Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Review of Ontogenesis by Andy Lloyd

I asked Andy Lloyd, author of Dark Star: The Planet X Evidence, if he would review my novel Ontogenesis, and he very kindly provided this probing and erudite review:


My son, currently sitting his GCSEs, spotted this book on our dining room table, and said, "Oh, yeah, ontology, that's all to do with God, and our state of being - we've done something about that in R.E." Which showed that (a) studying for your public exams actually works and (b) my son knew significantly more about this than me. So, having read most of John Garvey's excellent novel by this point, I said, "Yeah, it is kind of like that, only way weirder, all to do with alien intervention, all that stuff." With a half-absent "Cool", my son moved on to something else, and I decided perhaps now was the time to look up what this title actually meant. It's relevant because, although this is 'just' a novel, in my opinion Ontogenesis is a deeply thought through work of metaphysical enquiry.

I'm not really sure my review is going to do it justice, because the philosophies underpinning the work were, at times, stretching my conceptual understanding. At one point, I wrote in my notes that the book was Cubist, in that it was using multiple vantage points to explore certain concepts and situations. Later in the book, it went multi-dimensional, like a game of 3D Tic-tac-toe, and the Cubist structure turned into something more akin to a Möbius strip.

So, let's get a bit academic here, before I try to engage this novel's narrative. My son was pretty accurate; ontology is indeed the branch of metaphysics dealing with the nature of being. However, 'ontogenesis' has been defined as 'the development of an individual organism or anatomical or behavioural feature from the earliest stage to maturity'. Somehow, the author has brought both of these concepts into the book's 337 pages, amalgamating human evolutionary progress with New Age metaphysics, theology and Ufology - all pinned together by plenty of Socratic rhetorical debate. The contents may involve some heady stuff indeed, but the novel is coated by a chilled Californian vibe - rather in the style of Joe Satriani's guitar work; vigorously intellectual and creative, whilst remaining damn cool.

There's a political struggle woven into the work, too; a very American contest between liberalism and social conservatism: A breaking free of mainstream thinking, and a rejection of established and repressive community values. This is all drawn together into the New Age concept of Ascension - a spiritual evolution of being which allows humanity to break through into a multi-dimensional universe already inhabited by more highly evolved alien entities from neighbouring star systems.

The kick in this book is how that transformation plays out on an existential level, i.e. how the protagonist and his Scooby Doo-style band of friends experience this bizarre multi-dimensional roller coaster. There are many allusions to the Matrix movies, at least in terms of the way the book steps out of the box. There are many allusions to Virtual Reality games, an increasingly straightforward solution as the narrative weirdens. But this is no first-person shooter. The author's science fiction style harkens back to a Golden Age, more like Asimov or Bradbury, and brings in action sequences reluctantly, I felt. It didn't help that most of the book is written in the present tense. This may have been a consciously worked aspect of the underlying metaphysics, but it made the pacing of certain tracts of the book feel stilted. To be fair, it can't be easy to mix heady New Age philosophy with widescreen action adventure.

So, to the narrative. The story begins as a Close Encounter of the Fifth Kind ("bilateral contact experiences through conscious, voluntary and proactive human-initiated cooperative communication with extraterrestrial intelligence") on the hills overlooking Los Angeles, involving an eclectic group of UFO enthusiasts. The main protagonist of the story, a marketing executive called Trevor, has brought along his beautiful new girlfriend Veronica, who seems to be settling into this odd clan unexpectedly well. A highly successful encounter with a UFO turns into a classic abduction experience for several members of the group, which is then plunged into chaos when the UFO is intercepted by dark forces mid-abduction.

The abductees are rounded up and imprisoned within a military facility, partly manned by aggressive aliens. Upon their escape, they manage to find their ways home remarkably easily - making the whole thing seem like an extended acid trip. Someone laced the Kool Aid? But this is just the beginning of an evolution of weirdness, which permeates and ultimately takes over the lives of the abductees. They progressively experience a deeper multi-dimensional reality, aided by alien presences whose motives are often questionable. Inevitably, the course of the transformation and ascension of humanity to a new existential level relies upon the courage, determination and underlying humanity of these abductees.

