due to lackluster efforts of writers to explore more risky ideas
  • the increasingly doom-centric orientation of the genre and the preponderance of dystopian fiction
  • the lack of ideas of working toward a positive future
  • The lack of scientific interest in the potential audience which reduces the potential quality of stories

As a long time reader of the genre, I am aware of how science fiction has been used to address a variety of social ills. Many such works exist. A quick sampling include:

  • The Left Hand of Darkness – deals with a world where gender is almost non-existent except for periods of reproduction. Considered a work of feminist fiction, it addresses a world where many of our planet’s polar extremes of behavior simply don’t exist.
  • The Handmaid’s Tale – a tale where the rights of women are completely removed when a neo-Christian movement takes over the government and uses religion to brutally subjugate women.
  • Nineteen Eighty-Four – a world of perpetual warfare, psychological manipulation, mind control and the creation of a surveillance society.
  • Brave New World – promotes a society which at first glance resembles a utopia, where want has been eliminated along with a segment of free will. Population is regulated, children born in artificial wombs, a caste society is instituted with regimented behavior, drug use and recreational sex being the norm of the society.

While I don’t as yet consider myself in such august company, I have tried to use science fiction to address a variety of social ills and challenges facing humanity today in my collection of short stories called Hayward’s Reach:

  • Genetically Modified Organisms –  in my story of the same name, I posit the idea of our constant experimentation with GMOs without a real understanding of how such interactions might affect each other over time. Reinforcing of genetic traits could lead to an alteration of human consciousness.
  • Suicide Seed – In a similar vein, I posit the idea of transgenetic mutation of plants by corporate entities using transform viruses. These viruses while originally designed to affect plants cross over into human populations, potentially rendering the human race sterile in the same fashion as large agro-corporations want to do to control seed development and food production.
  • The Great White Spot – a story in which I posit an Earth whose runaway greenhouse effect cause by global warming creates a storm similar to the Great Red Spot on the surface of Jupiter. A storm of immense size, ferocity and because of the inability to cool off, eventually erases all life on Earth.
  • Pax Cyridian – a tale where genetic engineering of insect-like lifeforms results in new forms of life able to work and live with humanity in relative peace. Instead of an industrial age, the people of Cyridia use organic life to perform the work of machines until a military leader decides to create new lifeforms adapted for war and conquest.
  • Paper – a world where the internet has become infected with self-replicating virus programs, information held in books is now more important than ever. A young man in Mexico finds a cache of old magazines and has been selling them to bidders anonymously. His brother’s selfish greed puts them both at risk when he reveals the cache of reading materials and tries to sell them to a criminal enterprise.
  • Hub City Blues – in one of my largest projects I am experimenting with creating a positive near-future world where humanity is trying to put off the future of impending global warming by creating a variety of new world arcologies. These super-cities use the most advance sciences known to man in an effort to create a new way of life utilizing a variety of alternative energies. Much of the technology used in Hub City is based from technology being created daily such as programmable matter, diverse solar and wind technologies, new underground building and waste management technologies.
  • The Last Divide – I am not above using a variety of different memes to address ideas around our modern world such as the proliferation of social media and its complete invasion of all levels of our society. This piece plays with the idea of social media after death; who maintains our social profiles, could we pre-program our responses after our passing? Could programs be written to approximate our social media habits and continue them, extending our social media existence?

I have to admit I was a bit embarrassed to be writing stories such as these because they are so far removed from much of the science fiction I see being written today.I’m not disparaging such science fiction because it is both popular and from a writer’s perspective quite profitable. I keep hearing the litany of the writers everywhere: Readers don’t want challenge, they want escapism. So if you make them work too hard, they will put your book down. I just don’t happen to agree with it. Eventually, I believe they will want more. So I write and wait.

Can we as science fiction writers make any changes in our society through our work?

Once upon a time science fiction propelled engineers and scientists to create ideas and technologies which are only now becoming a reality.  Look at our cell phones, submarines, computer monitors, space craft, and wireless technologies, many of these started in the minds of early writers of the genre fiction. For a time, successful science fiction television inspired an entire generation of scientists, astronauts and engineers. We see far less of that today, with science fiction instead promoting a fear of technology or a return to superstition rather than embracing scientific curiosity.

