Sunday, October 30, 2016

On Falsehoods

According to ZDNet, 90% of the so-called "Apple" products being sold on Amazon may be counterfeit products.

Buyer beware!

I cannot conceive of anyone launching a lawsuit against someone who gives them something for nothing, but nevertheless, the law firm of Manett Phelps & Phillips LLC has a blog well worth reading for authors contemplating making an ebook "permafree".

The Manett Phelps & Phillips LLC blog is more obviously relevant to advertisements of the "Buy One Get A Second One Free" variety, especially where the advertisements do not tell the customer the original cost of one item (without the additional free one).

The bottom line: the regular price cannot be fictitious. A book should at some point have been --or be-- sold for something before the discount (to $ 0 ) is applied. For a book that has never been sold for a non-discounted price one should disclose something of the sort for example, "List price savings may not be based on actual sales".

The reason that consumer protection agencies may be increasingly interested in "sales" that last for 52 weeks or longer is because of the element of deception, the illusion of a bargain, the false sense of urgency created in the mind of the buyer.

For anyone interested in the pros and cons of "permafree" and how to fake out the system, the obvious place to check out is:

Above is the last page of the Amazon KDP Support forum thread.

And that is the first page.

For an older blog by Brian Cohen about permafree,

Now for something completely different: beware of reTweeting or "sharing" other people's images.  A copyright owner might give a social media site permission to use an image, or perhaps they never did so. Just because it is possible to "share" something does not mean that it is legal to do so.

Of course, the chance of getting into trouble is probably directly proportional to other people's perception of how deep your pockets might be.... but don't bank on it!

All the best,
Rowena Cherry

Thursday, October 27, 2016


Within the past week and a half or so, two people we were acquainted with (not closely) died. In accordance with the "bad things come in threes" rule, should I brace for hearing about another death in the near future? I don't really believe in that "rule," but. . . . How soon would it have to happen, to "count" as the last in a cluster of three? How well would we have to know the person? The human brain, being designed for pattern recognition, tends to stretch events to fit into patterns whenever feasible.

I admit I entertain superstitions that I recognize as such and don't truly believe in on an intellectual level—yet a certain degree of emotional belief lingers, even though I know it's irrational. I feel it's bad luck to talk too much about good fortune, because it might evaporate. I don't believe Divine Providence actually works like capricious deities in classical mythology. But I "knock on wood" anyway (usually on my own skull to indicate it's a joke). There are some cultures in which it's considered bad luck to praise a baby or small child, because the words might draw the attention of evil spirits or malicious fairies.

My stepmother tended to pronounce superstitious warnings on occasion, though I don't know how seriously she meant them. The one that struck me as strangest was "it's bad luck to open an umbrella in the house." Huh? You have to set up a wet umbrella in the open position, typically in a bathtub, so it can dry. I'd think a mildewed umbrella would be a worse outcome than hypothetical generalized bad luck.

In the U.S. black cats represent bad luck; in England they're good luck. So it all depends on your culture's point of view.

At the Maryland Renaissance Festival this fall, I attended a talk about early modern science, given by a man who portrayed a natural philosopher and alchemist of the sixteenth century. He told us comets were omens sent by God to warn us of coming disasters. Proof? Whenever you see a comet, something terrible happens soon afterward. Of course, terrible things happen in the world all the time, comet or no comet, so we can easily find a disaster to connect with the celestial omen. We are pattern-seeking creatures!

One thing that bugs me about lots of older science fiction set in the future is that many authors operated with the unquestioned assumption that beliefs in supernatural beings and phenomena would no longer exist. Scientific advances would cause the people of the future to outgrow that "irrational" mindset. DEEP SPACE NINE, I thought, handled the spiritual dimension much better than the original STAR TREK did. In DS9, religion played an important part in Bajoran society and in the lives of some of the characters, rather than the only "gods" being super-powerful aliens faking their divine status like Apollo in the original series. The transitions from hunter-gatherer cultures to agriculture to urbanization to the present Information Age haven't eradicated religion and superstition; why would a relatively minor innovation such as space travel (minor compared to the difference between the Paleolithic and today) cause these deep-rooted human tendencies to die out?

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Alien Sexuality Part 3 - Corporate Greed And The Sex Drive

Alien Sexuality
Part 3
Corporate Greed And The Sex Drive
Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Part 1 of this series on Alien Sexuality is

Part 1 is about the root of all conflict -- i.e. sexuality itself.

Part 2 is about the question, "What is Life?"
And this is Part Three about, "What is Power?"

A popular view of decision-makers who seem to have power over our lives and destiny is that they "give away" our jobs (or other rights or possessions) to people who do not use those assets to our advantage.  Corporate Greed, an easily observed phenomenon of everyday reality, has to be accounted for by Science Fiction Romance writers building an Alien culture.

Is every human who acquires Power necessarily Greedy?

Does Power create Greed?

Or is Greed just another innate trait of all humans?

If so, then could we say that the "impoverished workers" referred to in the quote here are not impoverished at all, certainly not by the business owners, but rather are simply Greedy themselves and "projecting" their inner trait onto prospective employers who refuse them jobs?

That would be a very dangerous thing to say, wouldn't it?

What would a powerful but non-Greedy Alien be like? Would such an Alien make a magnetic Love Interest for your Human Main Character?

How does a Powerful person react to being out-competed for a vital resource such as a job?  Are Powerful, Self-Confident people sore losers who are jealous and resentful of the winner's "good luck?"  Or is being a gracious loser the sign of a Powerful person?  What exactly is "power" when it comes to Human Personality and how does it manifest in Human society and economies?

We might view "Power" as the root of the sex drive itself.  Or we might see it as the main avenue of communication between Human and Alien, since "power" is a property of the physical universe we share with the Aliens.

We've talked a lot about how a writer can (and must) create verisimilitude in a novel's Worldbuilding or "background" as well as the "back story" of each Character -- the experiences that make the Characters see things and react emotionally to those things just exactly this way - and not that way.
Given verisimilitude, a reader will be able to relate to the most Alien of aliens -- and even fall desperately in love with your Alien character.

The same aura of verisimilitude paints the villain or antagonist as so vile, so corrupt, so bigoted and hate-filled that the reader will become invested in watching the hero or protagonist conquer that villain, out-competing and humiliating the villain.  But what if the villain then takes that defeat (in the middle of the novel) with grace instead of jealous resentment?  Might the reader reconsider which Character is the Hero and which the Villain?

