EVOLVED

There’s an age old seafarers warning: if you look into the eyes of the sea fire you go crazy.

As she was drowning, at least two miles from the beach, fourteen year old Aubrey looked into those eyes. Now, days later, she thinks she’s losing her mind. Aubrey knows she must learn the truth behind the fiery undersea light. The teen’s quest will lead her to a discovery that mankind mind not be ready for in this YA contemporary sci-fi/ fantasy novel that takes the reader to an entirely new world, closer than you might think.  

When their single parent mother dies, Aubrey and her younger sister are sent to live with their overbearing grandmother on the Oregon coast. By all sensibilities and logic the sisters should be have died shortly after their arrival, Aubrey knows this to be true. Death by drowning inside an ocean eddy; death by being gashed to shreds on the jagged reef; death after their tiny rowboat flounders and flies like an arrow into the face of the bluff. All true. Yet they’re alive.

Days after their near death in the ocean, Aubrey finds herself lost and confused. Pangs of loneliness and grief cloak down on her shoulders. While Grandma believes latent grief is hitting her hard, Aubrey confronts a new nonsensical reality that might not be connected to her mother’s passing. Aubrey is certain that she’s hearing hissy whispers, coming up behind her, coming from inside of her, surrounding her even while she hides under her bed.  At first terrified, then intrigued, Aubrey comes to believe that the whisperer is the voice of the ocean light, that it’s telepathically communicating with her, and that whatever it is it now wants to meet her face-to-face.

 I***

Capitalism – I’m not an expert

Capitalism. Socialism. Mixed Economy.  Three different economic/political systems. For the masses only one of these is practiced by their government and it conjures epochal realities of both economic and social strife as well as prosperity. Capitalism for most means free enterprise. How often have I heard: “There isn’t a better system than Capitalism.” Perhaps, it could even be you saying it. I’ve even heard folks living paycheck to paycheck saying, “I’m proud to be a Capitalist.” In fact, when most Americans think of other systems, they shudder.  Socialism to them means government decides who gets and who doesn’t.

Let me clarify a few things before I go on.   I don’t believe governments should have the power to dictate how much a person or corporation makes. I’m also not a fan of Capitalism. I think it’s a crappy system.

Here’s some characteristics of a system that I would like to see—I agree, I’m being naive. A system that rewards for innovation, hard work, creativity, and provides for realistic ceilings on interest rates, stock investments, and property value escalations. I’m going to give it a name. Modern Capitalism. 

Here’s a microcosm of Capitalism today that makes me believe it’s a crappy system. A nice guy who’s not the smartest on the block falls into debt because his ex was an indulgent spender. He works two jobs, sixty hours a week, and needs to buy a car because his old beater has died.  At the dealership, because his credit is lousy, he’s sold a 3-year old car with an interest rate of 22.9%. He knows he’s getting screwed—he’s not that stupid. But he doesn’t have an option for something better. It’s the lousy deal or the bus to work.  When he goes home he opens his bills: credit cards at 29% interest. If this guy’s luck hadn’t been so rotten, if he’d been smart enough to know his woman had been milking him into debt, his credit might have been decent, even good, and he wouldn’t be on a steep decline into debt.   There are gazillions of stories like his in America.

Millions of Americans use credit cards for food, gas, emergencies, and yet some Americans reap hordes of cash without working for it, making money on the stock market, on their rapidly appreciating home, the second home that they rent Airbnb to vacationers. Percentage wise, who pays more tax, the millionaire who owns a corporation and gets paid through it and deducts almost everything he/she buys or the average factory worker?

Capitalism favors the wealthy. What’s wrong with that? If you’re not wealthy, play by the rules, get into the system, and profit by it. Really?

What about the hand you are dealt? Child of a middle-class family / child of a felon living in squalor. Rich kid who goes to a good school, poor kid who barely gets an education?  I’m not suggesting that poor kids cannot receive a good education anymore than I’m suggesting that rich kids get the best education anymore than I’m suggesting that  a good education means one will attain success and wealth.

For six decades the gulf between the haves and have nots has grow exponentially.  The inequitable taxation system is a part of the problem.  A fair taxation system would be the abolishment of income tax, replaced by usage tax without deduction mechanisms. The public and corporations would pay alike for all purchases be it manufacturing/business equipment, buildings, stock investments.

 “I started the business! It was my brainwave! My sacrifice!” The business owner who says this is correct.  But could the business have grown without employees? Are those employees earning a livable wage, where the employee does not need to work a second job or sacrifice on food, clothes, normal gifts for the family, a vacation once a year?

Imagine a society that looked poverty in the eye and said “I cannot allow this.” Imagine a society where you couldn’t find a business with 50 or more employees that didn’t have a profit sharing plan.  Imagine: a livable wage as an anachronism, welfare an instrument for the needy rather than a strain on the economy.  Is this a Utopian pipe dream?   