Can science fiction tell potential stories about the human condition and potentially guide policies toward the effective use of science in society?

Some of our science fiction has lent itself to predicting trends in human behavior such as Nineteen Eighty-Four prediction of a surveillance state, similar to the one we find ourselves approaching in 2014. There does not seem to be quite as much of that kind of writing today. I believe part of the reason is the breakneck pace of scientific advancement. It is hard to write a novel about a piece of technology or a technological idea because by the time you finish the novel the idea has been superseded by a more advanced piece of technology in two years it took for you to finish your tale. I think it is a risk few writers are willing to risk their careers on.

After reading Should Science Fiction Die, and other such screeds on the failure of science fiction writers to innovate, to solve problems, take risks, ask questions, challenge the status quo and include complex themes within their body of work, I feel much less like I am on the wrong track and instead just working on a different kind of story-telling.

I’m done being embarrassed about asking questions or trying to find answers with my science fiction. I’m quoting one of my favorite space westerns, Firefly’s Captain Malcolm Reynolds: “So no more runnin’. I aim to misbehave.”

Other related articles: 

Science Fiction Goes McDonald’s: Less Taste, More Gristle; Huffington Post, 2013, 

Should Scifi Die?: In the plane of the ecliptic, 2009, 

Racism and Science Fiction; The New York Review of Science Fiction, Samuel R. Delany

Where is the World in the World Fantasy Awards?: World SF Blog, 2009, Lavie Tidhar

Superficial Darkness and Luminous Ink: World SF Blog, 2013, Athena Andreadisoriginally posted at Starship Reckless

Stranger and Happier: A Positive Science Fiction Platform; Strange and Happy, Jason Stoddard

What is Human Wave Science Fiction?: According to Hoyt, Sarah A. Hoyt

Barbarian Confessions; Asimov’s Science Fiction, Thought Experiments, 2006, Kristine Kathyrn Rusch

Mundane Science Fiction; founded by Geoff Ryman

Megastructures: Artwork by Steve Burg © 2012-2013

ScreenHunter_314 Mar. 28 14.56

Racism in America: The Scarlet Letter of a Nation

Racism in America

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Let me tell you a secret. White America’s issue with minorities is a simple one. Blacks in the US are the Scarlet Letter (look it up) on the face of what appears to be a prosperous and significant nation. A high-quality lie to the rest of the world that hard work leads to prosperity and America is prosperous because it works hard. This is a disingenuous truth.

When White America sees a minority face and most importantly a Black face, it is reminded that the wealth of this nation, the invisible labor (yes, the word no one can say) labor, not capital, is what made this country rich. The ability to, for four hundred years, give or take, burn human beings lives like kindling in the forge of what is now a great nation, is what America is built on.

White America is a very poor winner. They want to own the spoils of a war (the complete and total annihilation of an enemy, see: Native Americans) and pretend there were no wrong-doings committed. No smallpox blankets, no extermination orders, no routing of the natives, no Trail of Tears. America just spread its legs and said “come on in” we were waiting for your Manifest Destiny.

We are constantly reminded that Blacks sold other Blacks into slavery. We never question who was buying those slaves, what would happen to those slaves, how many of those slaves would become diseased by being carried like wood, how many of those slaves would die in the greatest human disaster ever (the Middle Passage) and would become part of the most monstrous human engine of progress and destruction called “The North America Project” started in 1492.

Blacks are the Scarlet Letter that says to every country, everywhere: America will eventually fuck you. Yes, we will promise you nice stuff in the beginning, (See: Black Slavers, Native Americans) but in the end, we will take everything you own, everything you believe in and replace it with our religion, everything you dream of, everything you ever held dear, we will grind it into the dust, turn you into labor and then pretend you are capital until we have taken every bit of value from you. Then and only then will we let you die, an ignoble death, bereft of any meaning, any cultural value, reduced to a cypher, reduced to a numerical statistical element, only fit for a ledger. You won’t even get a tombstone. It costs too much.