We have seen in Star Trek how a defeated Klingon warrior respects his conqueror without diminishing his own self-respect.  A job seeker out-competed by someone else who adopts the Klingon warrior's attitude might increase chances of being hired for an even better paying job where (plot twist) he/she meets a Soul Mate and lives Happily Ever After.

This dynamic of human relationships is one of the subtle aspects of our natural world that we use to draw readers into science fiction, and it works as a story springboard, too.  Story Springboards are the coiled Power beneath the opening line that propels the character into the adventure.  Defeat always reveals Character and engages reader sympathy.

Love At First Sight is a thematic element that works well as a Story Springboard.  The opening line can be something like, "The woman in the muddy wedding dress leaned against the door to my office and watched me stride down the hall toward her."

So suppose "I" am the alien version of a private detective and the office is on a Pirate Planet that hosts hundreds of space pirate operations, and "she" is a human woman who has escaped a forced marriage to some such Pirate and run for her life.

Pirate operations often grow to be giant international corporations, sometimes going legit as we have seen Organized Crime do.  Look at all the historical accounts of Robber Barons -- in USA History, we find many nefarious deeds building the fortunes of Rockefeller, Vanderbilt, et. al., - railroad fortunes, steel fortunes, - all high-tech exploits of their day.

Fortunes are rarely amassed "cleanly."  It does happen, and such stories are the source of great novels.  But it is rare in real life.

Why is that?  Why are fortunes associated with nefarious dealings or unethical use of force to "twist arms" or "buy politicians?"  Of course, also to own the police.

Is that tendency for nefarious deeds to found powerful fortunes an innate property of human nature, not to be found among Aliens?  Or is defiance of social norms necessary for economic success, thus the acquisition of the Power to deny certain people jobs?

Do humans need to see such a tendency in Aliens in order to fall in Love?  Is the Power to defy social norms sexy?  Are all great fortunes amassed by Bad Boys/Gals?

Bad-Gals are still very hot in 2016.

What is the primary substance of which Amassed Fortunes - giant corporations, multi-national banking, and shadow banking are formed?

And how can love conquer all that greed?

To find what readers need in order to immerse themselves in your fictional world, we have to look very closely at the similarities and differences between Love and Sex, between Kingship and Greed.

Yes, "Kingship" would be the opposite of Greed in the fictional worldbuilding paradigm.

We write a lot of romance novels using one or another theory of government by Aristocracy -- the "Duke" is one level of aristocracy that makes grand Romance, and there is a reason for that.

A Duke is one step below King, has a lot of power, land, money, and social influence, but not more than one man could plausibly handle.

A King has no strictures on implementing his whims, irritations, or outright hatreds.  Offend the King and it's "off with your head" if the particular man is incapable of handling Power.

"Power" of the political sort, not electrical, is one of those stripped back basic concepts that we might expect to be the same among Aliens as among humans.

What exactly is Power?

Quick Google search for "What is political power?" yields:

Political Power: Definition, Types & Sources - Video & Lesson ...

Power is the ability to influence and direct the behavior of other people and guide the course and outcome of events. Authority means that an individual or group has the right to use power by making decisions, giving orders, and demanding obedience.
--------end quote-----------

Kingship bestows power and the authority to use it.

Dukes have power allocated by the King, and all the authority to use that power resides still with the King (of course, what the King doesn't know .... hmm).

What is Greed?

Google again yields:

intense and selfish desire for something, especially wealth, power, or food.
synonyms: avarice, cupidity, acquisitiveness, covetousness, rapacity; More
--------end quote----------

And Google also yields:

Greed - definition of greed by The Free Dictionary
greed. (grēd) An excessive desire to acquire or possess more than what one needs or deserves, especially with respect to material wealth: "Many ... attach to competition the stigma of selfish greed" (Henry Fawcett).
------end quote---------

Other Google returns imply Greed is not a virtue, but a "dark" trait, explaining it as selfish (implying selfishness is "wrong" on some fundamental level.)

Would all Alien species among all the galaxies classify "greed" as "wrong" (morally wrong?)

Ayn Rand wrote Atlas Shrugged to redefine "selfish" as "Light" or as a Virtue that makes a human more valuable to a social unit by increasing the likelihood that the social unit would survive.

If the theories of evolution prevail, the traits that make social units more likely to survive are more likely to survive and become distributed.

Look around you. Do you see any lack of selfishness?  We have plenty of altruism, but we also have immense resources of selfishness.

Your brain might be hard-wired for altruism

Neuroscience research suggests an avenue for treating the empathically challenged

March 18, 2016
University of California - Los Angeles
By temporarily inactivating a part of the brain involved in impulse-control, neuroscientists have discovered compelling evidence that we're hardwired for altruism. The discovery suggests possible avenues for treating the empathically challenged.
-----------end quote--------
And an older article:

Adulting is the acquisition of the judgement of when to use which trait, selfishness or altruism, to do what job.  Characterization is showing the reader which tool the Character chooses to do which job.

Humanity seems to be a breeding ground where selfishness thrives, so maybe you will also find it among Aliens.  Portraying some of your most dynamic Alien Characters as Selfish could provide your readers with a connecting point into your story.

Every society apparently needs some selfish individuals, but if all the individuals are nothing but always selfish, there will be no society at all.

Note the business owners who passed over some job applicants to take on the applicant who would work for less money were not seen as selfish by those who would work for less money.

Those business owners might have been seen as altruistic or generous by those who would work for less money, and thus the new hire would be grateful and put their heart and soul into the work.  And that might be why the business owner hired them - expecting loyalty and dedication.

As a Romance Writer, your most potent tool of Characterization is Point of View.  The same action seen from two different points of view can Characterize the Viewing Character more than it does the action or the actor.

So selfishness per se has to be an ingredient, not the dominant trait of your Aliens.  To seem human enough to be a Love Interest, the Aliens have to have some altruism, too.

What if "Greed" is not "Selfishness" so much as it is a malfunction of selfishness?

Note that the key definition quoted above uses qualitative words "excessive" "more than" and "needs or deserves."

What of the King, born and raised a Crown Prince, whose whole personality is built on the foundation of the indisputable fact that he he owns everything, even the people, that nothing he chooses to do is "excessive" and he does in fact "need" all that power because "the people" will misbehave if he allows them to have any power or self-determination?  What of the King knows for a fact that he, and only he, "deserves" this position?

