In nature’s infinite blog of secrecy a little I can read.

Hello and good morning.

It’s Thursday morning once again, and so it’s time for me to attempt to create a simulacrum of what used to be my typical, once-weekly blog post, back when I used to do my fiction writing every non-Thursday morning of the week.  It won’t really live up to expectations, I wouldn’t think, since the situation is now so different.

For one thing, I can’t talk about my fiction writing, since I haven’t done any fiction writing since before I last posted The Dark Fairy and the Desperado, and previously, Outlaw’s Mind, both of which are uncompleted stories and are likely to remain that way until the end of the universe—barring, of course, the possibility that the universe goes on forever and every possible quantum state thereof is eventually realized somewhere, somewhen.

Indeed, if the universe is infinite in spatial extent, as seems to be the case, and if our understanding of quantum mechanics and the maximal entropy state of enclosed regions of spacetime are correct, or even reasonably close to being correct, then somewhere out there in space “at this time” there are an infinite number of versions of me who have completed both stories, and many others besides, and who are world-famous authors.

I used scare quotes around “at this time” because, obviously, given the finite speed of light/causality, and the flexible nature of time depending on relative motion, the concept of simultaneity is fuzzy at best.  Nothing outside one’s local light cones can be considered to be in one’s past or one’s future, but they are also not exactly “now”, either.

Still, we can give an overall statement about the age of the universe for things that have little to no “peculiar motion” relative to the cosmic microwave background and say that such things have gone through about 13.8 billion years since the hot big bang, on average, and it’s not nonsensical to do that.  So, if by “at this time”, I refer to other regions of a spatially infinite universe that have passed through roughly the same amount of local time since the big bang, I’m not incorrect in saying that there are an infinite number of “me” who have completed their stories—and there are an infinite number who have not, and there are an infinite number of every possible variation.

None of that does me (or you) any good, because—being outside my past and future light cones (and yours, which are almost identical to mine)—those distant regions are completely causally disconnected from us, past and future, especially given the accelerated expansion of the universe.  I suppose an Einstein-Rosen Bridge/wormhole could conceivably connect such distant regions, in principle, assuming such wormholes can even happen, which is far from certain.

There are those who hypothesize that quantum entanglement happens through wormholes (small ones), and there are those who have even tried to connect distant multiverses with the many worlds of a branching Everettian quantum mechanics, but I don’t think either of those things is close to having been rigorously described, let alone tested, nor are they generally accepted by the physics community.

Anyway, it still doesn’t help any of us, because clearly, if there are alternate versions of ourselves living better lives than we are*, they have no back-and-forth connection with the lives we currently are living—the wave function has split, the states have decohered, they are not the same beings, even if movies about multiverses win many Oscars and/or make a great deal of money.

What was I talking about again?

I don’t know.  I’m very tired.  I ended up sleeping in the office last night.  I did this deliberately; it had nothing to do with train problems or anything.  I just didn’t feel like going back to the house.  I was tired (still am) and there’s nothing at the house for me that is any more enticing than there is at the office, other than a shower.  And I don’t really care about a shower right now.  For whom would be grooming myself?  Whom am I trying to impress?  All is vanity, as it says in Ecclesiastes.

It’s a funny line for a religious text that some people say contains the infallible word of an all-knowing, all-seeing, all-powerful and omnipresent deity that made everything, deliberately and specifically.  If that were all the case, why would it say all is vanity?  Of course, the argument could be made that these were the words of some ancient human (Solomon or David, one of those kings, is supposed to have been the author of Ecclesiastes, I think), not the direct words of the creator of the universe, but if that’s the case, then clearly the bible is not literally true in all its parts**.  But that’s hardly the only case of seemingly contradictory portions of religious texts, is it?

Anyway, it’s chilly here for south Florida—about sixty degrees, which feels cold when you’re used to 70’s to 80’s, but would no doubt feel beautifully balmy to people back in Michigan or Ohio.  It’s certainly far warmer than intergalactic space, which is only about 2.7 Kelvin (so it’s about 286 Kelvin hotter here).  Then again, it’s much cooler than the heart of the sun, and cooler yet than the heart of blue supergiant stars.  And those are all vastly cooler than just later than one Planck time after whatever initiated the big bang.

Of course, there is, in principle, a maximum heat that any local region can achieve, because if the local energy is high enough, it will form a local black hole, and also the uncertainty principle will kick in to separate things.  Although…if everything is uniformly very hot, such that there is no net curvature of spacetime in one local region relative to another…maybe that’s where inflation comes from?  If there is inflation***.

Anyway, that’s enough nonsense.  I’m just jabbering and chattering, because I don’t really communicate with anyone day-to-day in any way other than this about things that interest me.  I’m very alone and very tired, but I’m also very bad at doing the whole social interaction thing, so I’m kind of stuck.

I’m inclined to say that I deserve it—that’s how I feel—but of course, as Will (played by Clint) points out below, such concepts are really vacuous.  There are a functionally limitless number of possible variations of lives that could be lived by a being that matches my rough description and/or has an identical past that diverged at some point.  I’m just living one of those possibilities, because, well, I had to be living one of them unless I were dead, which I’m not, unfortunately.

I hope most of you are having a better morning than I am.  Heck, I’d be delighted if everyone who reads my stuff always has better days than I do.  That would at least be some good news.  And, of course, somewhere out there in infinite spacetime—if there is such a thing—that situation is instantiated.

Don’t be jealous, though.  There are also places where everyone reading my blog always has worse days than I have.

Poor bastards.



*And if there are, there are also infinite numbers of versions of us living every possible worse life as well.

**If in any of them whatsoever, which is a separate but related question.

***Well, by certain definitions, we could say with great confidence that there is inflation, since the universe is inflating now—that’s the “dark energy” you might have heard about—but it’s doing it quite slowly, doubling in size over the course of every about ten billion years, I think, at the current rate, assuming it’s a constant.  But if you change the time scale, it looks much the same as earlier, more rapid inflation…I think that’s the basis of Roger Penrose’s Conformal Cyclic Cosmology, but I haven’t read his full book on the subject yet, so I may be misunderstanding.