The narrative draws from many, many strands of Ufology. One might even consider it to be a comprehensive exposé of the subject, attempting to understand this disparate discipline by attempting to incorporate all of its fayre simultaneously. The alien denizens of Earth, decidedly Men In Black in concept, rely heavily upon Ufology's menagerie - Greys, reptilians, Nordics, preying mantis-types, shape-shifters, and so on.

Then there are the many conspiracy theories which each try to explain and/or contextualise the UFO phenomenon, including alien bases, mind control, MILABs, ancient aliens, abductions, hybridisation, multi-dimensional encounters, folklore, demonology, environmental catastrophism, our estranged place in the galactic community, and quite a lot of dark David Icke-style material.

But, ultimately, the preferred solution edges towards human progress to a higher spiritual truth, aided by various quasi-religious figures known as Ascended Masters. This requires the book to turn in on itself, and provide multi-faceted experiences for its reader, which serve to penetrate this higher reality. It's an ambitious gambit, and for the most part works well. It's certainly thought-provoking. The sardonic, jocular wit shared by the abductee group gives the sense of a literary work smiling at itself knowingly - like an amused Bodhisattva. Whether the book would appeal to readers not acquainted with the diversity of Ufology, I don't know, but personally I found Ontogenesis engaging and immersive, and enjoyable. I'd certainly read another of John Garvey's books.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement

My email via iPhone to Congressman Adam Schiff:

Sir,
What are you thinking regarding the BDS Movement and Palestinians being mistreated by Israel? International law doesn't apply to Israel? You want to make the BDS Movement illegal?? I know Israel is powerful, and I know some Jewish people in your district are very influential. But human rights are human rights and oppression is oppression, regardless. If the two-state solution were finally implemented, the suicide-bombing would stop, wouldn't it. Wouldn't it. You must do the right thing regarding Palestinians. You know the historical significance of 19 centuries and 7 centuries. Israel cannot claim a birthright any more than any other country could in those circumstances. You must treat Palestine as a nation, and you must not treat Israel as a privileged nation.


Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Cross a walking-simulator with a novel and you get a...

My post to the forum at gamedev.net:


This seems like a good place to start looking for advice and information on developing an unusual hybrid of ebook and game, but if I've missed the mark, I apologize. I've been wanting for a while to add media and interactivity to the e-novel, but my experiences with Sigil haven't been too encouraging. In theory, HTML5 and epub3 should allow the addition of music tracks and embedded puzzles to ebook text, but my results on a previous project when outputting tests to iBooks and Kindle-for-PC were iffy. I have seen that companies like iClassics Productions offer multimedia books, so I know it's possible, at least in what seems like 2.5D. What I'm picturing for my current novel is allowing the reader to go back and forth between a standard ebook with page-flipping and resizable text, and a 3D walking-simulator environment like Everybody's Gone to the Rapture, Firewatch and Gone Home. Fortunately I'm not looking for financial success with this project, because expanding, say, Gone Home out to novel length would interest only a very small market. But it's a project I would like to create just to push the boundaries of the e-novel. Who knows—in the future, students may be able to experience War and Peace as both a novel and FPS.

Briefly, my story uses the theme park as metaphor for how we view the real world. Because political polarization in the US has reached such an extreme level with the last election, I want to explore left and right political philosophies as the central character, an influential theme-park designer, pushes for changes in a new theme-park design as his own politics move from right to left. Which will, of course, eliminate any interest in this project from conservative game developers. The movement from right to left simply reflects my own political shift over the years; an equally valid story by another writer could be based on a shift from left to right.

The way the novel is shaping up now, the reader would experience the project as a walking-simulator embedded within a novel. The project currently begins as an ebook with title-theme orchestral music underscoring the front-matter pages. The walking-simulator isn't accessed until Chapter 2 (although that's not set in stone). But the project would probably have to be constructed, perhaps in Unity, as a walking-simulator with the novel embedded within it. I've been approaching the project up till now as a one-man-band, but simultaneously climbing multiple learning curves is something I would've been happier to do when I was a bit younger. So it occurs to me now to seek help, or at least information regarding focus.

A reel of my LightWave 3D models is at https://vimeo.com/159571874 and my author page at Amazon is at https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B002ES921O.

