Just some theories I try to live by. I think I made them up myself unless I subconsciously stole them.
Seek out experiences, not pleasures…
but don’t feel guilty about your guilty pleasures.
Don’t judge others openly regardless of how horrible they are, but that doesn’t mean you have to trust them or hang out with them.
Do what you need to do to get along with people. Or leave.
Don’t allow emotional vampires to take advantage of you.
Worry about real-world affects rather than emotions…
but recognize that your emotions have real-world effects on the people around you.
Watch carefully how people treat others, and watch their moral values. Recognize that most likely they will treat you the same as they treat everyone else.
Don’t automatically assume your friend was the good-guy in a given situation. Statistically your friend has only a 50/50 chance of being the good guy, though hopefully the previous item should raise your average a little.
Reject the Golden Rule. Treat people how they want to be treated, not how you want to be treated. This does require a bit more thought, but it’s worth it in the long run and besides helping you make allies in life, will also help you understand and predict other people’s behavior.
Worry about the long-term benefits of the things you do for others, even if doing the right thing for them makes them angry in the short term.
Remember that punishments, vengeance and justice committed upon people, animals or things just never works out for the overall good in the long run. Even if the immediate problem is solved, and emotional satisfaction is gained, the long-term bitterness and other unknown repercussions will almost always outweigh the benefits.
Always listen to your intuition, but never trust it.
In a science and logic vs intuition or religion standoff, science should win…
but recognize that sometimes you’ll be in a situation where you don’t have enough information to make a scientific and logical decision.
Base your view of reality on what you see, hear and feel, and on actual real-world facts and not on what you are told.
Set aside time to embrace spirituality and alternative realities to your core, while always remembering they don’t actually exist in this universe.
Become aware, any way you can, of how your brain operates, and be brutally honest with yourself about it.
Never believe something until you see it… within reason.
Things are either true or not true, but you have no real way of knowing so everything you think you know should be seen as probabilities, and instead of thinking that something is true, that you believe in it, think of it in the probability that it is true, knowing that nothing can ever be %100 guaranteed to be true, no matter what.
On that same note, embrace the unknown.
Remember that all human beings are equally important, including people all over the world, regardless of nation, race, personal preferences, past crimes or age. Even if they hate you and want you dead, their emotions are still equally as important as yours. This doesn’t mean you can’t fight back against them, but it does mean you must respect them as human beings.
Never jump to the conclusion that safety should be prioritized over fun.
Do what is moral and right, not what is legal or what the rules say… assuming you can get away with it.
Always live a lifestyle well below your income so you can re-invest extra income to better your life in the long term.
Be conscious that how you spend your money has an effect on your community and the world.
Admit your mistakes quickly, before other people point them out. This will increase their trust in you.
Don’t lie. The majority of the time that someone suspects you of lying, they don’t say anything, but they judge you for it silently and there will always be long-term consequences that are difficult for you to grasp in the moment…
though I’m not opposed to lying to an agent of the law or rule enforcement if it’s the morally upstanding thing to do.
Remember people will sometimes use big words and complex logic when they actually have no idea what they’re talking about, in an attempt to manipulate you.
Always ask yourself why you are doing something in a certain manner and if the answer is something dealing with rules, tradition, custom or “this is how it’s done” you need to stop and think if there might be a better way, while trying to look at the issue from a purely real-world goal-oriented manner.
Speaking of goals…
Be goal oriented. Big goals, little goals. It’s better to have ten goals and fail on six of them than it is to have three goals and succeed on all of them. Be sure to have big goals, even ludicrously big goals, such as world peace. Don’t neglect the smaller goals though.
Seek altered states of consciousness, whether this is through drugs, meditation, travel, story writing, etc.
Don’t be afraid to cry, but you don’t need to do it in front of anyone.
Write about your emotions in some fashion, even if it’s just a poem once in a while, but getting feelings down in text can dramatically help you understand them.
Always concern yourself with how you impact the world, because you always do.
Remember that in the end you will regret the things you didn’t do more than the things you did. (I think I stole that line from someone.)
Try to make your default answer yes.
Try to make the world a better place with everything you buy and do.
Avoid large chain stores and restaurants but don’t be a nazi about it.
Avoid hydrogenated oils, preservatives, refined flour and sugar and corn syrup but again, don’t be a nazi about it.
Don’t automatically assume natural is better… though it often is.
Don’t assume technology can solve your problems.
Don’t forget to find a way to tune back into nature.
Don’t think of your enemies as someone to fight. Think of them as someone to help become a better person.
Embrace open communication no matter how uncomfortable it may be.
Always think about all possible avenues to solve a problem because you’ll never know when the answer is lying at your feet if you just turn in the right direction.
Don’t try to tell anyone how to live their lives (like I’m doing now)…
speaking of hypocrisy, remember it’s better to be a hypocrite than to not care.
Don’t let any person, religion or webpage like this one tell you how to live your life.
So I am adamantly pro-choice, but I have a few serious objections to the standard pro-choice rhetoric that we see these days.