That's not "selfish" but simple fact corroborated by the behavior of everyone around him, even those he abuses.  By our standards, it is abuse -- by his, it is not abuse because you can't trust people to behave properly.

Now, what if that King, who knows he deserves all he has, feels insecure?  What if he feels frightened that what he has might not be "enough?"

Or perhaps he feels "empty" inside, or any of the usual insecurities and depression that manifests (in humans) as an inability to feel pleasure from fine, subtle, quiet distinctions.  In other words, he's not happy and needs ever increasing stimuli to feel a distant twinge of pleasure.  The word for this is ennui.

Fear and/or ennui can unleash Greed, and such a King who has so very much "power" may go conquering other countries for the pleasure-hit from destroying "enemies."

The word neurosis is shunned these days, but it specifically describes this psychological condition.  Humans will grab for more and more of one thing in order to satisfy the need for something else entirely -- and then wonder why they don't get satisfaction.

For example, someone who feels unloved might eat more and more chocolate ice cream for solace, and still not feel loved and not feel relieved of that nagging need for love.  Modern psychology dislikes this explanation, but it works very well for fiction writers.  Readers understand Characters who behave this way because almost everyone has a few neuroses tucked away somewhere and live through obsessive/compulsive years now and again.

So we might redefine "greed" to be something our Aliens can relate to.

Greed builds when you want something, work hard and get it expecting acquisition or possession to produce pleasure -- and then you have it, but not the anticipated pleasure, or the pleasure lasts only a moment and ennui sets in again.

So having experienced a twinge of pleasure that faded, you go after MORE of whatever produced the twinge because it just felt so good.

See the pattern of addiction?

Pleasure producing drugs, or pain-relieving drugs, or any action or activity that produces pleasure or relieves pain can be addictive.

The familiarity with this Human tendency to be addicted to pleasure is one reason so many readers reject the plausibility of the Happily Ever After ending.
Addiction means simply that it takes more of that thing to produce the same result.

Human pleasure nerve-responses are intensely desireable and intensely addictive.

The human nervous system is not designed to sustain pleasure at peak levels.  But that's what we imagine is the "right" condition or the ideal condition for living.  Something tells us that "happiness" is sustained peak-pleasure.  But it is not, and is not possible, therefore the Happily Ever After ending is not possible.

Yet, in truth, below peak levels of pleasure, we have contentment or even true "happily ever after."

Contentedness and happiness can be, for some people, sometimes, simply the absence of misery!

So look closely at these concepts among humans and think how they could function among Aliens.

Love and Sex: Kingship and Greed.

Remember from Astrology Just For Writers that Love is a manifestation of Venus while Romance manifests the character of Neptune.

Sex is the manifestation of Pluto (Power).  Pluto is about the power of regeneration, change, revolution (the battle across the generation gap).

Here's the index to the posts on Astrology Just For Writers

Mars, the male principle, is War, and its "upper octave" is Pluto, Revolution.

Mars and Pluto represent two very different activities we lump under the heading sex.

We are seeing Pluto in today's mundane world as countries strive to redefine their borders (Brexit), whole new countries strive to form (ISIS), and political/social values contend for dominance (Pluto is dominance).

So, human society as seen through the lens of History, gives us what is called an "objective correlative" or a gateway through which readers walk into a story, put on the Main Character's suit of armor, and become the Human or Alien in the Romance.

Remember, the Romance Genre has the Master Theme that always must be acknowledged, "Love Conquers All."  That is the explanation of how and why such an absurdity as "Happily Ever After" can be plausible.

Alien Romance then has the master theme Love Conquers All Including The Species Gap.

When looking for the bridge to that species gap, search for the basic fabric of "reality" behind our modern world.  What properties of physics, math, chemistry, atoms, particles, waves, gravity -- the fabric of reality that Living Organisms organize -- what properties of reality create the human species AND the Alien species?

What do we have in common?  And in what do we differ?

One way to select a theme that can make answers to such questions plausible is to look closely at Economics (Capitalism vs. Socialism vs. Communism or some other ism) -- which is how we get food, clothing, shelter, and the excess energy to reproduce.

What is it about human nature that results in multi-national corporations? Why do such complex entities always stomp people into the ground like Kings stomped on peasants?

Also what is it about human nature that results in multi-national governments? At a certain size, governments become "multi-national" with as much concern for the vigor of other countries as for their own.  Sovereign Governments (Kingdoms) become inter-dependent.  Note how the U.N. has morphed and changed over its short lifetime.  And NAFTA and the EU might be viewed as in competition with the U.N. to gather all the Power over the world into one place.

This is mirrored in our everyday experience of modern life, as it becomes obvious that no mammoth fortune has been amassed by the efforts of just one person.

There is no way for one person, or a small group of people, to found a company, grow it to an international behemoth, and become billionaires without the infrastructure built by the blood-sweat-and-tears of thousands if not millions.

And if you think about it, the image, "We stand on the shoulders of giants," is appropriate.

It's not that modern fortunes, modern multinational corporations, were built on the blood-sweat-and-tears of you and me, of our contemporaries, of modern civilization.

Rather it is that our modern civilization was built by the lives and messy deaths of trillions of previous humans all the way back to conquering fire, creating a wheel and axil, deliberately planting food plants where you want to harvest them.

Indeed, we do stand on the shoulders of giants.  The phrase is explained here:

The best-known use of this phrase was by Isaac Newton in a letter to his rival Robert Hooke, in 1676:

"What Descartes did was a good step. You have added much several ways, and especially in taking the colours of thin plates into philosophical consideration. If I have seen a little further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants."

Newton didn't originate it though. The 12th century theologian and author John of Salisbury used a version of the phrase in a treatise on logic called Metalogicon, written in Latin in 1159. Translations of this difficult book are quite variable but the gist of what Salisbury said is:

"We are like dwarfs sitting on the shoulders of giants. We see more, and things that are more distant, than they did, not because our sight is superior or because we are taller than they, but because they raise us up, and by their great stature add to ours."

The phrase may even pre-date John of Salisbury, who was known to have adapted and refined the work of others.
-------end quote---------

Most entrepreneurs are well aware of how this process works.

This supports the idea that even if you create a civilization changing invention - Facebook,
a Smartphone, a cure for Cancer - and amass a giant fortune from the profits, that fortune is not "yours" because you made it by using the results of the work of others.