Thanks a lot for reading!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Chuck Schumer and Israeli Exceptionalism

[An edited/extended version of my note to Adam Schiff]

Dear Mr. Schumer:

In your press release of 4 January 2017, you quote Senator Rubio as saying "Efforts to delegitimize Israel have been underway a long time at the United Nations and have now sadly been aided by the outgoing administration" in reference to UN SC Resolution 2334. In contrast, a press release from Senator Feinstein on 23 December 2016 states "President Obama’s refusal to veto today's UN Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements sends a strong message that the United States still supports a two-state solution. Ending settlement activity in the West Bank and East Jerusalem is an absolute necessity if we’re ever to achieve a lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians." As Rachel Maddow said of Senator Feinstein, she "will crush you and bench press your corpse," and I think it may be in your and Senator Rubio's best interests not to disagree with her. I'm just sayin'.

I expect that you personally feel that Israel's settlements are wrong, as is their treatment of people in Gaza, but you have strong elements among your constituents who will not tolerate any action that is not pro-Israel. To me, this issue is significant enough on the world stage that, if I were in your place, I would vote my conscience even if it meant being voted out of office.

The occupation of the land by Israel as a sovereign nation ended in A.D. 136 with the Bar Kokhba revolt. Nineteen centuries have passed since then. When Crusader influence in the Holy Land was finally eliminated in A.D. 1244 with the Battle of La Forbie, the land came under Muslim control and remained so until 1948. That was seven centuries of Palestine being Muslim land. In any other region of the world, a people forcibly taking land that had not been theirs for 19 centuries from a people in whose possession that land had been for the previous 7 centuries would be considered an illegal invasion and other nations would become involved in ousting the invading nation. In any other region of the world.

It's understandable, after the insanity in Germany during the second quarter of the twentieth century, that everyone in 1948 felt it important for Jewish people to have a homeland. Had I been living then, I would have agreed. There needed to be significant accommodation after enduring horrors like that. But if one took stock of the situation in 1967, one would have seen that Jewish people were experiencing acceptance and finding prosperity in many places in the Western world, and one would wonder whether the need for a homeland at that point warranted the Six Day War. If the Six Day War had been treated then as a people forcibly taking land that had not been theirs for 19 centuries from a people in whose possession that land had been for the previous 7 centuries, it would have been in line with international law. It would have been acceptable to everyone if other nations became involved in ousting the invading nation because the Jewish people had had two decades to heal emotionally by that time. Instead, the drive to oust Palestinians from what has to be defined as their land increased and the establishing of the illegal settlements began.

 Of course you know this history, much better than I do. How would you react to illegal US settlements on American Indian land? How did you react to Iraq invading Kuwait? I'll have to research more but isn't Russia's treatment of Ukraine in the same vein as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? How do you react to Russia's role in that conflict? Do they have a legitimate claim to Ukrainian land, or is their aggression illegal in view of international law? It's baffling to me if you, and any of your Jewish constituents, condemn illegal aggression by the US, Iraq and Russia but condone it for Israel. I don't understand where that double-standard comes from and have to label it hypocrisy.

It's interesting that both you and Senator Feinstein have the same objective, peace between Israelis and Palestinians through a two-state solution. I'm sure that, as a doctor of jurisprudence, you can dissemble with aplomb, and I expect that you personally believe that no logical argument can be made defending the illegal Israeli settlements. Even I, from down here, can see that Senator Feinstein's approach to achieving peace has the moral high ground. The logic leading to the illegal settlements being an obstacle to peace is so bald-faced that one wonders how you, and the other progressives with you, can overlook that. A question from a naive outsider: Did Israel purchase the land for the settlements from the Palestinians, or were contracts simply awarded to construction companies by the Israeli government? I expect that, if the settlement properties had been purchased legitimately from their Muslim owners, the settlements would probably not be termed illegal. If the land wasn't purchased, however, but simply subsumed by Israel, how can that not be considered criminal? It's baffling to me to see how much argues against the legal validity of the settlements and how motivated you are to overlook that. What would motivate you to the point of urging the veto of Res. 2334 and cosponsoring a resolution condemning it?