They have blogged at a great feast of languages, and stolen the scraps.

Hello and good morning.

It’s Thursday, so I’m writing my traditional blog post, which I used to write between writing fiction (or editing it) on every other working day of the week.  I suppose it’s possible that now I’m still writing my daily blog between writing fiction, but if so, it’s a very long between, and I see no hint of a far end of that break, at least not one that involves me starting to write fiction again.

Practically no one—perhaps literally no one—has shown any real interest in that possibility, nor is anyone outside my family really reading any of my fiction.  Perhaps few people read fiction at all anymore.  I do have to wonder, how many of the people who buy even the big best-selling fiction works actually read them?

I recall back when Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time was a huge best-seller* that many people just bought it to have it on their coffee table or book shelf, as a social status symbol, just as they might wear Nike shoes or drive a particular make and model of car, or frequent a particular restaurant where they could be seen with other people who were going there to be seen.  They were peacocking, so to speak—it wasn’t just males, of course, because humans have different social structures than birds as a general rule.  But the status, hierarchy, and symbolic drives are all quite reminiscent.  One could say similar things about Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel.

Hell, back in the day, there were probably oodles of people who had sets of high-quality encyclopedias on their bookshelves, that they never used or expected to use.  This is a true shame, because I can tell you that just picking a random volume of an old-school encyclopedia and thumbing one’s way through it, stopping and reading when one encounters something interesting, can be quite a wonderful experience, and lets one learn about things one might never have thought to explore.  Wikipedia does have a sort of “random article” feature, but it’s just not the same.

Anyway, that was a bit of a tangent.  The point I’m making is that I think almost no one reads at all, or at least few people read anything longer than a few hundred words at a time**.  People seem to prefer to watch people speaking in order to get their news, which is far less efficient than reading actual words, which are a comparatively concise and precise means of conveying information.

There are some things for which video is especially well-suited, of course.  Conveying complex scientific ideas can be boosted tremendously with high-quality animation of concepts, especially in physics.  Also, of course, explorations of the natural world as undertaken by the likes of David Attenborough can be used to give people a more direct exposure to things they never would have been able to see for themselves.

But still, words have their power, the written word especially (or so I think).  When you come down to it, every aspect of the internet runs on written words—computer programs and commands—which convey literal, step-by-step instructions from one place to another about what pixel to put where and when, how and when and with what power to vibrate a computer’s speaker, and of course, what ASCII or similar character to call up and put where on what screen.

It happens very fast, of course, but it happens that way.  The very reason video signals can be so high-fidelity but low power—phone signals as well—is that they are transmitted as languages, with redundancy and error-correction implicitly (and deliberately) built in, so that even when part of a signal is lost, the rest can “easily” be reconstructed.

I put “easily” in scare quotes because while it happens readily once everything is set up, it took some of the most brilliant minds ever in the world to figure out how that sort of thing works and what to do to make use of it, and others to figure out how to bring it to the available use of so many of the billions of humans worldwide.

Meanwhile, most of those humans don’t think about the exquisite and astonishing machinery involved in their smartphones, or their “smart” TVs, or their GPS (which requires Special and General Relativity to function!).  Most people use their phones as distractions and—perhaps primarily—as yet another instance of peacocking, of status demonstration.  How else can one explain the push to buy the latest iteration of the latest smartphone, when one hasn’t even taken full advantage of the features of the phone one currently has?

Humans very rarely seem actually to think for themselves.  I’d say almost all of them do it some of the time—occasionally—and some few of them do it much of the time.  But that last population is vanishingly small.  Yet they, I suspect, are the ones who drive most advances in most fields, and produce the improvement of science and technology and art and society.  What a shame that they’re usually just making precious ceramic sculptures to be tossed about by troglodytes.

Oh, well.  Obviously I’m not in an upbeat and optimistic frame of mind today, if ever I am.  And it’s because of facts and thoughts such as these that I think I’m not writing this blog between writing fiction but rather after having written all the fiction I’m going to write in my life.  That’s okay, I suppose.  It doesn’t actually matter much to much of anyone, anyway.

It’s just as well, I guess.  The one person I met at work who actually talked to me about the substance and the ideas in one of my books—Son of Man, in this case—was also a person who died of a drug overdose not long afterward.  It wasn’t the fault of my book; he had a drug problem already.  But he was smart and curious, and he actually read the book and thought about it and asked me questions related to it, and debated points with me.  That was kind of cool.  Small wonder that he died a self-inflicted death; he was too much a kindred spirit to me.  What else could one expect?

So, with that in mind, I—who, regrettably, cannot seem to develop a life-threatening addiction to drugs or alcohol—don’t expect to do much more creative shit in my life.  I could be wrong, of course; I make no claims to absolute epistemic certainty about anything.  I’m not even entirely convinced by cogito ergo sum argument.  I can vaguely conceive of the possibility of myself being a figment of someone else’s dreams, albeit someone with a very vivid (if somewhat dreary) imagination.  Of course, in a sense, an imagined being, if the imagined nature of that being is instantiated in the imagining of independent thought, does exist.  So I guess Descartes’s conclusion, in sum, was still correct as far as it went.

I don’t know.  I’m tired.  If someone is dreaming me, I wish they would have a better dream.  Maybe I wish they would wake up.  Presumably I wouldn’t know that the dream that I was in ended when it ended, anymore than any of us would know if the vacuum state of the universe tunneled to a lower energy level and wiped out everything preceding it, because the wave front of the phase change would progress at the speed of light, which would mean that the first hint of its existence for anyone would be their instantaneous obliteration, faster than they could even potentially know it was happening.

Swift, painless, without the possibility of fear because fear cannot move faster than light—it’s not too bad a way for the universe to go.  To read more about it, please look into The End of the Everything (Astrophysically Speaking), by­­­­­­­ Katie Mack***.  It’s an excellent book, and quite fun.  Buy it even if you’re just going to put it on your coffee table to impress the Joneses.  At least the author would get a bit of money.  And some day, you or someone in your family might accidentally pick it up and learn something.  There are worse accidents than that!



