Thursday, September 27, 2018

Special Post - Kavanaugh vs Dr. Ford

What have we learned about the #Kavanaugh situation today? Accepting Dr. Ford is telling the truth as her testimony lends itself easily to that being the case. Considering therein Kavanaugh's own testimony today....

Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh
How can you explain this juxtaposition of testimonies if she is telling the truth?

Schools such as Kavanaugh attended during the time of his alleged attack can hold some of the wildest types of students. My own experience from being at a Catholic school was I couldn't wait to get back to a public schools.

I was told they only had the best kids at that private Catholic school and I had to be one to go there. I agreed. I looked forward to it. A school with kids who were good, decent? Awesome! Then I got in and found I was one of the best of those kids in a moral or ethical sense and I was STUNNED to find the behaviors they partook of.

There were several other kids who weren't Catholic, and I liked them far better than the career Catholic school kids we had to suffer though. I had thought public school kids were the lowlifes. I'm sure many of those private school kids graduated and got positions of importance and power and trust. As eventually I had myself.

But they were some of the wildest and most crass kids I had ever attended school with up to that time. They knew they were highly scrutinized, morally kept to an annoyingly higher standard and consideration and so they tended to be smart about hiding things. They were well educated and very good at hiding their looked down upon activities  Even over years. And how they loved to party.

At 17 Kavanaugh was approaching the height of his sexual intensity in his life, his libido undoubtedly high as it was for many of the male gender at that age. Male libido during these formative years can be unwieldy, almost impossible at times to control and so you seek out accepted behaviors. With a girlfriend, or through sports or exercise. He said he had a full schedule, worked hard to be #1 in his class.

These require hard work and a good degree of stress. Those who party, as he admits he did, do tend to party hard as the old saying goes, "work hard, play hard". It can also as we've seen repeatedly with high stress hard working people under pressure, to get weird. If not at times, even criminals. That is a well known stereotype proved out with many well known as well as high pressure jobs. Nothing we've seen so far precludes Dr. Ford's allegations to be patently untenable.

Or as some especially rich and privileged kids do, like Kavanaugh (and we've all seen those teen movies about these types), exercising their libidos through taking advantage of any situation where they can get sex.

I never understood sex with your male friends on one woman. But those I knew who liked it, found it an intense bonding experience with the guys. One where they might in the future give their lives for you, or lie to Congress about things you all once did together. Especially if it was sick or sadistic. And those activities objectified and denigrated women, those girls of their  focus, in living those experiences in those ways with those very special male friends.

Sometimes the bad behaviors of those formative years alone are enough for many to get onto a good path in later learning of one's mistakes and how bad they may really have been. They may, push one to be an advocate for women, as Kavanaugh claimed, which actually supports the contentions here and not his allusions.

Thus governing future actions. Perhaps even with a future orientation of hoping your past never surfaces and your future will take a new and better path. And never getting caught for things you'd never today attempt.

During high school and college you are living the years of freedom! Hiding your behaviors, living your fantasies as you can get away with them during a publicly sanctioned period of exploration and even of "sowing one's wild oats" as the "old saw" goes.

After Kavanaugh got into the work force and began to work in highly scrutinized legal professions and positions, his libidao was on the decline after his peak years. Perhaps he wisely controlled himself as he could more easily by then as he aged out of his teenage testosterone insanity, and from then on he COULD be investigated and vetted with a clean bill of health.

IF this is the situation, if he was a predator during high school and college and for some reason stopped, it simply indicates that minus his system being flooded with testosterone as happens to all of us guys, as happens more intensely to some of us more than others and then levels off at some point, that Kavanaugh is actually a decent person, who felt guilty, adjusted, and at some point after college got his act together. And in the process, he is denying what Dr. Ford is sharing, and what is that doing to her, in Kavanaugh trying to salvage his life, his career and his family? At the expense of a woman he accosted and altered the course of her life for her, forever.

As long as they stayed out of his high school and college years. Or started looking into his sexual activities more closely, with an eye for those types of activities. Even the FBI could miss all that, if they were not clued into a need to consider them. Especially when vetting such a well respected, well documented and high profile type such as a Kavanaugh. Or even perhaps, a Bill Cosby. or Justice Clarence Thomas.

Is Kavanaugh guilty? It sure and reasonably looks like it. What about his comments today about being a virgin till later? It may be true. I doesn't change what Dr. Ford went through or who accurately believing he was sexually assaulting her.

The question then is, should we punish these people for bad behaviors in their formative years when they have cleaned up their lives and made a decent life and career from that point on?

Because many would fall if that were the case. But that isn't the point here.

The point here and now is that he would have lied to Congress. For a position on our highest court in the nation. And that being the situation, Kavanagh has then condemned himself to being barred from the position as a Justice of the #SCOTUS, himself. Or worse. As he lied under oath. To Congress. And the FBI. Which some Republicans have gone on record recently saying, was not a crime. Really? They do have an odd sense of who they are and what is real, or criminal.

After all, doesn't it always seem to be the cover up, not the crime, that brings an end to these people and their careers?

Let me just end with this clever little video response.

