Brought To You by Corporate America

The NY Times had an interesting article the other day about a large charter school company run by Eva Moskowitz. The charter schools under her control are ruthless when it comes to forcing kids to score high on tests so that the charter schools look even better. Kids wet their pants because they are not allowed to go to the bathroom while practicing for taking the tests since they can’t go during the actual tests. Kids with low scores are ridiculed before the entire school.

Moskowitz is backed by a venture capital group. Ultimately, I’m sure they envision the program growing into a multi-million dollar endeavor and spreading throughout the country. Let’s take what’s happening a few steps further, though. The GOP wants to privatize everything. In a few years we’re likely to receive incentives from our water company and electric company to use less precious resources. Perhaps if we tear out our lawn, we can have a new fence installed by the water company to hide the dirt pile along with a sign saying “this dirt pile is brought to you by ABC Water Company.” We’ll be able to buy clothing for discounts if they feature logos advertising the companies behind the products. Nike already controls most college sports programs because of the money it gives them in exchange for wearing their shoes.

Cable companies likely will encourage customers to watch certain shoes with incentives while adding charges for those who prefer to watch shoes like PBS since they will expect PBS to be self-supporting. Churches and Temples are likely to start advertising using pictures of couples they have married who have achieved success.

Kids today don’t expect anything they write to be private. In the near future nothing will. Chatting with a friend and happen to mention how you like Allen’s New York Style Pizza? In the future, it’s likely that a voice will cut in and offer you an immediate discount to buy now.

Publishers already require non-fiction authors to provide a social media “platform” in order to guarantee sales; otherwise, they won’t accept a book for publication. Imagine in the near future that books will contain ads, even on the back cover, for products. Why waste valuable advertising space?

Maybe corporate America will be more open about the politicians they already buy. Imagine Senator McCane running for reelection in Arizona at the age of 80 (2016) with the slogan, “the best senator the military industrial complex could possibly buy.” Imagine a large prostitute ring in Louisiana advertising its support for a senator already tied to prostitute visits.

Today Google is being accused of trying to influence kids with its new app that hits them with advertising. Why be subtle? Google already puts items from companies who buy its advertising in the most advantageous position for any search. Why not just say “the following items are listed first because Google believes they are best [and] they have paid good money to earn the positions they have.”

Brother Can You Spare Me a Hundred Bucks for a Robotic Prostitute?

The April 2015 issue of Reason magazine has several fascinating articles on the rise of robots in various forms from robotic driverless cars to robotic maids and sex toys. One futurist believes in two or three decades that 40% of current jobs will be taken over by robots.

Japan (of course) is the leader in a new family of robotic sex toys. One manufacturer products robots that promise skin that feels real as well as well as sensors on the robot’s anal, oral, and vaginal areas. Some futurists even foresee child sex robots for pedophiles, even though they already are illegal in Canada.

This country is turning into a service industry. Kids coming out of college are finding jobs when they are lucky doing such tasks as serving as waitresses and waiters, customer support, retail salespeople, etc. Some if not most of these jobs will be filled in the near future by robots that don’t demand a minimum wage and never call in sick.

Even pimps and prostitutes are doomed to longterm unemployment. Robotic  sluts simply won’t say no or worry about being arrested. They will be able to wear the skimpiest of dresses without feeling cold and a larger breast size is a mere equipment change. Think of most jobs today and ask yourself which ones will be safe in the future. Doctors? A robotic doctor with built in artificial intelligence might be capable of asking you several questions, studying your body, and then writing a prescription. Professional athlete? Why deal with greedy guys who never grew up when a sports owner can buy specialized robots that never will embarrass him by being caught at two in the morning in the wrong place with the wrong people.

Of course as Americans we will have to get over our preoccupation with labeling anyone or anything different from us as bad; otherwise, robots will have to take up residence in ghettos in the less desirable parts of town and face discrimination. Imagine some customer refusing to do business with a dark hued robotic prostitute or demanding that his robot produce citizenship papers before any lovemaking could take place.

What’s the solution besides insisting your children earn advanced degrees to put them in a position to design and program the robots? One answer is for our country’s leaders to realize that without careful planning we very well could ultimately face an uprising against robots that could prove very bloody. A possible solution longterm is to determine what a livable wage is for being a citizen of this country and then providing it to everyone. People will have free time to develop hobbies and vocations. Imagine having enough money so that someone in their forties could spend their time learning to play the piano well for personal enjoyment. Imagine another Grandma Moses having the time to worry about getting just the right colors on a canvass rather than worrying how she would pay for her medicine and food.

Star Trek offers a glimpse of a future world where money is not important and everyone is well-fed and clothed, a post-capitalist society. In such a world people will be judged in what they do with their free time rather than the work they do or did. Instead of asking someone what he or she did for a living, the question will be more like what does that person do to enjoy life to its fullest.