So when you hear the ranting of Conservative Party X or the mouth-breathings of Tea Bag on the Forehead member Y, you know now what this is really about. The truth of their rantings is found in their own discomfort with what they know to be truth. Their ancestors were not the stuff of heroic legend. Not at all. They were small men and women who despite writing history could not erase the far greater men and women who were destroyed so this nation could exist as a paragon of faux virtue to a world who holds them in high enough esteem to destroy itself trying to be them.

America is a land of wastrels, destroying its populace with mindless entertainment, pathetic blandishments of eternal beauty, sex past eighty, a mechanized fetishism bereft of satisfaction, little more than digital masturbation. Stroking, rubbing, playing with toys keeps the masses calm and quiet while the true monsters continue to promote left is right, right is wrong and freedom is not slavery, guns protect everyone, children should be armed, wealth is only for the rich, unions impoverish the poor, autism isn’t caused by environment, violence is caused by video games, global warming doesn’t exist and America is your friend.

Look through history and find America’s friends. None of them survived the experience. Ask yourself this question: Would White America be so unkind if just once they could imagine themselves in the roles of the victims they have destroyed over the centuries (yes, this means you Great Britain, Spain, Portugal, and any other country which participated in the slave trade).

Spare me the cultural relativism too, while you are at it. Every culture has had slavery in history. We are not talking about those cultures or those histories. We are talking about this history, this culture, this America where minorities, people of color, Blacks are still treated as second class citizens, not as part of a terrible wrong which could have been a right. If White America hadn’t spent and still spends so much of its time pretending didn’t happen, so much time trying to sanitize their evil from the pages of history (See: Kentucky, Slave Triangle). What if they had said: We have done a great wrong to the Natives, let’s make it right, truly right. Find a way to return their some of their land to them, give them sovereignty in this nation, show some measure of contriteness for our atrocities perpetrated by less civilized men. Let’s treat new members of our land with more deference than we had treated the natives who once lived here on land we have stolen from them.

No. That will never happen. Nor will any effort be made to assist the countries, the peoples, the nations, the histories of people destroyed by the social engine of Capitalism, promoted by White people as the ultimate express of human development no matter how many people it grinds into the dust in the name of progress. Capitalism is the engine, humanity is the grain. Widgets are the bread.

Let those who survive the engine of capitalism, poor, huddled masses, quivering in the smoky darkness, awaiting the next dawn with dread and trepidation, waiting outside what was once their home, hoping for the kindness of a stranger but expecting the baton of the police or military, let those masses of tired, hungry and disfranchised masses remember, there are no other shores to go to. There are no other places where you can start over. There is nothing left out there which is not already owned by capitalists who have already tried to claim your water and will soon claim your very breath as their property. You now have no place on Earth where they cannot reach and do not want dominion over.

What will it take for you to fight back against the people who oppress you with their rhetoric of “too big to fail” and use your last dollars, your retirement, your opportunities to power their very wasteful existence. Or will you go quietly to the grave cursing your enemies while playing with your electronic toys, blissfully ignorant of your role in the Great Machine, not as the cog you were promised and the opportunity to exceed your humble station, but as the grist itself.

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“Between me and the other world there is ever an unasked question: unasked by some through feelings of delicacy; by others through the difficulty of rightly framing it. All, nevertheless, flutter round it. They approach me in a half-hesitant sort of way, eye me curiously or compassionately, and then, instead of saying directly, How does it feel to be a problem? they say, I know an excellent colored man in my town; or, I fought at Mechanicsville; or, Do not these Southern outrages make your blood boil? At these I smile, or am interested, or reduce the boiling to a simmer, as the occasion may require. To the real question, How does it feel to be a problem? I answer seldom a word.” — W.E.B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folks

Robert Jensen: “The Color of the Race Problem is White”

Author of “The Heart of Whiteness: Confronting Race, Racism and White Privilege”

A video from a class held at the University of Texas at Austin.

“If you look at the data right from the immediate aftermath of the Civil Rights Movement, the late Sixties the early Seventies, look at that racialized gap between White and Black America then, and compare it to the gap today and what you will find on some of those measures on wealth and well-being, you find the gap is as wide today as it was forty years ago. On the measures where that gap is narrowing, it is narrowing at such a glacial pace that it will be decades or in some cases, even centuries before the gap is closed. Before we achieve parity, before we achieve a rough equality in this society.”