*Admittedly, that is nonfiction, but it serves my point more generally.

**Though, to my surprise, on the train this morning I saw no fewer than three people actually, actively reading paperback books.  Perhaps I’m too pessimistic.  That would surprise almost no one.

***You need not worry about the possibility of such a phase change much.  It’s far from certain that it even could happen, and even if it can, the best science indicates that it’s vanishingly unlikely over anything like the current lifespan of the universe.  Dr. Mack explains it far better than I could.

Picture and Shakespeare “quote” deferred due to mechanical difficulties

Hello and good morning, everyone (or at least, everyone who’s reading this).  It’s Thursday, the 19th day of January, which means it’s also the 19th day of 2023 by our standard dating system.  And I suppose you could say it’s the 384th day of 2022, if you were being rather unorthodox…though that might lead one to ask what day it is of 2021, and of 2020, and so on.

That way madness lies.  I ought to know.

Yesterday, I published the draft of The Dark Fairy and the Desperado as far as I’ve written it‒about 100 pages worth on MS Word, single spaced, in Calibri 11-point.  I included quite a few “illustrations”, which is another way to say that I posted quite a few of the drawings* I did way back when I was first thinking of the story.  As you may be able to tell, I had planned a lot of the things that have happened so far in the story even 10 or 15 years ago.

There were a few drawings of the meeting of the Desperado and the wizard that I haven’t been able to locate‒some of them are probably on my old MySpace page.  Yes, it’s out there still, MySpace, but it’s sure as hell not what it used to be.  More’s the pity.  I liked MySpace in its original form.  It was much more wholesome than Facebook or Twitter, and for my money (so to speak) mostly more interesting.

As an aside, the same idiotic, loud and screamy woman I mentioned the other day is having another piercing, shouted conversation on the other side of the road again this morning‒or who knows, I guess it could still be the same conversation.  Maybe she really is mentally ill.  Why else would someone have prolonged, shouted discussions at 5:22 in the morning more than once in a single week, even if they are talking on the phone and there’s some real person on the other end?  Surely any grasp of decorum at all‒indeed, even the slightest functioning of the mediating aspect of the frontal lobes‒would make a person refrain from such displays.

Oh, well, anyway, back to DFandD.

I reread much of what I have written so far in the process of posting it and especially of inserting the pictures.  There is much editing that could be done, of course, but then again, it really is a first draft.  Still, I thought it was reasonably good.  Certainly, it’s a more light-hearted story than Outlaw’s Mind, but then again, it’s not a horror story.  Even though the two main‒indeed, title‒characters are a supremely deadly gunfighter and a fairy who hates humans and likes hurling magical fire at them, and it begins with the Desperado nearly dying of thirst in the desert, it’s actually comparatively upbeat, at least for my writing.

I’m not the greatest self-salesman, am I?  I have a difficult time saying positive things about anything that I’ve done or made, even when I actually am trying to promote them.  I have a very hard time talking myself up, even to myself.  I’m not my own biggest fan.

In any case, yesterday I effectively took the day off from writing, since I posted that draft.  I had a brief return to my prior commute for the day, which was a little easier, but it also left me feeling a bit stiff.  Today, I’m back to the bus, as you may have (correctly) inferred from my mention of the screaming woman, just a bit ago.

I do like the extra walking that I get from taking the bus to the train, and then back again at the end of the day.  It’s a bit more pleasant today than it was most of the last week, because the temperature is in the sixties.  Also, of course, my commute is relatively environmentally friendly, since I’m using mass transit (though, she below).

All that is surely fairly uninteresting to all of you all.  It wouldn’t be interesting to me if it weren’t happening to me, honestly, and even that barely brings it into the level of being worthy of my own notice.  I would love to be able to sleep through it all, though I don’t know what type of blog I might write if I did it in my sleep.  Who knows?  Maybe it would be better than it otherwise is.

Anyway, back to the main point.  I would be interested in what anyone thinks who reads The Dark Fairy and the Desperado, especially as compared to Outlaw’s Mind (or any of my published stuff, too, I guess).  So please, feel free to share your reactions in the comments below, or on the actual posting of the story.

And, still, if anyone out there knows how to check the results of WordPress polls from the inside, I’d love to know without having to go to the trouble of trying to contact the “happiness engineers” at WordPress**.  Though, in all likelihood, there have been no more than 4 people responding since I posted the poll in the first place, and one of those people was I.

I voted for me to stop writing, for Cat’s sake.


[Note:  I apologize for the relative lateness of this post.  The train I rode this morning had a mechanical failure, in that the engine died, and we had to wait for a (delayed) subsequent train, which was very overcrowded, and I arrived at my stop about an hour later than I would have otherwise.  This is the third time this week that the Tri Rail system has had delays or cancellations of trains I’ve taken.  If any of you know any of the responsible people behind this, please give them a stern talking-to.  Thank you.]

*Some were just in pencil, some in plain ink, and some colored either using colored pencils or watercolor paint/ink or even using Photoshop.

**Honestly, can you think of a more nauseatingly pseudo-positive euphemism for customer service?  Jeez, Louise!

The Dark Fairy and the Desperado – so far

[Please note:  This is very much a near-first-draft of this story, so take that into account when reading it.  It will be far from perfect.]


Sooner or later, the hammer drops on everyone.

This was the thought running—sometimes repeatedly—through the mind of the man in the long, faded yellow duster and the black hat as he walked through the desert, somewhere between Texas and California.  It wasn’t really a mantra; it was more of a truth that he’d gleaned through a life that so far had entailed more than its share of dropping the hammer on others.  He had always been good at dropping that hammer—uncannily good, right from the start.  It was good to have a talent, he supposed, but it was a shame that it had to be a talent for killing.

