Monday, June 25, 2018

Do your best, just not too well

Be clean. But don't be too clean.
Do well, just don't do too well.
Think. But don't over think.
Life isn't simple. Work with that.

In fact being too clean at times actually works against us.

Same with doing too well in nearly anything. Calculating your efforts tends to work much better with aforethought and due consideration.

It is a downfall of extremists and conservative thought, of being motivated only by ideological thought. To just go for it, without much thinking. And that tends to be their downfall. It is the same with the concept of "zero tolerance" on most things or of purity overall. For some reason nature needs some degree, some functional degree of contamination. It is defective. It sounds nice, makes for a good sound bite, but in reality it generally turns up defective systems, products, even people.

Think! It's your better self. Don't be lazy, mentally. Because in that is so much of our problems in this country and in the world. As example, let's take a look at a physical issue. Cleanliness.
There are some who are a little paranoid about bathroom practices. Yes, washing your hands helps. Washing your hands whenever you return home helps. Washing too much doesn't. Using antibacterial soap everywhere can work against us. Perhaps just in the bathroom may be a good idea.

However if we really had to worry as much as some people do, then we'd have been dead thousands of years ago.

Consider your belt on your pants or dress, or buttons or zipper and how contaminated they can be or become without proper consideration.

Anderson Cooper
Anderson Cooper on his show once had his cell phone tested. Tests came back that it had fecal contamination all over it. And he's a pretty clean, well brought up guy. Needless to say he was stunned. No matter what you do, how careful you are, it's going to happen.

In another study they found fecal contamination on furniture and in many places around the house that you'd not expect it. Some households are worse (or better than others) but if you are extremely paranoid and you're house simply couldn't be like that, well, you'll actually still come up with some contamination.
Chandler and Joey of Friends
Consider the episode of "Friends" when Joey pointed out to Chandler when he showers how he uses their shared shower soap. Suddenly Chandler realizes and is horrified at what he must have been putting all over his face for all those years.

Now consider this.

Have you ever leaned or sat back while sitting on a toilet, brushing against the underside of the toilet seat sitting up behind you? Did you know when you close the lid (which is better when you flush) exactly what happens to the mist that appears from the soiled flush water? 

Studies have shown that mist travels throughout the house if the bathroom door is open and no fan had been on. See, the fan isn't just for odors. Here's another. Apparently the hot air blower in public bathrooms, not only sanitarily drys your hands, it also recycles all the airborne germs in the public restroom all around that room and out the bathroom door when it opens.

The point is, fighting this is a losing battle. 

We do the best we can and still we fail. That doesn't mean we shouldn't still do our best. Or that failing will kill us. The trouble is in sometimes doing too well. Simply doing the absolute best that is possible can at times be counterproductive. We actually do need some bad bacteria in our life to help our immune system to be triggered in order to be strong to fight things off whenever it really is needed.

Life, as well as politics are very much like that. It is intrinsic in the conservative way of thinking. So be careful. But not too careful.

You cannot simply do the best you can. You have to do just the right amount of what is best. Trying too hard can actually kill you. Not trying at all can also kill you. Thinking critically, being reasonable, finding the Middle Way is usually the answer. 

Then at times regardless of all our best intentions, we can still die from our own actions.

So relax. Do your best. Just don't overdo your best...too much.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Our Internet Today... and Yesterday

Nuts. I'm not 100% loving Facebook, but it's nice nationally and internationally to have a platform from which to easily and at least somewhat usefully do so. To do what? All that Facebook kind of stuff. Obviously.
Graphic from ITPulse
I started on the internet back in the late 80s.

I was involved in it, took classes in it, worked in IT (Internet, intranet technologies and...information technologies) in a variety of ways, jobs, levels and orientations.

It's amazing to see how far we've come. For that matter, how far I've come, as I've retired from IT and now am a full time author and filmmaker with at least ons screenplay in hopefully the right hands in Hollywood.

