About My New Story, I Kill For Money Preview

I posted a new story today called I Kill for Money… well, it’s not actually a story as much as it is a few sample chapters from another EVE Online novel that I came up with. Unfortunately I have no immediate plans to write this story, but I still love these scenes so I decided I had better just go ahead and post it.

The story follows Vena and Deihlmin who are cybernetically enhanced assassins for the Gurista pirate faction as they pursue a Concord chief, unravel a tale of war and deceit and find themselves falling in love. I wrote these a couple years ago when I was still actively playing EVE Online. I had just written a story called The Atrocity Planners, which a while later was published in issue #22 of EON Magazine (originally this was titled My Gurista Mom and Dad, but I took it to a writer’s group meeting at the local sex club and they gave me some wonderful suggestions including the new title). Anyway, the Vena character from The Atrocity Planners is the same Vena, all grown up of course, in this new novel idea. It’s not mentioned in the sample chapters but the idea of course, is that there’s a lot of back story about how she dealt with the tragedy that occurred in The Atrocity Planners.

A lot of the action-adventure details for this novel aren’t worked out yet, but I have a pretty clear idea of the characters, which is usually more important. Vena is a professional, trained from childhood for many facets of war. She has a shady history having been raised by pirates with frequent hardships, rolled with drug smugglers in late childhood and became a prostitute as a teenager. This allowed her to begin purchasing her cybernetic enhancements, which rapidly became an addiction. Through her late teens she spent the majority of her income on stolen military-grade implants and mental interface software. These implants led her back to the Gurista faction where she was hired and gave up prostitution and drug smuggling in favor of professional killing and espionage.

Vena was escaping from her childhood trauma and the difficulties she endured as a teenager. She escaped into her cybernetic implants, which finally gave her the sense of control over her own emotions and the power to manipulate the situations around her. The computers allowed her to escape her own life and as time went on she started to forget which parts of her were human and which were machine. She began playing characters for the Guristas, adjusting her personality to fit whatever mission. As she says in the second chapter, ” The best actors don’t act, they become.” But now she’s been infiltrating and playing parts for nearly a decade and she can no longer tell which character is actually Vena and can’t tell the difference between real love or passion and technological manipulations designed to accomplish a mission.

Deihlmin, on the other hand, grew up straight, in a wealthy family. He got bored with life and started buying implants in his early teens, but soon learned that the implants couldn’t help him do anything satisfying other than getting away with crimes. He started with petty crimes, simply for the fun of getting away with something and in a few years had moved up to drug smuggling. He too became a little addicted to artificial enhancements, though was careful not to lose his personality within the machine. Then, a group of smugglers he was working with on a particularly large score, were busted by Concord and he watched his friend get beaten to death. Deihlmin  was able to escape, but the police already had all his information, so he realized he could never return to the straight world. He was taken in by the Guristas who sympathized with his experience and he fell in love with the pirate lifestyle. Now that he had a score to settle with Concord within a few years he worked himself up to one of the Guristas elite infiltration soldiers.

So we’ve got two killers. Deihlmin truly believes the Guristas are the good guys, sees Concord as evil and wishes to fight them any way that he can. Vena simply kills for money. She tells herself the Guristas are the good guys, but deep down inside, doesn’t know if she’s sure.

Ultimately they unravel a conspiracy that goes through some top level officials in Concord and discover that many of them have been directly working with Gurista leadership in an attempt to keep a balance to the war, so that neither faction gains ground, but the local military industry, which of course has deep ties to both sides of the conflict, profits dramatically.

The story would explore the nature of criminal justice and the drive for violence through seemingly moral purposes. Like my first EVE Online novel, Against a Rock, there would be a lot of action, violence and suspenseful surprises, and the characters, of course, are not the most morally upstanding individuals. But unlike Against a Rock, this book would have a love element with just a hint of sexy stuff… but alas, I probably won’t write it any time soon unless by some miracle I get a real book deal 🙂

Injustice Everywhere

Injustice Everywhere.