#gop #pOTUS #vpOTUS #Republican #conservative #Congress

Monday, September 24, 2018

Cyber Security...CyberWar Is At Our Door

We now know (actually already a year ago in 2017) that a 757 sitting on the tarmac can be weaponized through cyber attack. Trains can be weaponized. We have a problem that needs an answer... yesterday.
Boeing 757
This makes me sad. I was part of a cybersecurity group in the late 90s early 2000s dedicated to bringing business, police and government together on issues of cyber security. We did good work, we made advances.

We decreased the distrust between government and computer experts, "white hat" (good) hackers and law enforcement. Those efforts continue to this day. But I have retired and am onto other ventures and adventures. I did my time. I no longer have to live that frustration and yet today? I find I still am. Only now from a distance.

We tried to warn people on both sides going back twenty years and yet, we are still now in this situation when we had so long ago had warned so many! Our issue back then was in part that corporations paid too little or no attention to actual cyber security issues. Those were the days when it wasn't as big as some of us knew it would eventually be. Just as it is today.

Why didn't CEO's and government listen? Government has special issues that slow things down and for good reason for the most part. But business can and sometimes does move as they wish ,if they wish it, and yet... they mostly have not.

We argued in part back then that corporations weren't even spending 1% of their budget or even of their IT budgets, on cybersecurity issues. When it should have been closer to 10%. That may have been extreme, but in light of today, of reality, was it really? Invest and innovate, or pay later.

IF they had done that, back then? We would not be in the position today that we find ourselves in. And that, is a fact.

Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg's motto of "Move fast and break things" and his explanation of that in 2013: "We want to build our culture and our infrastructures, that we just try to move, you know, one or two clicks faster than, than other companies. And, you know, sometimes we go to fast and we mess up a bunch of stuff and then we have to fix it. And that's cool."

Really Mr. Zuckerberg? Because that actually seems to exemplify a vast misunderstanding of how the internet works. That may be how it worked back in the 90s. Maybe. When security was low and "black hat" type bad actor hackers and criminals were still gearing up, learning how to abuse a good thing. But today you really have to KNOW exactly what you're doing online. Especially when you are responsible for literally billions of people on your platform.

An article came out this week from Axios Codebook about this related to our Congress:

"Only 6 House candidates spent $1,000 on cybersecurity"

"The defining moment in the 2016 election was Russia's breach of the Democratic National Committee. Two years later, McClatchy reports that candidates for Congress are knowingly underspending on cybersecurity — with only 6 spending more than $1,000."

As we've seen, there is also the potential for very bad things to happen IF you... 1) don't know what can happen because you haven't fully planned out the potential for good AND bad things to happen, and 2) you have to fully understand that business as usual as you have planned it out, in order to make money off that platform, off those people, can indeed damage not only those individuals using your platform, but also entire countires.

Because, there are bad actors out there, predators, whose lives are devoted to finding ways, people and platforms to abuse, with no moral or ethical concerns. When you have a platform that large, you also have an oversized responsibility to be not only fully aware of how your platform and your business model can positively AND negatively affect people, but you also have to be better possibly, than you even are capable of.

And that is a serious concern.

Rather than increase their cyber security efforts and budgets smoothly, easily, over the years to more than they thought they needed it (and their cyber people knew they needed but were ignored or given miniscule, fly by night amounts to work with), they could by now have organically prepared over those past years (if not decades) to have spent less money overall. Consider what it cost Sony in their North Korean hack for the film, The Interview.

Rather than the cost now a days as well as having their reputation dragged through the mud and in losing even more money because of their lack of attention and resources and due to such bad actors as China, North Korea and Russia, just to name a few of today's major players.

Why? Capitalism run rampant? Defective corporate thinking? Yes, to be sure. But also a business as usual desire, based in greed and funneling too much money to shareholders and other such types. Rather than putting money into hyper serious concerns that merely weren't a concern to those in power at the time. Not until it was too late.

Maintaining bottom lines where the risk was considered worth it and they could not see that not only was it not worth it, but that risk was far greater than they could be made to understand, or even imagine.

Because the threat wasn't just for that year, or the year after, but in future years. It was the difference between simply installing a piece of software protection, or a method, and having a mindset that evolved over the years to come, to orient the corporation or government department in a certain way.

To see the future, then. To have build a paradigm, a mindset that would endure and evolve over time to protect and defend and protect profits and the American citizen, way of life, and national health. Both economically and emotionally.

Too often companies were saved only through the dedicated and excessive workloads of their computer IT departments. Not because they were there but because they had to make themselves overworked.

Rather than those typically overburdened, over educated, overdedicated IT workers receiving the necessary funding (which seldom happened) as well as confidence from management. The corporate attitude from on high so typically was (and still is):

"We pay them, so do your job!" Rather than "We delved into it, then give them what they needed to DO their job. We compensated them "appropriately." And we have confidence in them as they have gratitude in us for going that extra mile, for them, for us, and for our stock holders, customers, or citizens."

But that isn't the case.