So, when you start to see more and more different types of robots for sale, don’t see them as competitors but as emancipators that will free us from work. Of course the 1% that run everything will have to go along with providing comfortable stipends for citizens; otherwise, the bloody revolt against robots will include a class revolt against that same 1%.

Extraterrestrials, the X-Files, and the GOP

Remember the heyday of the X-Files? While nerds dreamed of Scully, the general public became fascinated over the possibilities that our government was hiding its partnership with extraterrestrials. The man with the cigarette would appear and then disappear while Mulder would almost have the proof, the smoking gun, that the wanted more than anything else.

The show is coming back soon for six new episodes. It’s good timing. Over the past several years the country’s mood has changed. Remember how skeptics laughed about Mulder’s beliefs in UFOs and aliens and government conspiracies? There are far fewer people laughing anymore.

Why? One reason has been the erosion in people’s faith in government. Each time a reporter reveals that the government has found a new way to spy on us, people begin to see it as “them” rather than “us.” Very few people would be surprised if some intrepid reporter suddenly published absolute proof in the form of a “smoking gun” that the government has been working with extraterrestrials.

How does the GOP figure in all this? The last several years the Republican Party has preached and railed against the federal government. It claims that the government is incapable of performing most tasks, and that the states should assume more and more duties. One goal of the GOP strategists has been to erode people’s faith in government since the government’s lifeline support systems traditionally have been associated with the Democratic Party. If the GOP can eliminate federal payouts like social security and medicare, then people won’t remember that it was the Democrats who gave people those federal benefits. Once they know longer receive these benefits, they will have one less excuse to vote for the Democrats.

So, the result is a loss of confidence in government and a subsequent growing suspicion in government conspiracies. The more people don’t trust their government, the more they will assume the worse and believe any conspiracy theory that comes along. The new X-Files will find a very receptive audience. Watch the public’s reaction if one of the new episodes shows aliens conspiring with the government to put chemicals in routine vaccines. Watch what happens if Scully and Mulder discover that GMO products are part of the government’s conspiracy with extraterrestrials.

Sometimes I long for the days when the public liked Ike and had faith in government. The worst thing critics could accuse Eisenhower of was playing too much golf and playing badly. Of course, in those days we didn’t have cable news reporters and social media “reporters.” They would have unearthed his affair with his driver during WW2 and asked Mamie what she thought of the whole sordid affair. Maybe they would have insisted the President and his wife appear on the “Sex Box” TV show and see if they could work out their differences.

Giving Hollywood a Bad Name

My wife and I watched “Bird Man” the other night. It made me realize just how insular the movie industry really is. Here was a movie that movie insiders could watch and think, “I know someone just like this character or just like that character.” I’m sure several of them just loved it when the “bird man” let the NY Times theater critic have it.

It’s true of so many industries. When I was an insider in the high tech industry, I frequently ran into engineers who would dream up new products that had very little real incremental value over existing products. I would question them why anyone would buy this new product, and the answer was “because I want it. Everyone’s going to want it as well.” Of course, everyone didn’t want it.

Take sports. An ex-NFL or NBA player watches a game far differently than we average folks do. If someone made an movie from that inside perspective, they probably would love it although we might not “get” a lot of the scenes.

“Bird Man” reminded me of something a college freshman might write. Once I had such a person who was high on pot write an essay for me. It was filled with “truths” that apparently were self-evident. Once the student lost her buzz, she couldn’t explain any of these “truths” because they no longer made any sense to her either.

So, we watch a “method” actor go way over the top and scream and rage. So what? I know about method acting, and I still found that Ed Norton went on and on and on. In fact, the movie was filled with much too much talking. Everyone talked and talked and talked. It would have been refreshing if the daughter and the method actor had actually had sex, but no, all they did was talk and talk and talk. The fact that he couldn’t maintain and erection was symbolic to me of this entire picture that apparently most critics just love.  The actor couldn’t get it up because the entire film was a orgy of self-love. He didn’t have anything left for the woman.

View From a Distant Planet

Astronomers recently discovered a sun with a group of planets revolving around it. What made news was that the planets were twice as old as our Earth and yet appeared to be in the “Goldilocks” range where life could develop. Imagine how life has progressed here on Earth. Modern man has only been here for a very small fraction of the time life has existed on this planet. Now think of life evolving from this point on for several more millions of years, assuming we don’t blow ourselves up first or have a stray astroid smash into the planet.

We’re taught that species make changes in order to improve their survival rates. Two novels that touched on this topic and did wonderful jobs are Childhood’s End and Darwin’s Radio. Both showed humanity making a profound and rapid transformation. I’m more inclined to think that the transformation will take place over a greater timeframe so that each generation will not be aware of the subtle changes. If you leaped forward a thousand years or so, though, you’d notice marked differences.