I even wrote a short sci fi story about America, the internet and media titled, In Memory, Yet Crystal Clear. It is recently available as of June 2018 as an audiobook as well as ebook. It was my first fiction sold to a horror quarterly back in 1990 and is the first story in my book of my older sci fi and horror fiction, Anthology of Evil. I have a sequel coming out of my newer writings, many of which have been published in magazines or anthologies with other authors.

Graphic from Zcorum

This Internet today is simply not what we wanted, in what we're seeing today. Like the Internet of things. Though it has surpassed the imagination of what many of us has conceived. We had wanted an internet free for everyone, where information was free to all... and open.

Much has even disappeared from online, or has become a fee based access situation. Overall, the Internet has benefited us all, if only we can get back some of our original orientation, if only we could counter some of the for profit issues and get back to the betterment of humanity.

At first for us it was, "information is free!" It should be Free! "The Internet is for Humanity!" Not big money! Not big business. Certainly not for Russia to alter our national elections!

Back in the 80s, if someone tried to sell something in the newsgroups back then in the beginning, or the middle, the late 80s, where we had mostly text based newsgroups, FTP, Telnet, Gopher, whatever text based stuff, they were crushed. Ostracized.

When the graphical internet, the World Wide Web, WWW, what came to be known as the internet as the dark parts sunk into the dark started creeping its way in. A few of us pushed to keep it out until (I for one) realized that it was far bigger than us and far too powerful (money's like that) and that it could serve a good purpose. But then would obviously take a darker course. Simply's inevitable.

Eventually I got it, as did others, but it worried me\us.

 I learned, I got educated about it, I took many classes. I worked in IT. First as a technical writer, then deeper and deeper into the mechanics of it all. Which led as it has to, to security. Something I'd been into before at a more physical level.

Graphic from Latest Internet News
I had stumbled into something awesome. Something that led to Internet security people and police as well as intelligence people at all levels and the government. Something I was headed into before. The great Soviet had died but that education and those skills were all still relevant.

Now here we are. We need a place for everyone to use. Not fractured, but cohesively. Not to polarize, but to feel to feed ourselves intellectually and other ways. To share with like, but also unlike minds.

We need this. It protects us. It also attacks us. Sometimes from those we elect or pay to protect us. Openness, transparency. THAT protects us. That and being able to share and openly so.

I don't care if it's Facebook or not. Or as I proposed in my above mentioned story, In Memory, Yet Crystal Clear, where the United Nations builds its own "Facebook" social media platform. Using experts from around the world to build it, all the best minds. It replaces Facebook. Everyone the world over uses it.

Photo from Daily Maverick
So that when any dictator or government shuts its people off from it, the UN pays attention, and immediately sends in moderators, "blue hats", to protect the people and stop more abuse as we've seen so much through the end of the last century and the beginning of this new one.

It became what it could become, as with Facebook or Twitter in the Arab Spring, or other national travesties. I had done my best back in 2011 to support that movement in Egypt and some did use my blog back then for updates to information their government was trying hard to keep them from. It was a hopeful time, that devolved into mediocrity, much as America has with the election of Donald Trump as president.

Before Facebook it was MySpace, which has changed into a music platform. Before that, there were others. Before that there were the BBSs, the Bulletin Board Systems you used a modem to dial your phone and PC up to.

Before that...well, it's been around for a while. This ability to communicate world wide. In the late 1960s when I was in jr. high and had a radiotelegraph license and could run a ham radio. I talked to other countries and wrote it all down as is normal procedure for hamm operations.

Before that it was telephones and before that, the telegraph. Although that technology was by a select few of trained and paid individuals, a kind of subculture grew up around it and telegraph stations across the nation. There are even very interesting books on that culture.

