Saturday, June 17, 2017

Two cars, two deaths...

Two stories hit the news simultaneously today.  One, a 20-year-old woman was convicted of involuntary manslaughter for successfully encouraging her teenaged boyfriend to commit suicide by asphyxiating himself in his car.  Two, a policeman was acquitted of murder after fatally shooting a motorist five times in the head, his wife and daughter in the car with him.  The first victim was white, the second black.

That's almost required information today, it seems.  No one says the two cases are directly comparable.  In one case, a girl (then herself a teenager) miles away as she tells her boyfriend over the phone to get back into this car and die as planned after he lost his resolve and tried to get out of the death car, the latest of a long series of aborted suicide attempts on his part.  In the other case, a policeman in the course of a traffic stop apparently believing the motorist is reaching for a weapon and arguably fearing a possibility of imminent danger, shoots.  (Albeit five head shots with a woman and a child in the car.)

In the girl's case, the usual arguments of mental derangement vs. narcissism were argued in court.  The judge found her guilty on the grounds that she acted "recklessly" in advocating suicide and did nothing to save the boy's life from self-inflicted destruction.  Everyone spoke of a young life (however troubled) cut short, his dreams and future gone, because of the words...only words, mind you...of a selfish girl who thought apparently only of the attention and sympathy she hoped to win in the aftermath of her boyfriend's death.  Or, maybe she wanted to end his suffering.  We'll never know.  Only that he set up the means for his own death, and that he'd done it many times before.

In the case of the police shooting...the usual.  The teary-eyed, emotional officer acquitted.  Justified shooting, though as always the policeman shot first, supposedly in fear of his own safety.  The angry rhetoric flashes across the news, and everyone asks the question that will never be answered:  Would he have fired if the motorist had been white?  The surviving relatives of the shooting victim shout with anger and pain, of course.  But, little is heard from the mainstream public about the life of a husband and father cut tragically short, about his orphaned kid, about his lost dreams.

There's no comparison between the circumstances of the two deaths.  What's significant is how courts and society react to each.  When a teenager commits suicide, everyone wants to blame someone.  The parents don't want to take the blame, of course.  It's so much easier to blame another teenager.  They are our dependents, after all.  So much easier to blame them.  If one of them simply insulted the suicidal teen online, that's cyber-bullying.  Encourage them to commit suicide, and that's involuntary manslaughter if they choose to go through with it.  Punish the other teen.  It makes us feel better.  But, don't mourn or yearn for justice when a black motorist has his brains blown out by a cop, his wife and kid in the seat beside him.  Always sympathize with the cop, and don't empathize with the survivors of the dead man.  We depend on the police.  We always find excuses for them, especially when the victim is black.  We want to feel safe.  We want to get our own way.

We claim to cherish life.  But, of course we're extremely selective about it.  A suicide is blamed on the words of another.  A shooting death is dismissed as a policeman doing his duty.  The deaths of thousands under the mother of all bombs?  That's just part of making America great again.

Is every suicide (every white suburban suicide, anyway) now to be followed by a background investigation of everyone who ever sent the decedent a nasty email?   Is every police shooting of a black man reaching for his driver's license to be dismissed as law and order in action?  Free speech is a crime, shooting a man is business as usual.

Is this the path to greatness?

Sunday, April 30, 2017

100 Days into darkness...

One small step for giant leap backward for mankind.

We have passed the 100 day mark of the Donald Trump presidency.  A presidency based on "alternative facts," racist paranoia and political elitism masquerading as anti-establishment populism.  Casualties?

Quite a few in the middle-east.  But, the real war is the one at home:  The war for America's heart and mind.  It's been said truth is the first casualty of war.  That's definitely the case here.  Case in point, scientific truth, the one truth that is supposed to be absolute.  The Trump regime has done its best, with Orwellian finesse, to systematically excise all data regarding the ever-present and ever-dangerous reality of pollution-induced climate change from the body of policy-making.

The Environmental Protection Agency -- now run by a self-declared climate change denier -- has removed all mention of global warming from its website.  Donald Trump has secured his political position with the workers who elected him by standing on the false promise that the coal industry -- an industry that is inherently finite, given the fact that coal is a finite resource -- can be revived.  No ecological regulations.  Just all ahead full with coal mining, oil drilling and oil pipelines to poison our air, land and water.  All based on the false and archaic belief in inexhaustible frontiers and the infallibility of American enterprise.

It's a backward-looking dream.  Back to an imagined idyllic past.  Make America great again.  Prosper again.  Strong again.  Always "again."  Always back to the past.  It smacks of a romanticized longing for the days of old.  Like those bright, wonderful 1950's, when a woman's place was in the kitchen, a black man's place was on the back of the bus, and a gay person's place was in prison or in the insane asylum.  Or, dead.  And, it was all ahead full then with production and capitalist expansion, future generations footing the bill for ecological degradation.

