Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Short story – “Naive Thoughts”

“Naïve Thoughts”

The old man stood up behind the podium and raised his snifter of brandy to the score of gentlemen seated around the conference table.  “As Prime,” he said, “I welcome you to the 417th Annual Meeting of the Cacumen Society.”

As one, they all took a drink.

The Prime smiled, then stated, “Before we get down to business, I wish to welcome Jonathon Lowe, son of the late Benjamin Lowe, to our ranks.”

The men nodded to a young man at the back of the room who smiled and returned several nods.

“Jonathon,” the Prime asked, “would you care to make an introductory speech?”

Jonathon stood and, after clearing his throat, said, “Yes.  Thank you, Prime.  I would very much like to make an introductory speech.”

The Prime stepped aside and waved to the podium.

Jonathon smiled then holding himself straight walked up to the podium.  He nodded to the Prime and said, “Thank you, Prime.” Turning to the room he began, “My fellow members.  When my father explained to me that we were members of this illustrious Society that controls the majority of world affairs, I frankly thought he was telling a joke.  But as I’m sure you all know, my father was not known for his sense of humor.” Several of the men gave smiling nods to that.

After a brief smile, Jonathon went on.  “I reviewed the information he gave me, and I came to the conclusion that there is indeed a secret society that controls worldly affairs.  This revelation surprised, pleased, disturbed and confused me.  The disturbed and confused part comes from the fact that, okay, we control the world.  But you have to admit, we’re doing a pretty poor job of it.”

There were a few grumbles from the room.

“On one hand,” Jonathon continued, “I understand how – by fomenting wars, for example – we can ensure a large profit from our companies manufacturing arms.  But I have to wonder, can’t we make just as much money – if not more – by selling dishwashers and computers to the Third World instead of guns.

“I brought some of my ideas up to my father, who explained that by keeping the population worried about war and crime and such, it keeps them from trying to better their lives, keeping them better sheep for us to control.  But to me, that seems like it would have the opposite reaction.  If we want docile sheep, then we should make them fat and content.  Instead of having them worried about crime, or losing their job, or where their next meal will come from, we should stuff them with quintuple cheeseburgers, give them movies filled with explosions and nudity and video games filled with violence.”

Jonathon looked around the room.  “In my opinion, what’s the point of ruling over a cesspit of a world?  Yes, we have our estates and private islands, but we have to keep bribing politicians and hiring security to keep them.  If everyone lived like we did, there would be nobody for them to rise up against.  I mean, with every assassination or rigged election, we run the risk of someone noticing our actions.  If that ever happens, then the hungry, snarling masses will come after us.  But if we just had them fat, content, and docile, we’d never have to worry about them again.

“Thank you for hearing me out.” Jonathon then stepped back from the podium.

The room was silent for a few heartbeats, then it exploded in laughter.

Wiping his eyes, the Prime stepped back to the podium.  He put a hand on Jonathon’s shoulder and said, “Ah, the naivety of youth.”

“What?” Jonathon asked.

“Your thoughts are not new,” the Prime explained.  “But in a few years, you’ll come to understand why we do things the way we do.

“Now, be a good lad and take your seat, so the meeting can begin.”


I first wrote this story in June 2013 under the title “Hmmm.” It began after I saw a comment online about how things can’t be fixed because “the ones in power” don’t want them to be fixed.  I recently came across it and figured I should repost it.  But I wanted to rework it first and one of the things I wanted to change was the title.  It took me some time, but I think “Naïve Thoughts” works pretty good.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Thoughts on Bernie

For … what feels like years now, whenever I’ve scrolled through Twitter or Facebook I’d come across someone saying something along the lines of “Only Bernie can save us.” And with him dropping out it was “as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror.” Because if he had become President he’d just decree the Bernitopia and Congress would have rubber stamped all his proposals.  You know, just like the Republicans let Obama do as he pleased and the Democrats are now letting Trump do whatever he wants, they would have just let Bernie do whatever.

Oh wait, that isn’t how the system works, in theory or practice.  If Bernie had been elected President, the Republicans would have treated him exactly the way they treated Obama.  And the Democratic Establishment would … probably go along with Bernie on some things but try to do their own thing as much as possible.  So a Bernie Presidency would have accomplished some things, but it wouldn’t have brought about the Bernitopia so many of his followers claimed.

Now if there were four or five other Bernie-type Senators and thirty or so Bernie-type Representatives, not a governing block but a significant group that the Democrats would have to woo to get stuff passed, then a Bernie Presidency would have got more done.  Thanks to all the deals and compromises needed to pass laws.  And that’s why I always figured working to get more Bernie-types in Congress was a better goal than a Bernie Presidency.

