Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Vote for the lesser of two evils

Many years ago, I realized that we don’t vote for the best candidate for President, because – to be honest – the best candidate isn’t on the ballot.  Instead we vote for the one we hope will fuck things up the least.  Now some will whine that voting for the lesser of two evils is why things are so bad.  But our election system is rather shitty to begin with, even before it was basically broken.  I mean, my choice this November is between someone who will throw gas on the burning dumpster, someone who will at least try to put out the dumpster fire, or some pixy that – according to their supporters – will be able to fix everything in the country with their magic wand, except it’s a two party system and they have zero chance of winning.  Given those choices, I’ll be pragmatic and vote for the one who will try to put out the dumpster fire.

Do I think Biden will make a great President?  No.  Was he my first choice?  Fuck no.  I was hoping for Warren.  Of course, it didn’t really matter.  For one, I have no party affiliation, so I can’t vote in the primaries, and two, I live in Pennsylvania and by the time we have our primary the nominee is pretty much already decided.  Another aspect of how our system is broken.

Now I’ve seen some posts on Facebook and Twitter about progressives upset about how Biden/The Democratic Party “isn’t doing enough to win their vote.” But put yourself in the shoes of the Democratic Party.  They want to bring together more voters.  They look to the left and see people saying, “We have these forty-seven demands, and if you don’t accept all forty-seven, THEN WE WILL NOT VOTE FOR YOUR CANDIDATE.” The Party then looks to the right and sees people going, “We just want a President who won’t start World War III over a Twitter feud.” And the Democratic Party goes, “We can do that.” And then progressives are like, “They’re not even trying to win my vote.”

A large part of why things are so shitty and broken, is because there is no viable third choice.  And yes, when I was young I did protest the 2000 Election by voting for Nader.  (Pennsylvania still went for Gore, so it’s not my fault.)  But did that accomplish anything?  I’ve recently decided that – even though I want a viable third, fourth, fifth party – I won’t vote for a President unless they are in a party that has at least ten members in the House and one Senator.  Because the whole point in trying to elect a third party candidate is so they can do something.  But why should Republicans or Democrats follow the lead of a Third Party President?  Did they follow the lead of Obama or Trump? 

So how can a third party become viable so I’ll consider voting for their Presidential candidate?  By a lot of hard work getting their message out and building on successes.  First they win some elections at the local level, then the state, and then Members of Congress.  It will be a lot of slow, incremental steps. 

Now some will say that slow, incremental steps won’t fix the problems we have now and we need big, fast changes.  Well, big, fast changes in the political world are usually called revolutions.  Before anyone starts cheering, let me remind you that revolutions are often bloody and have unintended consequences.  I mean, the French revolted against their King, and a few years later they had an Emperor.  The oft discussed Bolshevik Revolution was the second revolution in Russia, that year.  And before you say the American Revolution was perfect, was it?  I mean, the first government formed after it flopped and had to be replace by one that had some issues that led to a Civil War and the case could be made is the root for many of the problems we have today.  (Cough, Electoral College.)

All of this is because there is no “End” in politics.  There’s no bill that can be passed that will magically fix everything for the rest of time.  Every solution to a problem creates new problems.  And if your only solution to problems is revolution, then you’re asking for a lifetime of bloody revolutions, counterrevolutions, counter-counterrevolutions, ad infinitum.  Or you can go for the less dramatic, less sexy, slow, incremental steps way towards fixing problems.  And if you accept that, then the first step has to be putting out the goddamn dumpster fire.  Without that, all your other plans are meaningless.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Short story – “Thou Shalt Not Hate”

“Thou Shalt Not Hate”

“Welcome back to Wake Up America.  This morning we ask, ‘How big a role should religion play in American society?’ It is a question that has been debated for a long time, and doesn’t look like it will be over any time soon.  With me are two representatives from the forefront of this debate.

“In the studio with me is Reverend Roger Tishler, founder of the Christians United organization.  It’s a pleasure to have you here.”

“It’s a pleasure to be here, Diane.”

“And joining us via satellite from New York is John Benson, author of the controversial new book: Why Fundamentalist Christians Scare the Bejesus out of Me.  It’s a pleasure to have you on our show.”

“Thank you.”

“First let me ask you, Mister Benson, why do Fundamentalist Christians scare you?”

“Simply Diane, what Fundamentalist Christians desire is to create a theocracy in America.  That scares me because in a theocracy people like me, a freethinking nonconformist, are usually put up against a wall.”