But we don't do that anymore. Though, we kind of do. Don't we? Everything now is recorded and saved, somewhere. And, we need that. For history, for our protection. For our coming together. For humanity growing closer, rather than continuing to take advantage of those less knowledgeable, less powerful, less whatever. But we're seeing humanity growing more apart. Why? We need to work on that, and turn things around, to be sure.

In that way we can make those others and ourselves, more than. Not less. Because as we're seeing, too many are trying to make us all, less than we can be. I'd really prefer to be more, for us ALL to be more than we are. Even if I don't always win. Even if I don't become rich. Even if I can't, have everything.
Graphic from WordlessTech
Just enough really is enough. That alone, would make me happy. For us all to better ourselves and come together. To be more informed, more aware, more proactive. More caring for all others as well as ourselves.

Especially if those around me, are happy too.

Monday, June 11, 2018

In Memory, Yet Crystal Clear, A New Audiobook

It is finally UP and Available to the public on Amazon, Audible and iTunes:

Original artwork by Marvin Hayes
In Memory, Yet Crystal Clear. The title, an homage to science fiction writer Isaac Asimov's 1979 first autobiography which I found so affective and orienting to me as a writer, In Memory Yet Green.

My story is a tale of how a dystopian society comes to be through the efforts on a single man who takes over much of America's thinking through his managing their daily feed of information.

Sound familiar? Seem a bit too real? A bit too much like today? It is. But this is a reality we can easily escape, simply by finishing listening to or reading the story.

From the Amazon description:

A short story about a world reminiscent of a Philip K.Dick story since the 2016 US Presidential election, or this story here where a world famous surgeon helps his missing son's best friend. Only to find that his actions lead to monumental changes in the United States and as well around the world. All in ways he would never have foreseen.

I wrote this story in the 1980s and eventually saw it sold to an east coast horror quarterly magazine. It became my first published short sci fi horror fiction in 1990. Then in 2012 it became the first story in my first book Anthology of Evil (to which I'm currently shopping to publishers its sequel, Anthology of Evil II). That first book of mine is a collection of my original older short sci fi and horror, including its ending novella (Andrew) that evolved through one other short short story (Perception) into my second book, DEATH OF HEAVEN.

In 2013 I had produced and narrated three audiobooks on my own. The Conqueror Worm (first and standalone short horror which opens my DEATH OF HEAVEN book), The Mea Culpa Document of London (also in Anthology of Evil), and Expedition of the Arcturus (the title an homage to the 1920 book,  Voyage to Arcturus, by Scottish author David Lindsay) and was first published in the hard sci fi free online magazine (thanks there to publisher Sam Bellotto).

I am now putting out audiobooks with friend and professional voice actor Tom Remick in a collaboration we are both finding rewarding and just fun to do. Here is a short video intro to Tom's work. We have since changed our equipment and recording setup for the current audiobook, In Memory, Yet Crystal Clear.

Next up... first, I am narrating my most popular piece, a science fact article I've renamed, On Psychology. It details the history of psychology, proposes new research on synesthesia and schizophrenia and offers some perspective on today\s related political environment.

We already have audio tracks for the next story recorded for Mr. Pakool's Spice, a short story about a single father trying to get his two young kids to safety through the back winter woods of Oregon during a zombie apocalypse. With no food, barely surviving, and with of all people an international terrorist hot on their tail. It's a well drawn and heart wrenching tale.

Included with that story in the ebook and now audiobook is the short short story, The Regent's Daughter, a medieval tale which won Best Tension, in a short short story contest among a group of writers.

After that we will be recording the engrossing and tense sci fi horror story, EarVu about a new and frightening technology. It seems like a fun technology... at first. Then the several scientists who developed it find strange things happening around their top secret lab.

Tom and I are having a great time. Producing audiobooks is not easy and takes a lot of work which we hope genre fans and others, will appreciate. It's especially rewarding for me as some of these stories I wrote a very long ago. My older ones even going back to my university days in the early 1980s.