If you found  a transport company like FedEx or UPS, you don't "own" the resulting fortune because 'cars and trucks,' the fuel for the engines, the engineering, the roads they move on, the telecommunications used to arrange for things to go here and there, the  methods (RFID) of keeping track of what is where, are the only reason you were able to create that company.

Therefore, the proceeds of your creation do not all belong to you.

The reasoning is good, tight, and clear as the nose on your face.

You owe your success to 15,000 years of humans who went before, and to those now sweating for your success.

The Ph.D. degree is awarded to those who have increased Human knowledge, contributed something new.  We, each and every one of us, have to be the giants upon whose shoulders future generations will stand, produce the bits and pieces that they will assemble into something new - maybe First Contact with Aliens that does not start as a war of annihilation but a Romance.

What you owe to the work of others is as clear and obvious as the simple fact that the world is flat and if you sail off the edge, you will fall off.

We also know because it's obvious that stone is hard, matter is solid.

So any Alien species we run into among the stars will have a History of thinking that way, too.

And they will have a history of repudiating that kind of thinking.

Common sense is common, after all.  Matter is definitely solid.  Just smack your hand on the floor and see!

But we now know how matter is composed of particles, and it is mostly empty space with a certain probability that a particle might be there - or not.

Science Fiction writers make a profession of questioning common sense, finding ways around the obvious (you can't travel to the stars because it would take too long), and looking at the entirety of Creation from a non-human angle.  What if matter isn't solid?  We could walk through walls.

What if an amassed fortune actually does belong to the one who currently owns it?

This opens an entire dimension of Esoteric Wisdom that explores issues such as, "What exactly is ownership?"  But here we're looking at Greed - the overwhelming need to own, not the nature of ownership by itself.

What if certain CEO's actually do earn $10 million a year?

What if what they do is worth that much, while what you do for that corporation is actually only worth $25,000 a year.

$10 million a year isn't "wealth."

$10 million a year is not even just "Capital" as discussed here previously in Part 22 of Marketing Fiction In a Changing World on making a profit as a writer in a capitalist society:

 $10 million a year is "power."  A CEO or founder's profit is a nexus of Power.

A Billionaire is what used to be called a King.

Historically, a King got to be King by being the best killer in the vicinity, the best fighter, the one all the really good fighters wanted to fight with and behind.  The King-to-be was a "winner" -- a wielder of power.

When and where civilization crumbles to bits, we see the rise of "the strong man."  The tribal chieftain, the neighborhood Gang Boss, the swashbuckling Pirate Captain, the "Duke" staging a coups by marrying the Princess.  Take a look at the Balkans a few decades ago, or the Middle East today.

Aristocracy is the first structural organization you see in human society -- usually the relatives of the local King/Chief.  And then that King's appointees get to govern the areas the King conquers.

The USA was founded by people fed up with Aristocrats -- while modern France was founded by those who just beheaded all their entrenched Aristocrats.  Pretty much the same in Russia.  Our modern world is proud of having overthrown Aristocracy and become Democracy.  We are perhaps a bit too proud and too smug.

Science Fiction writers view such smug pride with askance.

What if only the titles have changed, not the distribution of Greed For Power among humans?

What if our modern CEO's commanding monstrously powerful fortunes are the same fraction of humanity that Kings were made of?

Kings often inherited their thrones -- but many Historical accounts indicate that the quality that makes a strong King (or a good King) is not inherited, of not for more than a generation or two.

Historically, and probably pre-Historically, Kings "rose" by killing their opposition (usually literally.)

Today's CEO's of giant corporations kill their way to the top with Character Assassination, stealing credit for the work of subordinates, sabotaging the work of superiors (or making them look so good that they "fail upwards.") and by out-competing them in any jousting contest in the corporate meeting room.

It is not a new thing that our "system" does not reward "goodness" or those of high moral conviction.  It is an old thing.  Very old.  Just go read the rest of the books of the Bible after Deuteronomy.

We didn't get rid of Kings and Aristocrats by getting rid of the Titles and Priveleges.

That personality type (in both male and female versions) has recreated its most comfortable world, shaped and reshaped society and industry as well as government to reward the Aristocrat and trash the rest of us.

The French Revolution was 1789-1799.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin

The U.S. Book of Common Prayer

Common Sense by Thomas Paine (from )
Published anonymously in Philadelphia in January 1776, Common Sense appeared at a time when both separation from Great Britain and reconciliation were being considered. Through simple rational arguments, Thomas Paine focused blame for colonial America’s troubles on the British king and pointed out the advantages of independence. With over half a million copies in twenty-five editions appearing throughout the colonies within the first year, this popular pamphlet helped to turn the tide of sentiment toward revolution.

It isn't the system, and it isn't the "ism" flavor of the generation - Capitalism, Socialism, Democracy or Republic - these are not imposed upon us, but rather crafted by the type of human that is "Aristocrat."

Maybe that's not true.  Framing the statement as a question to be a theme, you can generate a multitude of Aliens for various humans to fall in love with.

The commonality that these humans have with those aliens would be simply the existence of a "type" or "kind" of person who views themselves as an Aristocrat, and actually delivers the powerful counter-punches necessary to fight their way to the top, to amass so much wealth that it is raw Power.

There is the book I refer to here quite often, Rich Dad; Poor Dad.

This is the book that explains that rich families teach their children the difference between money and capital.

The assumption is that wealth only comes in Money and Capital.

Perhaps there is actually a third, completely separate, category of wealth: Power.

Power would be a vast multiple of Capital -- as instead of a gigabyte, we now measure Power of computers in Terabytes or Petabytes.

The Aristocratic family teaches their children the difference between Capital and Power.

If Aliens share the phenomenon of having a part of their population be Aristocrats, the Aliens, would understand that Aristocrats come in Good Guys and Bad Guys.

We generally define "Good Guys" as those who do not use their Power to infringe on the soveign Will of another Person.

Bad Guys amass Power to use Power to control the behavior of others, because "We know what's best for you!"

Good Guys know what's best for themselves, and consequently assume everyone else knows what's best for themselves, too.

Bad Guys know that what's best for themselves is not what's best for others but Bad Gys also know that others just don't know what's best because the others aren't "smart" (or whatever trait) enough to know.

So Bad Guys have a Greed is to "be Boss."  The only source of a pleasure hit is using Power to force others to obey.