If he thought about it, he was sure he could recall the first time he had dropped such a hammer on anyone.  And, indeed, as soon as the notion of his very first killing came into his mind, images flashed up from the occurrence.  He’d been very young—still a boy, really.  He’d been old enough to be smitten with a not-as-young woman who had treated him kindly, even despite his lack of status and prospects.  He’d been innocent and naïve enough to think he was protecting her when he’d picked up the gun of a man that he’d presumed had been assaulting the woman—the man had been otherwise occupied, and his gun was not at his side—and had shot that stunned man.

He hadn’t known at all what he’d been doing, and yet…and yet it had felt only too perfectly natural and instinctive when he’d fired the gun, and it had apparently struck some vital organ, presumably the man’s heart, right away, when he’d pulled the trigger after forcing back the stiff hammer of the revolver.  There had been no time for the man even to cry out in pain before he had dropped to the ground, twitching only a few times before he became still. Continue reading

Introspection, Extrospection, Emergence, Reductionism…let’s call the whole thing off.

I’m sorry about how long yesterday’s post was.  It’s amazing, as I think I’ve mentioned before, just how much I can write‒on my phone, no less‒when I literally have nothing planned about which to write.  Small wonder that, when I do have a subject, or a story to tell, I tend to write perhaps too much.  Though I guess that assessment is really the individual reader’s to make.  Some may think I’ve written too much, and some may think too little.  Most will never know because very few people know about my books at all, and I have no knack, nor money, for self-promotion.

Speaking of stories, some woman was standing in the street median across from the bus stop, screaming as if in heated conversation at 5:20 this morning (just now, in other words) about someone having cheated on her after having gotten her pregnant.  If this were twenty years ago, I would have thought she was psychotic.  Nowadays it seems safe to draw the tentative conclusion that she is actually talking to someone on her smartphone‒though perhaps that’s a misnomer for such devices when they are used for such purposes.  Honestly, why do people even want to be with other people?  Everyone is so pathetic, and I’m certainly no exception.

There are those who say that an appetite for delusion is necessary for people to find any will to live at all‒from delusions about their driving abilities and personal attractiveness to delusions about meaning in the universe.  And there are those who speculate that one of the hallmarks of clinical depression is a diminution of that ability to delude oneself, particularly about oneself.  Perhaps.  It’s probably not quite so simple as that, but that does capture at least part of the character of the experience.

Oh, well.  It is whatever it is at root.  The underlying causal structure may have little resemblance to the overarching phenomenon.  Nerve cells don’t resemble little brains, individual starlings don’t have the appearance of tiny murmurations, and water molecules do not in any way resemble ultra miniaturized oceans.

The materials to which the laws of quantum mechanics directly apply do not behave in ways that are analogous to any “large” phenomenon which they engender when gathered together and interacting in their trillions of trillions of trillions of trillions, etc.  Anyone who finds this surprising at all has really not thought about things very hard or very clearly.

It may be fallacious to imagine that a wave function collapses when measured, or when it interacts with other “particles” and decoheres; it may be that our experiments of such things are simply too artificial to capture the nuances of the immensely common submicroscopic interactions of such fundamental things (though I don’t doubt that they actually have bearing on how quantum mechanics behaves).

The problem with concepts like imagining that, for instance, the Copenhagen Interpretation is “correct”, and that measurement and observation is what causes the wave function to “collapse” is its implicit assumption that if we cannot “see” something in any strong sense, it can’t be considered “real”.  To me that seems an astonishing level of hubris and narcissism, especially from a species as pathetic and benighted as humans.

By this I do not, by the way‒and this is very important‒mean to open the door to subjectivism and any relativism of objective facts, or any version of the “perception is reality” bullshit.  There is all the evidence anyone might need that there is an external reality, utterly independent of any consciousness that might or might not perceive it.  But its nature is not necessarily directly perceivable all at once, or understood at first glance.  It requires rigorous detective work.

How did I get on that subject?  By stream of consciousness, I suppose…or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that it was by the stream of the unconscious, bubbling away and spilling over onto the surface of thought.

That stream is not like a stream of clear water, though.  Perhaps it might be said to resemble turbid water, but often it seems more like thick paint.  We can only see the surface of the stuff, but that doesn’t in any way imply that the interior doesn’t exist.  It’s merely not directly accessible to our eyes.

Then again‒and this applies also to what I was writing earlier‒the process of seeing and experiencing that sight is a neurologic process that is constrained by inputs from sense organs, not a direct, unmediated apprehension of the world outside.  Mere photons, unprocessed, can only deliver chaos to any random bits of photosensitive material they might encounter.

Thought‒of some form or other‒is required for sight to be in any way useful, or even actual, to any organism.  A closed-circuit TV camera and monitor do nothing but send signals, and cannot interpret or act upon the information.  If no one, or no program, or no other mechanism is being influenced by the information in any sensible way that affects its outcome, it might as well be a camera pointed at the surface of an uninhabited planet and sending those signals to a screen on some other uninhabited planet.

Again‒or still‒I don’t know what, if any, point I’m trying to make.  Probably nothing worth delving into too deeply, so I won’t bother with it much more, I think.  Instead, I’ll switch topics.

In the past, I’ve asked about whether people would want to have me write more of Outlaw’s Mind or The Dark Fairy and the Desperado.  One particularly astute reader pointed out that it was impossible to make any reasonable judgment without having the opportunity to read any of the latter story.  So, I think I’ll post that story here, all in one go, if I can fit it.

Don’t worry, I’ll insert one of those “continue reading” clickable thingies after the first few paragraphs.  Otherwise, it would be a ridiculously long blog post to get past if one wanted to scroll down to the previous one.

This doesn’t mean I promise to write more of it or of Outlaw’s Mind, or to write Changeling in a Shadow World, for that matter.  I haven’t yet figured out even how to check the results of my poll, and I’m pretty sure that it can’t be all that difficult, so don’t expect much.

Hell, I don’t even promise to keep writing this blog.  I’m getting tired of it, as I’m getting tired of pretty much everything, and particularly of myself.  There’s very little to be gained by pursuing anything at all.  But, perhaps, by posting DFandD, I’ll at least create the pseudo-closure of having all of my fiction to date be out there somewhere to read.  In case anyone wants to read it.