It would be disingenuous for typically lucky management to point and say, "But we didn't have a devastating hack!" While they may not have known what they barely avoided, perhaps too many times. All because of the dedicated overworked efforts of their security IT people and perhaps...just good luck,

Those far too many times, they did have a successful hack against them. All too often, even. It has in fact been the point of many companies, credit card companies that the way they protected their card holders was simply to forgive their having been hacked, and absorb the cost.

Having set aside annually so much loss for fraud and hacks and yet, they still made billions of dollars overall. Simply in part, because they did not put the money and resources into handling things correctly because it seemed to frequently to those who did not understand, at the top, that it was simply money thrown away to protect themselves properly. To research and develop proactively. To overburden their IT shops rather than hire enough people and expend the money necessary to truly protect themselves.

Ignorance. It is the mainstay of business and the political party of business in this country. In all countries.

LUCK is NOT how you win wars. Be it cyber or otherwise. Nor is ignorance. Something we see as a governing body today in our current conservative Republican Trump administration.

We are now beyond that point while Russians and others have already tested our systems and have a good idea what to do if and when they choose to do it. To truly attack, on a massive scale. But again we are still protected by MAD (nuclear weapon Mutually Assured Destruction). Because a massive attack would surely need to lead to a nuclear war. It would have to. And they (Russians, North Korea, etc.) now that.

And so they attack under the wire, under the trigger point, in hitting our social media, oru elections and other things. Some of which we seldom hear about in public due to "national security issues."

And so our primary perceived protection? MAD, still. Physical war when a cyberwar is perpetrated upon us. Does that make you feel all warm and fuzzy and secure? Because, it shouldn't. Look what Russia did and what our response was and has been to cyber attacks on our 2016 and soon (and still) 2018 elections. Pathetic.

To be sure, we are more protected now than we were during the 2016 election or the previous one before it. But that does not say we are safe enough yet, and we do have a lot of work left, costly work even, to get there.

It's time already, time passed twenty years ago when we were first warned.

Stop looking only at profit. It's destroying this country in a counter intuitive paradigm anathema to  the purposely ignorant conservative, corporate, capitalist mind.

Tough beans, people. This, is reality.

Monday, September 17, 2018

New Dark SciFi Audiobook - In Memory, Yet Crystal Clear

Now that reviews are beginning to come in on my new audiobook, "In Memory, Yet Crystal Clear"  I thought I should do a blog on it. Below we will take a rambling journey through the the history of this story as well as a bit about my own past. Buckle up buttercup, here we go.

As for what it is about, you can read the write up on Audible if you like.

Okay fine, here is all it says there:

"Are we in a world that is reminiscent of a Philip K. Dick novel since the 2016 US Presidential election? This is a story 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 as well around the world and all in ways he could never have foreseen and might regret for the rest of his life. If only he could."

Actually I agree with the comment below related to Harlan Ellison. Harlan, Phil Dick, either way, I'm good with those references.

To start off with, here are some of the reviews on "In Memory, Yet Crystal Clear" as they now are on the Audible site for this story:
Karen said: Very enjoyable!
"This is such an enjoyable book! Such detail and very descriptive. It’s as if I was watching it unfold in my mind. Could be a prediction of our future lol. Can’t wait to enjoy more of Murdock’s work"

David said: Strange story.
"I received this audio book for free in exchange for my honest review. The only thing I have to say about this one is that I sincerely hope it doesn't foretell the future."

Norman said: Intriguing.
"This hour long science fiction story presents a well thought out and intriguing future. I don’t think the narrator’s bland performance did justice to the author’s words and ideas."

On that last comment, I asked Norman what he thought was bland about the narration, but he has yet to get back to me on this. I hope he didn't think I was being snarky as I really wanted to understand his thoughts on this. Was it my voice actor, Tom Remick, or my direction?

OR it occured to me, it may simply have been the character in the story. A character who, in my direction to Tom during the recording stage, is sometimes exhausted either physically or emotionally, or is simply under great stress and fundamentally disturbed in a situation where he feels there is little he can do. Other than something massive. Which he does fight through to consider. All while he tries to stay on top of something that would be far beyond anyone, and perhaps, even change one in ways previously unforeseen throughout one's life.

Another review is from C.M. Ellett who said in part:

"...It was reminiscent of I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream, in a presentation of a strange future ruled by an omnipotent AI-like being."

Harlan Ellison has been one of my writing heroes since childhood. Along side Asimov and other obvious authors like Bradbury, Tolkien, Poe, Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard. Harlan's story that she referenced was first published in IF: Worlds of Science Fiction, in 1967 and was a Hugo Award winner for that short story, I Have No Mouth, And I Must Scream.

I really couldn't be in better company as I see it. Harlan hated being called a science fiction writer and much more appreciated the term, speculative fiction writer. Which was where I got using that term from for some of my own writing efforts. The difference of course between protagonist Ted in Harlan's story and my protagonist is clear.

While Ted sees the situation with crystal clarity, in my story that clarity must indirectly find its purchase on reality as its corrective reaction is potentially left to the listener (or the reader) in order to realize what must inevitably come next.

Finally and perhaps my favorite review so far is this one just now in from Jo B:

"Fascinating and creepy I found this book to be intriguing and unsettling all at the same time. The story was very original, the writing was solid, and the narrator was spot on. I would recommend it if you like dark, futuristic type short stories. I was given this book free at my request and have voluntarily left this review."