Good Guys accept Power, and control their Power as a responsibility (Capricorn, Saturn).  Good Guys get their pleasure from spouse, children, siblings, art, beauty, even Nature, not from exercising Power over others.

Note no Historical Romance about Aristocrats is complete without the Drawing Room command performance scene, or the High Tea where the Female Lead plays an instrument or sings for the gathering.  Or perhaps it is a trip to the Opera, or taking on the duties of a Patron of the Arts, commissioning embellishments for the mansion.

The Aristocrats who are Good Guys love The Arts, and find real pleasure in music, dance, horseback riding competitions, etc.  Their pleasure seems phony to non-Aristocrats, but it is fulfilling to the Good Guy/Gal Aristocrat.

The Aristocrats who are Bad Guys love Gambling, Drinking, Whoring, and whatever sorts of drugs that are around their 'circle.'  Their pleasure requires ever greater stimulation to achieve.

There is a reason for that which you can use to build your Alien society and create an Alien Character your human would definitely fall in love with.

Good Guy Aristocrats are internally happy, satisfied, and at peace with themselves, even when their external lives are exploding with High Drama, overwhelming challenges and of course, Romance.

Bad Guy Aristocrats are internally miserable, dissatisfied, gripped by ennui and desperately addicted to pleasure, severely neurotic.

Neurosis doesn't make you Bad.  Good Guys are just as neurotic, but handle it better.

It is important to understand the difference between pleasure and happiness -- they are in fact often incompatible.  The children of Good Guy Aristocrats are taught that distinction the hard way, with pain and discipline, tears, and confessions and apologies.

Upbringing, as we've seen in Historical Romance novels, does not make Guys or Gals good or bad.

As depicted in many "fall in love with the bad boy from the other side of the tracks" Romances, Bad Guys can turn into Good Guys and vice-versa, if they don't Romeo&Juliet first.

Turning a Good Guy into a Bad Guy is called "corrupting."

Turning a Bad Guy into a Good Guy is called "saving" or "salvation."

Many grand novels have been written about both processes.  There wouldn't be so many such novels if there were no examples of this in "real life."

So we have a type of human (not genetically determined) that used to set themselves up as Aristocrats (the 1%, you understand, Kings and Dukes), or as they are termed in Werewolf Romance, the Alpha Male or Alpha Female of the pack.

We all know how hot and sexy the Alphas are, and we wouldn't be reading those books if we didn't understand the connection between sex and power (Pluto).

The Aristocrat comes in two distinct types, Good and Bad.  Individuals can switch sides.

As a whole, the Aristocrat type has recreated Society and our Economy to serve their competitive Power Hungry or Power Stewardship life paths.

The Aristocrats reformed the Economy and Society after we kicked them out of Government (The American Revolution, France, Russia, etc.).

The last vestige of Aristocrats in Government is the Constitutional Monarchy -- but there, the Monarch is basically the leader of the society, not of the Government.

If you build your Alien world's history on that pattern, you will grab your human readers with something they understand from personal experience, and it will seem plausible that a Romance could develop with these Aliens, a Romance that could Conquer the All of the War of the Worlds.

So now, in the 21st Century, we live in a world of giant multi-national corporations and giant multi-national Nations (Euro zone, NAFTA, a while ago the Soviet Union which seems to want to revive itself, and ISIS which sprawls wantonly across artificially created borders trying to re-create the Caliphate).  Even China, if you study history, is composed of small Kingdoms that were swallowed by an Emperor, and India likewise has its regions.  Britain itself is a composite of Kingdoms.

These first few years of the 21st Century is a World Epoch where Pluto is transiting Capricorn.

Capricorn is the Astrological Sign symbolizing 'governing" and thus "government."  It is ruled by Saturn, the power of regulation, the power behind the throne.  Capricorn is the Natural 10th House.

Pluto rules Scorpio, the Natural 8th House - Other People's Resources - thus sexual power.  It isn't "love" but "lust."  It is Power, Transformation, Change.  Pluto magnifies anything it touches.  Pluto signifies High Drama.

Here's High Drama:

Here's You Can't Fight City Hall - on Pluto and political power

And here's Would Aliens Share Human Fallacy and the Religious Impulse

So Pluto through Capricorn has stirred the World to re-create Governments and borders.  New countries will be born, new alliances, new tax structures. But first comes destruction.

It is interesting to note that the USA Natal Chart has Pluto in Capricorn -- we are such a Pluto-formed Nation created by Revolution.

The next President will preside over our first Pluto Return.  Pluto transits have the characteristic of dividing your life's memories into 'before' and 'after" -- such as "Before I met John, I didn't know what my life was about."

So Aristocrats create Countries ( a King-to-be rides around conquering then sets himself on a throne -- think King Arthur).  Aristocrats, the 1%, need to govern.  The Bad Guys want to govern others.  The Good Guys are happily ever after if they can just govern themselves.

We kicked the Aristocrats out of Government, so they went and created multi-national corporations, and whole social orders based on Foundations, Charities, and taking over Higher Education where they can be Kings and grant Dukedoms and Baronies.

Check the dates in this Chronology of Harvard University.
Because half of the Aristocrats (the Bad Guys) crave and lust after Power, and the other half wants to be sure the Bad Guys don't gain control of any Power that matters, the Aristocrats restructured the World Order to create many collection points for Power (thrones, as it were).

A throne is a nexus of Power, a single point where decisions are made that actually get carried out and implemented.

The nexus of Power at the center of a Corporation, or Social Organization (such as a Hollywood Star Performers and Celebrity of all sorts), attracts the new, young Aristocrat types like moths to a flame.

A youth Aristocrat recognizes where he/she belongs (on the Throne of Power), must get to, must be on that Throne in order to live.  Once glimpsed, a nexus of Power becomes irresistible to the Bad Guy Aristocrat and a Fate Worse Then Death But Nevertheless My Fate to the Good Guy Aristocrat.  Again, think King Arthur.

They grow through teens and twenties, striving and struggling to get to existing Power Points.  If they fail, they create their own brand new nexus of Power.

And how do you prevent Bad Guy Aristocrats from slipping into control at such a Nexus of Power?

What kind of pleasure seeking mechanism drives these people to sacrifice everything you and I value to get to such a nexus of Power (where you and I would be miserable)?