Having read and re read them so many times during the crafting process, over the years and then to hear a talented voice actor read them, to bring them alive, brings another level entirely to these stories. Some of which I have now updated to be more relevant to today's sensibilities. And in some cases as with this current audiobook, our present reality has only enhanced the intensity of the story.

So many authors have said their stories are in a way, like children to them. This experience has been like my stories have gone from high school to college and who knows, perhaps one day they will achieve professional status to become produced on film. Part of the reason I retired in 2016, buying film production equipment and restarting up my LGN Productions (AKA Last good Nerve Productions, started in 1993) company was to produce my stories in new formats.

But until that happens these stories are available as print, ebook and now audiobooks as we produce more and more of my stories. Please take a look and a listen. I think you'll be very pleased with the result we have culled out of them in bringing new life to them as audiobooks. If you do like what you hear and read in my stories, please do share with friends and feel free to post your reviews. I look forward to seeing what you think.

All the best and do... keep reading and listening!

From the ever beautiful American Pacific Northwest... JZ Murdock.


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Monday, June 4, 2018

Cannabis As A Legal Intoxicant

I'd like to clear something up about Cannabis, pot, weed, ganja, or whatever you like to call it.

I may come across as a die hard activist about it, but actually I don't think anyone should do drugs if they can avoid them. Meds, obviously are another issue. The concept of using medical pot for recreation has always been a bastardization of it, something our government should hang their heads in shame over the need for that to have come about. That has nothing to do with the actual need for medical pot. I'm talking only recreational use.

I just don't think people should be abused as we have, through prohibition (and alcohol in my view is as bad as cocaine and just or nearly, as dangerous). Unlike most of those against all this, I learned to have my opinion through research and experience, not just having a jaded opinion as many who are against it.

There has also been more interest by the public in drugs after our government has lied to use for so many decades about them. There are now doctors, scientists and journalists talking about drugs and the real information about them. Therefore there is also more interest in hallucinogens.

People like Michael Pollan with his book, How to Change your Mind - What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence,.discusses this. At the writing of this here, I'm still waiting for the audiobook to hit retail.

I go in depth about this myself in my latest audiobook, On Psychology. It should be available any day now on Amazon, iTunes and See the addendum at the end of that article about the history and systems of psychology and study of synesthesia and schizophrenia. It's a fascinating article. Even if I do say so myself. And I explain in it what that is so and how I know that to be true.

I don't say this in my psychology article but I'll mention it here. I do mention drugs like LSD in the article and audiobook, however. Years ago I was in a job I couldn't quit, couldn't get away from and had it for several years. It was stressful and difficult to go back day after day until finally I had ran out my condition of employment. It allowed me to get my degree eventually in psychology from a university, so in the end, that was good. But it was a stressful few years.

I would use LSD over a weekend sometimes when I really needed to escape but couldn't. So that come that next Monday, I felt refreshed and recharged, like I had been on vacation for an entire week. I would also use it at times to kill off a bad habit, or one I wanted to change but kept failing to. I was drop (take) the acid (LSD) alone, concentrate on what I wanted through the experience and find that afterword, There is talk nowadays about microdosing LSD. Taking low doses on a daily basis. The word is out on that for now but they are beginning to research it.

And I Found that I had indeed changed that habit after a single acid trip. Now I'm not advocating this method for people, just saying that it worked for me. And I admit, I was unusual in my understanding of drugs and psychology, even before I got a degree in it. Yet, I didn't go crazy, didn't lose my job, didn't need medical attention, didn't harm anyone, not even myself, and it seemed to me to only be a benefit to me. And to be sure, in the 1950s it was actually used in therapeutic ways. But our government, out of fear and ignorance, as usual, had made it illegal because of the 1960s counterculture.

Weed in comparison to those other drugs is pretty harmless, in that it doesn't kill like the other drugs can that it's been inappropriately grouped with. Grouping pot with heroin and meth, is ridiculous and always has been. Cocaine and cannabis are not physically addictive. The issue there comes not in physical but emotional. They are not the same thing. But cocaine is vastly more dangerous that cannabis.