My main issue is with the lies we’ve been telling.
I see two important questions surrounding abortion: 1) at what point does life begin? and 2) at what point does a human become a person?
The first question seems scientific, and is very simple to answer. By any definition of life that I’ve ever heard, it begins at conception. That’s the point when the human begins its growth as an individual animal separate from its mother. This is just a scientific fact. If a worm or a fly is a life-form then there’s no way to argue that a human fetus is not. Simply because it relies on its host for survival does not mean it’s not life.
At what point a human becomes a person, on the other hand, is not a scientific question at all. This is entirely a matter of opinion and emotion. People have every emotional and spiritual right to see this their own way, but as a society of individuals trying to get along, we have an obligation to respect other people’s viewpoints. If I get a dog, and I love my dog, and I decide that my dog is a person, then I expect my friends and family to respect my perspective regardless of their personal beliefs on what is or isn’t a person. This is not about being right or wrong. It’s about having respect for other people’s feelings.
To claim that a woman’s convenience is more important than a human life is understandably disgusting and offensive to a significant portion of the population, and always will be. When the pro-choice crowd insists that unborn babies have no rights or value as human beings when there are so many people who care so deeply about them, our opponents are naturally going to feel disrespected and are going to lash out by doing things like blanketly attacking Planned-Parenthood or forcing women to have trans-vaginal ultrasounds.
This attitude is about more than being respectful, it’s about telling the truth. It’s easy to see that most women are lying when they say a fetus is not a person, because if they were to get pregnant then have a miscarriage, only a very small percentage would simply shrug it off and say “Oh well, it’s not like it was a person.”
I believe we are shooting ourselves in the foot by making these arguments.
Another place where we are lying, at least here in America, is in lawmaking and the US constitution. I once read on the Addicting Info website, that a woman’s right to choose is a constitutionally guaranteed right. Nowhere in the constitution does it guarantee women the right to kill their unborn babies. I wish it did, but it does not. The tenth amendment clearly guarantees the rights of states to make their own laws and establish their own values.
So often with sacred texts, we twist their meanings to suit our own beliefs. We don’t want to come out and say that we don’t support this document, or we think it was wrong, but we can’t give up our beliefs or stop fighting against the repulsive things that are being done in the name of the pro-life perspective, so we tell ourselves over and over again that Roe-vs-Wade was constitutional. I agree that the outcome of Roe-vs-Wade was the morally correct decision, but it was not the constitutional one. If we want to be a nation of laws, we need to respect the law, even if we strongly disagree with it.
There’s two simple facts that everyone on both sides of the issue tend to lie about or ignore, but they are important topics surrounding this issue, as they are about the suffering of innocent children.
1) Some women make terrible mothers. I’ve seen mothers repeatedly make jokes about abandoning their children or even use it as a general threat to keep them from misbehaving. I once saw a mother hit a child who was barely old enough to talk because he took three or four extra seconds to get into their car. I recently watched a mom threaten to cut off her child’s fingers. The bottom line is that there is a small but notable percentage of mothers who literally hate their children and wish they had never been born. I find it odd that our society so readily admits that men can be abusive and neglectful toward children while ignoring the fact that women can be just as bad.
Most of these women who hate their children gave birth to them semi-voluntarily. I can’t even imagine what things would look like, or how much children would be suffering, if these women were forced under threat of guns, violence and imprisonment to give birth to a child they never wanted. They would no doubt take their frustrations out on the children. Forcing innocent children into this situation is completely unacceptable.
2) Another harsh truth I wish to point out is the fact that orphans frequently feel completely abandoned by not only their parents, but by all of society. There are countless orphans all over the world who go through their entire childhood knowing that no one loves them. Not in a Marilyn Manson, emo kind of way, but in a literal, not one person cares whether you live or die, your foster parents get paid to take care of you sort of way. In America these children get passed from one home to another and their “parents” don’t form any more of an attachment to them as they would a co-worker at the office. I’ve heard horror stories of far worse situations in some countries, where orphans are kept in a single room for their entire childhood and never learn how to talk.
It is true that a child can be given up for adoption immediately after birth and can usually find decent, loving homes. However, these children technically are not orphans. In the vast majority of cases the pain of giving up your baby is so intense that parents are not able to go through with it until a few years later when the child has little chance of finding a decent home. When a mother gives her child up for adoption at birth, it causes her, and occasionally the father, intense emotional distress.
The fact that pro-lifers casually say “just give them up for adoption” as though it’s a simple, acceptable alternative to abortion shows either a total lack of concern for the children’s welfare or a dramatically unrealistic view of our foster-care system and adoption process. I think as pro-choicers we should give them the benefit of the doubt and assume it’s the second option, and attempt to educate them.
“The difference between knowing you’re wanted and knowing you’re not is quite big… It’s like going to a party where you know you’re not invited no matter how polite people are.”