This is a site providing a daily news feed of police brutality and misconduct. You can see that every single day in the US there are twenty or thirty different stories of police officers doing awful things. Everything from beating up their wives to falsifying evidence, tazering children or having sex with kids. Here’s some examples just from yesterday (March 18 2012).

  • Edinburg TX cop gets probation in official oppression plea for shaking down a motorist in order to get his customized cooler full of beer.
  • Collinsville IL cop shown manufacturing cause to search motorist’s vehicle in home video made by that motorist.
  • Yakima WA police are accused of intentionally misinterpreting state law as an excuse for keeping a police sergeant’s misconduct and the investigation into it a secret, and it isn’t the first time they did so.
  • Youngstown OH cops are accused of cuffing & arresting a grandmother in front of her grandchildren without charges.
  • NYPD officers shown on video slamming an Occupy medic head-first into a door window, breaking the window while arresting him for unknown reasons.
  • Orlando FL cop suspended w/o pay for unspecified period of time for throwing a woman to the ground on video, breaking her teeth in the process.
  • Newark NJ cop accused of hitting mentally ill man in the chest with a running leap punch before he died.
  • Del City OK police are being accused of a coverup after witnesses claim they fatally shot an unarmed teen in back while his hands were raised.

So my question is, where do these stories come from? Are they just crowd-sourced? I have a feeling this is not an exhaustive list and there are even more stories that never make it to this site because they just can’t keep track of every paper and community in the country.

Then take into account the basic idea that only a tiny percentage of criminals are ever caught for their crimes. I’ve read that statistically the average child molester assaults dozens of children before ever getting caught. Some research indicates similar numbers for rapists. I know from personal experience that the average drug dealer can make hundreds if not thousands of deals without ever getting busted and without even taking basic precautions. I’ve read interviews with police who claim the numbers are similar for murders. There is no reason to think police brutality and misconduct is any different than any of these other crimes, except for the fact that police are in a much better position to hide their crimes and understand how to get around the laws far better than the average criminal, and because the majority of victims and witnesses are too terrified to come forward.

For every article of police abuse and misconduct posted here, I think it’s reasonable to assume there are a hundred more that go completely unnoticed. As I’ve said before, this is not an issue of a few bad apples and being more vigilant about reporting misconduct. This issue runs far, far, deeper. If we ever want a peaceful society we must make a fundamental shift in the way we think about and deal with criminal behavior.

Ron Paul’s Attitude on Equality Laws

I’ve seen Ron Paul getting attacked for his view that businesses should be allowed to discriminate and the government shouldn’t intervene and enforce anti-discrimination laws. When you first read this, it sounds awful. Your gut reaction is to think he doesn’t support equality, and that he won’t stand up for minorities, and I totally understand why it would seem this way. However, I’ve been opposed to these kind of laws for a good decade now, though I have not been vocal about it because I think there are far more harmful laws that need to end first and because it’s a little harder to point out the counter-productive nature of anti-discrimination laws. Perhaps they are helpful in the short term, but legislating social interactions in the long-run is never going to turn out well. It’s totally fair if you disagree with that but what’s unfair is for people to paint Ron Paul and others with this viewpoint as though we’re monsters who want to go back to segregation and white’s-only bathrooms. When you’re voting you have an obligation to dig a little deeper, do your due diligence and do your best to understand what the so-called “crazy person” is really trying to say.

So there’s a number of reasons why I think anti-discrimination laws do slightly more harm than good.

First, I don’t think it’s a good idea to entrust our equality to a massive bureaucracy which has been responsible for things like banning gay men from donating blood and starting racist wars (would anyone consider going to war with Iran if they were doing all the exact same things but happened to be Christian?). Our government wiretapped, and according to some, assasinated Martin Luther King. They drive the war on drugs, disproportionately incarcerating minorities, which has contributed significantly to Mexico’s rates of violence. Why would we want to trust a system with this kind of track record on equality?

These type of laws also don’t address the real problem. If there are bigoted attitudes in our society, we need to address them directly, by changing attitudes. Many of us do not want to simply place a band-aid over our social problems and prefer policies that help us address real change. Doing things by force is not going to change any minds.

