Are You Syrias???

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U.S. military attack on Syria? Are you serious? Haven’t we seen this movie before?

Ok, first of all, we’ve announced to the world that this will be a limited military action — no ground troops – so the Syrians, who are bat-shit crazy anyway, can feel secure in planning how they’ll vent their rage after we have “punished” them.

Since they have no moral restraint in the first place – proven by their use of chemical and other weapons to slaughter each other by any means possible – they will obsessively pursue retaliation for our annoying and ineffectual interference.

Do we think we will teach them a lesson and they will reform their behavior, like errant schoolboys? They couldn’t care less what we want or think.

So the plan is not to crush them, just irritate the shit out of ‘em. Like taking the first pill or two, then discontinuing your ten-day course of antibiotics – just enough to kill off a few of the weaker bacteria, while building up the strength and resistance of the strong. Or like bitch-slapping a hornet’s nest — if you don’t empty your entire can of insect spray into it and kill the pesky little rascals from the get-go, you’re gonna get stung.

Threatening Syria with “limited military action” for disobeying the rules? We’d better get ‘Syrias’ about our threats and be prepared to act as the Romans did toward Carthage: burn and sack their cities, kill or enslave every man, woman and child, and sow the ground with salt. Otherwise, don’t mess around.

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Whatever Happened To Utopia?

As the author of a dystopian novel, I have to ask why, and when, did Utopia become Dystopia? Growing up, I read all the science fiction I could get my hands on. It wasn’t called ‘speculative fiction’ yet, ‘cause it was written by and for the scientifically minded, based on an optimistic vision of science creating a glorious future for us puny humans. Yeah, I was a nerd, a card-carrying member of the Science Fiction Book Club, reading authors like Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke and all the rest.

What a vision! We were destined to evolve as a race, get smarter and stronger, master the arts of mental telepathy and teleportation; as science made our lives ever easier, we would zoom into space, build glorious shining cities, enjoy high-tech leisure, and all the rest of the Utopian mindset.

So when did we flip over into dismal Dystopian visions of the future? When did Zombie Apocalypse replace The Jetsons? When did taste in popular music morph from Patti Page crooning “How Much Is That Doggie In The Window” (1953) to the band Anthrax “Spreading the Disease” (1985) or Megadeth assaulting us with “Countdown to Extinction” (1993)?

Pretty radical change in attitude in that thirty-odd years! What the heck happened? Why did pessimism take the place of optimism? Since Megadeth, Anthrax and Slayer all began in the early ‘80s, maybe you could blame it on Ronald Reagan. I don’t know.

250px-Jetsons

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He Was a She

                                               Sharla Here

Spoiler alert: If you are reading my little blog before you’ve read Twist, it may ruin a few surprises. Also, if you have not yet read it, some of this won’t make much sense. So, please read Twist before proceeding.

Well, it’s my turn on Myron’s blog again. I talked about the 1970’s and Perfect Fingers last week, but just to keep everyone on his or her toes, I am going to switch gears again, and return to Twist. So let’s talk about Kit.

Kit is a swinging kicking mystery wrapped up in a slightly crazy dark shell. In my Female Tropes blog I focused on Kit’s relationship with Adam and how that disrupts sexist themes, but today I want to talk about what her whole persona embodies. From the first time she sings, “Somewhe-e-ere over the rainbow”, I knew Kit was going to be great.

When we meet Kit we are deceived.

“He disarmed and scattered the gang of kids…He knocked me off balance…He came at me and threw me again… He dropped the knife…I saw his face. He was a she.”

Gender

For two whole pages Kit fought off street kids, pinned Adam, and of course was assumed to be a man. After hearing her high voice, Adam allows the thought  that she is a young boy defeating him enter his head. But does the idea that a woman is besting him penetrate his ego? Nope! Adam, like me, was surprised to find that this samurai was a woman. The fact that this is even a surprise to us is something to ponder. Why do we assume that a person who can fight, comes to the rescue, and is wearing dark shapeless clothing is a man? I’m sure there’s a complex, lengthy, and confusing sociology answer to that, but lets keep it simple: that’s all we ever see.