What I can say? Maybe just... listen for yourself. Why? Continue reading below and perhaps you'll find a good reason to find out....

Now on Amazon, Audible and iTunes:

Original cover artwork by Marvin Hayes
The title, In Memory, Yet Crystal Clear is an homage to science fiction writer Isaac Asimov through his first autobiography in 1979, In Memory Yet Green, which I found so affective when I had read it, orienting in me an even greater desire to write.

My tale is a story of how our American society breaks down into dystopian degrees. How it comes to this through the efforts of a single man. One who takes over much of America's thinking through his managing of our daily feed of information. In some ways, not unlike something happening today in America. Only on a much more massive scale.

Sound a bit too familiar? A bit too real? Too much like our world today? Well, it is. But this is a reality we can easily escape in listening or reading the story, once it is over. But it is also a story I wrote back in the 1980s and first saw publication in 1990!

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 I believe, about 1980. I was sitting around with a few of my friends, getting high smoking some cannabis to be completely honest. Nothing as powerful as what we sell legally in legal cannabis states today, but good for back then. Of course, it wasn't exactly legal in Washington state back then, but no one really seemed to care much about its use. I'd seen police turn their backs if they saw something that seemed harmless as let's face it. For all these decades, police have had much more important and relevant things to do that worry about someone smoking a joint.

And it is legal today now here. Of course the statute of limitations is long passed since 1980. Back then in Washington its use was a Class C felony as it else now elsewhere, though frequently it goes reasonably unenforced:

The statute of limitations for a Class C Felony is 5 years. That mean that the crime shall not be prosecuted more than five years after its commission.

About that. I used to say from what I was seeing back in the 1970s that cannabis would be legal within the next ten years. The first recreational cannabis stores in Washington opened to the public on July 8, 2014. So I was off by just over thirty-five years due to the efforts of many ignorant efforts while even an organization of police chiefs was against its illegality.

Which is sad, to say the least for such a destructive series of laws and prosecutions nationwide for far too many decades and a vast waste of money and destruction of lives, families and communities. Not unlike that of alcohol prohibition laws. When then morphed into anti cannabis laws that turned into ethnic abuses beyond our imagination. Why bring this up here? Because other than it being reality, it is part of this story, and part of our national orientation and planned government destruction of citizens. But that's another story.

That night so many years ago my friends and I were passing around a bong, talking about sci fi and writing and jokingly, I said I could write literally anything. I said I could take any concept and make a viable story out of it. Of course they laughed, teasing me saying they didn't believe it. But they dug in a bit too much.

So I challenged them, trying to put down their incredulity. I said something like, "Okay, I'll tell you what. You guys come up with a concept that cannot be written and... I'll write that story. You can decide if I made it work." They laughed. But then they got more serious and started talking about it.

Eventually they came up with the concept. Remember now, this was 1980. The beginning of the home PC revolution. None of them had a PC. Myself, I had just sold my first one, a "Trash 80", Radio Shack \ Tandy TRS-80 16k of RAM personal home PC. A personal computer I had purchased in 1979 before I got out of the military.

I had sold all my guns before I separated from service, and got out of the USAF as I was feeling very pacifist at the time. You see, after years of supporting a squadron whose primary job as a nuclear weapons system base (B-52 bombers), where these pilots and planes in times of nuclear war were tasked to leave their families, fly across the world and melt entire cities, men, women, elderly and children, animals and vegetation indiscriminately.

Some pilots talked to during my service, in the down time when I was actually in the cockpit of BUFFs (Big Ugly Fat F*ckiers, as we referred to B-52s) had said they would drop all their bombs as ordered, most likely on the Soviet Union at that time (and considering we were stationed at Fairchild AFB outside of Spokane, WA, and then the crew would most likely vote to fly the jet into the ground as they all knew we all knew, there would be no family back home by that time, no America as we knew her, left by that point.

The weight that held on all of us in that job was visceral. But... that's perhaps too heavy for now and a story for another time. On the other hand, it does lead directly into the intensity of this science fiction story at hand. But is it really science fiction at this point? Considering America's and the world's current reality?

That last year in the service, I had sold my personal weapons and converted that all into a personal computer. The summer I got out of the service in 1979 I had used my PC, having previously taught myself programming in Tandy Basic, to write myself a dual program. I was flummoxed how, for my physics\chemistry class, to teach myself the entire periodic table that we had been tasked to learn by the end of the school quarter.

So one night, my military service over, my marriage over, so I was living alone with my dog Ciri, a half St. Bernard, half Labrador, having a beer and playing on my Trash80. I was lonely, unsure how to memorize the entire big chart I had purchased that was on the wall above my PC desk.

How to learn all that? And I started to get an idea. Interesting to me because it was still some years before I would received my BA in Psychology from Western Washington University. I really had no desire to get a degree. I had just gone to summer school that year to get out of the Air Force several months early on an educational "early out" I had heard about, applied for, and was give.