“It is not our desire to put anyone up against a wall.  Our desire is to bring the word of God to everyone.”

“Even if you have to cram Him down their throats.”

“Reverend Tishler, do you wish to create a Christian theocracy in this country?”

“Diane, people like Mister Benson throw the term ‘theocracy’ around to scare people.”

“It should scare people.  Can you name a theocracy from any time in history that was decent?  One that allowed dissent of its subjects, or the basic freedoms like speech, press, and religion expressly spelled out in our Constitution.”

“A theocracy is not our goal.  The goal of Christians United is to return America to its Christians roots.  Look at what has happened to this glorious country under the bludgeon of liberal ‘ideals.’ America won’t be great again until we accept our role in God’s plan.”

“America is not all white, or all black, or all Hispanic, or all rich, or all poor, or all middleclass, or all Democrat, or all Republican, or all Libertarian.  Why should we all be one religion?  America is strongest when we accept our diversity.”

“Your diversity means the legalized murder of innocents, the banning of God from the public square, obscenity passing as entertainment, the acceptance of sinful lifestyles …”

“But just because someone is a faithful Christian doesn’t mean that they are a good person, or that they are qualified or capable of running this country.  I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a doctor being killed because they wouldn’t perform an abortion.  Have you?  Yet how many times has a self-describe Christian blown up a clinic?”

“Such instances are regrettable.  One of our goals is the end of legalized murder, but Christians United does not condone violence.  We wish to save lives, not end them.”

“Really?  As far as I can tell groups like Christians United are always blaming people like me for the ills of society and crying ‘We need to stop the secularists before they destroy the county.’ Yet when ‘Christians’ try to rewrite the Bible so it reads, ‘Thou Shalt Not Kill; except abortion doctors,’ you proclaim ‘We don’t condone violence,’ but do nothing to stop these radical elements of your faith.”

“God will judge them, as He will judge all of us.  The Apocalypse is coming.”

“You’ve been saying that for centuries.  I think the only apocalypses we need to worry about are human created ones.”

“Whether you believe it or not, sooner or later, Judgment Day will be upon us, and I pray you see the light before then.”

“I doubt that will happen.  But, so I don’t miss my chance, there is something I want to do.  It’s a little experiment with all of those who – as you would say – have seen the light.  Yesterday, I set up a new email account.  For all of you Fundamentalist Christians out there, my email is thereisnogod@maxmail.com.  I repeat, my email is thereisnogod, all one word, @maxmail.com.  Now, reverend, how much do you want to bet that by the time we wrap this up, and I get to a computer to check my email, I’ll have already started receiving hate mail from your ‘peace-loving’ followers you think are the key to a return to a glorious country?  How many death threats do you think I’ll get before the Second Coming?”


I first wrote this story back in 2006 for a friend’s website which is more or less defunct.  And given how all religions live together in harmony now, I thought it would be a good laugh to show how things used to be. 

To be serious, this isn’t just about Christianity (although a few months ago I did see a Facebook post saying “There’s no such hate as Christian love.”) because in every group of people – Christians, Muslims, Atheists, Republicans, Democrats, one-legged guys named Joe – there will be a few nutcases.  The real problem is that many of the group will pull out the “No true Scotsman” defense instead of actually looking to see if there is an issue with their group’s foundation.

As an interesting tidbit, the “America won’t be great again” line is from the original story.  I probably hadn’t read this in over a decade, but when I read through it for this revised posting, that line made me wince.

Monday, September 7, 2020

Register to vote/Check your voter status

It seems every four years the political talking heads come out and say that “This election is the most important election of the modern era.” And you know what, for 2020, they might actually be right.  Because whether you think everything is hunky-dory, or you think the best description of the country is a dumpster fire, there will be major repercussions whoever wins this November.

Now you could just sit back and say, “Why bother voting when the system is broken?” Well, one aspect of why the system is broken is because too many people don’t bother being a part of it.  The only way to have a government that reflects the country is if the majority of the people participated in choosing that government.  Our government is not perfect – it’s very, very far from perfect – but not voting is you saying you’ll just take whatever happens.  And if you don’t like what you’re given, well, you can’t complain because you had the chance to make your voice heard and chose not to.

The way to make your voice heard is to register to vote.  How to register should be laid out on your state’s website.  But even if you’ve already registered, you should take the time to check your registration status, which I think is an option on most state websites.  (You may also wish to double check on your polling place.)  An important reason to do this now, is that there are several reasons why your status could be wrong: you moved and forgot to update it, a clerical error, or maybe you were caught up in an overly enthusiastic purge.  Whatever the reason, if you check now and find a problem you can get it all worked out before Election Day.  Election Day is hectic enough without people waiting in line only to find out there’s an issue.