“The United States is the most affluent society in the history of the world. There has never been a society in the history of this planet that is as affluent and as wealthy as the United States.”

“If the United States wanted to close the racialized gap between White and Non-White Americans, could it do it? it certainly has the resources. It certainly has the belief in its ability to accomplish such things, yet it hasn’t closed that gap. What does that tell you? What it tells me is that it is still appropriate to call America a White Supremacist society in material terms.”

Legitimate Rape Shall Rise Again

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Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA) said he doesn’t “find anything so horrible” about making the distinction between “legitimate rape versus non-legitimate rape”

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Rep. Phil Gingrey, a Republican of Georgia, knows that comments about rape have cost fellow Republicans their seats in Congress. But that didn’t stop him from wading deep into controversial territory during a breakfast meeting in his home state, reports the Marietta Daily Journal.  The lawmaker talked mostly about gun control but then opened the floor up for questions and was asked about abortion. And that’s when Gingrey, who made sure to point out he has been an OB-GYN since 1975, mentioned controversial comments about rape and pregnancy made by former Reps. Todd Akin of Missouri and Richard Mourdock of Indiana, that many say contributed to their electoral losses last year. This is the Journal’s account of what Gingrey said next:

“In Missouri, Todd Akin … was asked by a local news source about rape and he said, ‘Look, in a legitimate rape situation’ — and what he meant by legitimate rape was just look, someone can say I was raped: a scared-to-death 15-year-old that becomes impregnated by her boyfriend and then has to tell her parents, that’s pretty tough and might on some occasion say, ‘Hey, I was raped.’ That’s what he meant when he said legitimate rape versus non-legitimate rape. I don’t find anything so horrible about that. But then he went on and said that in a situation of rape, of a legitimate rape, a woman’s body has a way of shutting down so the pregnancy would not occur. He’s partly right on that.”…

“And I’ve delivered lots of babies, and I know about these things. It is true. We tell infertile couples all the time that are having trouble conceiving because of the woman not ovulating, ‘Just relax. Drink a glass of wine. And don’t be so tense and uptight because all that adrenaline can cause you not to ovulate.’ So he was partially right wasn’t he? But the fact that a woman may have already ovulated 12 hours before she is raped, you’re not going to prevent a pregnancy there by a woman’s body shutting anything down because the horse has already left the barn, so to speak. And yet the media took that and tore it apart.”

Posted Friday, Jan. 11, 2013, at 10:59 AM PT

I tried to post my letter in response on their board but I suspect the censors were displeased with my answer:

Dear Republicans,

Have you learned nothing from Todd Akin? Have you failed to understand no matter what stupid ideas you present, the only person you are hurting is yourselves (and by proxy, your constituents)? To be fair, you are either, not representing them well at all, or worse you are, and this is a statement as to the capabilities of the folk in your districts. But I choose to believe you hid your ignorance well, under a fine suit, with honeyed words, with promises of pork-barrel largess if you were elected. Who knew beneath all of that refinement and Southern charm, lurked the heart of an ignorant, barely-civilized, misogynistic bigot. Now I don’t mean you, I mean your behavior, is that of a bigot. You may be a fine upstanding citizen who only sounds like a bigot.

All things considered I want to say, perhaps Mr. Gingrey, you simply don’t know of what you speak. You are, after all, a product of the American education system, not currently known for its excellence. You may have gotten a degree from a university which may have cut science and human biology which may explain your inexcusable ignorance of the human condition regarding sexuality AND rape. Since you are not a woman, I will even try to excuse your lack of understanding of female physiology because let’s face it, even women have difficulties understanding their bodies at times. Oh wait, you were supposedly involved in the medical industry at some point. An OB/GYN? That might make you the worst practitioner ever. I pity your former clients.