What kind of changes? I believe that we have barely touched the abilities we have. Lucy is a recent movie that touches on that subject. We treat most diseases today by giving patients poison and hoping that the poison kills the disease before it kills the patients. That approach should change within the next hundred years. I expect science to give more credence to the mental powers we possess. Take auras, for example. Why shouldn’t some people have a greater range of vision and be able to see certain energy patterns that most people can’t see? Take the body’s immune system. Someday we should be able to summon our own immune system and order it to fight or not fight certain attacks. Remember that inflammation is the result of our body attacking cells it should not attack. Remember also that inflation leads to a variety of major diseases today.

As we learn to control our minds more, we might discover that all these New Age reports of people leaving their bodies and having out-of-body experiences might have some merit. Apparently the U.S. government and the Soviet Union used to use people with high ESP scores to visit highly secure sites without actually physically traveling to them. Telepathy is another mental ability that our government has explored. Let’s assume that these are abilities that gradually will be routine for most people as we evolve.

Either people will become smart enough to realize the dangers of pollution and clean up the world, or they will learn to adapt to such an environment or die. It’s easy to speculate about all three possibilities, and they all make excellent science fiction novel plots.

Unlike some science fiction novels and movies, I don’t see human’s evolving to have larger heads because there is no way that human females could carry such babies to term or deliver them without dying in childbirth. Rather, we’ll just learn to unlock the currently unused cranial capacity.

Ultimately we might no longer need a physical Internet with routers (sorry, Cisco) or servers (sorry HP, IBM, and Dell). Our mental capabilities might extend to the point that we could communicate using telepathy. I believe we could ultimately become a post-industrial and post-services economy where there really is no need for poverty or disease.

The problem that needs to be solved, though, is human nature. Put a few humans together and they ultimately begin to squabble and fight over territory and power. How do we change human nature without taking away a certain amount of aggressiveness that humanity needs to push it to strive for the stars and for new discoveries and inventions? You wouldn’t want to see that trait bred out completely when people are able to order up their children so that they have perfect noses, no tendency to develop baldness or obesity, and perfect complexions.

The Bill Belichick Way

I just found a NYT article from 2007 in which the New England Patriot’s coach denies spying on the New York Jets. Despite his emphatic denials, the league found him guilty. Now he’s back to denying a new transgression. What’s interesting is that very few people outside of New England believe him or his quarterback.

If you read some of the comments people have posted about the ongoing story about Patriot footballs being softened against NFL policy, you might be shocked, shocked I say by the tone and venom of New England fans. Their state of denial takes many forms:

“Everyone does it so big deal.”

“We won and would have won anyway, so what does it matter?”

“The Seahawks use drugs –that’s much more serious.”

“No one can prove the coach or quarterback knew, so let’s forget it.”

“The team is really made now and will crush true Seahawks.”

So, the general gist of these remarks is that everyone does it, and that it makes it acceptable. Also, if you break a rule and you’re not convicted with overwhelming evidence, then you’re innocent.

I was thinking how this tempest in a teapot reflects what is happening in other areas of our lives such as politics and literature. Politicians will blatantly lie even when someone like John Stewart produces video to show them lying. What’s the normal reaction when caught? “I misspoke.” When the Senate shifted to the Republicans, the party line was “see how we improved the economy,” despite the fact that senate Republicans did everything they possibly could do to ruin the economy so they could blame President Obama. I also can think of at least two politicians who recently were caught plagiarizing material. They weren’t even apologetic.

Writers today plagiarize and then shrug their shoulders when they are caught. The father and son who claimed the young boy saw Jesus during a near death experience, admitted the boy had lied several years ago, but they didn’t offer to return all the money gained from book and movie sales.

What we have today is a slippery slope because most people no longer subscribe to the idea of absolutes (Thou shall not ever….). Instead, they rely on situational ethics. “I generally don’t lie but it’s okay to lie to my boss because he’s an SOB.” Students tell themselves “I generally don’t cheat, but Professor Jones is so unreasonable that he’s forcing me to cheat to avoid failing.”

The result of all these cases where people are caught in their own lies and avoid apologizing is that many people are becoming more cynical; “Well, of course he lied or copied his speech from someone else; everyone does that sort of thing.” This kind of growing cynicism is bad for our country and for democracy in general because it encourages politicians to lie even more in their ads. What’s the worst thing that could happen if they are caught? They simply say they misspoke.