Even fictional characters tend to be confined by the conforming boxes we‘ve built into society. However, Kit is a character who takes her knife to that box.She is not a one-dimensional heroine who fights off bad guys in a tight skirt. In fact, she is wearing a shapeless black robe, and why not? It never makes sense to me in books, movies, or TV shows when a female character is fighting someone in a pushup bra, leotard, and high heels. Yes, that was a dig at you Superwoman.

Well, that’s all folks. Let me know what you think of Kit below. Also, I will be going on a little hiatus for a few weeks, but if you have any ideas for blogs to come,post here or on the Facebook Page. I will see you soon, but not too soon.

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Why Do We Love Music?

Why do do we spend hours listening to our favorite bands? Why do we crank up the volume till we can feel the base in our heart beats? Why do we spend money on iPod’s in the hopes that we can listen to thousands of songs? Why do we sit down and play an instrument until our fingers callous over? Why do our ears crave that substance we call music?  Well, a new study may have the answer.

According to Chris Loersch and Nathan Arbuckle, as Homo sapiens evolved into the hairless bi-pedal beings we are today, we also evolved to love music. Their study proposes that music evolved as a way for people to connect to others and “a tool to pass information about the group’s shared mental state to a number of individuals at once”. No shit Sherlock. Okay that may be a little unfair, but I think most of us already knew the purpose of music. Ask most musicians and they will tell you that they use their music as a way to communicate their experiences to others.

Take a minute to meditate on the melodies in your life: Do you know a song that, no matter how dreadful your day is, always lifts your spirit? Have you ever seen the whole crowd at a concert begin to sway in perfect time, not a single person off-beat? Or experienced a blues musician strum the guitar and sing about loss and heartache, only to feel their lament bubble up in your own soul? Have you ever gone dancing and seen all the people feel the beat and tempo of the music with their bodies? Music does and always has elicited emotional and communal action. Hundreds of teen girls swooned and yelled till they passed out when they heard the Beatles, college football fans will scream their fight songs as if their lives depend on it, churches vibrate with the sound of hymnals, and whole countries swell with patriotism as their anthem rings out at the Olympics. So, why do we love music so much? Maybe Jimi had it right when he said, “Music is my religion”. If human beings need music and evolved to loved it, then perhaps music is the religion that all of humanity can get behind.

evolution-music

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Climate Change = Conflict

Ever read the paper, logged in to the guardian, or turned on the news and felt like the world was transforming into a more hellish and violent place every day? Well, scientists definitely noticed. New research looked at studies around the world spanning 100’s of years and found a strange and frightening correlation: Climate Change = Conflict! As the numbers on the thermometer mount so do murder, assault, domestic violence, and the number of wars and ethnic conflicts.

In Twist, this correlation rears its ugly head. The climate of 2075 is devastated, the ozone is all but depleted, and Wichita is a place of murder and mayhem. Is this our future? The global temperature is estimated to rise 3.6° F by 2050, which could lead to a 15% rise in crime and a 50% increase in group conflict. My response: Sanctified excrement, we are in for it now…

So here comes the big question: WHY? Why does humanity react to climate change with such violence? Well, no one knows…yet. Some ideas: Perhaps because climate affects economic conditions which also leads to higher crime? Maybe there is a psychological explanation: studies link higher aggression to higher temperatures—I guess I’m not the only person who gets testy when the sun blazes. Or, is this correlation insignificant? Remember, correlation does not prove causation. What do you think?

In my opinion, it makes perfect sense that humanity is affected by climate change. Lobsters are becoming cannibalistic due to global warming, many animals are threatened with extinction, and maybe humanity’s reaction is aggression and violence. It seems the world may have more to lose than just ecosystems and species. The good in humanity may also be at stake.Climate Change and humans

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Changing Attitudes

                                               Sharla Here

This week’s blog is going to be very different from past ones. Until now I have mainly focused on Myron’s novel, Twist; however, today I am going to introduce you to Perfect Fingers.

If you saw Myron’s post about the upcoming re-release of Perfect Fingers, you know that this novel is about a man in the 1970’s who gravitates to communes and tries to live a Zen life during that critical time when our country was convulsed by change and obsessed with self-discovery.

