Descriptions of the Nondescript

A Positive Vision of the Future

"Hope over despair" indeed.

It's exhausting to see people I respect wasting their time arguing about whether global warming is caused by mankind, or even whether global warming is real. Or to hear them arguing about which religion has a better set of values for people to live by or which one is the one their country is based upon.

The fact is that if we want to survive and live happily and successfully in the long run we must stop such idiotic bickering and make some changes. Our population growth and our way of feeding, housing, energizing, and transporting that population is simply unsustainable in the long run - regardless of whether population stays the same or grows or even shrinks a little. We're absolutely doomed if we don't change our ways of living.

But I said this was a positive vision. Ahem.

The positive outlook for humanity is clear. We must reduce the impact on our environment made by the processes of human life even while we enhance the quality of that life. We're definitely making progress on both fronts.

Can we avoid Armageddon? Of course we can. Biblical and other religious and doomsayers' predictions have a consistent habit of proving to be completely wrong.

But we must change our ways. The article linked from the photo above has a lot of hope to offer for ways we can and will change.

Publishing by Unpublishing

The home-made cover for my first book.

I've decided to submit my book first book, Dying to Live Forever, to a "real" publisher. My marketing and sales skills and inclination to spend time doing those things are virtually nil. I want to have someone else who likes and has talents for these things actually work on them for me. And book publishers --- they're pretty good at these sorts of things, yano? At least I hope so.

My book will reappear when/if some publisher decides to become my publisher. If not, maybe I'll look at other options. In the meantime, which is, by the way, many months in the slow world of traditional publishing, my book will be unavailable.

Fortunately for everyone, the new version of the story will be much improved. I've made another pass through it and it's substantially better already - with having even been seen by a professional editor whose job it is to make books better (or suck less).

My second and third books are still in the pipeline, and this very morning I (re)started my work on the first of the ANGEL series of stories, going through it with a fine toothed comb looking for badness, building better character development into the story, finishing up scenes, etc.

Please, if you love me, or if you love science fiction by geeks and for geeks, stay tuned...

Where Sheep May Safely Graze

There definitely are absolute definitions of good and evil and most systems of belief are far from absolute about which they stand for. Look at the Spanish Inquisition for one example. Or Japanese internment camps. Or the American military involvement in Iraq beginning in the early years of this century. People have often been led by evil or wrong thinking men to do horrifying things in the name of religion or their country.

The tool used in each case is a population of unthinking sheep who will not think for themselves and who blindly follow someone who is charismatic and wrong. Tragedy inevitably results. Don't be a sheep.

War is cowardly

When you fire that first shot, no matter how right you feel, you have no idea who From an unlikely source, this wisdom for all ages of humanity. War is stupid, wrong, and cowardly. War covers up for the failures of our world's leaders and those citizens who permit them to lead. War is an abomination created by humans because we're human. War is a reflection of our race's most serious flaw.

We, the Human Race, must mature, to outgrow our propensity for war.

Reflections on a life well lived

He was one of the best men I've ever known. He taught me to solder, to ride a bike, what to shout when a can of tomatoes falls on a bare toe, and how to be an actual man. A man who cares and believes in you, who builds you up by showing you how men should live by living that way himself.

My father was funny and smart. He had a great deep bass voice that could make anyone feel welcome or comfort them in difficult times. He was endlessly pragmatic, could do all of Heinlein's list of things a competent man should be able to do, and he was kind. He was not sentimental, but he was careful in the sense of being full of caring.

My dad lived just a few days short of 92 years, surviving the Great Depression, marriage to my wonderful mother, World War II, three smart assed teenagers, and more than thirty years of retirement after more than forty of work. He and my mom (both pictured above when they were just married) traveled around the country, marveling at autumn colors and streams and mountains for years until she lost herself in Dr. Alzheimer's namesake nightmare.

With a great deal of help from my sister, Dad cared for mom until she died six years ago. When she passed away he was 85. Caring for her nearly killed him too, I think, but he finished the job like he did everything: it needed doing and he simply did it.