Another issue is that these kinds of laws only protect certain segments of the population, and indirectly cause the public to not be concerned about other groups who might not have official protection. People with piercings or tattoos are not protected, even if they are for religious purposes. Marijuana smokers and other drug users most certainly are not protected (a few months back I had a very liberal, pro-equality “friend” tell me I was not actually a person because I smoke pot and I’ll admit its still bothering me). People who don’t have automobiles aren’t particularly protected. Young people get little to no protection, and in fact, are explicitly discriminated against in a multitude of ways by the very government we are expecting to protect us from discrimination. (I can’t possibly be the only one who thinks it’s wrong to practically ban young people from live music simply because they might be around some alcohol.)

These laws also only apply in certain situations, specifically where jobs or money is concerned. What about relationships? People discriminate in their friendships and dating lives. Why is that not just as wrong? I can’t count the number of times I’ve talked to a so-called liberal who claims to be devoted to equality, talks frequently about feminism, gay rights and the way we treat immigrants, but then when I ask them what they’re looking for in a date, they have this whole list of types of people they automatically dislike. They will openly discriminate on all sorts of things like clothing, hair style, religion, and it seems that even with race it’s open season for discrimination when it comes to dating. I’ve seen extreme anti-discrimination liberals state flat-out that they will not go out with a member of a particular race or religion. I try to call them on the hypocrisy, and they seem baffled, like I have no right to judge, because the dating world is all fair game. I think this is indicative of the fact that bigotry runs deep, and in countless flavors that may have nothing to do with our standardized protected sets, particularly in many of the individuals most staunchly opposed to it. Just as homosexuality tends to flourish among those who wish to write laws opposing it, I feel those who hate bigotry the most passionately are often the ones who have the most deep-seated bigoted attitudes. However, bigotry is not such a horrifying thing if we are allowed to be open about it and allow our attitudes to be examined and addressed in an open and free manner.

Another issue is that these laws discriminate against people who don’t believe in vengeance and force. In our current society, when someone suffers discrimination, we expect the law to take care of it, essentially by punishing the offender. But what if the victim doesn’t believe in getting back at the person or company? What if they would prefer government spend that money trying to change the attitudes of the offenders instead of punishing them? What avenues do non-vengeful people have under our current system?

These laws also have the affect of stealing the credit for the progress we’ve made as a society. To claim that it was the federal government who granted the African-American community equal rights is an insult to Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, and the countless demonstrators who fought for those rights. They did the work. They deserve the credit. It’s not the government that makes these things. It’s the power of the human spirit that does it.

The final issue is simply that the laws aren’t particularly effective. Employers can still discriminate based on sex or race, or whatever they want. The only major difference is they aren’t as honest about it now… but sometimes they actually are honest. Twice in my life I have been denied a job, specifically because I was male. Once for a cashier position and once for a bartender position. Both times the manager specifically told me they had a policy of not hiring males for customer-facing positions. I saw the same kind of hiring policies in most of the restaurants where I’ve worked. Men were kept in the kitchen and women were given the higher-paid (because of the tips) waitress or bartending positions. If you look at any customer-service based industry, you’ll see this pattern, though in other industries it may be the customer-facing positions which are lower paid. The government has no power to stop this.

There needs to be solutions other than writing laws and using force. There should be a long-term, peaceful, communication-based approach to these problems that involves individuals standing up for their rights rather than expecting the government to come solve everything for them.

This is not an evil perspective that Ron Paul and myself hold. You can argue that it’s naive. You can argue that it’s not practical; but please don’t try to argue that it’s motivated by blind bigotry without first reading about the ideas and really thinking about them. Remember how much the protected groups and minorities deserve an equal playing field? Well so do political ideas and philosophies. Our beliefs deserve to be judged by what they actually are and they deserve the right to be taken within context.