-Absolutely Fabulous, (1992)
Interesting article about a study showing that religion might be counter-productive to crime prevention. This was posted by a reader on my 22 Ways Religion Promotes Crime page. I’m glad people are finally acknowledging this, but I have a few complaints about the article, like how it implies that only criminals have distorted views on religion, as though the normal religious folks are in complete agreement. I’m sure the author and the researchers were being careful not to offend anyone, but this article tries to imply that this is not a symptom of a fundamental issue with religion, but rather a minor detail that’s not being handled properly in our prisons, but then fails to explain how religion actually has a positive effect. It quotes the study, “faith-based programs work best in reducing recidivism when done in conjunction with educational, vocational and life-skills training,” and this makes sense, much like how chicken-fried steak is great for weight loss when done in conjunction with vigorous exercise.
So Friday morning I woke up at five feeling horrible, got up and puked my guts out. Then I felt almost completely better so I went back to sleep for two hours.
I had a dream that I was at work, having my normal morning standup meeting, except today we were in a dirty van, parked behind some bushes in a park. I had met a couple hippies. A girl hippie and a boy hippie. I invited them back to the van to join in our meeting and told them I’d explain how the internet worked. The hippies had a black plastic pet-waste bag that was half-filled with dog poop and half with some of the dankest weed I’d ever seen. They poured the bag out on the floor in the back of the van and started picking through it. My co-workers started showing up and helped us pick the poop out of the weed, while my boss sat over his laptop looking annoyed. The girl hippie kept shouting “Why? Why would someone mix their weed with their dog poop? That makes no sense!”
When we had all arrived and needed to start the meeting, we were all so fascinated by the super-chronic that our boss had to clap his hands to get our attention. “Seriously, guys?” he said. “Do we not pay you enough you can’t go buy your own bag of weed that doesn’t have poop in it?”
So then I got up and went to work, still feeling reasonable. Behind the office I noticed a McDonald’s billboard advertising their new 40 piece chicken mcNugget deal and just for a moment imagined myself sitting down and eating one. The horror! In the morning standup I told everyone about my dream, though I left out the part about the weed-poop, more for brevity than censorship. Then an hour later I started feeling like shit again, so I went home and went to bed.
I dreamed that my friends kept coming over with care-packages to make me feel better. Friend after friend showed up and I was excited to see every one of them, but their care-packages always consisted of 40 piece chicken mcNuggets, so by the end of the dream I had a mountain of chicken nuggets and everyone kept saying “Just eat them, they’ll make you feel better!” But I wasn’t so sure.
Then I was a personal trainer for a sumo wrestler and my main strategy was “eat more”. I said it over and over again, but my client just didn’t seem to get it. He didn’t like chicken mcNuggets.
I was sick all weekend so the next night I came up with an invention in my dream that I called Porn Glasses, which would be these glasses with a camera and little cpu like the Google Glasses, but they would automatically run facial recognition on any person you looked at, then search the web and porn databases for naked pictures of that person, then overlay those images over the person in your vision.
I’m writing another novel. Or more specifically, a massive rewrite of my second novel. Here’s a blurb I wrote for it:
This is my diary, a book about me, Allihence, and my thirty-five friends. We are humans, raised in the wild, who don’t want to be forced to host another species in our bodies. We have escaped the carathlings and must evade them until we make it to the human villages in the east.
But for me, nothing is real unless I write it down. My friends worry that my obsession with this pen and paper will drive me mad or get us captured, but I can’t get this idea out of my head that our story will make a difference in the way our two species communicate.
I still don’t have a title. I’m calling it Rediscovering Communication: The Journals of Allihence and the Wild Ones, but I’m not particularly happy with that title.
This story was something I came up with around 1996. I started writing it when I was a sophomore in High School but gave up after about fifty pages to write short stories and four years later a novel I called This Desert Life, which turned out to be terrible. I came back to write Rediscovering Communication again around 2002. I finished it, but it had a few major problems. People really didn’t like how Allihence died two-thirds of the way through. I originally intended to bring her back as some kind of mysterious ghost writer for the final chapters of the journal, but that didn’t pan out.
Around 2006, somebody claiming to be a world-famous fantasy writer wrote me a series of emails saying that he’d read it and loved certain aspects of it but pointed out all the problems and gave me some advice on how to make it into something sellable. Looking back I realize it was very good advice. I didn’t take him seriously at the time and eventually deleted his emails, but years later, I pieced together some of the things he’d said and realized it was Terry Brooks, who is known to go out of his way to help local aspiring authors… or someone doing a good of pretending to be him.
After I wrote my third novel, Against A Rock, in 2008, I looked back over Rediscovering Communication and realized I had to remove it and my first novel from my website and hide them both away forever. I started re-writing Rediscovering Communication around 2009, but lost interest or something.
Then a couple months ago I listened to a book on Audible called Room and the unique storytelling style inspired me to come back to this. Now I’m finally back at it and I’ve got most of the core parts complete, rewritten the beginning and the last third of the book. The main character survives to the very end now and the ending I feel is dramatically improved.