I figured that out for myself a few years ago when analyzing the Natal Charts of a whole lot of Politicians (we have had a lot of them running in the last 4 Presidential Election cycles - enough to make a generalization that is accurate enough for fiction, but not real life.)

What I have found is that they share the peculiar Astrological Natal Chart positioning of Pluto with emphasis on several key aspects and positions of other planets.  It was discussed in depth in an 800 page (small print) work on Astrology by Noel Tyl.  It is the signature of fame.

A few of these people with that signature of fame are either constantly or intermittently but frequently driven by Pluto making aspects by transit to key points in their Natal Charts.

Pluto, like all the transiting planets, the planets of this solar system, seems to symbolize both "Good" and "Bad."  Or in the parlance of Astrology, Vice and Virtue.

In Astrology, "Vice" doesn't mean like "gambling" -- it means that the particular symbol is not working well.  It lacks its natural power.  "Virtue" means the symbol is working at its best - all of its natural power is flowing smoothly into the person's life.

So Pluto at its best is Captain Kirk (the Captain's Chair is a nexus of Power) enforcing the Prime Directive -- with a bit of original twist.

Pluto at its worst is Captain Kirk being split into Good and Bad, and the Bad Captain drinking in Uhura's quarters soliciting sexual favors, hinting at doing so by force.

So what I found is that the driving force of the Aristocrat toward a nexus of Power is sexuality (not Love, and not Romance, an act of domination).

The Corporate Structure was created so there would be a nexus of power outside Government.  The combat to grab and hold that throne is driven by Pluto type sexuality -- not "Love" and not "Romance" but "Lust."

So what do we see our Celebrities do?  Behind every Celebrity success story is some kind of Sexual power-grab or misbehavior that you and I would never want to do.  If it's not sex, it's violence, and if not violence then some other kind of dominance game.

All of this misbehavior is "hidden" -- which is another signature of Pluto, the underground, "down" to Hell.  This is not the "unseen" of Neptune, a mystic Mystery, but the unseen of the foundation of a building, the underground sewers and power conduits, the dark of a coal mine -- the unseen upon which all else stands, the shoulders of giants long dead.

From time to time when the transits coincide just so, the hidden becomes revealed as the ground is turned over to plant a new crop. That ground breaking to plow and plant is Pluto in action.  First destruction, then growth.  Pluto turns over the ground and reveals you are planting on an old battlefield strewn with bones.

Note how Star Trek revealed Vulcan Sexuality as "hidden cyclical violence" tamed by telepathic Bonding (also invisible).  No Love involved with such a Consort.  Just sex.

So to create an Alien that readers can believe a Human can fall in love with, depict the Alien world in the same kind of overall struggle that humanity is in -- trying to figure out what to do with our Aristocrats, how to identify them before they do too much damage, and how to educate and train them to handle Power like Good Guy Aristocrats.

Is it only the Bad Guy Aristocrats that give us trouble?

Does Absolute Power (which is the goal) always Corrupt Absolutely?

Do we have better luck with Aristocrats who are raised to strict Noblesse Oblige standards?

We know that merely being rich-kids doesn't necessarily produce responsible Power handlers, though they may understand the difference between Capital and Money.  But does extreme poverty (or even just ordinary poverty) guarantee a kid will grow up to respect the power of Power and handle Power as a responsibility?  If the parents didn't know how to turn Capital into Power, how could they teach their children that?

Where do we get (or how do we make) Good Guy Aristocrats?

Will we meet up with Aliens who have figured out a way to use their Aristocrats, a way to either breed or raise Good Guy Aristocrats who don't need to get their pleasure from beating others down with their Power?

The Harry Potter Series explores a lot of these questions, which could be why it's so popular with this generation.  Harry himself is an Aristocrat of his kind and was raised enduring deprivation among those who have plenty.

Power, its use and abuse, is the central theme of life in this first part of the 21st Century.

We have massive power to destroy this planet with our industrial pollution, to pollute our very orbit with space-junk, to blow ourselves up with Nuclear Bombs.  Our civilization is a bunch of drunken teens playing with a bazooka.

So, what if Corporate Greed that we see running wild, tromping on the poorest among us, is not a function of "Corporations" or of "Capitalism" at all, but actually a manifestation of having thrown the Aristocrats out of Government so they can't be Kings and Queens?

If we cultivate the existence of a nexus of power, we have to expect it to attract Bad Guy Aristocrats who will seize Power.  Making sure there is no one person whose decisions are always implemented just leads to government by committee, which may be a bigger disaster. Hidden behind committees, the Aristocrats could get away with anything.

What if Aliens landed and just told us to put the Aristocrats back into Government where they belong so we can run our Corporations as they should be run?

What if they point to the secret flow of money from Corporations to the coffers of Politicians (personal and campaign) as an attempt by the Aristocrats to grab the Throne of Government back from us peasants?

If you can't make sure there is no nexus of Power in Government, then how do you find a Good Guy Aristocrat, and make sure that Government Power doesn't corrupt him?

Yes, we do things like Term Limits, and other jiggering and tweaking, but it does not seem to help much.

How do you raise a Human to be Incorruptible by Power?

What if the Aliens land and offer to sort out our young Aristocrats and take them off to their world to raise them properly, then return them to take over every nexus of power and manage it carefully and properly?

Who among us would endorse such a move?  Who would give up a kid, this one but not his brother, that one but not her sister, kids the Aliens select, and send them off to be fostered by Aliens?

And what if such a human kid fell in love with an Alien?

What if the "Alpha Male" phenomenon, the Aristocrat, turns out to be genetic?

None of our historical record indicates that it is.  Kids go awry.  Aristocracy does not breed true.

What if the Aliens know what's gone wrong with humans that half of one percent own everything?

Maybe the fostering deal is only for one generation and the Aliens intend to tweak our genetic makeup so that our 1% Aristocrats breed true, and always turn out Good Guy Aristocrats.

Meanwhile, the genetics of the rest of us are to be altered so we never produce Aristocrats.  How long could civilization as we know it survive without any Aristocrats?  If we get our Aristocrats back and they breed true, how long until we kill them all?

Of course it would take a good while for Aliens to raise a generation for us while we no longer breed Aristocrats.  But we need good managers and innovators, we need that rare 1% .

So meanwhile humanity creates A.I. managers who can't be corrupted by the Power they manage, but of course can be hacked.