So, either I’ll post that later today, or I’ll just use it as my post for tomorrow.  I guess you’ll find out, if you care to look.

The satirical rogue says here that old men have grey blogs

Hello and good morning.  It’s Thursday, and so it’s time once again for my traditional Thursday blog post, which always starts with some variation of “Hello and good morning”, as you have just seen.  It’s the second Thursday of 2023, and it is the 12th of January, meaning that tomorrow‒as I’ve noted before‒is Friday the 13th.

I apologize for the tone and content of yesterday’s blog post, which feels to me as though it was unusually dank and dismal.  I’m not apologizing because I didn’t mean what I wrote; I did mean it.  If anything, I tend to understate things.  But I’m sorry to have foisted all that on you lot.

What I wrote yesterday is true, though.  I have a difficult to terrible time seeking out help, so when I get even the slightest urge to do so, I have to try to get it out there.  Because the fact is that I could really use it.  But my mental resources‒and my physical ones, let’s be honest‒for seeking help are stunted or crippled or maimed or whatever you would want to call it.  This blog, at least now that I’ve made it “daily”, is to a large extent my attempt at a proverbial cry for help.  But it’s not doing very well at that.  Not even close.

Maybe I always suspected that would be the case?  Well, no, I think it’s more accurate to say that I feared it might be the case.  If I had truly expected there to be no benefit, I wouldn’t have bothered.  I don’t have quite the kind of mental twistiness that leads one deliberately to do things one doesn’t think have any chance of working.  I really do (and did) wish that somehow this daily blog writing would help me gain some form of mental improvement and possibly even entice someone or something somewhere to help me…somehow.

It’s vague and nebulous, I know, and rather laughably optimistic.  I might as well just play a random Powerball ticket.  Getting millions upon millions of dollars would certainly at least give me greater freedom and resources to seek out help than just about anything else that’s physically possible to have happen to me.

And if wishes were horses, we’d all be hip deep in horse shit.  In which case, climate change would be much worse than it is, because all that horse shit gives off a lot of methane.  And even if you burn the methane, that just gives you a molecule of CO2 and four molecules of water for each molecule of methane burned (in oxygen, anyway), and each of those new molecules is another greenhouse gas*.

Anyway, that’s my mea culpa for yesterday, sort of.  Not that I think I did anything truly wrong, mind you.  I mean, it’s my blog.  It is whatever I want to make of it, and no one is forced to read it**.  If they choose to do so, well then caveat lector, or whatever the appropriate Latin would be.  Let the reader beware.

But the reader doesn’t have to beware all that much, because, in the end, these are words, words, words, as Hamlet said to Polonius when asked what he was reading.  I love words, and written language, obviously, but it is nevertheless true, as we used to say in grade school, that “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” And by hurt, I mean literally, physically.

Of course, words do have power.  Language can affect the world, and is the means by which we exchange, record, and pass down knowledge and other information.  Written language is the lifeblood of civilization.  But it is only the blood.  It is not the muscle or sinew or bone.  Words cannot conjure magical beings or events, as they can in stories, other than in the sense that they can be used to make such stories.  Perception is not identical with reality, speech is not violence, and as DMX said, “Talk is cheap, motherfucker.”

I don’t know how I arrived at that point in this blog, but it is a message I try very hard to get across.  We can be glad indeed that words cannot literally hurt people, because if they could, it would make the picture of a world in which wishes were horses, complete with their copious excrement, seem almost paradisiacal by comparison.  I know that my wake would probably be littered with corpses.

Hey, maybe that would be a good idea for a horror story (probably a short one): someone discovers that their words literally have the power to hurt people or make other things happen.  It could be called Sticks and Stones.  Actually, I’ve already written a story that has some of that aspect, in The Death Sentence, and I think H. G. Wells wrote a story about a guy who could make things happen by speaking, quite a long time ago.  Not that the concept is exhausted, of course.  There are many things, potentially, one could do with such a story idea.

I don’t think I’m going to be the one to do it, though.  I don’t think I’m likely to write any fiction again, or even live all that much longer.  Not without some kind of help, which does not seem likely to come.

Oh, well, whataya gonna do?  I hope you all have a good day today, and look forward to tomorrow, which is a Friday the 13th, but has nothing to do with the overworked movie franchise.  That’s got to be worth celebrating, right?


words words words

*The “m” is right above the “period” on this phone keyboard, so I briefly made a typo, which the autocorrect showed no sign of changing, that read “another greenhouse gasm”. This sounds like something that might happen to a truly passionate plant lover upon entering a lush, indoor botanical garden when it was deep winter outside.

**Not by me, anyway.  And I don’t think there are any sadists out there cruel enough to make someone read my blog when they have no interest in it.

A story I forgot to mention yesterday…and a poll!

Whew, I’m a bit more tired than I was yesterday morning.  It was a long and somewhat frustrating day at the office yesterday, and then I had trouble getting to sleep and subsequently a bit of that really early awakening with which I sometimes have trouble.  Whatever else you may say about being sick, I have been getting slightly better sleep since my recent illness started, and that is nice.  Hopefully last night was a minor fluke*, and I’ll revert back to my slightly improved sleep pattern at least.  I have reason to suspect it may be so, but it’s not guaranteed.

Oh, by the way, yesterday when I mentioned the possibility of starting writing again, and using solely the cell phone to do so, I neglected to mention the option of starting a new story that would be written entirely on the phone.  If I did start such a novel, it would almost certainly be Changeling in a Shadow World, a story I’ve mentioned here before.  It’s an old story idea; I even wrote the beginning of a prologue to it once, back in the day.  It has ties to other stories of mine, including Outlaw’s Mind itself and The Chasm and the Collision.  It even has bits that hearken back to my lost, first sci-fi/fantasy novel, Ends of the Maelstrom.  So I have some affection for it.