A few years ago Dad met a delightful lady named Betty and they became very close friends, doing everything together. She passed away in July, and I think Dad simply realized he was ready to get off the ride.

My dad died last week at nearly the age of 92. He'd been in excellent health until Betty died, and then it all changed. The last few months have been hard for all of us and I think they were for him too.

But like he did everything, it had to be done, and he just did it.

We'll miss you Dad. I'm proud of you. I'll try to be as good a man as you showed me how to be.

A gun in the right hand

A hand holding a gun.
A hand holding a gun.

Concealed weapon carriers or other reasonably responsible, conscientious citizens are going to turn into whatever they turn into when adrenaline flows. People can become heroic and selfless when this happens, they can turn into gibbering masses, or they can do stupid things like fire their weapons at young [insert ethnicity here] boys who happen to walk by while wearing headphones and not realizing what danger they're in. This is one reason why police kill so many people wrongfully - and they are definitely trained and supposedly responsible.

If you have a way to react from a distance with deadly force to a situation that you don't necessarily fully understand but you see as an imminent danger because of the part of it you have seen (and not necessarily fully understood) you kill people. Right or wrong, the decision is made in a flash of adrenaline fueled "judgement" and it's permanent if you croak the guy(s).

Take away the possibility of instant, distant, deadly force reaction and you get harmless shouting or maybe some fists flying. Probably nobody dies.

Police with weapons drawn and aimed at a girl holding a drill.This is just an example I found. A single Google search for "wrongful death weapon" resulted in 664,000 results in 0.71 seconds.

My cousin Joe's undoubtedly tidy and wholesome residential neighborhood in Utah is unfortunately ripe for a killing. They've been seeing a rise in burglary there recently, and everyone is worried they'll be next. I bet a lot of his neighbors have guns. They'll shoot some guy who's chasing his dog into their back yard or whose three year old is hiding behind a bush next door or something. And that will be that. He'll be dead, and nobody can reanimate him after the responsible citizen's snap judgement and use of deadly force took away his chance to explain his peaceful intentions.

Did you know the world is getting richer and there are fewer poor people today than ever per capita?

Some countries are emerging from poverty. Education is on the rise.

We're all to be blamed for not realizing the truth, actually. But our sources of news are driven by economics, which means they have to live and die by their ability to sell newspapers, magazines, online eyeballs, advertisers' products, or whatever. This leads to what Nicholas Kristof calls in this op-ed piece a true selection bias that leads directly to a corresponding bias in public opinion.

We're making progress in our quest to uplift all of humanity. It's just not considered real news to report that this is the case. And it isn't, really. The process has been been a slow, painful climb whose progress isn't exhilarating so much as it is tedious to watch. Except, of course, by those who benefit from that progress: poverty stricken countries, decaying inner cities, and moribund agrarian populations that couldn't make any progress against commodity market price reductions.

The idea of farming, mining, and other ancient and labor intensive jobs as ways of life is slowly dying and being replaced with automation, economies of scale, and higher technology solutions to creating society's base materials. We're now seeing populations whose leaders are forced to turn to other means to keep the gravy train going for themselves. Formerly ruthless dictators of countries filled with abject poverty are seeing the writing on the wall and inviting education and investment to enrich their countries so they can get even richer. This last bit is a negative side effect of this progress, and it will eventually have to be resolved. But for now it's not such a bad thing that some asshole at the top of a poor country sucks a little of the oxygen out of the room if everyone else gets some too.

We need to see what's true and not just what's reported. It would be very helpful if world economic progress were something that was studied and encouraged actively rather than as a passive side effect of famines, forced migration, capitalism's endless search for new markets, and the like.

Making profits is great as long as it isn't carried too far on the backs of the wrong people. When those backs finally break and the profits stop flowing, there are those who seem to wake up and realize, "Hey. We could invest in those people just a little and get a great new cash cow out of it in a few years!"

Well yes. Let's do that then.