What would returning, well trained Aristocrat kids now all grown up, do about our A.I. problem?

You see?  If you understand the origin and function of Corporate Greed, and the nature of the Giants upon whose shoulders our Aristocrats stand, and the kind of sexuality that powers that Greed (and what that sexuality would be if manifested as a virtue not a vice) - then you can build a world for an Alien Romance that would be as absorbing as the Potterverse has been.

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Creepy IP for Halloween, Maria P. Goes ...Bumped Into The Night

Look out for the #CreepyIP  hashtag. Anticipating Halloween, the USPTO publishes an entertaining and edifying blog about all the Intellectual Property and copyrights on display during Halloween (in the candies, costumes, decorations, tools and gadgets.

Perhaps you might like to join the conversation?

Something else, prematurely went "bump into the night" and gave some imaginative and creative people a case of the horrors.  On Friday October 21st, Maria Pallante, the Register of Copyrights who has been a courageous and outspoken advocate for creators, authors, artists and musicians, was "bumped upstairs" and allegedly deprived of internet access to the Library of Congress computer system, according to two sources who spoke with Library employees.


Why, though? The Trichordist has some thoughts

According to Billboard

"US Register of Copyrights Maria Pallante was removed from her job Friday morning (Oct 21) by the Librarian of Congress, Carla Hayden, who has authority over the Copyright Office...."

It is interesting to reflect on who supports Carla Hayden. Alleged P2P Pirates!

To this author, it seems strange that businesses that consider music, movies, books, photographs, and games "content" and that publish and distribute and monetize other peoples' intellectual property ... often without the copyright owners' affirmative consent should have any influence on the  Copyright Office and the Register of Copyrights.  But, that's the current Administration for you. It's not likely to change in the next 4 years.

Buy stock in Google and Amazon.... and get some cool and creepy disguises for Halloween and the dark days ahead.

All the best,
Rowena Cherry

Thursday, October 20, 2016


Have you checked out the new TV series TIMELESS? So far, three episodes have aired. The intended appeal to the audience, I suppose, is that the characters visit a different point in history every week and have breathtaking adventures. The premise: The antagonist, Flynn, has stolen the prototype time machine for the purpose of changing the past—why, we don't know yet. The three heroes—a female history professor (devoted primarily to preserving the timeline as we know it), a soldier (tasked mainly with eliminating Flynn), and the engineer who's the main inventor of the time machine—pursue Flynn in a second time machine that fortunately happens to be available. The jumping to different dates in the past recalls QUANTUM LEAP, which is credited as one of the inspirations for TIMELESS. The heroes' chasing after a villain in a time machine brings to mind the movie TIME AFTER TIME, in which H. G. Wells travels to our present to catch Jack the Ripper.

What I like about the series so far is that it makes some serious attempt to deal with the risks of changing history. In QUANTUM LEAP, Sam usually had to "set right what once went wrong" in the lives of individuals, not on a broader historical level. One exception was his interference in Kennedy's assassination. From the audience's viewpoint, Sam failed; JFK still died. In the universe of the TV program, however, Sam at least succeeded in saving Jackie Kennedy, slain in their original timeline. In TIMELESS, the first three episodes take the heroes to the Hindenburg disaster, the assassination of Lincoln, and a day in 1962 in Las Vegas, where Flynn plots to steal the core of a nuclear weapon from the nearby atomic testing facility. Because one of the Hindenburg passengers who should have died survives, the history professor's ancestry changes; she returns to the present to find her dying mother in perfect health—but her sister erased from existence. In the nineteenth century, she fights the temptation to try preventing Lincoln's death. History does change, though, in that John Wilkes Booth doesn't kill the President; Flynn does. You'd think the murder of Lincoln by an unidentified assassin with an unknown model of gun would leave a conspicuous trace on the timeline, but no change in the status of the twenty-first century is mentioned when the heroes return to the present. So the show's attention to problems of altering history is selective—not surprisingly, since their main objective is suspenseful entertainment, not cerebral SF. Still, it will be interesting to see how they grapple with such problems in the future. The history professor wants to protect the timeline. The soldier wants only to eliminate the threat of Flynn by any means necessary. As for the African American inventor/pilot of the time machine, if left to his own devices he would try to change history for the better in some cases (he was in favor of saving Lincoln).

It appears that each episode will pose its own challenge for the heroes—thwarting whatever Flynn's goal for that particular visit to the past—and meanwhile contribute to the solution of the long-term story arc problem: Why is Flynn trying to change the timeline? So far, we've had only cryptic hints. What disaster could he be trying to prevent that would justify wreaking havoc on history as we know it?

The history professor plays the role held by the generic "scientist" in many TV programs and movies. Any scientist (e.g. the Professor on GILLIGAN'S ISLAND, the type calls the Omnidisciplinary Scientist) is assumed for story purposes to have expertise in any field the plot requires, regardless of his nominal specialty. I'm not sure whether TIMELESS has mentioned what historical era the professor in this series specializes in, but she seems to know everything about every date they've landed in so far. And it's not as if the time travelers get long periods of respite between trips to do research. She even knows the name of one of Kennedy's mistresses who acted as a liaison between JFK and the Mafia in 1962. The audience just has to suspend disbelief in the breadth of the character's knowledge and go along for the ride (so to speak).

For a thrilling, ingenious story of an attempt to "fix" the past that makes things much worse, read Stephen King's 11-22-63, his novel about a time traveler trying to stop Kennedy's assassination. This book's theory of time travel has a twist I've never seen anywhere else: Every trip back through the portal (no matter who does it) resets the past to the default timeline. Pro, you can keep trying until you get it right; con, you have to start from scratch with every foray.

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Dialogue Part 10 - The Silent Dialogue from Rude To Ridiculous

Part 10
The Silent Dialogue from Rude To Ridiculous 

Previous parts in the Dialogue series are indexed here:

We have discussed Edward T. Hall's book on cultural anthropology titled The Silent Language which examines cultures and body language, personal "space" and many other topics, most notably how "culture" resides in the subconscious mind.

And more recently The Silent Language of Leaders: How Body Language Can Help--or Hurt--How You Lead Kindle Edition by Carol Kinsey Goman

This book shows how being viewed as a Leader today depends entirely on body language, and believe it or not, how you hold your hand and fingers when you gesture!