Factually, profit sharing already works well in many companies. I keep hearing the argument against livable wages, that it would cause businesses to fail, but in the fifties one working person in the family earned enough for a mortgage, food, clothes, car, and for the family to live well.

Back to my opening statement: Capitalism. Socialism. Mixed Economy!  Adam Smith who invented Capitalism believed in a free trading market that would benefit all; I don’t believe he ever imagined his idea would become the benchmark of greed. Karl Marx believed that Capitalism would eventually destruct. But his vision of equality termed Socialism was tunneled; he couldn’t see the coming doldrum that would spread across his nation like an inky cloud suffocating the people’s innovation and drive. Socialism has never worked in any nation.  Those that think of Sweden and Norway as examples are misguided—these are not Socialist nations. Social democratic theorist Eduard Bernstein who termed the phrase Mixed Economy, believed that a system of public and private enterprise working cooperatively was the way to go, fearing that ultimately Capitalism would reshape itself into Socialism. Is he right?

 Maybe there really isn’t a better system than Capitalism.

But what do I know?  I’m not an expert on these things. 

 

 

The Genesis Engine

The Genesis Engine is the 2nd volume of a YA trilogy that unfolds on two worlds, present day Earth and a planet known as M, as seventeen-year-old Jack Paige from Los Angeles California learns that he’s really Samdan, born on M, and destined to save both worlds from the grips of a sinister corporation.

While the first and third volume take place almost entirely on Earth present day,  “The Genesis Engine” is set on the planet M.

 

 

Movie review – “Room”

What do they say, better late than never? In the following case, maybe. I just watched the movie “Room” -2015 – starring Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay, a film that has won numerous awards including an Oscar for Brie Larson. I now see why there are so many average and even negative reviews. But first,  “Room” is an extremely well crafted movie. The subject matter is disturbing and unfolds deliberately, even slowly, as the two lead actors pull you into their bleak world. Larson plays Joy, an abducted woman—taken seven years prior, at seventeen. Now with a five-year old son named Jack, fathered by her abductor who still repeatedly rapes her, Joy and her son are imprisoned in one room, that houses a tub, toilet, stove, an old TV, and rodents on the floor. I’m not going into  elaborate story details here, as there are so many existing reviews that have covered this ad infinitum.  “Room” is structured as most feature films are, in three parts, however they are strangely time-alloted. The first parts deals with Joy and Jack living in squalor, and it’s very detailed. The second part deals with escape; and it provides the only nail-biting tense moments of the entire film.  But the movie then morphs into a drama of trashed lives, focusing heavily on guilt and shame. And oh boy, some of this stuff is really top-heavy. It’s one thing when your father can’t even glance at his grandson because he’s what, un-kosher, fathered by a rapist, a symbol of pain, or whatever, but when the mother/grandmother can’t hold her lip and engages in a vituperative row with her daughter —for God’s sake the poor girl’s only just got home— and then moments later a TV show host (think Diane Sawyer) interviews Joy and asks the most insensitive series of questions: “didn’t you think of giving up Jack when he was born?” the question’s purpose designed to promote Joy’s feelings of guilt, I just about couldn’t take any more. Come on, film makers, get real. The monster rapist would have just flushed the newborn down the lavatory.  These in-your- face contrivances consume the latter part of “Room.”  So on the whole, while there are excellent performances, phenomenal confinement scenes, and the last scene is poignant, what I just watched is a flawed film that was almost a masterpiece.

Global Warming hardly ever mentioned anymore

Front page news of the world’s troubled economy, gas and oil wars, middle east tensions, have all usurped our planet’s condition in terms of global importance. Some will argue that the global warming press coverage commonplace just five years ago wasn’t justified, that it was media hoopla. To believe that is akin to burying your head in the sand.  Global warming isn’t better than it was in 2007. It’s worse!  According to the Global Carbon Project, an international collaboration of scientists, in 2010 global emissions of carbon dioxide jumped by the largest amount on record. Yet for the most part, in 2012, global warming warnings continue to be tempered, distorted, and ignored. While the preponderance of the world’s scientific leaders believe that global warming threatens the existence of all life forms on this planet, skeptics continue to voice loud contrary opinions. Disproportionately, a large number of these skeptics are from the governing institutions of of the United States who continually ridicule international efforts to curb global warming.