So, please throw that into your voting machines.  Come to think of it, maybe I’ll try to insert a readers’ poll here, if I can easily figure out how to do it.  I know it can be done, because I’ve seen other people do it, but I don’t feel like trying too hard about it.  I’d rather just get some feedback in the comments below.  There’s more flexibility that way, and it feels more like an interaction.  I know that, in some situations, a poll is simply efficient, but I think I still have a contained (shall we say “elite”? Yes, I think we shall) enough readership that we don’t have to resort to crude measures.  That doesn’t mean you can’t curse in your comments, by the way, as long as it’s cursing that serves a grammatical and/or rhetorical purpose!

One thing I will say, though, is that if I do this, and start writing fiction again, I want to stick to whichever story I pick until it’s done.  One of the things that kept me from ever having finished and published anything prior to going to prison was that I would have a new idea for a story, or something similar, and let myself divert from one to the other, and so I had a relatively wide selection of beginnings of books, but only two that I’d finished in even first draft form**.  I also had a handful of completed short stories, and the cheapo, low-quality screenplay I wrote in high school, with the notion of trying actually to make it, starring my friends and classmates.

I even filmed, or attempted to film, one scene, using a home VHS video camera one of them had, but it and the sound were really quite limited, and I had no personal experience with movie-making, and it was high school so we had a lot going on.  Anyway, it didn’t get made, which is not a tragedy.  My friend Joe said that the title*** was too good for the story, anyway, and he was right.

I did write some decent musical themes for it, though, including a bad guy’s theme that drew inspiration from the carousel in Something Wicked This Way Comes, and a main title theme that I can still play pretty much by heart on the piano, and which is probably the prettiest music I’ve written.  That may not be saying much, but it is what it is.

Okay, well, sorry about those various tangents.  I’ll do my best to stick with sines and cosines**** hereinafter.

Anyway, I really would appreciate your input about how I should go about doing a story and the blog posts‒using the phone should make it easier to work writing in, anyway‒and which story to write if I write anything.  Or are things in the world better in general without my writing any more new fiction?  It’s certainly possible that such is the case.  Although, if someone convincingly told me that my continued writing of new fiction would literally and significantly put the whole human race in jeopardy, that might very well give me an added impetus to write.  I am a would-be supervillain at heart, after all.

Well, let me know, please.  Also, have a good day, if you can, and if you are so inclined.

Oh, and I did put a poll in at the bottom, below the footnotes, so if you’re so inclined, would you weigh in with your choice?

*Which sounds like some part of the anatomy of a whale or a seal or some other, similar marine mammal.

**That’s Ends of the Maelstrom that I mentioned earlier, and The Vagabond, which at the time I called simply Vagabond.

***Night Vision.

****This is an example of that truly rarefied entity, trigonometry related humor.  Pythagoras would probably not approve, but he was a putz who repressed knowledge of irrational numbers and the dodecahedron (or his followers did) and who (as I’ve heard it) died when he refused to run away from would be murderers across a field of beans, because he hated beans.  Now that’s what I call a food intolerance!

Some of my thoughts, and a request for some of yours

It’s Tuesday, even though it’s the third day of the year, not the second.  I’ve put in a complaint to the Department of Wordplay Regarding Days and Numbers, but I haven’t heard back from them, and now I think it’s too late to expect that I will.  Sorry.  I did what I could.

Speaking of doing what I could:  boy, yesterday was really pretty tough going.  It was a very busy day at the office, and I was still not at 100% capacity‒far from it.  I’m not really close to 100% today, frankly, though I feel a bit better than yesterday.  Hopefully, my voice will improve some.  I ended up having to do phone stuff a lot yesterday, and by the end I was pretty hoarse, which is (I tentatively conclude) nothing at all like being a pretty horse*.  I would like to do my “podcast” about sugar sometime soon, but I need to wait until my voice is more or less back to normal.

In other news, yesterday I uploaded the whole files of Outlaw’s Mind and The Dark Fairy and the Desperado to Google Drive.  I foresee a day soon when, perhaps, I’m going to adjust my commuting schedule to make it perforce include a bit more walking, and this would also make the commute last a bit longer (including the parts of it that happen on bus and train).  Now, since I’ve come to the provisional conclusion that I write reasonably well using my smartphone‒I’m writing this on my phone‒I thought maybe, just maybe, I might take up one or the other of those stories during a prolonged commute, and doing that with my phone would be easier than with the laptop.

I’m conflicted about this, because I think it might take away from this daily blog posting, to which I’ve become accustomed.  I think, if the commute is long enough, I might be able to do both‒write a first draft of the blog post then jump over to fiction right after that‒but I’m far from sure, and I would definitely want to eat my cake and have it, too.

If I were to start back working on one of those stories, I’d be delighted to get input from any of you out there about which one you think I should continue.  I’ve asked about that before, and as I recall, I didn’t get any replies whatsoever‒certainly not here on the site**.  Please, correct me if I’m wrong.  I would definitely be interested in knowing if any of you have any preference, and even to know that you don’t have a specific preference, but at least have seen and recognized the question.

I’ve posted the full text (so far) of Outlaw’s Mind here on this site, in case you want to run through it and see if you think it should continue.  I have not posted the text of any of DFandD here, but it’s basically a more lighthearted (for me) story about a very deadly outlaw in the old west who gets abducted by a wizard (who is trapped within his own pocket universe) and sent to find a magical being called the Dark Fairy.  Together, they are persuaded to go off on a poly-versal quest to gather some magical things that will allow the wizard to escape his accidentally self-imposed confinement.

It’s a more lighthearted tale, as I said, but this is me we’re talking about, so it will have its share of dark places.  I mean, one of the two main characters (the Desperado) is a gunman so dangerous that every bullet he fires is a kill.  And, of course, the other main character is the Dark Fairy.

Anyway, these are tentative thoughts regarding taking up the metaphorical quill again, but I’d be interested in any of your thoughts on the matter.  If I do it, I want to figure out how not to let it completely derail this blog.