But the most important change is the theme. The original theme of the story was how we must learn to fight back when it’s necessary for our freedom, even if we feel guilty. Now the theme is more focused on peace and reminds me more of an old Star-Trek story where people learn to work together for the benefit of all.
Against a Rock was an uncommon kind of story in that there were no good guys. There were no likable characters. While I love it like my baby, Against a Rock is packed with as much violence, grit, hate and selfishness as possible while still making a compelling story… which is why I love it. Rediscovering Communication is just as abnormal, but in the opposite direction. While there are a couple short violent scenes, overall there are no evil or selfish characters. There is still conflict but every person in the story is working toward the greater good in some way. It’s a challenge, and I’m still at least six months out from being able to show off a finished product, but I think this is turning out well.
You may notice I re-used the name Allihence. Basically that’s because in 2006 I named my EVE-Online character after my character in the first draft of this novel, then wrote Against a Rock as though it took place on board my character’s ship. There is no actual relation between Allihence in this book and Allihence in Against a Rock.
So after enough of my babbling, here is a preview of the first chapter:
Allihence, May 29 afternoon
I don’t know what to write. I don’t even know where to start.
My home is destroyed. All my papers, all my possessions.
Today the meteors fell with no warning. It wasn’t that we missed the warnings. No. There were no warnings.
Everyone is crying; not just the children. The cave walls make the crying and praying echo and burn into my brain. My only consolation is that almost everyone on the island got here safely. Almost.
Have the gods abandoned us? Are they punishing us? Are they still up there?
I won’t look up.
This paper is my world right now. If I look up the insanity will overcome me.
I will keep writing.
This is the first page of my second book. My first book, over a thousand pages of articles, free writes, broken hearts, arguments, fishing adventures, poems, stories, and emotional ramblings, was inside my hut when the meteors hit.
I saw the crater. It’s all gone.
I’m dead now. Everything about me was in those pages.
Allihence, May 29 evening
I wrote my last book in an attempt to understand myself. Now I want to write a book for others to get to know me.
I can’t do this. I’m trying and trying but I can’t. It’s not like it was yesterday.
Allihence, May 30 morning
I’m thinking a little more clearly today so lets start from a logical beginning.
I suppose my story starts nine years ago when Marthus negotiated with the carathlings to bring us books, paper and writing supplies in place of the bear hides and grain the rest of us wanted. I had only learned to read and write a year earlier but when I got my first pen I realized I could keep a record of everything I did and everything I am. I wouldn’t forget myself when I become a carathling and must share my mind with another. As I grew older, I realized that my writing was my greatest asset, that it would result in my being claimed by a successful carathling family, providing comfort in my second stage of life. Over the years my constantly growing stack of papers became everything to me.
Maybe the gods decided I was too selfish. My first book was all about me, my feelings, my goals and my memories. The gods decided to take them from me yesterday, to destroy them forever, to show me that I should have been concerning my writing with something bigger than myself. At least, this is the thought I have not been able to shake.
So I’m not going to start talking about my youth and recreate the stories I told in my first book. Instead I will try to accept that old Allihence is gone, and start with yesterday morning as I sat on a boulder on the northeast shore of our island, paper and writing board in my lap, pen in hand.
The waves lapped at the base of the rock as I debated over the perfect words to say that I now enjoy spending time with one of the older boys named Doumli.
A boom shook the ground, drowning out the sounds of the sea, starling flocks of birds into flight behind me. A gust of wind blew me back onto the rock, ripping the paper from my hand.
A pillar of water stood on the horizon to the north. A trail of smoke stretched from the heavens.
My first thought was a god had fallen from the sky, but I didn’t have time to ponder this as I saw the wave forming from the impact site, rising up and rushing toward me.
I dropped my pen and writing board and jumped to my feet. I leapt from rock to rock, trying to head toward the trail that climbs the dirt cliff to the grassy mesa above, but I looked back and saw the wave aproaching too quckly. I had a few moments to jump to a large boulder jutting from the side of the cliff and attempt to climb. I was halfway up before hearing the wave roaring behind me. I wedged my toes into the cracks and debated for a tiny moment jamming my arm deep in a crevice, wondering if my strength would keep me safely in place or the ocean would snap my arm like a chicken bone.
I chose to respect the water and gripped the edge of the crevice, ready to be ripped from my perch. The sea cascaded around me, flattening my stomach and chest, but I tightened my shoulders to keep my head from slamming against the rock. I held tight and a moment later the water settled around my waist, then began to retreat.
For a long moment I held there, trying to process what had just happened. I looked over my shoulder. The pillar of water had disappeared and was now replaced with a white cloud blending into the black line of smoke pointing to the sky. I’ve seen a couple drawings of meteors hitting the ocean and this seemed similar. A god falling from the sky might look the same.
But I could hear other blasts from the distance, so it only took a few moments to make sure I was safe before I sprinted up the trail to the mesa and started my jog.