What I cannot excuse is your inability to, when in the presence of the media, speak on things you know absolutely nothing about? I thought you were supposed to be a politician, a person who is supposed to be leading and guiding the nation into making good decisions around issues of the PUBLIC good. If you are going to be a rape advocate, meaning you are going to tell women they should understand “rape happens” and if it happens “they won’t get pregnant” because their mystical vaginal powers of “seminal extermination” will resolve the issue, then, sir, you have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt, of both your ignorance of the human condition, of which you are supposed to be advocating for, the state of women in this nation and across the world who are raped, sold into sexual slavery, abused, and murdered for the sake of men with minds similar to yours.

You are a disgrace to the idea of Republican ideals (not the current madness, the Neo-Republicans are espousing, another totally different can of worms) of decency, personal fortitude, and social responsibility. Your beliefs (which should not be part of how you are supposed to govern) are Medieval and parochial, at best, and would be quite at home in the 12th Century. But this is the 21st Century and you have an obligation to represent your constituents with intelligence, compassion, a concern for their lives, especially if they are different than your own.

Perhaps we should define this condition of yours and Mr. Todd Akin as its own particular brand of psychological instability. If we called it “Akin-Gingrey Syndrome” we might have to help people recognize it’s symptoms:

1. A complete lack of scientific understanding regarding human anatomy and physiology even if you went to school to study it.

2. Further ignorance of female reproduction and biological operation (even if you practiced medicine on women)

3. An inability to recognize women as human beings deserving of respect

4. An inability to recognize the statistics revolving around rape and pregnancy in the US. (32,000 rape victims per year become pregnant, not so rare)

5. A pathological inability to not seek out media attention to espouse such ridiculous ideas whenever possible.

6. An inescapable need to run for office to show as many people as possible just how ignorant you can be, in public.

7. The overwhelming urge to embarrass as many actual good Christians who don’t believe your particular brand of madness as possible.

8. A complete inability to know when to shut the fuck up and retire to one’s personal lair of insanity.

It is in my non-medical opinion, which so far is as good as your medical one, you suffer from ‘Akin-Gingrey Syndrome’ and from what I understand about the condition, there is no cure. Perhaps you should retire to your plantation in Georgia, drink tall frosty drinks, discuss your days in office with fondness, and never bother respectable folk again with your brand of complete ignorance and barely-contained sociopathic behavior.

Yours in disgust,

Thaddeus Howze @ebonstorm – (Acting MD, for the purposes of this article only)

What happened to funding real innovation?

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Is real technological innovation being overshadowed by gimmicky social media sites and apps posing as real advances in technology?

A post from the Red Shoe Agency asks the above question and then follows with the following statement: Now, before you answer this, think about it. Everything works in cycles and eventually leads to a bubble. The tech industry is no different. It seems, per media reporting, that all you have to do is create some silly app (like send a fart to your enemy or something of that nature) or set up the next Facebook killer social media site and you’re a tech darling who’s innovating and getting tons of VC money thrown at you. But are those really “tech” companies?

I can understand why this would make some techies a bit resentful. Granted, Facebook is one of the creations that changed the way we communicate. But if it shut down tomorrow, lives would not be lost (I hope). There are some real companies creating real products that qualify as tech. 

Will technology ever shift back to innovation and creation that actually contributes to changing the world, situations, lives? Why does it seem that VC is willing to continue throwing money into gimmicks?

My response: 

Yes, technology has jumped its own shark and instead of being a boon to humanity, we have become caught up in the “development” of toys (apps) which cater to the venture capitalists need to make money without actually providing society with any useful developments.

Yes, technology developers will say I am avoiding the most important part of this idea, which is the making of money. And to them, I say, nay, you are missing the most important part of this equation, innovation which moves the species (humanity) along the path toward actualization.

I suspect in this, the final century of humanity we will have to make difficult choices. One of them will be to decide what we want to develop in terms of our technology. We can continue to fritter away intellectual capacity (which seems to be stagnating overall) on toys, apps and gadgets which, while often profitable, using social conditioning to create need, do not address any real issues in our society.

We have no problem finding money for gadgets and less useful software but true research, of the kind which once allowed NASA to create a variety of technologies we use without even being aware of it, becomes harder and harder to secure. (NASA’s spin-off technologies – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NASA_spin-off_technologies).