And, of course, I do want to get on with doing “podcasts” or “audio blogs” or whatever I’m going to call them.  I don’t mean to make the entries very long, generally, since it’s asking a lot to have people sit and listen to me blabbering about a subject of my choice for too very long.  Still, presumably, in this large population of organisms on Earth, there is probably an audience for almost anything that’s done in a reasonably coherent fashion, so if you know someone you think might like such a “podcast”, when it comes out, please do consider sharing it with them.  Heck, while you’re at it, if you know anyone you think might like this blog, please let them know about it.

And, of course, if you know fans of fairly dark sci-fi, fantasy, and/or horror, please let them know about my books.  I would dearly love and appreciate it if more people could read them, because I think there are many who would enjoy them.  But perhaps I’m biased and this is my one (willing) indulgence in self-deception.

In any case, thanks for reading.  I hope you have a good Tuesday, and a good year, by and large.  Don’t rely on my good wishes to make it so, though; I optimistically*** called 2020 the “year of seeing clearly”, and we all saw‒ha ha‒how that developed.

Well, most of it wasn’t really my fault.  Was it?

*It’s probably because of things like that that the Wordplay Departments won’t respond to my inquiries.  I give them a bad name‒like “Fauntleroy” or “Ignatius” or something similar.

**And, as I’ve said before, if you want me to see a comment or a reply, you need to put it here, on this site.  I can’t promise I’ll look at Facebook or Twitter more often than I must.  Both venues are far too full of the stench of primate dominance hierarchy games and would-be mating displays for me to stay too long or too often.  An overcrowded monkey cage at a zoo would frankly feel more wholesome; at least the monkeys would have no delusions or pretensions of grandeur.

***Does that count as a play on words?

In the year of the wildebeest, I wish you a “Happy Gnu Year”

Well, first things first (or perhaps first things second, or second things first), since the actual first was a Sunday, I would like now to wish you all a Happy New Year.  I know there won’t be any major holidays for a while, because the Tri-rail announcement has switched over to letting everyone know that it will be operating on a Sunday schedule on Memorial Day, which is in May.  To be fair to them, that’s a holiday in the US that always falls on a Monday, so it does bear announcing that they will be operating on a Sunday schedule that day.

I can’t say I’m unhappy to see the tail end of the holidays, because the single biggest thing they entail for me now is trying not to think about past times when I celebrated them with family and friends, and thinking about such times makes me very sad.  I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this.

So, as you all know, I was already getting sick last week by Wednesday, and then on Thursday, I posted a little blurb that I wrote directly on my phone to the WordPress site, just to let you know that I wouldn’t be doing my usual Thursday post.  By the time I wrote that, I think‒in retrospect‒that I was borderline delirious, and I probably had a fever, though I hadn’t checked my temperature (even as I was feeling better I still had a low grade fever, so it had probably been higher earlier).  I kept seeing weird streaks of movement across the floors and walls (never the ceiling, oddly enough) that looked almost like impossibly fast insects (or small mice?) zipping along straight gridline paths, like light-cycles in Tron, and of course, time was strange, and everything around me was slightly off and disconnected.  It was interesting, and I recognized right away that it wasn’t anything real.  I’ve been delirious before.  I wasn’t bothered by it, other than the fact that I felt like crap.

What had started as a purely respiratory illness, including sneezing and very violent coughing, strangely had spread into my lower GI tract (thankfully there was no throwing up, at least), and by the time I wrote my little Thursday tidbit, I was on the border of recommending to myself that I go to the emergency room to get some IV fluids or summat.  That didn’t really appeal, though, so I did my best rehydrating by mouth and just mostly being asleep/unconscious, between urgent and occasionally semi-catastrophic trips to the bathroom.

It occurred to me during the early hours of Thursday, that if I were to take a turn for the worst, and didn’t have the mental wherewithal to call 911, I might not even have made it to 2023 (which I have done, in case you were wondering).  I doubt I would have been stuck rotting in my room until the people in the other part of the house started to smell me‒people from the office probably would have called the police soon enough before then, since I’ve never been both absent and incommunicado before‒though I’m not sure if any of them know my address off the top of their heads (it’s not as though I ever have any visitors).

I’m frankly pretty okay with that possibility, though as I have said, it would be a shame to die “before my prime”.  Ha ha.  I’m with Dr. House (in the pilot episode of the show) in being of the opinion that there’s simply no such thing as dying with dignity, not really.  There are worse and better deaths, of course; I’m convinced about that.  But as for the rather nebulous term “dignity”, that applies to the way one lives, not to the way one dies.  That’s my point of view on it, anyway.  At least if I just died in my room it wouldn’t inconvenience other people too badly.

Anyway, that’s all by the by, since as far as I can tell, I did not die from my recent illness.  If I’m mistaken about that fact, I do hope someone will let me know.

That makes me think of an idea for a short story.  Imagine a man who has what seems to him to be a harrowing brush with what could have been a fatal accident, leaving him shaken but otherwise fine.  But the next day, when he goes to work or whatever, there are signs of his desk and everything being cleared out, and pretty soon he talks to a coworker or someone, who seems surprised and even puzzled that he is there.  That coworker‒and soon, everyone else‒tells him that, no, he didn’t survive his brush with death, he was killed, and he really needs to stop being in denial about it.

The key element here is that they aren’t freaked out or frightened or even stunned and disbelieving about the fact that he’s trying to go to work and so on despite the fact that‒according to them‒he’s dead.  They’re simply puzzled, in a “why are you doing this?” kind of way, and some are inconvenienced and annoyed, a few telling him that he’s making it very difficult for them to mourn and then get past his loss and to move on with their lives.

There is another layer of explanation behind all this, but I’m not going to tell you what it is, just in case I ever end up writing the story.  It’s not likely, but stranger things have happened‒four whole seasons of them, if I understand correctly.  I had a hard time sticking with that show…couldn’t get past the 4th episode or so, I’m not sure why.  It should have been right up my alley.  Though watching it led me to wonder, were my friends and I the only people who played Dungeons and Dragons (and many other role playing games) without using little figurines?