Talk – Cindy Milstein – Anarchism and the Occupy Movement – YouTube

This was right across town from me and I can’t believe I missed it. This is a great speech about many issues in the anarchist movement, such as her point about how we need to start depicting a vision of how society might function without laws and government and what it would look like instead of merely attacking the problems of our current society. (This is something I wish to correct in my own works.)

anarchiststudies.org is the site she speaks about near the beginning.

Republican Dominated Florida Legislature Passes Bill Allowing Prayer In School | Addicting Info

I read this article earlier tonight…

Republican Dominated Florida Legislature Passes Bill Allowing Prayer In School | Addicting Info.

Despite the fact that they’re sticking up for the anti-religious perspective, this article frustrates me more than most on this website. I am definitely an atheist. If you look to the atheist section in the menu to the left, my Atheism category, or my article, 22 Ways Religion Promotes Crime, you’ll see that I don’t hold back nor apologize when attacking religion. However, I feel like this article and many of the comments below it are being unfair toward Christianity and even more unfair to the students. Granted, I don’t know the whole story of how the bill would work and I’m suspicious of anything that has lots of conservative religious support, but this article feels overly paranoid and fearful, claiming this bill will open up avenues of hate speech and religious indoctrination, and cause student conflicts. I don’t know. I say we should calm down about it. They claim this is religion pushing their views on us, but that almost sounds like the same argument the conservatives make about homosexuality… that simply allowing people to be who they are openly in public is synonymous with them forcing their lifestyles upon us.

From this article, the bill almost seems like a good thing, and seems like it has as much chance of bringing positive change as it does negative, while giving the students a little more power over their school assemblies. I’m not totally sure, of course, that I would support this bill if I was a Floridian. I would have to read more about it, and learn more about school policies, but as an Atheist, I think it’s important to say something when I think that the “war on religion” might not be playing fair, and make it clear that no matter how strong my atheist values are, and how much I believe religion is a virus, I do not support the censorship of anyone’s spirituality and don’t necessarily support the hard-line approach our public schools take toward religion.

From what the article says, the bill basically allows students to put together “inspirational speeches” that are allowed to include religious references and statements. The teachers and administrators aren’t allowed to edit or censor the student-controlled speeches, though administrators will be able to place wider guidelines, and like anything related to kids and schools, the parents and teachers have the potential of manipulating the kids, as though religious individuals are really good at controlling their kids. The bill supposedly has some hypocritical wording, but that’s kind of par for the course with government bills in my opinion.

One argument is that “The board could simply only allow Christian themed messages, which would alienate religions such as Islam and Judaism”. I think that while technically this is possible, we need to calm down and not jump to the conclusion that this is a Christian conspiracy to force themselves upon us. I think our society has gotten to the point where if administrators blatantly allowed only Christian speeches, enough people would protest to make it not worth their while in the long run, but if I’m wrong, simply banning all religious-related speech in schools doesn’t solve the underlying problems. It merely hides the issue. If this did happen and administrators refused to back down from these Christian-only policies, at least it would bring the issue out in the open and people would be forced to look into permanent solutions instead of just banning everything without thinking about whether or not that serves the greater, long-term good.

I’ve had lots of religious friends over the years and overwhelmingly it was my religious friends and the time I spent as a Christian that inspired me to be an Atheist. I have many, many gripes about religion, which you’ll see if you explore this website, but surprisingly them forcing their religion upon me on an individual level isn’t really one of them… sure, I don’t like most public policies put forth by religious organizations. (“In God We Trust” has no business on our money). But on an individual level, most religious people I’ve met have been very reasonable and respectful of everyone’s freedom of speech and from what it sounds like, there isn’t anything in the bill that specifically gives Christianity any more power than any other religion or non-religion.

I feel like censoring religion kind of gives it more power. We’ve pretty much banned religion outright from public schools, but somehow we have one of the most religious countries in the world. Censoring Atheism on the other hand, gives us less power, because Atheism makes sense while religion does not. If we allow everyone to speak freely and equally, without censoring the discussion afterward, I don’t see how opening up the lines of communication could be anything but good for the Atheist perspective, and would be good for everyone in the long run. Granted, the locals need to be vigilant that Christian administrators don’t enforce Christian-only messages, but I think the benefits would outweigh the risk of this happening, and people need to be vigilant with school administrators anyway, considering some of the policies they’re placing on our kids.