Venture capitalists will say the creation of money is the most important endeavor humans can make today and software development of the kind we are seeing may certainly be profitable, but in a world with a plethora of problems, what people are focusing their time and energy on will only be significant if we resolve the greater technological and sociological issues surrounding our society first.

What issues? Here is a quick and dirty list:

  • reasonable and affordable health care,
  • a collapsing economic structure that needs a complete retooling,
  • reducing military interactions in foreign countries,
  • feeding and caring for the disenfranchised members of our societies,
  • our failing education system and improving its quality,
  • economic disparity between the rich and poor,
  • the digital divide all over the world and in all layers of economic strata,
  • effective socio-economic relationships with other sovereign nations,
  • global climate control and management,
  • toxic waste and overall waste management,
  • desertification of our food producing areas on our planet,
  • destruction of our planet’s rain forests at 20 square miles a day,
  • eradication of cancer,
  • HIV, AIDS, and management of growing list of antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria, 
  • renewable energy development,
  • loss of fossil fuels and what that means to our lifestyles,
  • failing infrastructures of power and roads and
  • corporate malfeasance just to name the few I could think of in about 30 seconds. 

There is nothing wrong with making money. Except when making money overshadows making anything else. As sea levels rise, 200 million people all over the Earth will be forced to move, causing the greatest mass migration in human history. Find any shoreline or island, find a city within 25 miles and you can see the scope of just this one thing (climate change, rise of the seas) can cause. I can assure you, there is no app for that.

Technology can solve problems or cause them. It’s how you use it, develop it, adapt it, utilize it and innovate it that makes the difference. Choose wisely.

Thaddeus Howze
A Matter of Scale

Freedom versus Society: Does being free mean I get to ignore everyone else?

M31, the Andromeda Galaxy, our nearest galactic neighbor boasting over one TRILLION stars!

A well-known writer named Steven Barnes posed a thought this morning in which he asked:

I’ve seen a number of posts recently with people complaining about “losing our freedoms.” All right, I’d like to understand exactly what is meant by this, and would like anyone who thinks this is happening to tell me exactly when in American history they believe there was more freedom overall for the average person in this country.

The responses to this question were often interesting and insightful and while I do not advocate Facebook as a way of life, if you are interested, you can follow the thread here.

Initially, the question seemed easy to answer but the longer I thought about it, the more I realized how complex the question actually is. So I thought to answer it with a short and direct answer. The more I wrote the more I realized the question didn’t have an easy answer. So I gave up and started again, this time in an effort to challenge the status quo and answer the question in the way few will be willing to acknowledge.

Freedom and Society are inversely proportional. The more Freedom you claim, the less likely you are to want to be involved with Society because thinking about other people (Society) means you have to limit your Freedom and the exercises thereof.

I do not believe there has ever been a time that we have had more freedoms than we do now. Yes, everyone can name some erosion that has taken place in their lifetime, but I look at a picture wider than any individual and consider that Freedom is a summation of everyone’s abilities to enjoy the same rights, liberties and expectations of happiness. Not just the options the elite and well to do have to offer but the ability of any individual to harness their natural talents, strengths and gifts for the betterment of themselves and to the improvement of our mutual society.

In America, while some of us have been free, to paraphrase: freedom was relative; some of us were more free than others.

In my opinion, Freedom and Society are inversely proportional. If you want the benefits of living in society, some freedoms seem to have to give way to means of working and living together in close quarters.

Freedom, the ability to say you live without rules or guidelines imposed by others is still yours. You have the option to leave America and go someplace else. You have the option to maintain your aplomb and understand that you freedom stops in front of my nose. As soon as your Freedom infringes on mine, you stop being free. That is the nature of a Society, where the sum of the parts creates the potential to do things greater than any single Free individual with the understanding that the rules we create benefit us proportionally for the Freedom we willingly surrender.