Well, enough of all that.  I’ll finish up by saying that, yes, I do still intend to do a “podcast” about sugar, and then maybe other subjects depending on how that goes, but I’m going to have to wait a little, because my voice is one of the things affected by my recent/current illness, and I’m going to be talking a lot today because the other verifier is going to be out sick.  In the meantime, I again wish you all a Happy New Year, and hope you have a good first work week of 2023.  Also, given that he’s now back as the 14th Doctor, I thought the following GIF with the 10th Doctor was particularly appropriate for this year.

New Year

Sour grapes may sometimes become fine wine

I’m writing this on my phone again today, because I just didn’t feel like carrying my laptop when I left the office yesterday.  There wasn’t anything particularly onerous about carrying it, but there wasn’t anything particularly beneficial, either, so I figured “just leave it”.  Life is irritating enough already without literally shouldering burdens that don’t seem to offer much benefit.

I think, maybe, if I do ever write any new fiction, I might do it on my phone, as opposed to even just with pen on paper.  The great advantage of writing on the phone is that I can readily do so pretty much anywhere with relative ease.  Even riding a bus would not be particularly troubling for writing on the phone, as I know from personal experience, whereas writing with a mini-laptop, though doable, is far less convenient, as I also know from personal experience.

One difficulty with fiction on a phone as opposed to the laptop is that there tend to be fewer functions available when using the phone, but that is improving all the time.  Already, the Google Docs app has bold and italics and underlining and text color changing available right on the main screen.  They are quickly catching up with MS Word, though Word also has a pretty good phone version of their app.  Of course, for writing on Google Docs, one does seem to need connectivity, whereas with MS Word on the laptop, one can write and save and upload later.

Writing by hand on paper is limited only by the amount of paper one has, but to “upload” those writings is a rather laborious process.  Of course, when I’ve written books by hand, there’s always not only the editing one does when reviewing the previous day’s writing, but also that which one does when typing it in.  That can be quite useful, because the change in format tends to make one look at things differently.  When editing drafts on Word, I often change the font of the whole file each time through, which makes me look at the writing in subtly different ways.  I’m not sure how much actual difference it makes, but I think it at least does something.

Of course, all this may well be moot.  I don’t know if I’m going to write any new fiction, ever.  I don’t think many people will be too disappointed by that.  How many people read books anymore, anyway?  Let’s have a show of hands.

As I thought:  I don’t see anyone but me holding up a hand.  My sister is too far away to see clearly, but I think, or rather I suspect that she’s raising her hand.  I know that she reads.  But who else does anymore?  Maybe I’m fooling myself‒because I was brought up in a home with readers, and then attended an Ivy League university and all that, and married someone I had met there who was also a reader‒but it seems that very few people read actual books anymore.

I was terribly disappointed when Sam Harris, in response to people who think like I do, said that he was not going to be mainly writing books (or even blog posts) much anymore, because his podcast reached more people in 24 hours than one of his books would reach in years.

Of course, my inclination is to respond with the question, “But how many people does your podcast actually, truly reach?”  Podcasts are nice and can be interesting, of course.  But even if they last for hours at a time, their treatment of any subject can only be superficial.  Now, it was thanks to Sam Harris’s podcast that I went out and bought books by people like Eliezer Yudkowsky, Max Tegmark, Paul Bloom, David Deutsch, Yuval Harari, Anne Applebaum, David Frum, Anil Seth, Geoffrey West, and so on.  But it was reading those books that was the real educational experience.  No podcast, even one by as intelligent and skilled an interlocutor as Sam Harris, can really be much more than a superficial skimming.  Sam is better at that kind of thing than anyone else I’ve encountered; he clearly thinks carefully about and deeply understands the subjects he’s addressing.  But even his interactions with his “guests” are just the beginning of interest in their work.

I tend to like his solo podcasts more, when he talks about his own thoughts and reflections on given topics, often in response to questions from his listeners.  His speech is careful and lucid, and he doesn’t seem to approach subjects frivolously.  From him, a solo podcast really is almost like a written article.  But I still wish more people would read, though clearly I’m preaching to the choir here.

Even WordPress, in the main page of the blog when I get on the site, has recently promoted the service of podcast production, with the enticing offer that one can increase one’s reach with a podcast.  Now, I’ve done some of what are, effectively, podcasts, posted here and on Iterations of Zero and on YouTube.  They can be fun to do, and they’re easier on the thumbs than phone-written blog posts, but one cannot do a podcast on a train or a bus…unless one’s podcast is something like “The Sounds of Public Transportation” or similar.  That might be intriguing for an hour, I guess, but after that, I think people would tune out.

Actually, I think people probably tune out a lot of the time on even the best podcasts.  If you’re listening to a podcast while working out, how much can you really think about the subject under discussion?  Not that it’s a waste of time to do it; surely any exposure to interesting ideas is better than none, or to listening to low-quality background music.

Maybe my complaints are just sour grapes born of the fact that my hearing is unilaterally quite poor and accompanied by tinnitus, and that Sam Harris isn’t talking to as many people I find interesting anymore.  I have enjoyed it when I’ve done what I call my “audio blogs”.  They’re more trouble to edit than a blog post, but they are way easier than a video post (and easier on the poor consumers’ eyes than any video that includes me).

Perhaps I’ll do this:  I’ve taken far too long to address the question of sugar that my sister asked me to address, and I haven’t said much about Parkinson’s disease.  Also, I received a fairly recent suggestion about cybernetics/robotic parts and the like.  Maybe I’ll try to record some relatively brief audio files about those.  I’ve learned some new things about audio recording recently, mainly by trial and error after pondering just how close Thom York in particular gets to the mic when he’s singing.  I’m always trying to learn more, I’ll say that for me without too much fear of being narcissistic.

In the meantime, I won’t be writing a post tomorrow, unless something very unexpected happens, and of course I won’t be doing one on Sunday.  For those who celebrate it, Sunday night is the first evening of Hanukkah.  I hope you enjoy it!