So register to vote, or check your status, so everything will be in order come November 3rd and you can make sure your voice will be heard, in this, the most important election of the modern era.

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Designing a practical lunar base is hard

A couple of months ago, I had an idea for a story following a guy around as he did some “weekend” chores, like checking the smoke detectors.  Why would anyone care for such a story?  Because he’s a crewmember of the first lunar base.  Since going to the moon is so difficult, the crew works for six days, and then they have a half-day where they finish up their experiments, do some minor maintenance and cleaning, and usually watch a movie.  This week, it’s my character’s turn to do the safety checks: each room has a detector unit for smoke, radiation, pressure drop, carbon monoxide, and probably a few others.  He also does a visual check to see if there are any cracks in the walls.  Every few months they do a more rigorous check with a laser system, but that’s not this week. 

In the story there is no alien invasion, or some secret plot to destroy the base.  Nothing like that.  It’s just a group of people learning to live on the moon.  For example, every week each crewmember gives a blood, urine, and stool sample.  Some tests are run there on the moon, but most of the samples are frozen to be shipped back to Earth where dozens of tests can be run.  Because we have barely any data on what living at the reduced lunar gravity will do to humans.  It’s necessary science, but not the premise for a blockbuster. 

Anyway, I decided that I needed to come up with the layout of the base to keep everything straight as he walks around and sees all the various ongoing experiments.  My initial design had seven modules the size of what could fit in a rocket.  The idea was they would launch and dock with a small space station that would probably only be temporarily crewed.  There it would be attached to a lander that would fly it to the moon and land it.  This lander, once unloaded, could then lift off from the moon, dock with the station, be refueled, and go on to land the next module. 

The first thing to land, however, would be a bulldozer and a 3D printer.  The printer would take lunar regolith, mix it with some binding agent, and basically make lunar cement.  The idea of the cement was to build an airtight, protective shell around the modules, which would then be covered over in more regolith to give radiation and micrometeor protection. 

So a foundation would be printed out, then the seven modules would land and be placed.  The seven modules would be arraigned like a straight-sided “8.” The module furthest in would be the sleeping quarters with a galley, the one in the middle would be the greenhouse, and the one with access to the lunar surface would have the airlocks.  And the other four would have labs, storage, command center, common area, etc.  In addition, the two interior holes would be used.  They’d have a cement floor and ceiling, but the walls would be the outer layers of the modules.  They’d have air in them, but they’d just be used to store spacesuits, extra oxygen tanks, and other bulky stuff.

Originally, the plan was for the base to be built by robots before people showed up, but I figured that since this was going to be difficult enough as it was, having boots on the regolith to make sure it actually fitted together correctly would speed things up.  Because the more I thought about it, the more complex and expensive this first base was becoming.  So we have the bulldozer and 3D printer needing a rocket launch, along with the lander.  Then each module needs a rocket, along with a few refueling tankers for the lander.  Then there’s solar panels, a rover, communications antenna, and we quickly get to maybe twenty rocket launches just to get everything to the moon, not counting the people.  We’re talking at least a year, or maybe two, to build the base.  But could such a big, expensive project actually survive long enough to be built?

In an attempt to make things cheaper and faster, my second plan was to land a small outpost – either just a couple modules or maybe an expandable module – that would just be on the surface with no 3D printed lunar cement thing around it.  This outpost may only be temporarily crewed, but one of the things they would do would be to work on building the second base.  This would be mostly 3D printed lunar cement, with the only things built on Earth being a bunker module as well as all the airlocks and airtight interior doors.  This lasted for a while, but then I realized that it would be stupid to just abandon this first outpost, so the current plan (Version 2.1, I guess) is for the first outpost module(s) to become the bunker module with the rest of the base 3D printed around it.  This would be the permanently crewed base my story is set in.  Their main goal is to learn how to live on the moon in order to build even bigger bases. 

“That’s cool,” you – hopefully – say, “but why is designing a practical lunar base hard?” Even with 90% of the base being built with lunar cement, there are still many literal tons of stuff you have to send to the moon.  You’ll need a bulldozer to clear the area, sensors to make sure the area is compact enough to build on, the 3D printer, something to gather the regolith, something to shift it to get the proper sized grains, maybe a grinder to break up rocks to the proper size, something to mix it with the binding agent, and all the binding agent.  And do all of these things have solar panels, or is there a central power station all these things return to to recharge their batteries?  Then there are the big things like hatches that are built on Earth and set into the 3D printed walls, but what about lights and all the wiring that goes with them, and ventilation, and toilets, and all the computers and microscopes, and all the plumbing for the hydroponic system?