I would hate to find out that the Israel lobby gives you nice things that are just this side of illegal. I would hope your motivation is simply to stay in office where you can do the most good. It could be that your pro-Israel conditioning began in infancy and you actually can't think in any other terms. Whatever your motivation is, you know better than to overlook the illegal settlements as an obstacle to peace. Israel deserved its exceptional status between 1948 and 1967. It no longer does. 19 centuries since the end of Israel's sovereignty cannot be ignored. 7 centuries of Muslim possession of the land cannot be ignored. On the world stage, Israel is just another nation, to whom the limitations imposed by international law apply equally.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Adam Schiff objected to UN Res 2334

Dear Mr. Schiff:

As I understand H.Res. 11 objecting to UN SC Resolution 2334 and your Yea vote, you voted against a toothless Resolution that states that Israel's illegal settlements on Palestinian land constitute a flagrant violation of international law and have no legal validity. I apologize if I have it wrong, since it's an objection to an objection or something like a double negative, but it appears to me that you objected to the UN describing the settlements as illegal. I expect that you personally feel that Israel's settlements are wrong, as is their treatment of people in Gaza, but you have strong elements among your constituents who will not tolerate any action that is not pro-Israel. To me, this issue is significant enough on the world stage that, if I were in your place, I would vote my conscience even if it meant being voted out of office.

The occupation of the land by Israel as a sovereign nation ended in A.D. 136 with the Bar Kokhba revolt. Nineteen centuries have passed since then. When Crusader influence in the Holy Land was finally eliminated in A.D. 1244 with the Battle of La Forbie, the land came under Muslim control and remained so until 1948. That was seven centuries of Palestine being Muslim land. In any other region of the world, a people forcibly taking land that had not been theirs for 19 centuries from a people in whose possession that land had been for the previous 7 centuries would be considered an illegal invasion and other nations would become involved in ousting the invading nation.

It's understandable, after the insanity in Germany during the second quarter of the twentieth century, that everyone in 1948 felt it important for Jewish people to have a homeland. Had I been living then, I would have agreed. There needed to be significant accommodation after enduring horrors like that. But if one took stock of the situation in 1967, one would have seen that Jewish people were experiencing acceptance and finding prosperity in many places in the Western world, and one would wonder whether the need for a homeland at that point warranted the Six Day War. If the Six Day War had been treated then as a people forcibly taking land that had not been theirs for 19 centuries from a people in whose possession that land had been for the previous 7 centuries, it would have been in line with international law and acceptable to everyone if other nations became involved in ousting the invading nation, because the Jewish people had had two decades to heal emotionally by that time. Instead, the drive to oust Palestinians from what has to be defined as their land increased and the establishing of the illegal settlements began.

Of course you know this history, much better than I do. How would you react to illegal US settlements on American Indian land? How did you react to Iraq invading Kuwait? I'll have to research more but isn't Russia's treatment of Ukraine in the same vein as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? How do you react to Russia's role in that conflict? Do they have a legitimate claim to Ukrainian land, or is their aggression illegal in view of international law? It's baffling to me if you, and any of your Jewish constituents, condemn illegal aggression by the US, Iraq and Russia but condone it for Israel. I don't understand where that double-standard comes from and have to label it hypocrisy.

I find your voting record otherwise admirable and I'm pleased to have you as my Representative. I have no complaints regarding your treatment of progressive issues like women's right, lgbt rights, and so on. I am just surprised by your vote regarding Resolution 2334, as I am the abstention of the US from voting on it. In decisions regarding Israel, you must be as broad-minded and aware of historical context as you are with other issues. If Israel's aggression is illegal, then it must not be condoned.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Dear Dr. Zuckerberg

Mark,

The user should have the option to set the default on his News Feed. When I choose Most Recent, it goes back to Top Stories the next day. Even with Most Recent selected now, the stories in my News Feed are ordered 9 hrs ago, 46 mins ago, 7 hrs ago, 41 mins ago... Back off a little, okay? Facebook can't know which stories I, personally, consider top stories, so I would like Most Recent to remain the default. I'll change it to Top Stories when I want. But don't control the user's experience to the point where Most Recent doesn't even produce the most recent. Please allow Most Recent to remain the default, and realize that any reason you would give for not allowing that would be Big Brother talking.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Inform the Electors