Yet there are dangers related to legalizing cannabis, now. And oddly enough, they have little to do with the substance itself.

The dangers come not in the substance but in big money as usual and through corporate mismanagement (also as usual), in trying to push a product on us more than is good for us. They will seek to sell us pot soda pop, pot everything, now. Anyway they can make a buck and addict us just as in tobacco.

Except, as stated above, weed isn't addictive in the same sense as heroin or alcohol.

But does that mean it should be illegal? No. We will go through a honeymoon period for a while and then slack off some as it becomes culturally normal and we acclimate to how to use and not abuse it. As we mature into it's national use as we did alcohol after prohibition, or as a human maturing into adulthood and make decisions of use or abuse.

Also, in over enhancing the weed itself to powerful medical levels, something that came from the underhanded way that decriminalizing it had to go, we have it more and more in a far more powerful than necessary form.

All because our government lied to us ever since the Nixon commission said it was safe and he  as president ignored that because of his own personal bias. Just as we're seeing now with Attorney General Jeff Sessions, whom even the man who appointed him as said, was a bad idea. This had led since Nixon to a war on (citizens, not) drugs (as it failed in waring on drugs), where we found ourselves eventually with a very powerful form of pot that never appeared in nature.

I would suggest to anyone wanting to use pot, to seek the weaker forms, to learn they don't need to consume as much now a days to get reasonably high, to imbibe with reason as you would (or should) alcohol.

The less often you use it, the less it can become normalized in your system. Use at little as possible to enhance life, to "take the edge off" and not make it a life in and of itself. In that form, it can be very useful as an adjunct to life and not an end all, be all. Rather than use it and do nothing, use it and do something, safely, and legally.

We simply need to act like responsible adults. The ability now to eat THC (or CBD) is healthier than smoking it. Using a bong or water pipe (even better as it doesn't burn the substance just as a vape does not), is healthier. Vaping the oil or other such substance is better too than smoking it due to the heated smoke, the particulates hitting the lung's alveoli.

Let's face it, drugs aren't for kids. But if my own pre adult kids (or as adults) were to use a drug, I'd far more prefer it be cannabis, than literally any of our other of the scarier prospects out there, including alcohol. Deaths to cannabis are nearly if not completely non existent. Death due to alcohol, domestic violence, drunk driving, weapons charges on booze, etc., are astounding. The more we can get people to replace alcohol use with cannabis, the better we'll all be.

And then, there is the tax situation. Robbing drug cartels of their mainstay, removing crime from cannabis use. This isn't rocket science and states with legal cannabis are proving this to extraordinary degree. Including my own state of Washington. Where we are also leading the way on serious drugs like heroin use in needle exchanges and safe injection and use locations.

This is America and I've always been stunned at how our government continues to try to make decisions for us, that we should be making ourselves...if America is such a great and free nation.

Let us see it. Let us decide. And stop abusing us for mere political gain.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Overhead Conversation in a Bar Near Biloxi, Mississippi

Conversation overheard in a bar near Biloxi, Mississippi:

A regular patron walks in and shouts:

"Happy GREAT Americans Day!"

First time visitor of another regular:

"Uh, what's that again?"

Regular loudly as he sits with a group of large friends:

"Just what they've been calling Martin Luther King's Day in Biloxi since the 80s is all."

"Since When again?"

"Well you know. It's also Robert E. Lee's birthday as well."

"Seriously? Doesn't the irony in that choke you at all? Besides, aren't their birthdays like four days apart."

"So?" Another: "What of it!?"

"Well?" Worried, "Uh, King's, is first?"

"So? Lee was born first!"

"Okay, fine," looking around at everyone staring him down, "I... surrender."

"About time the south won one." Cheers!

Thanks Tig Notaro for the initial idea.