Just take a minute to think about electrical wiring.  Long before anything is actually built on the moon, the base would be designed in a computer on Earth.  So in the computer you could see that this one wire would need to be 17.3 meters long.  So do you make a wire that long on Earth, tag it as “Wire 17R-14J” or whatever, and ship it up to the moon with a few hundred other lengths of wire that are just pulled out when needed?  But what if something unforeseen comes up and it ends up a centimeter short?  Do you include a wiggle factor of, like, an extra five centimeters for every expected meter in length, just so nothing ends up short?  Or do we just send a couple 100 meter rolls of wire to the moon and let the astronauts cut the appropriate lengths?  A benefit of doing all this on Earth is you could have basically plugs on each end to plug everything together, without the astronauts having to strip the wire and actually make the electrical connection.  Both ways have their pros and cons, but which would be the best choice?

You could just set a story in a base that is fully furnished, but you do have to wonder how it all got there?  What elements were delivered first?  Did they land a package with all the hydroponic stuff, 3D print the greenhouse around it, and once they were sure it was all airtight did they go in and unpack it?  Or did they 3D print the rooms, leave them empty, and just fill them as they landed the cargo?  To see the final design, I needed to figure out how they would actually build this base.  Part of the reason is that in such a complex process, there are bound to be quirks, like even with virtual walkthroughs, once there is a crew at the base they will wonder why the engineers didn’t put the door two meters that way.  And by working through the building process, I can pick up on some quirks to make for a richer world building.  So, this is the construction plans I came up with.

Step 1: Land the original outpost and basic equipment.  This outpost would be crewed for one to two week missions every few months.  They would do extensive surveys of the area to make sure there were no hidden caves or anything like that.  They would also test print some small structures to see how they survive the extreme day-night cycle on the moon. 

Step 2: Print the bunker foundation.  The foundation of the base would probably be twenty or thirty centimeters thick, at least.  But it probably wouldn’t be solid, because that would need a lot of binding agent.  I’d guess there would be two air pockets in the foundation, with ten centimeter wide pillars spaced every meter or so.  Why two air pockets?  Well, in the bottom one you could pump in some non-dangerous but easily detected gas with sensors in the upper pocket to check for leaks.  And you could pump the upper pocket full of air to be used as an emergency air supply.  This might also be done with the interior walls.  Let’s face it, the first lunar base will be overdesigned for safety.  Like I imagine every section will have several emergency spacesuits that you wouldn’t want to go out on the surface in, but in a worst case scenario they would keep you alive for an hour or so for you to get to somewhere safe or to find a proper spacesuit.

Step 3: Finish the bunker.  Once the foundation is set, the original base would be lifted up and set on the foundation.  The original base would have a hatch that a detachable airlock could be hooked up to.  The airlock would be taken off, and an extra thick wall and ceiling would be 3D printed around the, now, bunker.  Another hatch would be set into the wall, and the airlock would be attached to it.  So now you’d go through the airlock and end up in a small, lobby before going through the inner hatch to end up inside the old base.  All the science equipment and such will eventually be moved out, and the space refit as crew quarters.  Spacesuits and other bulky equipment could be stored in the lobby.  This bunker section I’m calling Section 1.

Step 4: Make Sections 2-5.  The final base will be a two-level dome.  The bunker is in the very center with four sections around it and an upper floor section.  For Section 2, you’d print out a foundation several times larger than for the bunker.  There would be several interior rooms that may, or may not, be airtight.  But the section as a whole would be airtight.  There would be two more hatches leading to Sections 3 and 4.  The airlock would again be removed and switched to one of these hatches.  Section 2 will ultimately be the greenhouse, but until everything else is built, it is also the command center, galley, storage area, etc.  Section 2 will also have the primary bathroom because the hydroponic garden will be connected in with the water purification system.  Section 3 will be the command center along with the galley, pantry, and other storage.  Section 4 will be the labs, and Section 5 – besides being the primary spacesuit storage/maintenance area – will have the airlocks.  There will be person sized ones, but also a larger cargo airlock.  I imagine there will be a minivan-type rover that will be able to take several crew members some distance, but there will probably also be a pickup-type rover for cargo.  A cargo ship will land, and instead of making forty trips through the person sized airlock, they’d just load up the pickup and drive it in.  You’d need something more than just a wagon, because some of the cargo will need to be refrigerated or frozen, and any biological cargo – plants or lab mice – will need some life support. 