My message to President Obama via the whitehouse.gov contact page:


In a situation like this, it isn't appropriate to be politely nonpartisan with regard to the intelligence on Russia's influence on the election. If the Electors would change their minds regarding the scope of the influence when given access to the intelligence, and they are denied access, then they are being forced to make their electoral decision "blind." I'm surprised by your decision to decline to make the information available to the Electors. It's one thing to declassify the information, and we understand your reluctance to do that. But the intelligence is precisely relevant to the decision the Electors will be making. It's recently been said by individuals from both parties that this isn't a partisan issue, it's a constitutional issue. Please rethink your decision regarding the intelligence. The information is precisely relevant to the decision the Electors will be making. They need to be able to make an informed decision.

While I'm at it, I want to thank you for eight years of level-headed even-handedness. Even in the face of ad hominem verbal abuse from a good percentage of the American population and petulant resistance from legislators, you, like the Queen, have never "put your foot wrong." It's been amazing to see you continuing to be positive and professional. We will greatly miss your leadership.

Monday, December 05, 2016

The Whitelash Cycle

Sounds like a new style of eye makeup. An article on CNN.com, "This is what 'whitelash' looks like," explains that the term refers to the white backlash that historically has occurred after every era when progress against racism has been made. I wasn't aware of this historical pattern before reading the article, but in thinking about it now it's fairly clear. Reconstruction after the Civil War, the post-war era from 1865 to 1877, was a time when former slaves gained more influence in the country. The article's author, John Blake, says that a century of Jim Crow followed the Reconstruction. He continues "The civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s was followed by President Ronald Reagan and the rise of the religious right." The article was also enlightening for me regarding Obama's presidency, the he isn't "post-racial" but "post-Reconstructionist," with Trump's election echoing the whitelash that occurred in the fourth quarter of the nineteenth century. Hm. It's difficult to analyze history while one is in it.

My own belief, actually deeply held, is that the outcome of the Civil War was the wrong one. There should be, right now, a nation called the Confederate States of America existing beside the USA as peacefully as Canada does. How hard is that to visualize? Crossing the national boundary into the CSA and back again would be no more difficult than entering Canada from Washington State. "Anything to declare?" As it is currently, those we identify as Southerners, which is a term becoming increasingly diffused as that population moves around, also deeply hold the belief that the outcome of the Civil War was the wrong one. For many of them, now, their experience is that they have a dual citizenship, because many believe deeply, down where God and love and country reside, in the deepest part of the heart, that the Confederate States of America was never completely dissolved and still exists in spirit. Evidence of that is the number of Confederate flags currently flying. Dual citizenship is obviously okay and a lot of people are in that situation. The problem comes in when those citizenships conflict. If citizens of the CSA feel that the spirit of the CSA is embedded within the definition of the USA, then they're patriotic for and fiercely supportive of the USA. But if the USA is defined as a forward-thinking nation whose responsibilities and privileges relate equally to all her peoples, their CSA citizenship takes precedence. And actions that could be considered treasonous in one nation may be considered heroic in the other.

The problem of conflicting allegiances probably can't be solved. The constitutional, legal, financial and logistical hurdles keeping the Confederacy from peacefully, bloodlessly seceding from the US now are probably insurmountable. But I can't think of anything that would generate more euphoria among Southerners, especially the straight white Christian blue-collar males who are diehard Trump supporters, than the South actually rising again. Even the return of Jesus in glory wouldn't be quite as exciting for them as the Confederacy peacefully, legally becoming a real entity. If SWCMs feel disenfranchised in the modern world of immigration, workplace equality, and automation, finding a way to make the Confederate States of America a reality—without bloodshed and with the assistance of legal professionals all the way up to the Supreme Court—would give that whole population something to focus on and work toward, a monumental, historic effort in which to take great pride.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Rather Than Skewering Republicans

My email to Rachel Maddow:


Here's something I've been thinking about for a while. Instead of skewering conservatives for the falseness of their claims and for their wealthy-favoring policies, what if we focused instead on conversion? I know it sounds dumb, and I am naive enough to think of something like that. But while I watch you and Chris Hayes and all being uncompromising in your fact-checked roasting of the right wing—and you are world-class in generating moral outrage and/or unbelieving laughter in your viewers—I'm thinking that the very entertainment-value itself is what keeps people on the right from watching your show and learning something. It probably doesn't even cross the minds of most conservatives to watch TRMS because of how the right is ridiculed, although I do remember from a while ago some conservative Congressmen referring to the individual dressing-down they got from your show as a rite of passage. But generally TRMS and All In and all are environments where only masochistic conservatives would venture. While I'm listening to you presenting lucid arguments against different aspects of the right's agenda, I'm thinking "Conservatives should be hearing this!" But the way the information they'd benefit from is presented, they would only feel extremely insulted and as a result would shut out the information. For your typical viewers, it's like emotional support to hear their complaints against the right couched in arguments that are so logical they make the right look ridiculous. But still I frequently think "Conservatives should be hearing this."

I suppose it has to be this way. Your viewers expect skewering of the right. They'd be annoyed if you spent the entire show politely trying to convince conservatives to see the falseness of the right's arguments and you then held an invitation at the end for any conservatives who wanted to convert and they could call the number on their screen. "Call in the next twenty minutes and we'll send you a..." Even having a conservative-friendly segment of the show probably wouldn't work. I doubt they'd tune in even if you identified an upcoming segment as "Safe for Republicans." It's a conundrum. The very information they should hear to get a clearer picture than they get from Fox News, is bristling with comical insults aimed at them. It probably has to be this way. But I just wanted to pass the thought along to you, although I doubt I'm the first viewer who has brought this up. It does seem now that, when the right realizes that Trump isn't going to keep very many of his campaign promises, it would be a time when they would be slightly more willing to listen to the left. Just a thought.

I also wanted to mention that everything I know about the Electoral College overturning the popular vote in the Harrison-Cleveland election I learned from The One and Only Genuine Original Family Band. Disney, 1968. It's a hoot. You might even find yourself singing along. [I saw the film in 1973 and still remember some of the lyrics. "Let's put it over with Grover. Don't rock the boat, give him your vote..." Don't ask me why.]

Sunday, November 27, 2016

PCs to the Back of the Bus

Dear Dr. Apple:

Have you thought of this? Picture an Apple store in a mall with a sign over the door that reads "Whites Only." Picture in another part of the mall an electronics store with a sign over the door that reads "Colored Only." Have you thought about that? It's amazing that Apple is continuing with its separate-but-superior OS segregation policies. It should be easy by now to flow from Windows-based applications to Mac-based applications. There shouldn't even be the Mac/PC dichotomy anymore. But there still isn't the free flow of equals between the two segments of the population because a Wall is in place intended specifically to make access to Mac applications difficult for Palestinians, I'm sorry I meant Mexicans, I'm sorry I meant PC users.

It's well past time for Apple to drop its elitism and stop positioning the Mac in the marketplace as if it's a purely Aryan race of computers. That kind of elitism is more attuned to the world of the 1950s. I can easily picture people who were vehemently opposed to school desegregation flocking to stores that sell these clean white machines assiduously designed to appear different from and better than the hordes of common machines in the other stores. That's how we thought then. But now?

The sleek white surfaces of the Apple product line look so sophisticated and forward-thinking and uncluttered by the past. But beneath those surfaces? It's just old white guys being themselves.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

MoveOn.org's Electoral College Petition Is Back

I haven't been this motivated to be political since Dubya's reelection campaign. (The war we could not stop, the reign we could not end.) It seems that every time I sit down to my computer now I see something or other that triggers a need to respond. This too shall pass. Or something like that. The MoveOn.org petition to tell the Electoral College to cast their votes for Hillary was taken down yesterday, and I sent them a message on the order of "I can't believe you did that!" I see that the petition is back online now but all of the previous signatures must have been deleted. They sent out an email this morning asking for financial support and they made no mention of the petition being back online. I went to the site to check that it was still down and found it online again. This is my reply to the fundraising email:
MoveOn totally messed up when they took down the Electoral College petition. I couldn't believe it. In my previous note I speculated that you'd been infiltrated by a conservative plant or two. I don't know if that's the case or if it was just wanting to appear less like sore losers. In most cases I would agree that being a good loser is the best strategy, but the Trump campaign has been outrageous.