The cave is on the south side of the island so I didn’t slow except in the few dangerous areas. As I ran, I abandoned my falling god theory after hearing the repeated meteor blasts, most muffled by the ocean, but some clearly impacting the solid ground of our island. This was a normal meteor shower, but felt different because I had never been outside during one. How we had missed the warnings, I could not understand. Perhaps the gods had chosen not to warn us as punishment for something, or to test us or simply to be rid of us. Did the rest of the world receive warnings?
I ran for a long time before I heard crying. I almost ran right past, and had to force my mind to re-think the situation. I had been making a direct line for the safety of the cave when I should have kept my eyes open for anyone in trouble.
I jumped through the bushes. “Whose there?”
The crying was the only response. Someone young, perhaps someone even too young to move around on their own. “Where are you?” I shouted, following the voice.
I jumped into a clearing to see little Dina, gripping a small willow branch in her hand as though it could bat away the meteors. She turned and stared at me.
“You need to follow me to the cave,” I said.
She replied with more crying and I imagined her standing here, awaiting the return of her mother, not remembering the carathlings had traded her to the mainland just a few months ago.
“I can carry you part of the way, but we need to go. You need to run, okay?” I ran to the edge of the clearing and beckoned her to follow, but she just stood there wailing.
“Dina!” I shouted, but she didn’t move, so I ran toward her to pick her up.
She swung the willow branch at me but I ignored it. “Dina!” I grabbed her by the shoulders and tried to pick her up, but she fought me, screaming louder. “Deimin!” she screamed, finally forming an intelligible word.
“Deimin is nearby?” I asked, taking a step back.
“How long ago?”
But she couldn’t answer.
“Did he head for the cave?”
She didn’t answer.
“Dina, we need to get you to the cave, okay? If Deimin hasn’t found you, he’s probably running there already. We can’t stay out here and wait for him, okay?”
She shook her head.
I turned toward a rustling and watched Randil jump through the bushes into the clearing. “Dina, I can’t find him. We need to go. Allihence?”
“What’s going on?” I asked.
“Meteor shower I guess. I don’t understand how we were all too stupid to notice the warnings.”
Dina screamed louder.
I squatted before Dina to look at her. “If he’s not at the cave we’ll get a couple of the older boys to go out for him, okay?”
Randil is much bigger and stronger than myself so he didn’t take the time to try and convince her. He picked her up by the shoulders and adjusted her into his arms and started marching south. He pulled the branch from her hands and tossed it aside and she screamed harder.
He carried her briskly and I walked fifty paces ahead of them. Dina cried for most of the trek, but Randil was able to put her down and got her to run with us for much of the distance.
When we arrived at the cave, my people were in chaos, shouting, crying, arguing, praying.
“Alli, Dina and Randil make two hundred and fifteen.” He put a mark next to our names with a chunk of charcoal on a list Marthus and I started years ago.
“There’s thirteen still out there.” Gimmin stared a long moment toward the opening, then listed the names of the missing.
I walked through the cave, trying to find a comfortable spot, but as usual, it was packed with people and I had to sit with my arms wrapped around my knees and tuck myself against the wall to avoid being stepped on.
Normally we are calm during a meteor shower, just sitting in here, huddled together, bored, playing games or talking, or in my case, writing. This time it’s different.
I sat for a long while, trying to ignore the voices, worrying about my stack of papers sitting in the plain wooden box at the head of my bed. When the sounds of meteors seemed to lull, this caused me to worry more rather than less, thinking I was missing my opportunity to race back to our village and retrieve them.
Finally something clicked and I rose to make my way toward the cave entrance. “I’m running back to the village,” I told Gimmin.
“No,” he said. “Please don’t, Alli.”
“I need to.”
“I need my papers.”
“No you don’t. Alli, we still have three missing people out there and three more looking for them.”
“If I find someone on my way I’ll bring them back, but if not, I’m going for my papers.”
“Allihence.” He raised his eyebrows at me. “It’s paper.”
I knew he wouldn’t understand so I turned and ran.
“Alli!” Gimmin’s angry shout echoed through the cavern but no one pursued me.
I ran down the trail as quickly as I dared and headed toward the middle of the island, back the way I had come, toward our main village and the clearing where I’d made my home for the last ten years.
I ran most of the way, making better time than I believe I could have under any other circumstances. I heard meteor blasts in the distance and a few that sounded like they had hit the island, but they were notably less frequent now, so I hoped this was a good time. Without the warnings letting us know how long the shower would last, I had no idea if it was winding down or another big wave was on its way.
My chest ached so much by the time I arrived at our clearing that I could not let out a scream when I saw the destruction. I stumbled, feeling like something out of a story book. My legs weakened, as though I would drop to my knees like when the hero of the story watches their home burn. I caught myself before falling, not wanting to be here now, writing something so cliche.
Instead I ran forward, feeling the heat and seeing the smoldering embers from the impact. The crater was three times the size of my hut, leaving nothing recognizable. It had also taken out the edge of Marthus’ home. Her roof had collapsed and was now smoldering.
She no doubt had things in there she would have taken to the cave under a normal shower so I took a few moments to catch my breath then began tearing open her wall and pushed the remainder of her roof aside. She had books in two old wooden crates, and though I’ve read most of them, I could not decide what she would like me to rescue.