It’s the same with third parties.  I think only having two major parties causes many of the problems we face in the country because instead of finding a common ground and just going forward we lurch from one governing ideology to another every few years.  I would love if we had a third major party, but I probably wouldn’t vote for a Party X Presidential candidate until they built up a noticeable base in Congress.  (Of course, this is my current feelings.  I did vote for Nader in 2000 as a protest vote because I didn’t care for either Gore or Bush.  But I live in Pennsylvania which still went for Gore, so it’s not my fault.)

Now, is Biden the best candidate?  Fuck no.  Will he be a fantastic President?  Unlikely.  But even if he becomes the Twenty First Century version of William Harrison, Franklin Harding, or John Tyler (one of those wasn’t a President, but do you know which one?) he’d still be better than the dumpster fire currently in the Oval Office.  America wasn’t in the best health to begin with, but four years of Trump has seriously fucked us up.  Will four years of Biden magically cure us?  Fuck no.  But there’s hope we can stop some of the bleeding.  And as recent events have shown, just getting to the point where things aren’t getting worse is difficult.  It doesn’t mean the job is done, but just turning around to look in the right direction would be a major accomplishment.

So just like you don’t want to stay home for weeks on end, but it needs done to stop things from getting worse, come November, you Bernie supporters may have to vote for Biden.  But you can spend this time looking for Bernie-type people you can start working to get on ballots across the country for 2022.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Coronavirus sale II!

So you’re still stuck at home, trying to make masks out of hoarded TP, you’ve binged everything on Netflix, and you’ve read everything on your Kindle, but you’re trying to save your money since you don’t know when you’ll go back to work so you’re not downloading anything new.  Well, here’s your chance to get six ebooks for free.  Between Monday April 6 and Friday April 10, you’ll be able to download these six of my ebooks for the price of a few clicks. 

Everybody complains about politics, but does anyone do anything about it? My attempt to do something about it is to collect forty of my short stories with a political element into this anthology. The stories are either politically neutral or equally condemning of the national parties. Instead of trying to sway you to one ideology or another, my goal is to just get people thinking about politics in the hopes a rose might grow out of all the political manure.

Over the years, I’ve posted several short stories on websites that later – for one reason or another – died. While the corpses of some of these sites are still around where you can read the stories, many have vanished from the internet. And since there are few sites that will publish such previously published works, the only way you could read them was if I self-published them in a collection.

In addition to such “lost” stories, I’ve included some new stories that – for one reason or another – I feel I’d have a hard time finding someone to publish them. So “Seventh Story Stockpile” basically contains stories I didn’t know what to do with. But now I can move on to other projects.

On The Day, for reasons unknown, people began changing. They went to sleep as their old selves and woke in their beds in different bodies: bodies that had belonged to other people. And each time they fall asleep, they wake in a new body. Set months later, “The Only Certainty” follows Derrick Gorton on an average day in this new world as he deals with food shortages, the semi-collapse of society, and how to finish his latest novel.

Partway to a new colony world, board member Geoffrey Ames is woken from hibernation by the caretaking crew of the Lucian. They require him to look into the matter of their fellow crewman Morgan Heller. Morgan’s claims – such as being over 1500 years old – would normally land him in the psychiatric ward, except he can back up some of his other claims.

“Rise” is a standalone story set in my Human Republic Universe. The story follows the events after the tragic deaths of the colonists on a small colony in a distant star system.

Over the last few years a lot of people have caught Mars fever. It seems a week doesn’t go by without a report of some new group wanting to send people to Mars, or some big name in the industry talking about why we have to go to Mars, or articles talking about the glorious future humanity will have on Mars. All of this worries me. In my opinion, a Mars base is currently not sustainable because there’s no way for it to make money. A few missions may fly doing extraordinary science, but if it’s then cancelled for cost the whole Mars Project may just be seen as an expensive stunt.

Fortunately, there are other places in the solar system besides Mars. While bases on the moon and amongst the asteroids won’t be as inspirational as one on Mars, they will have opportunities for businesses to make goods and services as well as profits, meaning less chance of them being outright cancelled. This will make life better on Earth and secure a firm foothold in space for humanity. The essays in “The Moon Before Mars: Why returning to the moon makes more sense than rushing off to Mars” allow me to describe my ideas on what can be accomplished on the moon and with the asteroids, and why Mars isn’t the destiny of humanity its cheerleaders make it out to be.