Step 5: Make Section 6.  The main part of the upper floor will be the common area.  This would have couches and a big screen TV so the crews could watch movies.  This would also be the area where they would talk to kids back on Earth from.  There would also be private rooms that would be soundproofed.  That way crewmembers could have videochats with loved ones without someone walking through the background.  And there would be storerooms.  Sections 3 and 4 will have ramps leading up to Section 6, with hatches on each end.  And there will also be a cargo elevator that will be airtight, somehow.

Step 6: Finish the dome.  So the outer walls of Sections 2-5 and the wall/ceiling of Section 6 would form the inner dome.  Around this would be several walkways wide enough for someone in a spacesuit to walk around for inspections.  An outer dome would be printed around this.  And then, on the outer dome would be attached these 3D printed baskets.  These would probably be roughly cubes a meter on a side.  The sides would be ten centimeters or so thick, and the inner and outer walls would be curved to fit the dome.  These would be filled with loose regolith – to save on binder agent shipped up from Earth – and then stacked on the dome.  They might even do two layers of this because, well, overdesigned for safety.  And if one of these baskets was damaged, it could just be removed, print a new one, and replace it.

Step 7: Other stuff.  There will probably be a garage, but it will probably just be a roof to protect the rovers from micrometeors.  If any repairs need done, they’d drive them into the cargo airlock.  There will probably also be a garage/recharging area for robotic rovers, which I imagine will do the majority of outside work.  There will also be science areas, like the surface of the moon is a higher vacuum than we can make on Earth so who knows what possibilities there are for manufacturing.  Part of the reason for this first lunar base is to work out what can be done before building full-scale lunar factories. 

So is that what the first lunar base will look like?  Unlikely.  Which is too bad.  In my armchair moon architect eyes, I think that would work really well.

Monday, August 24, 2020

Short story – “Exodus”


Leaning forward, Paul Harper kissed his wife Deborah on the forehead and whispered, “I love you.”

“I love you too,” she whispered back with a tired smile.  Their three month old Linda had finally fallen asleep in her mother’s arms.

Ever so gently, Paul placed his hand on the back of his daughter’s head.  Like every time before, he smiled at the touch of her silky hair. 

Sooner than he would have liked, Paul glanced towards his study and frowned.  Deborah nodded and began to turn away, but he stopped her with a hand on her shoulder and kissed her forehead again.

When Paul entered his study, he closed the door as quietly as possible and sat at his desk.  Closing his eyes, he rubbed his temples.  He still had twenty-three essays to read and correct before he could go to bed.  Fortunately, they were short. 

Since next week marked the fortieth anniversary of the Pentans making First Contact with humanity, he had his students write about what they felt was the biggest consequence of that event.  He remembered his own teachers giving a similar assignment for the twenty-fifth anniversary, but he couldn’t remember what he had written.  He didn’t have the time or energy to look through his old files to see if he still had it, and besides he suspected those files had probably been deleted long ago.  But before he had his students write out a long essay, he had them turn in a brief, one page version.  This let him see where they were going so he could advise them on any problems they might run into.  It was a good plan, except for the part where he had said he would return the essays tomorrow so his students could work on the full versions over the weekend.

With a sigh, Paul got to work.  David Lepper apparently had gone to the net and just copied some college student’s paper.  Paul doubted any of his eighth grade class could discuss how Wittgenstein’s theories could be used in an approach to the Pentan language.  Elba Madero’s one page outline was a rambling three pages about how great it was for humans to learn we were not alone in the universe.  Almost in contrast was Ann O’Rourke’s half page statement that Pentan technology and experience cut considerable time off the construction of the Mbandaka Space Elevator.  And it was no surprise that the school’s star goalie, Doug Rach, wrote about Sphere-Soccer and other such sports made possible with Pentan gravity control.

Paul’s method was to read each essay twice; the first time to get the general idea and the second to mark mistakes or inconsistencies.  But he had to read Doug’s three times because his mind kept wandering.  Kids looked at gravity manipulation and made up new sports whereas adults looked at it and wondered how it could change the oldest sport.  Paul had once read that for every variable-g gym there were two variable-g sex parlors for couples who didn’t have the time or money to fly up to an orbital or lunar hotel for a weekend of acrobatic sex.  He had been trying to talk Deborah into visiting one since before they were married, but it wasn’t until she was six months pregnant that she reluctantly agreed to give it a try, mainly because it would let her be light on her feet.  But she ended up enjoying it so much they went back three more times.  Her parents had promised to come over some weekend to watch Linda and give the new parents a break and Paul had a good idea what they would do.