I grabbed one of her medicine books, her journal, a pen and some ink from atop her writing board. I figured any more would be cumbersome. I turned to flee back to the cave, then stopped long enough to drag her book chests into the clearing where there would be less chance of fire.
Fortunately most of our important books were kept in Marthus’ hut, though we certainly lost a few in mine, including a couple supposedly written by the gods. One is a story of a young boy who steals a talking star wagon and becomes trapped in the heavens above a world where nobody lives, and must figure out how to survive. I’ve read it a couple times, but it’s hard to understand and I’m convinced much of it is nonsense written for fun. The other is a book about rocks and the magics that make them but that’s even harder to understand.
I jogged back to the cave, thinking of nothing but the path and the vision of the crater where my home had been.
When I got back, Gimmin and several others made me promise not to leave again. I gave Marthus her medical book and she shrugged, clearly indicating that it wouldn’t be of much use to her here. We hadn’t suffered any injuries that she couldn’t take care of with warm water and bandages. The search party had returned without finding the three people.
I sat down and started going crazy trying to process the loss of my papers. I cared nothing for the loss of my home, my skins, fishing spears, ornaments or even books. All I cared about was my journal. Even the thought of our three comrades, lying injured and helpless somewhere out there, could not shake my thoughts from those sheets of white paper, vaporized under a rock from heaven. Maybe there’s something wrong with me.
I wrote yesterday’s afternoon entry on the paper I took from Marthus and intended to explain things more coherently, but it was only a short while after I’d started that Zerimile came to me and put his hand over my papers. “Allihence. Counsel Meeting. Back of the cave. Now.”
I’m not officially a member of the town counsel so I don’t get a vote. I’m the record keeper, so I have more influence than people realize.
We shuffled to the back of the cave and sat in Story Time, which is what we call the ring of sitting rocks we use for puppet shows and storytelling while waiting out the meteors.
I didn’t write much about our meeting. We argued about what meteors actually are. Marthus and I have read the books and believe they are giant rocks flying around the heavens and sometimes they fall to our planet. Thats a leap of faith for most because we can’t explain why these rocks would be wandering the skies, then suddenly change their minds and drop. This begs the question, could one of our moons ever decide to fall?
Debating this is pointless because we will never know.
We also argued about how to keep everyone calm and entertained since we have no books, toys or musical instruments. We announced a comedy show where the person who got the most laughs would be island mayor for a month, which basically means he gets first pick at meal time.
The carathlings were another subject. We realized they had not received any warnings, since they would have showed up to ensure we were prepared. They could have been hit hard. One small meteor could sink either of their patrol boats and a large one could capsize it from a distance. We talked about what we would do if our carathlings had been devastated, but realized different carathlings would come to watch over us.
I worry that writing this next thing is a bad idea. I won’t be able to let any carathlings read this, but I’m gonna say it anyway. I know what Marthus was thinking even though she didn’t say it. This could be our opportunity to build canoes and get off this island. We could find a place where only humans live, like in those books the carathlings don’t know we have.
Marthus also seems to realize she is not going to be able to play her game with the carathlings any longer. She’s twenty-four, the eldest on the island by a wide margin. She’s not going to be human much longer and won’t be able to continue fighting the changover.
However, I’m eighteen and the same goes for me. But now I don’t have a stack of pages to prove I should be traded as an intellectual. The thought of becoming a carathling is even scarier now.
But obviously there’s nothing we can do to help or escape the carathlings right now so we moved on to the subject of supplies.
The counsel agreed that we would all go hungry. We have almost no food, but we’ve been hungry before and there is always a bounty after a shower so we agreed that we could wait instead of sending someone outside for food.
Water is a different story. We’ve run out of water before, even when we have a two-day warning and all our bottles. We had already been hearing arguments over it. We finally decided we had no choice but to put out a call for volunteers to run to the well.
And that was about it for the counsel meeting.
Later we went around collecting empty bottles. The boys stood at the cave entrance for a long time before finally taking off. We sat worrying, but they returned in reasonable time. Unfortunately, with two hundred twenty-five of us, the water drains quickly so we started trying to figure out who will run out next almost as soon as they returned. I volunteered to go, but there were enough stronger boys that they didn’t let me.
You might think surviving outside in a meteor shower is all about quick wits, reflexes and toughness. But even the biggest, strongest carathling would turn to ash if hit directly by a meteor. You can’t just step to the side when one comes for you.
However, groups of boys have raced out there for water several times now and always come back alive.
It does not look like the three missing are going to make it back. Trinio, Colby, and Kahmad. We’re hoping they are holed up under the overhang on the western cliff so we will not speak the words of remembrance until we know for sure. A few have said the trail that runs along the cliff’s edge has collapsed so we are all fearing the worst.
I tried to write again in the evening but it didn’t go so well. I want to blame it on the lack of candles but really it was in my head.