A hundred days and counting.  Progressive and ecologically conscious populations, apathetic and uncaring during a lack-luster presidential campaign now seem revitalized and marching through the streets with a gusto unseen since the 1960's.  Can a change be effected in current policy before irreparable damage is done to our planet's biosphere?  Only time will tell.

Sadly, the epitaph of humanity may be that its bane was its own mortality.  Our leaders, and those who elected them won't live long enough to see the final consequences of their actions.  Get a job today, destroy the world for your descendants.  Selfishness is the core of human motivation, after all.  That's why capitalism works and socialism doesn't.

Here's a science fiction idea:  Wouldn't it be nice if we had to check with our descendants a hundred years in the future before making a decision?  Wouldn't it be nice if we had to see the world through their eyes, breathe the air they'll have to breathe, drink the water they'll have to drink, before laying the foundations for the word they'll have to live in?  Time travel is theoretically possible, but, we haven't heard from our descendants on the issue.  Hmmmm....does that mean we've already passed the point of no return?

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Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The Future is Short; Grab it while you can...

The Future Is Short
Science Fiction in a Flash
Volume 3

New Anthology Release
January 30, 2017
Now available at major book sellers!
Please support Lillicat Publishers by buying this book for yourself and for gift giving. Independent publishers can only survive with the support of readers like you. Your positive reviews on Amazon, and other book seller sites, will help us stay alive. Tell your friends! Thank you.Amazon   Smashwords   Lillicat Publishers
Winners and other outstanding entries from 2015.
56 exciting flash fiction stories, with a beginning, a middle, and an end, providing mini escapes to extraordinary new worlds. Discover strange planets, unexplored places and times, and characters that demand you never forget them. 
Authors: Jot Russell, S. M. Kraftchak, Paula Friedman, J. J. Alleson, W. A. Fix, Andrew Gurcak, Jeremy Lichtman, Tom Olbert, Thaddeus Howze, Jon Ricson, Andy McKell, Kalifer Deil, Marianne G. Petrino, Gary Hanson, Dean Hardage, R. E. Jones, Ben Boyd, Jr., Elana Gomel, Heather MacGillivray, Jack McDaniel, Chris Nance, Carol Shetler, Helen Doran-Wu, Greg Krumrey.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Stranger than fiction...

It has been said that truth is stranger than fiction.  But, what happens when truth is completely replaced by fiction?

Such a question was once limited to science fiction, but no more.  In an age when cyber technology afflicts society with a barrage of  "fake news," when unsupported opinion and even outright fabrication are presented as fact in a cybernetically generated alternate reality -- in which so many immerse themselves -- what then is accepted as reality?  Reality, it seems, is whatever the majority chooses to embrace.  Truth or fiction.  Bright, idealized vision, or horrific nightmare.

Joseph Goebels, one of the great masters of untruth once said that the bigger the lie, the more people will believe it.  That seems even more true today in the age of cyber reality, or un-reality.

Our current president-elect seems to create his own reality quite handily, conjuring phantom enemies and allies at will.  And, concealing any reality he chooses not to see. 

His own intelligence officers insist the evidence is overwhelming that the current Russian dictatorship is attacking this country at will in cyber space, attempting to affect the course of our national destiny as far as current cyber technology will allow.  Yet, our chosen leader simply refuses to accept that reality.  Why he refuses to accept it, only he knows.  But, as George Orwell pointed out in his dystopian future novel "1984", truth becomes malleable in the hands of a dictatorial regime which controls the flow of information.  Nothing...not even the statement that 2 + 2 = 4 can be considered absolute.  The human mind is our only instrument for discerning truth, after all, and that faulty instrument can be twisted.

President-elect Trump refers to fellow Americans who oppose him as his enemies, and treats a foreign dictatorship like Russia as a friend, even as they demonstrably attack us.  All manner of horrific scenarios of back-room dealing and international intrigue spring readily to mind and haunt our nightmares as we speculate as to the true nature of our new leader's relationship with the great bear across the sea.  But, the true reality, like the Wizard of Oz behind his curtain, remains hidden.

Like the Russian doll, shells within shells of false realities may regress infinitely inward.  What we find at the center may be the most horrific reality of all.


Thursday, November 24, 2016

Visions of Tomorrow...

What is humanity's future beyond the safety of Earth?

Lillicat Publishers presents:

The Visions Series

Exciting science fiction which explores the possibilities of space travel, from near-earth space to the remotest galaxies, and beyond...

Wednesday, November 9, 2016


And, night has fallen.