The 1970’s were, in many ways, the heart of the second wave of feminism: the US opened their first battered women’s shelter, colleges began offering women studies courses, the first women’s bank was opened, Title IX for equal education was passed, many organizations finally agreed to admit women, and for the first time in history more women entered college than men. While Perfect Fingers does not focus on The Women’s Rights Movement, many issues surrounding women and equality are prevalent in the novel.

One example is the way Perfect Fingers portrays sex and relationships, which mirrors society’s changing attitude toward these issues in the 1970s. In Perfect Fingers, men as well as women seek out non-monogamous sexual relationships. This idea, for women to want a sexual relationship, was taboo in the 1970’s, and still is in many circles today. Throughout the ’60s and ’70s this taboo was slowly releasing and many of the women in Perfect Fingers break out of traditional roles involving romantic relationships. However, not all of the women in the novel feel this way; some prefer monogamous relationships. Obviously, it makes sense that not all women feel the same way and want the same things. However, to use a religious metaphor, the mainstream attitude in society was that all women fell along two lines: the pure and holy Virgin Mary or the bad sinful whore Mary Magdalene. Like all dichotomies, this portrayal is over simplified and inapplicable to the real world.WomenWhile The Women’s Rights Movement sought equal pay, equal opportunities, fair treatment, and the end of inequality based on gender, they also sought to change societal attitudes toward women. By portraying women as individuals, instead of generalizing their beliefs and actions based on their gender, Perfect Fingers embodies a change in our society. This change represents a shift away from viewing humans as males and females—who must fit into a mold and only follow one path depending on their gender—and a shift toward seeing us all as human beings. Which is, in the end, the ultimate goal of anyone fighting for equality. Perfect Fingers explores the shifts of attitudes on how women and men are “supposed” to act in many more ways than just sex and relationships. However, that is a blog for another day.

That was just a taste of Perfect Fingers; hopefully, I didn’t give too much away. If you have anything to add to today’s blog please post below! Also, if you have any suggestions for next week post here or on Myron’s Facebook Page.

Lastly, Myron is having a contest and offering a FREE copy of Perfect Fingers, before the public release. Click here to read more about it. Well, that’s all for me today, I will see you next week.

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Ice to Lakes And Oceans To Steam

A vast expanse of sparkling snow and ice, a chill in the air that only polar bears can stand, and frozen water as far as the eye can see. This was the North Pole on April 30th. Global Warming

Clear water with only a hint of blue, the sun dancing off the surface of a lake, light reflecting back on all who approach. This is the North Pole now.

After reading that the North Pole has turned into a lake, it seemed like everything else I saw today was about some cataclysmic event. Next, I read this cheery article: Ice-free Arctic in two years. An Arctic expert, Prof Peter Wadhams, now projects that the Arctic will be melty slush and all the summer ice will disappear by 2015. While hard to believe, after seeing the picture of a melted north pole, this seemed plausible and holds a thread of terror for me.

Then, that thread turned into a whole damn sweater—the planet overheating, the oceans boiling, the atmosphere filling with steam, and the earth dying. This little scenario is what happened to our nearby neighbor Venus, and according to new research this maybe what’s in store for Earth. As the sun gets brighter and warmer our planet will enter a danger zone where runaway greenhouse effects take over. The Good news? This will not happen for at least 1.5 billion years, and it is unlikely that we mere mortals can cause this event without the help of a hotter sun.

Santa’s workshop may be screwed and the Arctic may disappear, but don’t worry, the oceans won’t boil quite yet.

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Everyone Digs The Rolling Stones, Even Whales

Whether we are hopping into our cars, going for a run, working on our computers, sitting around the house, or simply cooking, we all tend to turn on our favorite music and soak in the notes. All of us have a favorite band that we firmly believe exemplifies all we are about. When our favorite songs are played, we can’t help but tap our feet to the beat. Because of our appreciation of music we may think we are enlightened and exceptionally intelligent, but it seems Homo sapiens aren’t the only mammals who like to groove…

I read this article today, talking about a researcher, Dr. Paul Spong, and his orca friend Hyak. In the late ‘60s and early ‘70s Spong would lug large underwater speakers into Hyak’s tank, play music for him, and see his reaction, and he DID react. Hyak got to sample everything from Mozart to Ravi Shankar to The Moody Blues.