I got the idea to write a program to task my mind. One version would access recognition skills which I was very good at, and one program would task my retrieval skills, which I wasn't so good at. Example. I could see someone's face from the past and recognize them, but I couldn't as easily recall them just from their name. I programmed the computer so it would show me something to recognize and I could practice recall, finish all the elements that way, then use the other module of the program to try retrieve memories of the table.

Once I wrote that program, I would then sit at the desk every night that quarter, probably have a few beers, and run through the program. At first it was difficult, but then it got easier. In the end, I was the only one in the class that quarter at Tacoma Community College, to get 100% on our final on the entire periodic table. On the other half of that test about chemical reactions and such things outside the periodic table, I think I got a B. So I got a few wrong on that part.

Anyway, back to my friends' concept for me was to write a story.

They came up with an idea, and they laughed as they told me, about "a guy who turns himself into a computer chip!" They were so proud, so pleased with themselves. It was annoying.

It took me aback for a few moments. Until finally I said, "Okay, fine!" and accepted the challenge. Eventually they left that night and I started working it out. The next time they came over, I passed out the story to them. They read it eager to see how I had failed. But once they had finished, they all looked at me stunned and a bit annoyed. But in the end they grudgingly agreed... I had done it.

Over that decade I sent that and other stories of mine out to magazines, occasionally reworking them until finally one day, it sold to an east coast horror quarterly magazine, making it my first professionally sold and published short sci fi fiction in 1990. It's funny though. A famous author once said on TV to new writers to collect rejection slips and get used to rejections. Because you'll get a lot of them. So put them on your wall to see them. Fill up a wall with them. Then another wall. Then your home office or writing area. Then other rooms until finally, you WILL sell a story.

When I sold this first fiction story, I opened the letting and found I was, disappointed in not having received a rejection slip. They came by snail mail back then, in the post. I still have many rejection slips today. Some from famous magazines, Omni, Alfred Hitchcock, Twilight Zone, Playboy, and so on.

I liked to call In Memory, Yet Crystal Clear, a story of social horror. As it, after all, horrified me socially. I still have the letters from the publisher about this progress of this story being published. He turned down a couple of stories I had sent him, but kept say to send him another. Finally, he liked this one. But he said if I were to first cut 1500 words from it to fit the space he had available in the magazine, he'd buy it.

I wondered, how. What part? How do you do that to a well crafted story? My wife at the time suggested that I search for a passage of 1500 words and maybe he was testing me, seeing if I was competent enough to find a passage he didn't want to point to directly. But had found was unnecessary. Or he just needed it cut as he had said, to fit it into the next issue. Not unlike people who buy art to hang in their house because the colors match the decorating scheme. Well, I'll never know for sure, but I believe, it was the former and not the latter, more philistine consideration.

I searched the story and actually did find a passage, an almost exactly 1500 word long passage that really wasn't all that necessary to the story. So...I cut it, painfully. "Killing one's children" as writers call that. I sent it back and...he bought it!

I received his acceptance letter and a check for... $28! Not much, even to me at that time of little money and $28 being back then not what it is worth today. But it was officially my first professional sale of a fiction story! Finally, I had done it! To be sure, I had previously published non-fiction articles in various computer magazines locally and around the country by then, but my desire was to publish fiction!

Years later, in 2012 I updated it. By then things in technology had changed. And so it became the first and opening story in my first collection of my first short stories, the 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. A story that evolved through one other short-short story, Perception, into my second and rather epic book, DEATH OF HEAVEN.

Then in 2013 I produced and narrated three audiobooks on my own. The Conqueror Worm (the first and a standalone short horror story 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 being an homage to the 1920 book, Voyage to Arcturus, by Scottish author David Lindsay). That last story was first published in the hard sci fi free online magazine (thanks there to publisher Sam Bellotto).

But now, I am putting out new audiobooks with friend  and professional voice actor Tom Remick in a collaboration we are both finding rewarding and really... just fun to do. Here is a short video intro to Tom working.

My equipment, computer, software and recording setup have all changed since 2013. And as I've just moved, our recording set up will be changing again for the better since producing this current audiobook, In Memory, Yet Crystal Clear. We seem to be getting better (thankfully) as we go along.

I also updated the story yet again since 2013, to reflect ever newer changes in technology and culture since my first update to the original 1990 publication. This story seems to  have staying power. This latest update required changes and additions for such things as cell phones and tablets, and the types of high end computer hardware we just didn't have in 1980, 1990 or even as recent as 2013.

And that, the story behind "In Memory, Yet Crystal Clear."

Next up? First, I have narrated my most popular non-fiction 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. I proposed this concept back in 1983 or 84. It is still relevant today.

We have now laid down audio tracks for our latest story, 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. It is also one I'm trying to go with non-exclusive rights for Audible so I can release it elsewhere around the market to see how that works out.

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

After that we will be recording the engrossing and tense sci fi horror story, EarVu about a new, fascinating (and not thoroughly unreasonable) and frightening technology. It seems like a fun technology... at first. Then, for the several scientists who developed it, start to find strange and disturbing things happening around their top secret lab.