A Quantum Universe

“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”

Albert Einstein

I’ve been doing a very deep dive on the topic of quantum physics, particularly the idea of a multiverse. Fun reading? No, but it’s research for my next science fiction novel. I should clarify that I have completed Alien Love, but it is not as yet contracted although a couple of publishers have shown some interest. My sequel to Silent Partner, A Bullet for the Ghost Whisperer, has been signed by Pen-L and should be published sometime in 2015. So, my yet unnamed new science fiction novel is just starting to percolate in my head.

Every book is different. With this one I have managed to figure out an ending and a beginning, so the real work in constructing the various scenes that constitute the plot is just in the beginning phase. The book is the most ambitious one I’ve undertaken because it requires me to build a number of complex characters since one of the themes is that small decisions have enormous consequences in our lives because we all have positive and negative elements in our characters. It doesn’t take much to push someone’s darker impulses to the front; conversely, a person might avoid going down a dark path if he makes what appears to be a very small decision. Let’s say he doesn’t go to a particular social event where he would have met a charismatic criminal type who would unduly influence him.

There also is the belief in quantum physics that while we perceive events in chronological order, they do not necessarily occur that way. It’s possible that all events in past, present, and future exist simultaneously. Try wrapping your head around that idea!

So, I almost feel like an observer watching myself work on blocking out this new novel. Meanwhile, it is an exciting time because people are still voting on my novel as part of the Kindle Scout program.


ET is Alive and Living on the Moon

I’ve been doing research lately for my next book, a science fiction thriller that also has some inter-species romance. For years I’ve heard of crazies who claim there are Government conspiracies and aliens on the moon. I always lumped these people with the other conspiracy nuts, the ones who believe in black helicopters, Big Foot, etc. After reading hundreds of articles I suddenly stopped laughing.

You have to understand that I spent twenty years as a technology analyst. My job was to sift through tons of data and come up with useful information. I was very good at what I did. So, I began sifting through all kinds of Government reports, eye-witness reports, and even statements from ex-astronauts.

Do you know that short-wave enthusiasts managed to record conversations by astronauts on the moon when they went off the public airwaves? They reported massive structures and alien spacecraft. They also reported being shadowed by alien craft in a not so friendly fashion.  Did you know that ex-astronauts as well as ex-NASA employees have complained about being muzzled by the Government when it came to talking about extraterrestrials? Did you know that President Kennedy proposed we join forces with the Soviet Union in a common space effort during the height of the cold war?

Even more revealing are the photos and movie clips that NASA has claimed it lost. Every time a scientist points to what looks like a suspicious object on the Moon or on Mars, NASA responds that it is just an optical illusion. Then, suddenly, the original film clips disappear.

The word among UFO believers is that aliens are involved in major mining operations on the Moon. They even point to disturbing pictures from Mars, including the famous face and pyramid-like structures. An ex-astronaut indicated that it became clear that the aliens did not want people from Earth coming too close to their operations. Since the first couple of visits, we’ve steered clear of the Moon.

Have the aliens contacted Earth’s first world governments and proposed terms for living together in peace? Rumors persist that President Eisenhower met and negotiated with some aliens. I’m not sure of that part, but there are much too many outlier data points to assume the U.S. Government is telling the complete truth. Some scientists have begun referring to NASA as an acronym for “Not a Straight Answer.” That appears to be pretty accurate a description.

One choice is believe the U.S. Government that all the pictures NASA has lost are merely incompetence even though these same scientists were able to launch rockets that landed and returned with pin-point accuracy. Similarly, the Government claims that all the UFO reports have failed to pan out. Think of that assertion and remember that many first-hand reports are from military veterans as well as from seasoned pilots.

Years ago a think tank wrote a report that concluded that there would be mass hysteria if people discovered there were aliens. Organized religion would be hard hit, particularly those denominations that stress that Man is made in God’s image. People would react much the way they reacted when they heard a recreation of H.G. Well’s War of the Worlds and thought it was a real news report.

So, maybe the Government is trying to prepare the population for the inevitable announcement. Think of how gay marriage finally became socially acceptable in most states. Hollywood started off by showing positive images of gay people. First they were pleasant but peripheral to the main stories, the good friend or the loving brother. Later Hollywood began producing shows where gays were lead characters and avoided stereotyped roles. Think of the recent Transformers movie that included Transformers on the moon. Now imagine a steady diet of extraterrestrial movies that soften the public’s fear of the unknown. While I doubt we’ll ever see such a lovable alien as ET, we’re bound to see more positive than negative images.

So, think like an analyst the next time we have a controversy over reported UFO sitings or NASA film clips that seem to show objects too regularly shaped to be naturally formed. What are the odds, for example, of film clips of Mars that showed round, square and triangular objects that we’re told occurred naturally? If the Government’s explanation seems too contrived, it probably is lying and holding back information the public is entitled to know.