Working with whales in the Vancouver Aquarium, Spong soon discovered playing the same old shitty music over and over again not only annoys us naked apes, but also orcas. If Spong dared play a song Hyak had heard before, he would sulk in the corner of his tank and wouldn’t move until Spong put on some new grooves.

While all of this is interesting, the day Hyak heard the Rolling Stones for the first time was something else. When the LP of “Jumping Jack Flash” begun to play, Hyak swam at Spong, leaped out of the water, spun in circles, splashed, barrel rolled, slapped his fins, and kept on grooving. This reaction was unique and was one that he brought out only for the Stones.

I would say the morale to this story is: everyone digs the Rolling Stones, even whales! So give Hyak’s favorite song  a listen and see if  you feel the urge jump with Jack, or at least bob your head.

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$32 Billion And 2.4 Million People

                                                              Sharla Here!

Spoiler alert: If you are reading my little blog before you’ve read Twist, it may ruin a few surprises. Also, if you have not yet read it, some of this won’t make much sense. So, please read Twist before proceeding!

Human Trafficking

It’s Wednesday, so here I am again to offer my 2¢. Today I read an article about a thriving international business that earns $32 billion a year. This business is illegal, harmful, and ruins lives. How many of you jumped straight to drugs? Then maybe firearms? Wrong on both accounts. One of the largest black market businesses is human trafficking. So, today this is what I will be talking about.

While the bulk of modern slavery is often women and girls, thousands of men and children, all around the world, are victims as well. It is estimated that over 2.4 million people are shackled to this industry.

Despite the obvious illegality, inhumanity, and cruelty of this business, internationally, there has been a lack of investment to combat it. Does any of this sound familiar to Twist readers? Homeless children being lied to about a better future, being kidnaped, and used. If you’ve read Twist, you know human trafficking is still alive and well in Myron’s dystopian future. In Twist, Montrose was aware of the atrocities being done in his city, yet he refused to act against them. Adam Twist confronts Montrose, and finds out the truth:

“You knew about that?”

“I suspected,” said Montrose…

“You knew about the private little hunting lodge down below. And what’s in there?”

“There were rumors”

“You went along with it?”

“You don’t understand. I couldn’t stop him. There was nothing I could do.”

“C’mon. You’re the man in charge.”

This exchange is one I can easily see playing out in the real world. I fear if we do not do something soon about human trafficking, the corruption of 2075 is one we, in the present, will face. While following over $32 billion dollars across the world to find and end modern slavery is a difficult task, it is one that needs to be done. If you are interested in learning more about human trafficking, here is a resource about national human trafficking, and one about international human trafficking.

Well that’s all for today folks. I will be back next week to talk more about issues surrounding women in the real world and in Myron’s. Don’t be shy, comment below to talk about this week’s blog. Also, if you have any ideas for next week post below or to Myron’s Facebook page.

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Zero Gravity Coffee

You wake up, sleep is crusted in your eyes, your back aches from a night of tossing and turning, and you have a long day ahead of you. Then, you press the magic button that starts the flow of energy. Well, the flow of coffee, but they are one in the same.

I came across a video today, The Zero Gravity Coffee Cup. This grabbed my attention instantly, and I soon began watching a video that explained how coffee is literally an out-of-this-world beverage.

As we all know, there is less gravity in space, but have you ever thought about what that means for astronauts? Apparently, even their piss doesn’t do what it’s supposed to.

All liquids react differently in microgravity, but my friend coffee may be the most bizarre. In order to enjoy a hot cup of joe, astronauts must struggle through the following steps:

  1. Somehow manage to get the coffee in the cup. This is extremely difficult.
  2. Then, throw the years of experience you have drinking liquid out the space station window.
  3. Beware: if you bring the cup to your mouth, that dark liquid will stubbornly refuse to flow.
  4. Now, as your frustration builds, you should angrily shake the cup.
  5. Next, hope and pray that a few splashes will emerge and trickle into your mouth.

All you aspiring space travelers out there, do not despair! There is hope! Scientists have invented a microgravity cup. This cup may look like useless sheets of plastic glued together, but there is method behind the madness. The two surfaces meet close enough that liquid will naturally follow the line. This allows you not only the ability to tip a cup to your mouth, but also allows the liquid to flow into your parched lips.

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