In High-School I was frequently forced to watch football propaganda, filled with lame pop music piped over crackly speakers with football players jumping through big sheets of paper and cheerleaders screaming about how our school was better than all the other schools. I was an Atheist in High-School, but I still would have preferred to see another student giving a religious speech he had written himself, over what we had in our spirit assemblies.

My junior year one teacher decided that everyone in the school had to say the flag salute so he enforced this every morning by getting over the speakers and forcing us to be a part of this. I always felt this was a form of worship that is every bit as dangerous as religion. They are blindly worshiping a piece of fabric that represents a nation that has a very morally questionable history and they’re doing it on a daily basis. Why are liberals not upset about this? To me this is a far more egregious affront to the personal liberties and viewpoints of students than is allowing a few of them to say some God-related words at an assembly.

When we first started I would stand for the flag salute. I was bitter about it, but I didn’t want to get in trouble. Then another student told me that he never stood for the flag salute, as a protest of the policies of the US government, particularly the drug war and foreign policy (Bill Clinton was bombing people). I started staying seated for the flag salute and what I found was that only a few people were put off by it. Some found it funny, and a couple found it offensive, but the overwhelming majority didn’t care one way or the other. The ones who found it offensive, however, for the most part confronted me about it in a reasonable and polite manner and I explained that I was opposed to military occupation and bombing of other countries and felt it was my moral obligation to avoid supporting that. For the most part this put their concerns at ease, and I don’t remember ever once getting hassled about it…

…with one possible exception. I had a class, coincidentally with this same buddy who also refused to stand, and the teacher would snap his fingers at us and give us rude looks. This lasted for maybe a week and finally we talked to him after class and basically told him he was fighting a losing battle and that if he pushed us on this we’d be filing a complaint. He backed down pretty much instantly and it ceased to be an issue.

My point is that rebellious individuals have options even if it does become overly Christian-dominated, as long as they are aware they have options. I think liberals would have their agenda better served in the long run by trying to teach students about the powers they really hold and teaching them to stand up for their beliefs and their rights instead of simply banning anything that has a possibility of indirectly infringing on their rights, while ignoring other policies that clearly and directly infringe.

For example, attendance policies. To make this issue a whole lot easier, simply lighten attendance policies, particularly when it comes to assemblies, and allow students the basic human right of getting up and walking out on a speech they find offensive. This, to me, is the root of the problem, and banning religion is merely a temporary solution to the underlying problems.

I agree that religion has no place in science class any more than it has in math (ever heard a teacher say “sometimes two plus two equals five if you pray really hard”), but trying to prevent any mention of it at all, I think, is counter-productive.

As one commenter pointed out, this could backfire on the Republicans… assuming this is motivated by a purely Christian agenda, which at first glance, I don’t believe it is. Students may, for example, vote for Pagan inspirational speeches… or for that matter, Atheist inspirational speeches. Why wouldn’t they? When I was in high-school I would have voted for anything that broke the monotony. Atheists are being censored in public schools too. They’re not allowed to get up and talk about the positives of not having a God any more than a Christian can talk about how much they love Jesus, so how can we be sure that some dedicated Atheist or Muslim kid, or for that matter, some kid who invented his own belief-system, isn’t going to be able to write a speech that can get voted in by the student body? Despite having a few students get offended in school, which already happens for a wide variety of reasons, I think it could actually be a good thing to open up these kind of conversations.

FFV Docs: Torture: America’s Brutal Prisons – YouTube

People try to tell me that police brutality and torture in prison is just a matter of weeding a few bad apples out of our criminal justice system. I’m glad to see that I’m not the only one who recognizes the fallacy of this perspective and the fact that torture and brutality are standard procedure among police and prison systems. These scenes come from prisons that have given up their security videos. Just imagine what happens when they turn the cameras off.