When that formula of Freedom surrendered for Society becomes imbalanced (NDAA, indentured servitude or slavery, TSA, undeclared wars, untoward military spending, financial imbalances and class warfare, to name a few) we begin to sense our sacrifice of Freedom is not proportional to the benefits we are expecting and that is the vague unease many of us are feeling. Our freedoms are being bartered away (or stolen, or bought depending on your occupation and where you stand in the social food chain) and replaced with artificial constructs in place of either Freedom or Society. This new un-balancing agent is partially the engine of commerce run amok, without an understanding that every result of Society owes its existence to Society. And when our economic responsibilities to Society at large fails, Society and Freedom both suffer, replacing them with a Tyranny and control of Society for economic purposes, rather than for the improvement of society or the escalation of true Freedoms.

If you chafe today, it is because you are getting an artificial substitute for Freedom. It looks like Freedom: You have 300 channels (but nothing you want to watch), you have eat 60 different varieties of potato chips (but can’t afford decent medical care) you have genetically engineered food keeping our bread baskets full, (but the FDA has no power to actually regulate or check if that food is safe for you to eat). You have the option for the finest education in the world (as long as you can afford it or are willing to carry the debt for decades, paying twice what you owe.) And even the well to do secretly chafe under this false freedom because while they can afford the creature comforts denied to 99.99999% of humanity, all they have to give up IS THEIR HUMANITY.

Our Society is no better off. The Greater Good or the Common Good, the idea we are here for each other, we support each other, that we are Americans and citizens of a nation, in theory if not in fact, prides itself on being an icon to the modern world. That image has been tarnished in our quest for resources to consume, to prop up an economy built on the manufacture (and ultimately the use) of weapons of mass destruction (and these days, lesser and more targeted destruction, using drones or other smart weaponry). Our foreign policy consists of bombing people back to the Stone Age, absconding with their resources or using banks or other financial chicanery to control the wealth (or debt) of foreign nations.

We can no longer come together politically, over even the simplest of ideas. Better schools, more healthcare for everyone, less processed sugar in our processed foods, the merits of birth control or the excesses of Viagra, regulation or deregulation. Everyone gets upset when you talk about regulation or deregulation. I don’t. Simplest way to be sure, if an industry needs more regulation is if an industry goes from profitable to obscene, its time for regulation, if it goes from profitable to questionable, perhaps we should consider releasing a few regulations to determine if that industry is still viable, so if you look at oil companies who are obscenely, ubiquitously, and most egregiously wealthy, nearly beyond that of any other industries, for them to receive tax cuts, tax benefit beyond those any other company should get and to give them SUBSIDIES as well, is a sign of an industry who not only has forgotten the Greater Good, but tap dances on the bones of the poor creature long after its been dead.

The list of crimes against the institution of Society is long, with our last century racking up a body count that could rival a Rambo movie. How long must those of us without wealth, without the recourse to lobby and purchase the political votes we need to make our concerns known, endure this Tyranny of the wealthy, which would have been as abhorrent to our founding fathers (okay, I am Black, so they are not MY founding fathers, my ancestors were enslaved during that time) as it has become to almost everyone today?

We live in an age where we have the technology to peer into the heavens to discover our alone-ness in a sea of galaxies. The Milky Way, that band of light you can see if you still live someplace without air pollution (if not, there is always the internet) shows a part of our galaxy, not even the whole thing and it fills the heavens. The part we can see is a few million stars, our galaxy is blessed with an estimate of 100 to 300 BILLION stars. We now know, thanks to the engineering marvel that is Hubble, created by a tiny group of people who could put aside their backstabbing long enough to further all of Humanity, to discover our universe is filled with at least 100 BILLION galaxies, each as vast as our own (or in some cases far more vast than our own; one such galaxy is thought to have one trillion stars all by itself).

Stars in numbers so vast we only hear about them in national budgets, we fail to remember the most important number when you look at the cosmological scene.

One. 

That is how many Earths we have. That is how many planets we have to live on, live with, struggle over, SHARE with each other and all of the diverse life forms who live on it as well. We continue to fail to remember, humanity, each other, is all we have. Earth is all we have. Our societies had better learn to get along because, THIS planet, right now, with our frail bodies, choking under the pollution of our production of things we do not need, to increase the wealth of those who have more than enough, is going to turn our questions of Freedom versus Society into a much easier debate; whether we, as a species will SURVIVE or NOT.