Five years ago I posted an article relating to the contentions of global warming. I wrote the article after I had eavesdropped on a conversation at a coffee shop between two 20-somethings. The peak line for me went something like this.  “Global warming, yeah, yeah, global warming, keep it coming, it keeps me warm in Boston. I need it.”  For most of America, global warming is esoteric, overblown, false, no big deal, or catastrophic. If the conversation is serious, two core questions arise: Is it man made? Does it threaten our existence? The problem for the green movement is that science cannot completely agree, and thus the mission for a cleaner planet gets murky. The mission itself gets polluted.  If you’d like to read the article, it’s right here:

 God-given Commonsense view on Global Warming

David Marsh, April 6, 2007

LOS ANGELES, California – The deadly cyclone that tore through the island of Madagascar last month affecting more than 130,000 people was caused by global warming, claims a local scientist —

The BBC’s green bashing documentary “The Great Global Warming Swindle,” which aired last month in Great Britain is now causing a flash storm in the United States —

The divisive debate on global warming is one of the most puzzling and mind boggling I’ve experienced. Temperature anomalies aside, from my eyes, our world does not look even remotely as clean and lovely as it did 30 years ago. I remember swimming in the glorious French Mediterranean when I was a kid, and the sea looked and felt nothing like it does today, oily and green. As a kid, the night skies were alive with millions of bright twinkling stars, the air in the city still smelled of trees and flowers, not nausea inducing gas fumes, and the Antarctic was a continent of ice. So I know first hand that the planet has changed significantly over these years. It’s been polluted, and the polluting continues. You don’t need to be a scientist to figure out that our planet is reacting to pollution, you just need to use your God-given commonsense.

Most of us pick up our news intake in mini bytes, a few minutes at the computer, another few flipping TV channels, a conversation at the water cooler. Not surprisingly, when we hear a seemingly sensible argument debunking the entire global warming theory, it tends to muddle our thinking. Point in case: myself. After watching Al Gore’s “Inconvenient Truth” I pretty much thought to myself, well, that’s it, game over. Then I started hearing the other side, scathing counters by the likes of CNN’s Glenn Beck and journalist Robert Tracinski who wrote a post “Guilty Until Proven Innocent” in which he slams certain media outlets for calling carbon dioxide a pollutant, and my thinking of doom and gloom began to soften, which arguably might be a good thing.

The problem is the debunkers tend to do more harm than the alarmists. The debunkers tend to make people forget commonsense, so much so that when the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released their latest findings on Global warming, almost every person I spoke to about the report, and it wasn’t a few, laughed it off. These people, it seems, would rather drown in their polluted cities or maybe die of thirst in the same places rather than entertain the notion that our planet is conveying some sort of message.

Let’s play the devil’s advocate for a moment. Let’s say the IPCC has it all wrong, and that the changes in our climate are temporary and very normal, a view akin to the stance of the recent BBC documentary. Governments will spend fortunes needlessly implementing environmental changes, many industries will be forced to conform to the new paradigm or fold, people will have to curb their environmental onslaught, new clean power inventions will overtake the old systems, the skies and oceans will take on a cleaner look and feel, and smog and fuel stinking streets will become memories of the past. What a terrible thought, huh?

Though technically correct with his commentary on what carbon dioxide is, right wing journalist Robert Tracinski and others of like mind who decry global warming activism, are guilty of making millions of Americans lethargically indifferent to environmental pollution, which, rightly or wrongly, is locked hand in hand with global warming. Keeping the status quo is not a good thing. Debunking the hundreds of climatology scientists who are 90% certain that human produced carbon gases are contributing to global climatic changes is not a good thing. Even if the less than 100% degree of certainty in a court of law would result in a verdict of reasonable doubt, does the world really want to let global warming go free, which means letting polluters go free? Can humanity afford to guess with our future? Surely it makes more sense to err on the side of caution, even if the climate concerns are overstated.

What really amazes me is why there are so many outspoken voices against global warming awareness from individuals without any vested interest in the automotive industry or the oil industry, in fact from any major pollution causing industry. To the millions of plain, hardworking people in America who believe wholeheartedly that global warming is hyped, not so bad, a hoax, a liberal minded ploy, all I can say is this: Are you ready to bet your life on it, and the lives of your children and grandchildren? How sure are you that we are not on the verge of massive species extinction and what makes you think man is exempt?

While some scientific/media reports paint an alarming picture of our future on this planet, and others make light of the subject, and while the political posts use each viewpoint at whim, bending and distorting the facts, you would be hard pressed to find a practicing, employed scientist who rejects the notion of man’s involvement in global warming. Even Dr. John Christy, one of the leading climatologists in America, most notably recognized for his outspoken contrary opinions on some global warming issues, has publicly stated that “It is scientifically inconceivable that after changing forests into cities, turning millions of acres into farmland, putting massive quantities of soot and dust into the atmosphere and sending quantities of greenhouse gases into the air, that the natural course of climate change hasn’t been increased in the past century.”

As the climate debate rages on, as fierce as the weather in the southern hemisphere this year, we seem to lose perspective of one of the core values of the green movement: loving the earth. Even if carbon dioxide is not the cause of global warming, the pollution from industry, from cars and boats and planes definitely affects all living things on our planet, and not in a positive way. So the bottom line is this: If commonsense tells you global warming awareness will lead to planetary respect, then maybe you’d like to pass on this message of hope and change. If on the other you don’t feel we should err on the side of caution, feel free to e-mail me why we should carry on as normal, and by all means pick up my novel “Into the Abyss” not so much about global warming as global respect.

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