I thought of Dina and how before I had heard her crying I had been racing for the cave, thinking of nothing but saving myself and how that represents my first book where I wrote mostly about myself to my future self instead of caring about an outside reader. I have certainly spent a share of pages talking about my desire for humans to be able to choose for ourselves when we become carathlings, but much of that was complaining for my own sake rather than trying to spark a change in the world.
All night I ran this over my mind as I tried to sleep on the bare rock, so when there was enough light, I decided to start the next phase of my life by starting my next book.
I’m sitting as near the entrance as I dare, for the sunlight. I have not heard a meteor since a page ago so we are hoping the shower is nearing its end.
This book that I have started today, I want it to be different. I have no idea how my life will play out from this moment, but these sheets of white paper will follow along with it. I don’t know how they will represent me, but I promise I will do whatever I can to make this about something bigger than myself.
Interesting facts about gun ownership and crime rates. It usually seems like the liberals are the ones more likely to use statistics and logic to argue their points, but it seems when it comes to gun laws, everything is backward. Why are people so terrified of guns when there are about twenty things in the United States that kill more people? If we put the same effort and public attention into combating heart disease that we do into gun violence, we could save a whole lot more lives. The statistics on this page are pretty hard to argue against (assuming they’re accurate). It seems the gun control advocates either use manipulative statistics or resort to describing just how terrified they are, while implying their opponent’s fear of a totalitarian government is not worth considering. I thought liberalism was about logical problem solving, not fear mongering.
So in the last six months or so I’ve gotten much worse about answering the frequent comments left on this site regarding my three WordPress plugins, PDF Creation Station, Easy Edit Links and Post List. I want to thank everyone who has left praise for my creations and say that I’m thrilled at the lack of complaints considering what a learning curve they have and the fact that they’ve actually got a fair number of little bugs that I’ve never taken care of because they don’t affect me when I use them on my own website. I can’t believe Post List and Edit Links are both at a five star rating as of this post.
And I just remembered as I was writing this, that Advanced Post List exists. This is a plugin that someone developed that is based off my Post List code. I remember he contacted me a year or two ago and asked my permission to do this, which of course he didn’t need, but was just being polite. I tried out his version and it didn’t work and I told him that if he got it working and he hadn’t removed any notable features, I’d officially deprecate my Post List plugin and send all my users to his. Then I never heard from him again and figured he’d abandoned the project. Turns out he just did a release earlier this month and has far exceeded my user base and still has nearly a five star rating.
So I need to get my local development version of WordPress up and running so I can install his plugin and make sure it works properly, then replace my plugin with a pointer to his, then I will be done with Post List support forever but the functionality will live on. The best of both worlds. One of the beauties of the open-source arena.
And I know I said I’d get back to working on Creation Station as someone pointed out a bug with disappearing images that I was able to reproduce on my own site, and the PDF engine, TCPDF, has probably come out with updates that need to be added. But frankly, I just have other priorities. I wish someone else would take my Creation Station code and start calling it their own. As far as I know it’s still the best PDF plugin for WordPress and it’s sad that it’s not being developed or actively supported anymore.
And I abandoned Easy Edit Links a long time ago because the WordPress core came out with a solution that solves the same problem… even though Easy Edit Links works better.
So anyway, I’m going back to work on my latest novel, so I’m sorry everyone who has asked a support question and is waiting for a reply. I will probably get back to you at some point, but I may start going through them in batches once a month or so, so I apologize for that.
But I must say, it has been pretty great doing these plugins. Definitely one of the proudest moments of my career, even though I don’t think I made more than two hundred bucks in donations total between all three of them. Most of the code I have written professionally was, in one form or another, designed to get money from people, so it feels good to have supported a community like WordPress.
I started following Neil deGrasse Tyson a few weeks ago on Twitter, probably because he said something funny about the belief in God. I’ve respected the guy ever since I saw him on some old Nova documentaries and now I think I respect him even more after some of his recent tweets.
Tweet #1 Dec 4:
Serving Jury Duty this week. Criminal Court, Manhattan. I wonder if they will pick me.
Tweet #2 Dec 4:
Last time, defendant was accused of selling 3000milligrams of cocaine. I told the Judge it was just 3grams. Was then sent home
Holy crap! 3000 milligrams of coke! That guy’s a monster! He must have a whole cocaine warehouse…
Tweet #3 Dec4:
FYI: Three thousand milligrams is about the weight of a penny. More tweets to come — in at least a few billion nanoseconds.
oh wait… three grams… well that’s not so much. Why do you think the judge would want it labeled as 3000 milligrams instead of the more concise 3 grams? Well, because he’s attempting to manipulate the jury’s and the public’s opinion. Does this seem honest to you, even though they are not technically lying?
Tweet # 4 Dec 5:
Things you might say if you flunked Astro101: “I’m not in control of my life. The stars and planets are.”
Um… okay, this has nothing to do with this post… but it’s a pretty true statement. It’s kind of a scary idea that someone on a jury might literally look at your zodiac sign to help make their decision, but I have known people who I think would do this.