Thank you for bringing back the petition! I see that it's down to 50,000 signatures now. I think I remember it being over 200,000 when I signed it the first time. Let's hope momentum can propel this petition past the highest total number of signatures of the previous petition.

Thanks again for bringing it back!

Saturday, November 12, 2016

It's Worse Than We Thought

Scrolling through the news articles on Yahoo, I saw this headline: "The Mike Pence (Donald Trump) Assault On LGBTQ Equality Is Already Underway." It linked to an article by Michelangelo Signorile, Queer Voices Editor-at-Large at Huffington Post. I may have read the entire article without blinking. OMG. Who knew? They're speculating that Mike Pence "could be the most powerful Vice President ever." More powerful than Chaney? Is that physically possible? Signorile writes "Mike Pence is perhaps one of the most anti-LGBTQ political crusaders to serve in Congress and as governor of a state. Long before he signed the draconian anti-LGBTQ 'religious liberty' law in Indiana last year, he supported 'conversion therapy' as a member of Congress, and later, as a columnist and radio host, he gave a speech in which he said that marriage equality would lead to 'societal collapse,' and called homosexuality 'a choice.'" The article is especially unsettling because we believe we've been making halting progress through the years since the turn of the century, that the population has been gradually, grudgingly accepting new ways of thinking about certain segments of the population. But all along there have been influential people plotting ways to roll time back and undo that progress because they feel this progress has been an ooze downward toward depravity rather than a march upward toward enlightenment. Signorile advocates moving through the grieving process quickly and beginning the fight to retain the progress we've made.

I shouldn't scroll down to look at the comments at the end of articles. I know better. I'll have to break that habit if I'm going to get anything else done besides blogging, tweeting and facebooking. But one reply to a comment after this article was just so... dumb that I had to respond:
Kiran Suresh · Los Angeles, California
I'm not afraid of Trump because I know he will do nothing. I'm worried about a republican dominated house and conservative SC which could roll back years of progress. And everyone knows Pence is the scariest wolf in the White House.

Tim Daugherty · Jamison, Pennsylvania
Kiran Suresh: Yes, we need to roll back soooo many things liberals have put into place! This is should not be viewed as a fear but rather the consequences for losing an election to conservative issues. The DOW is up huge... but I guess you do not look at those things.

John Evan Garvey · Burbank, California
Tim Daugherty: I imagine Jamison is in central Pennsylvania? Do you own cows yourself? I imagine you're married; nope, looking at your profile you appear to be single. You don't know what your girlfriend or your mom is really thinking about the reduction of women's rights that appears to be coming. She hasn't told you what she's really thinking because she knows better. You have an LGBT brother or sister or niece or nephew or cousin who hasn't told you because they know how you'd react. So much going on around you that you don't know about. And you're thinking "It's a man's world again!," meaning straight white Christian man's world. There are people whom you love, who are close to you, whom you are hurting with your support of a narrow conservative agenda. The soooo many things liberals have put into place have benefited people you love. When those rights are taken away, it will hurt them, but they won't let you know that, because they know better.

Say It Often Enough, It Becomes True

An informative article by Neil Buchanan on the Newsweek site: The Cruel 'Crooked' Caricature That Doomed Clinton. Very interesting reading. He trashes the media on the left and right equally, so Conservatives could benefit from reading the article too without feeling too much nausea.

At the end of the article, the Comments section shows that there are currently 600 comments. A reply to the first comment started a long, long thread of people telling the replier how stupid she is. And it rolled on and on. Following are the first comment and the first two replies:
James Johnson
Wow. Rush Limbaugh was right, as usual. The leftist, leg-humping-poodle media is simply incapable of any semblance of balance or introspection. They continue to run interference for a miserable, socialist, elitist candidate.

Sheila Merritt · Darby High School
AS soon as you praise Rush Limbaugh that qualifies you among the thoughtless ditto heads.

Carl Savant · Lamar University
Sheila Merritt: And you sound like PeeWee Herman! "I know you are, but what am I? No real response to anything. Typical Demo"scat"!
Lots of anger addressed directly to Sheila in the long scroll downward. I came to a comment with a picture of Princess Leia from Episode IV as the avatar of the comment writer, and I wrote a reply but it appears several comments down from that one:
Nancine Pike
Sheila Merritt: Dare you to listen for 6 weeks every day...Your bubble will burst.