Tom and I are having a great time doing this work. Producing audiobooks is not easy and takes a lot of work and time. 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. Seeing new life breathed into them is both fascinating and greatly rewarding.

Having read and re read them so many times during the crafting process, then over the years and now to hear a talented voice actor read them, to bring the alive in new ways, brings another level entirely to these stories. Some of which I have now updated to be more relevant to today's sensibilities making some, like In Memory, Yet Crystal Clear, even more disturbing. In some cases as with this current audiobook, our present national political reality has merely enhanced the intensity of the story bringing more dark considerations and more gravity to the situation.

So many authors have said their stories are in a way, like children to them.

This experience has been like having my stories go from high school to college and now, who knows. Perhaps one day they will achieve professional status to become produced on film. Part of the reason I retired in 2016, in buying film production equipment and in restarting up my old LGN Productions (AKA Last good Nerve Productions, I had started in 1993).

A company initially for a documentary on the 25th anniversary of the old 60s TV show, Lost in Space. Now revitalized to produce my fiction (and non-fiction) writings in ever 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.

So please take a look, and a listen. I think you'll be very pleased with the result we have culled out of them in literally breathing new life into them as audiobooks. If you do like what you hear or read in my stories, please do share with friends and feel free to post your reviews. I look forward to seeing what you think! So far the reviews are good!

I moved into my new house here the end of July 2018, this past summer. I'm now in a new house with a basement where I can and plan to build a sound studio in. It is our hope that our audio productions will continue to be even better. My last house had us in my home office, actually the dining room, with all its sounds and nuances that caused us from time to time to have to pause and wait for the garbage trucks to drive on, or for the sounds of birds, or children or people walking down the street or, whathaveyou.

Now, I have a basement with concrete walls with dirt on the other side of them to block sounds. I'm also on a dead end street, with a pleasant view of the local waters. What that means is less clean up in post production audio engineering. Less work in post, cleaner sound, faster productions. Better products as we move on and more quickly once we build the new studio.

I look forward to getting the remodeling done and back up to speed for my creative endeavors. I'm also now judging films in a local film festival which has been interesting. Always stretching out to learn more, to enhance what meager understanding I have of the world around me and increase whatever skills I have.

So, that's about it. Please do consider giving In Memory, Yet Crystal Clear a listen (or a read).

All the best to you for now and... keep reading and listening!

From the ever magical Pacific Northwest here in beautiful Washington state in the albeit of late, the rather confused country of America....

JZ Murdock

#audiobooks #time #two #reading #ebook #book #soundcloud #review #love #today #google #instabook #instasoundcloud #instareview #instabooks #instagoogle #audiobook #listening #thriller #read #listen #Audible #horror #sciencefiction #scifi #sf #horrorSF #dystopia #America #democrat #politics #PKD #philipkdick #specfiction #speculativeFiction #bodymorph #bodymods #bodymodification

Monday, September 10, 2018

SCOTUS On Notice - A Centered Supreme Court

I may be missing something but this seems patently stupid how we select Supreme Court Justices. On a nine Justice Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) we need an always balanced court with four conservatives, four liberal and one swing voter.

There is a new petition on calling for what we desperately NEED. A balanced SCOTUS, by Constitutional Amendment!

Article Two of the United States Constitution requires the President of the United States to nominate Supreme Court Justices and, with Senate confirmation, requires Justices to be appointed. ... he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint ... Judges of the supreme Court... - Wikipedia

It would seem to me regardless who is in power, on a nine Justice SCOTUS we need balance to protect America and our laws. We are seeing now a days a problem in those in power being able to choose more power through appointing judges and Gerrymandering. It's broken. The original intent is broken. We need to balance this out going forward. The concept of the President being selected by the People, is no longer accurate. It has purposely been skewed by the Republican party, conservatives, and of late, by a contrary anti Democratic nation, in Russia, and more specifically a criminal leader, Vladimir Putin.

Wouldn't it be better, to have four conservative justices selected by a bipartisan Congressional confirmation process, weighted more heavily with conservatives\Republicans as they choose?

Then four liberal justices selected by a bipartisan Congressional confirmation process weighted more heavily with liberals\Democrats as they choose.

Then finally one justice to be selected by an equally bipartisan Congressional confirmation process to select the swing vote Justice. I think it may be time to end the President having this power to submit justices for SCOTUS, or otherwise. As for judges in each state, that's another matter. Having central government select judges across the nation leads to too many conservatives, or too many liberal judges nationwide.

When we need moderation. Judges for life is another questionable issue based in a need of them being above being threatened, but bringing into the mix what we see now in some judges who should no longer be judges and yet, they are there until they quit, or die?

Supreme Justices can still be suggested by the president, but also filtered as now through Republicans and Democrats, equally in Congressional Confirmations This isn't about the president, it's not about Congress, it is after all and should be, about the PEOPLE.

When a Supreme Justice vacates depending on position as conservative, liberal or swing voter, that Congressional panel (conservative weighted or liberal) would be put together to properly execute the process so that in the end the People will have a well balanced and functional SCOTUS. And end this nonsense we have now as we've seen in an abuse Republican Congress who denied Pres. Obama his selection for a Supreme Court Justice, then allowing a Republican Congress now to push through another conservative Justice when it should have been a liberal one.