Tweet #5 Dec 5:
Done with Jury Duty. I said I could not convict a person solely on eyewitness testimony. They sent me home. I’m now 0 for 4.
Now this is the tweet that made me write this post. This is something that I’ve been saying for years but it seems difficult for me to find people who recognize what a serious issue this is. Eyewitness testimony is unreliable. The true stories in the right column of this website are many of the events that defined my life, and yet when I was writing them I found it difficult to piece together exactly what happened, even though I knew the overall story and how it affected me. If you were to talk to the other characters in any of these stories, they would no doubt have notably different accounts, particularly when it comes to the emotions of the situations, despite the fact that I wrote these almost as accurately as I could. This is just one of the drawbacks of being human. This is why I feel it’s unreliable and therefore immoral to rely on anything other than a solid scientific set of evidence or a straight-up confession when convicting someone and sending them to prison. Unfortunately, our criminal justice system doesn’t agree with me.
…and he’s 0 for 4? That means four times he’s been dismissed as a juror? Is a world-famous physicist not smart enough for jury duty? A scientist like Neil deGrasse Tyson is not going to be fair and impartial enough? Does anyone have a link to the judge’s tweets explaining this?
Tweet #6 Dec 5:
After hearing my skepticism of eyewitness testimony, six other jury candidates promptly agreed. And they got sent home too.
Our system doesn’t look favorably on logic.
Tweet #7 Dec 6:
Eye Witness Testimony: High evidence to the Courts. Warped evidence to the Psychologist. Low evidence to the Physicist.
So I’m pretty happy with how things turned out last night. I got everything I wanted with the exception of %5 of the vote going to Gary Johnson, but I kinda knew that wasn’t going to happen. I’m glad Obama won, of course. I was rooting for him, though I certainly didn’t vote for him this second time around. People seem excited that now that he doesn’t have to worry about reelection, he will show his true colors… what I don’t know is will he show himself as a liberal and come around to marijuana legalization and fight extra hard for health care and equal rights, or will he show himself as someone who is in bed with the military and is gunning for a war with Iran. I guess only time will tell.
Marijuana got legalized here in Washington and in Colorado, and the fact that it passed in two places means the federal government is going to have twice as hard of a time fighting it. A couple other states legalized medical marijuana, so an end to the drug war actually feels like it could happen in my lifetime.
Gay marriage was legalized here in Washington (thank God… and speaking of God I’ll give another shout out to Faith • Equality • Family, my new favorite religious organization). Gay marriage is a ridiculous thing to fight about and I pray that the religious groups just give up and let it go because it’s such a dividing issue that’s wasting resources and distracting everyone away from important issues like foreign policy…
…and actually, to go off on a tangent, a gay issue that I think is more important than marriage, is blood donation. It seems a lot of straight folks don’t realize that men cannot donate blood here in the United States if we’ve had gay sex since the 1970′s. What they define as sex I’m not sure, but people seem to believe that even oral counts. Even I had forgotten about this little detail when I mentioned in a post a few weeks ago about how I felt guilty for never donating blood, and didn’t realize it’s not even legal for me to do so. (As an anarchist I know that’s no excuse and I trend toward straight anyway so it would be no issue for me to get away with it.) But this is a good point because this isn’t just unfairly limiting gay men, it’s also limiting bisexuals and a growing number of straight men who have experimented once or twice. As the gay community becomes more accepted by society, experimentation is going to become more acceptable and appealing in the straight community and this law is going to become more damaging as time goes on. There’s no reason why a law with no scientific basis should be putting people’s lives at risk and complicating our already convoluted medical procedures… not to mention the fact that it’s insulting and bigoted. Anyway, I really hope the gay community turns toward this as their next issue, though I’m not sure if that’s something that can be dealt with on the state level.
It feels weird… marijuana was legalized here in Washington State last night. What am I gonna do now? I’ve waited almost fifteen years for this, now, in one month, I will no longer be a criminal. I won’t have to worry on a daily basis about being harassed by the police. I’ll be able to be totally open and honest about my habits. It’s kind of surreal. Probably not much will actually change about my life, and will possibly even be smoking less pot now, as the thrill seems to be already waning.
It’s fascinating to think about what kind of effect this might have. It sounds like it’s going to bring in a tremendous amount of revenue for the state, which is going to be big motivation for other states to follow suit. We’re going to be a testing ground for legalization and the whole world is going to see that marijuana does not make you go crazy. Perhaps our crime rates will lower by a measurable degree and that will be even another selling point. This could be the beginning of the end of marijuana prohibition… I hope.
Most people think of the drug war as just being kind of lame, like who cares if these guys smoke weed? But I really feel as though the drug war causes a tremendous amount of problems throughout the world that too many people in America are not aware of. Many nations have been devastated by conflicts driven by the drug trade, and the industry is frequently used to mask the weapons trade, and the whole system creates massive confusion and an air of distrust and hostility throughout the globe on both state levels and personal levels. I’m proud that my state could possibly, if all goes well, be the beginning of the end to all that.