The light of reason and hope ebbs and so begins a long, dark night of hatred, fear and hopelessness.  A night of walls, of bigotry and fear and "extreme vetting."  Of hating the outsider in trying to make ourselves feel greater.

A step has been taken backward.  Back toward reversing a woman's right to control her life.  Back toward reversing marriage equality and relegating an entire group of people to an assigned caste of perpetual inferiority and alienation.

Families may be torn asunder, chasms may widen between nations and religions.  But, will our nation endure?  Will we still recognize it...and, each other...when the long dark night is over?

And, when will it be over?  Can darkness endure forever?  Hatred does.  War does.  Bigotry does.  How much more easily those things come to the human heart than love.  How much more easily to the human mind than reason.

So easy to revel in our own hatred.  Love of war.  Love of torture.  Hatred of the outsider.  Are these our creeds now?  Will any of our soul or national character survive in the cold, deepening shadow of a wall that blocks out the sunlight of hope?

All talk now is of healing and reconciliation.  Is that even possible in a regime that has fed and grown on division, fear and hate?  That depends on these things to continue to grow and prosper?  That would fill its ranks with those that would widen the gulf between authority and community?  That would move the law backwards while half the country longs to move forward?  Can we even try or want to support our elected leader if his goals include only more division, more fear, more inequality and more hatred?  When the leader's goals conflict with those of half the governed, then where does healing begin?

The protest marches have already begun.  Will they dissipate, or spark violent counter-protests, a taste of which we've already seen throughout the exhausting election behind us? 

This election was spawned by a complete lack of hope.  By a blind desire for change at any cost.  Like the foolish frogs of Greek myth who demanded a king.  Zeus gave them a log for a king, because it did no harm, and they were outraged in their boredom.  "Give us a king who does something," they cried, and Zeus gave them a crane for a king.  As the crane devoured them, they begged to have the log back.  But, it was too late.


Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Can history happen without anyone noticing?

If a tree falls and no one is there to hear, does it make a noise?  And, if historic events fall on deaf ears and uncaring history made at all?

We stand now at a crossroads of history.  In a tiny march of days, either we'll have the first female president in U.S. history, or...we go backwards, perhaps.  We succumb to cynicism, hatred and complete and utter loss of faith in our system and our way of life.  "Make America Great Again," is the rallying cry of the madman leading the opposition to reality.  No specific date is offered as to when exactly America stopped being great. Though, one suspects that crowd sees it as the day we elected a black president.  That was the day they started dressing up in colonial Halloween costumes and screaming about the Constitution.  Something they never seem to give a damn about when phones are being tapped or people are being tortured in secret prisons.  Only when a black man sits in the White House.  They compared Obama with Hitler, supposedly because they didn't like his healthcare plan.  A convenient way to vent their racist fury without admitting (even to themselves perhaps) the true source of their anger.  Obama's election was a moment in history they desperately tried to drown out with background static and period costumes.  They wanted to bury the true meaning of that election with petty grievances that couldn't in a million years elicit such fury with a white president at the center of it.

So it is now with this election.  The fact we could have our first female head of state is buried under petty gripes about emails and dusty law files.  The election of Hillary Rodham Clinton to the Presidency could be a moment in history, yet the forces of reaction, cynicism and moral despondency insist on seeing it as "more of the same".  "Business as usual."  They have lost faith in America's system of government, so they would elect a brutish clown, a testosterone-driven Neanderthal who plays on their fear and hatred of the outsider.  Their fear of the future most of all.  Those who embrace Donald Trump as the symbol of yesterday's American dream revitalized...the white, cigar-chewing, swaggering, arrogant dominant male American dream... are like children afraid of change, afraid of growth, afraid of the future.  They want to escape into the past.  More than that, they simply refuse to acknowledge that they live and breathe a moment of American history.  Our first woman President.  They don't dare to see her that way.  They hide behind cheap shots and name-calling rather than see the bigger picture.

That's not to say we should want to elect just any woman to the presidency, of course.  But, it does mean something.  It means we as a people haven't given up on the future.  It means we can take a step forward, as we did with Obama.  It means we haven't given up hope in the capacity of societies to grow and improve.

The Trump campaign is rebellion against reality.  Against the future.  Against our maturation as a people and as a nation.  Adolescent escapism in the form of a misogynistic, racist, dirty old man out of the past.  Trump feeds our darker angels, our fear and bigotry and xenophobia and misogyny, yet he hides it skillfully behind locker room insolence and petty gripes.  With him, the angry white male gets to indulge his hatred without really acknowledging it.  The enemy is always external, always in the ill-defined form of rigged systems and nameless, faceless corruption.  It's never about race or gender.

But, let's face it:  It damn well always is.  What happens next will, one way or the other, change the course of history.  The question is, will anybody notice?


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