That, is wrong. It is illiberal. It is unAmerican.

It would then matter not who is in power at any one time because that seems to be the mistake we're seeing today. A mistake that has made America world wide, not only a laughing stock at times, but a bully super power.

Where we have one party in power illiberally as we have now with the GOP, giving us apparently a SCOTUS with soon to be a too long of a term court weighted incorrectly for the actual desires of the people overall.

Especially after again, what Republicans did during the Obama administration in denying a Supreme Court Justice in order to purposely skew the People's Supreme Court which is obviously not a fully Republican one and yet they seem to wish that to be the case.

Which would be a travesty of jurisprudence and Congressional oversight.

Did not know, as John Oliver points out, that we're the only democracy in the world with SCOTUS life terms. Not say, 18 year terms to coincide with presidential administrations. We need to pay attention about this. As Oliver mentions, during the Constitution writing, life expectancy was shorter and judges retired younger.

Now we have justices who in some cases are too older to be thinking clearly or quickly enough as we've seen actually happen in the past. And we've seen outdated, outmoded thinking by elder Justices affect our modern needs and concerns. Not to mention, many conservative Republican beliefs are typically outdated and out moded to begin with.

We have got to fix these issues one way or another (better in more enlightened intelligent ways however) because this, is not a functional situation and this, is going to happen again.

Besides we don't want an extreme America that is way too liberal or way to conservative. The world doesn't want that though I submit they would prefer a too liberal America over a too conservative one as we're seeing in being protectionist, and a bully.

We need now to do something! We need to guarantee from here forward that rather than this haphazard guessing game that is literally in some cases, killing people, a more stable and guaranteed continuous reliable and decent America. Because in skewing America one way or another in our judicial, in acting as our national personality governing our orientations and attitudes through our laws, that does indeed affect the entire world.

And as of this time I fear, some of that is leaning not the direction of the majority of the American people, not in a more democratic direction, but in one that makes the leader of another country, in that of Russia, smile in Putin is getting into bed each night. In believing the world is becoming more Russian than American, more autocratic than... democratic. Undemocratic. Illiberal. UnAmerican.

Understand, these comments about Putin and Russia are not just about them hacking our elections. This has been a long term goal of Russia over decades. It's been reported that Russia's "useful idiot" in Donald Trump (a KGB reference to useful foreigners they can use, many times even without their explicit knowledge) first got involved with Russian crime through their oligarchs back in 1987 (it's been more recently reported his connections go even further back to 1984 when he sold parts of Trump Tower to one of them, leading to money laundering issues). It has to do with the Republican party using old tried and true KGB methodologies on the American citizenry for decades now. Yes, it's a mess. One we need to clean up.

We need to get back control of America. Not for Republicans. Not for Democrats. Not for Russia or Putin. But for the American People overall. Which means also for those people of the world who wish to come here, be here or simply be proud again of knowing always in the world that there is a county such as America to be the shining light it once was for fairness and compassion.

And can be again. We have not had to make America Great Again" until the man who ran on that platform brought this country to her knees and now does indeed need to become the great country it once was, before he came on the scene. Before the Republican party for decades now, set the path downward for someone like a Donald J Trump to come onto the scene to disrupt, damage and destroy who we are and should be, at our core.

And it all starts...with our Supreme Court of the UNITED STATES of America.

#SCOTUS #Republican #Democrat #conservative #Liberal #Progressive #realDonaldTrump #POTUS #VPOTUS #Trump #illiberal #Autocratic

Monday, September 3, 2018

Online Book Reviewing - Bullies & Short Story Cliffhangers

An author I know recently said the following:

"Yet another disturbing trend. I found out through someone who I met in an online writer's group, that any author online is being told what they're allowed to write based on bullying comments posted on Amazon. Sad. We shouldn't be violating freedom of speech in order to avoid online miniature tyrants posting crap because they can and no other reason than that. But then, I've noticed this growing trend since the beginning of this century. It's the same with any debatable issue. Bullies, abuse, discrimination, sexual assault, racism, hate crimes, the list goes on. Using bullying as an example, instead of promoting "don't get bullied" we should be focusing on simply "don't bully."

"Those who are published online only, [are] completely independent. Mainly through self-publishing, like KDP. I'll be the first to admit that yes, there is a lot of crap out there, but I don't feel any of it justifies playing bully online, never mind suppressing freedom of speech. Amazon's so-called reviews are now riddled with the worse crap I've ever seen from the most amateur self-published kindle."

I can certainly understand hating poor works and wanting to say so. There are too many amateurs and wannabe writers out there who really don't know how to write a productive  and useful review. Or to simply be a decent human being.

"I'm seeing the opposite problem. Mary Sue types, mainly. Those who sound like they could know what they're talking about by throwing around big technical terms, when they are, in fact, full of shit:

This book is badly written because it uses a modifier that's outside of the realm of professional writing.