Saving his comments on Doug’s essay, Paul shook his head to clear his thoughts and moved on to the essay by Jon Suthers.  Jon was a teacher’s nightmare; an intelligent but lazy student, as well as a class-clown.  His teachers never knew what they would get from him.

Up on Paul’s screen came Jon’s essay, “Unforeseen Benefits of Contact with Pentans.” The first sentence read: “One of the greatest benefits of the Pentans making Contact with us – but one few people will discuss openly – is it allowed for the humane disposal of Earth’s riff-raff.”

Paul gave a low whistle.  “This should be interesting.” He continued reading:

The first group of riff-raff to leave Earth were the Technophiles.  This group – incensed that the rest of the world did not share their desire to “improve” humanity with genetic and cybernetic enhancements – stole Unity I, the first Human-built vessel with tunnel capabilities, and went off into deep space never to return.

While the world was enraged over the theft of the ship, most people considered it a small price to pay for not having to deal with such people again.

Once tunnel capable vessels became common, more groups chose to follow the Technophiles – although these purchased their vessels.

One of the first groups to legally leave were the Marxists.  These followers of Karl Marx – a Nineteenth Century philosopher – figured they could not fit into the Human Republic which requires Member Nations to have a democratic form of government as well as a capitalist economy.  Of the three nations on Earth that are not members of the Human Republic – Switzerland, Vatican City, and the Ashgabat Caliphate – none hold to the Marxists ideals.  So in 2063, a group of around a hundred Marxists led by Juan D├ívila settled on the third moon of Thor – a Jovian planet orbiting the star Iota Horologii some 50 light-years from Earth.  The colony – named Trier after the birthplace of Marx – has slowly grown through the emigration from Earth of others who share their views.  While Trier is not a Member Nation, there is a treaty of non-interference between it and the Human Republic.

Through the door, Paul heard Linda begin to wail.  He went to stand up, but stopped himself.  I have to finish these he told himself.  Taking a deep breath, he forced himself back to Jon’s essay.

Similar arrangements – allowing for travel and trade – have been made with other colonies such as Nike, Five Pillars, and Here.  But others have severed all ties to the Republic, for example, Freewinds, Zion, and Cana.  The conditions – and in some cases even the location – of these “colonies” are unknown, but not that many people care.  (Although, as in the example of Trier, it would be nice if similar people left on Earth had the opportunity to emigrate.)

The reason it is beneficial for all these colonists to part company with the rest of humanity is that most of these colonies are populated with political and religious fanatics; brethren to groups that have caused considerable turmoil on Earth for millennia.  With them out of the picture, perhaps the rest of us can finally live in peace. 

But are we truly better off without such people?  Throughout history, various groups have decided that the world would be better off if certain other groups were no longer around.  While the Human Republic cannot be charged with genocide in the “disappearance” of the Technophiles or minor religious groups like the Scientologists – is the result not the same?  For how long have the wise been telling us that our differences make us stronger, not weaker?  How much weaker is the choir of humanity because of the loss of so many voices?

Paul sat back in his chair and rubbed his temples.  “That was interesting, all right,” he said to himself.  Then to his computer he said, “Insert comment,” and a small screen appeared at the bottom of the essay and filled in as he spoke.  “There is a significant change in voice and tone between the beginning and the end of your essay, Jon.  Either revise to have a constant voice throughout the whole, or if your intention is as I suspect to emphasize the end by the change, then you need to work on the beginning and make it more … satirical so the ending doesn’t come as a jolt.”

Pausing for a moment, Paul added, “Oh, and ease up on the dashes.”

Linda had quieted, and Paul hoped Deborah would be able to get some rest.  He then began rereading Jon’s essay to further critique the writing.


This story is part of my Human Republic series, and this was to flesh a bit of that universe out.  I’d submitted it to every place I could think of, but nobody took it.  So I self-published it back in 2014, but that site didn’t last that long. 

The reason I’m republishing it now, is that while some would cheer if certain political and religious groups left Earth for good, that’s a rather slippery slope.  Our differences make us stronger, which mean we have to accept there will be some with shitty ideals.  To be clear, it is perfectly fine for some to think left-handed people are the spawn of Satan, but if they ever start attacking left-handed people, then they belong in jail.