John Evan Garvey
Nancine Pike: Listen to Rush for six weeks to burst the bubble, Princess Leia?? Coughcoughhack, sorry pardon me, you caught me by surprise there. Ahem. Okay, here's a counter: Listen to Rachel Maddow for six weeks every day. Picture that. You would spend every hour saying "Lies, lies, lies, lies..." Wouldn't you. But then, if someone meticulously went through the two show transcripts and fact-checked, you wouldn't like the outcome. Rachel is a meticulous researcher. Even after fact-checks, though—fact-checks—you would still find a way to keep your bubble intact.
A little ways further down the page is a comment that ended with a reference to Christianity and I replied to that:
Steve Peck
Steven Dickerson: It’s true Rush Limbaugh had the misfortune, to get hooked on pain pills prescribed after botched back surgery. When this happens the left tells us that such failings by conservatives negates the validity of their arguments. No they don’t. A lapse in judgment is not an invalidation of one's principles. Nor, does it make a person immoral or unethical. A continuous pattern of behavior defines character and people like you have defined theirs for over half a century. Their complete lack of compassion and desires to humiliate and misrepresenting things like Rush’s misfortune as moral failure speaks more about your character than his. For people like you, the concept of redemption, like the golden rule and civil rights, is only to be applied to other leftists. A KKK leader can be the “dean of the Senate” if he’s a Democrat because redemption is only for your own.
   Where did the left get the idea that only perfect people can exalt virtue? Certainly not from Christianity, which assumes we are all sinners.

John Evan Garvey
Steve Peck: Excellent cherry-picking technique. That takes skill and practice. Now, picture Jesus having dinner frequently with Muslims and Mexicans. Can you? I really think that, if Jesus were here on Earth today, that would be a familiar image. "Wine-bibber" would be replaced with "alcoholic" wouldn't it? I expect you would be totally disappointed with Jesus, today, not being very Republican. If you want to pull Christianity into the discussion, Jesus gets pulled in along with it. (I'm a grad of BJU and I aced all their doctrine courses, so proceed with theological caution.) Jesus represents some awkwardnesses for the right. He doesn't quite fit. Picture Trump giving a speech with Jesus nearby. If He looked like He disagreed with Trump on some point, would Trump call Him corrupt? I do believe Jesus would shush all the liberal indignation over Trump's groping women, but He probably would then say "Go, thou, and sin no more." Or "Yo, Donald, don't think of women like that anymore." Oh, you mean 'Dean' Robert 'Pork Barrel' Byrd? He filibustered the Civil Rights Act and supported the Viet Nam war. Quite a character. Sounds like he was in the wrong party. You can claim him if you want.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

MoveOn.org's Petition to the Electoral College

MoveOn.org has posted a petition to tell the Electoral College to vote for Hillary.

The site displays this note: "MoveOn volunteers reviewed this petition and determined that it either may not reflect MoveOn members' progressive values, or that MoveOn members may disagree about whether to support this petition. MoveOn will not promote the petition beyond hosting it on our site."

The comment I added to my signature was "I know this seems like we're sore losers, and I wouldn't advise this for a less outrageous candidate. But this is Constitutional. This is what the Founding Fathers provided for a case like this."

My email to Rachel Maddow regarding this petition:

I'm sure you've been sent this link to MoveOn.org's petition to tell the Electoral College to cast their votes for Hillary, many times. I can also understand your reluctance to advocate this course of action.

Please consider adding your influence to this movement, Rachel. Please. It isn't that we can't tolerate losing elections. Of course we can. We survived the Dubya years. It's because this candidate has stated such outrageous intentions that the situation is more serious than usual. The fact that Hillary won the popular vote would serve to bolster the unprecedented move of having the Electoral College delegates vote independently. If it were explained clearly enough to the public that this is an extremely unusual situation, the rioting might be minimized.

Please consider advocating this solution to a very serious problem. Four years of both Democrats and Republicans in Congress blocking the White House and getting nothing done is not a pleasant prospect.