"Er, how about simply saying that you didn't like the story and be done with it? Or, better yet, don't give amateurs undue attention. Now, this wouldn't disturb me so much if these kinds of reviews were common with ANY kind of story. An author friend of mine who offered a free short story via KDP, was so severely bashed because, zomg, it reads like a short story, not a novel. Obviously...
It seems this huge assumption has taken over. Published and/or available to purchase online, you must be an amateur, by default. No hope for you."

There is a way to write a good review. Without being petty, ignorant, or typical in cutting another down to build yourself up. Typical bully behavior that shows to anyone who can read and clearly understand what they read, just who you are as a reviewer (and a person) and what your worth is in this society of literature.

I recently had something curious happen to myself about a short story ebook I published. I don't really think the reviewer was being a bully. But I did feel the initial reviewer's rating was somewhat unfair. At very least I think it gives an incorrectly colored consideration of the story. One that had done well elsewhere.

I had one review on Amazon for my story, Mr. Pakool's Spice (now also available as an audiobook). That review sat on Amazon for that story alone, for some years. One wonders if that was in part why it was the only review.

Reviewers, amature or otherwise, need to realize that in posting the first review of any work, they have gained a vaulted status. One that can shade how others perceive the story before they read it. IF they even get to, as they may be put off buying the ebook in the first place, by that initial, single review.

First review from 2013:

"I did enjoy the journey portion of the story, of the father and his two children and their attempts to survive a zombie apocalypse. However, just as the story was getting very interesting, I turned the page to find out it was done. A HUGE cliff-hanger? On a short story?"

The reviewer essentially said they had really liked my story, but because they hadn't realized it was a short story when they got to the end, they took umbrage with its length and gave it not at least four out of five stars, but three.

This story by the way, was previously published in an anthology with other writers where it was well received. This reviewer did cause me to go through all my short ebooks and put in the beginning of the description the words: "This is a short story...." Because apparently some need that help.

I did find the review lacking in some ways. Obviously, or I wouldn't be bringing this up here. So, just a bit about reviewing and author's works online:

From Dudley Court Press site:

"Specific Tips For Goodreads And Amazon Reviews
Most review sites like Amazon and Goodreads ask you to rate the book, usually from 1 to 5. Each site uses the ratings a little differently, but keep in mind that a 1 and a 5 should be very rare. For Amazon reviews, a 3 is borderline for success. So, save a 2 for a book you really don’t like and a 1 for complete failure. These numbers can mean a difference between being promoted on the site and falling into a black hole."

Eventually I got another review actually giving my story five stars. But it was also a review which sadly came, five years later! Which gave me a 4.2 rating overall for all of that time that the first review remained the only review. Makes one wonder, if that had any impact on no further reviews or purchases (I don't really know what sales is on that story...actually, I just looked it up... it's sold 230 copies to date with only two reviews. Come on, really? Two?).

The 3 star review pretty much bummed me out as I thought it wasn't really deserved. That story hasn't gotten a lot of attention I'll admit, but I think the new audiobook using a voice actor, really helps to flesh it out and offer the listener even more. The audio version ending gives me chills now every time I hear it.

The newest review somewhat in reply to the first reviewer's rating, which obviously they too believed was somewhat unfair, simply says:

Regardless, I wouldn't actually call it a cliffhanger ending. Not to give spoilers, but the surviving main character(s), though still in the overall situation at the end, there is actually a major resolution to one of their greatest concerns and most deadly considerations.

Also, it was after all priced as a short story, and the pages were clearly indicated on its Amazon page as being only thirty-five pages long, so...a short story. While the reviewer felt it ended with a cliffhanger, really it was an exploration of a piece of the experience the characters were trying to survive in, exploring some unique behaviors of the zombies in the story.

People don't realize, or don't care all too often, just what their comments do both to sales and to the author's feelings. If you want to be a useful part of the life of a story or book, give us productive comments. Give the author a reason to do better. Give them how to do better, offer them useful and productive comments. A reason to strive to do better than you perceive they have done.

We want better writers and authors. Do we really just want to brutalize people for their efforts? Or do we want to be a positive catalyst for change in the literary realm?

One wonders sometimes just why people write such damaging and useless reviews.

Self esteem problems maybe?

The Writing Center at the University of North Carolina gives this advice:

Finally, a few general considerations:
  • Review the book in front of you, not the book you wish the author had written. You can and should point out shortcomings or failures, but don’t criticize the book for not being something it was never intended to be.
  • With any luck, the author of the book worked hard to find the right words to express her ideas. You should attempt to do the same. Precise language allows you to control the tone of your review.
  • Never hesitate to challenge an assumption, approach, or argument. Be sure, however, to cite specific examples to back up your assertions carefully.
  • Try to present a balanced argument about the value of the book for its audience. You’re entitled—and sometimes obligated—to voice strong agreement or disagreement. But keep in mind that a bad book takes as long to write as a good one, and every author deserves fair treatment. Harsh judgments are difficult to prove and can give readers the sense that you were unfair in your assessment.
Huffington Post offers this bit of advice and so I will leave you with this:

"So let’s sum up. Reviews are about books and for readers; they’re not about you the reviewer for you the reviewer. If it’s in your character to need attention, don’t write useless reviews, start a blog. Or better yet, become a cable news anchor."