This SILENT LANGUAGE OF LEADERS is based on neuroscience, which you'd think would be independent of Culture.  But I'd challenge that idea since it has been shown how plastic the human brain is, and how configurable the human genome is.  Traumatic and other meaningful experiences in early life can re-arrange your genes and brain synapses so you develop propensities and abilities different from your peers who did not have such experiences.

Yet, humans tend to gravitate toward and organize around a certain type of other human -- and today we call them "Leaders."  A science fiction writer can challenge that notion, too.  Some Aliens somewhere out there might call those central poles of organization Servants.  Think about that.  We look up to Leaders.  Aliens might look down on them as the British Aristocracy looked down on Tradesmen.

How you regard others, how you sort and group others by the traits you see in them is configured by your Culture.  The very definitions of "Good" and "Bad" have huge Cultural components.  And Culture is silent.  Very silent. Non-verbal.

Most people don't know they have a "culture" or think the word "Culture" means polite or upper crust or high class, or maybe taste.

"Culture" is mostly non-verbal.

Most people can't verbalize the shattering revulsion experienced when they unexpectedly meet up with someone who is extremely rude.  They merely judge that person as an intrinsically bad person, not to be associated with.

Other people will view rudeness as if the miscreant were well aware of the proper way to act, but has decided to play the buffoon, the clown, or the disruptor.

One thing most humans do, though, is judge others by their behavior, their language, body language, choice of words (such as invective or 4-syllable-jaw-breakers), and perhaps most of all tone of voice.

All of these parameters are strictly dictated by culture.

Each combination of variables conveys a non-verbal message which is nevertheless dialogue, speech, communication.

Two (or more) people communicate on many levels besides words.

Text narrative fiction writers are hampered by this, while stage and screen actors can creatively and originally invent many unique characters all speaking the same text words.

Text narrative writers can "describe" their Character's actions, but can capture the "style" and thus meaning of the body language only by offering an interpretation of the movement, telling rather than showing what the Character is silently saying.

Readers will read the interpretation and visualize different movements that mean what the writer has told them the Character means.  The reader will make up the appearance and movements of the Character according to the reader's culture, or according to the reader's notion of different cultures.

For example, the most eloquent move a Character can make is the SHRUG.

There is the Italian shrug, the Arabic shrug, the Mexican shrug, the teenage defiant shrug, the Southern shrug -- the one shoulder shrug, the both shoulders to the ears shrug, etc. etc.  All that doesn't even mention what you do with your hands while you silently deny all knowledge of the subject with a shrug or declare in no uncertain terms that the entire topic is irrelevant with a passive-aggressive assumption of superiority.

By and large, in USA cultures (there are a lot of them!) the shrug is considered rude, especially when it conveys that the topic is irrelevant or unimportant.  Teens are excoriated searingly for shrugging to wriggle out of parental interrogations.

Have you ever seen a presenter in a business meeting shrug when the boss asks a question?  Maybe after the meeting, when a peer asks, but not during a meeting when the boss asks.

Have you ever seen a Presidential Candidate at a podium before a large audience shrug?

OK, *shrug* -- we have had a lot of actors, performers of considerable skill, running for President, so maybe you've caught one or two shrugging for effect, but not when attempting to project an "image of strength."

In some USA cultures, various shrug-motions are acceptable statements, while others are rude.  In other USA cultures, all shrugs are rude.

Another form of culturally nuanced "speech" that can not be captured well in cold text (but that actors can convey in full video) is impatience.

Most of the situations where a writer wants to show a Character being impatient will read as the Character being "weak" or "temperamental" and thus not fit to lead or command, or have their opinion on anything respected.

"Impatience" is considered a Character flaw revealing the flaw of "Bad Judgement."

Judgement is the ability to process vast amounts of apparently trivial data to understand the nature of the problem and find the most efficient way to vanquish that problem, never breaking stride toward the objective.

Deciding "what to do" is just as vital to success as "when to do it."  As in comedy, timing is everything.

So those who are seen to be acting correctly, but acting too soon, are seen as "impatient" which makes them just as untrustworthy as those who act too late, or take ineffective action, "too little; too late."

How a given Character is assessed by the Reader depends as much or more on the Reader's culture as it does on how the Character is written or played.

Extend that to how a human reader of today would assess the Character of an Alien, and whether the Alien is seen as "impatient" and thus weak or ineffectual, or as "decisive" and strong.

Does America admire swift action over minimalist action?

Does America admire swift action over effective action?

"America" -- the middle-of-the-road average is the biggest audience a writer can strive to reach.  This is true in other countries, too -- the average, middle-road citizen is comprehensible to both extremes.  Where exactly that middle is varies from generation to generation and among countries and cultures.

At this time, there is no "American" or USA culture, singular and distinct with rules of Silent Dialogue uniformly distributed.  Even by geography we are not a uniform country. Some areas still retain Character, but in any area of the USA you will find individuals from elsewhere diluting the average.

We are a mixed-muddle, so no generalization will hold.

If your Alien crash lands in a backyard in Texas, he might knock on the door (if his culture would include the idea that requesting entry is polite -- it might NOT consider a knock as polite).  The Texas resident opening that door might be from New York.

You know the expression, "In a New York Minute."  People move faster in New York City -- not so much upstate.

So are New Yorkers "impatient?"  Slow-speaking Southerners think so, and many consider it a character flaw to be racing around so fast all the time.

But New Yorkers see their lives as a race.  Early bird gets the worm.  Whoever is first in line, gets, and others do not.  You want the job? Get to the interview early.  Even doctor's offices have been known to post signs that if you are 15 minutes late, you will be charged for the visit but will not see the doctor.  

The USA was built on many ideas, but one most often quoted (because it's so alien to the denizens of other countries) is TIME IS MONEY.

In other words, time is a commodity.

See the post on Capitalism and how Money can be a commodity just like copyrights can be a commodity.
Time is another property of reality that can be regarded as a commodity and commoditized.

Perhaps Capitalism should not be called Capitalism -- as noted, that is a misnomer -- but rather Commoditism, a process of turning the characteristic properties of reality into trade-goods.

We are seeing physics breach the frontiers of the space-time-continuum, discovering the Higgs Boson and chasing "gravity waves."  Black Holes and Dark Matter  all trying to get a handle on the nature of Time.

Is Time Travel possible?  Is Interstellar travel (or intergalactic) possible?

These are the substance of modern science fiction while fantasy genres explore alternate universes and dimensions where "magic" works and mythical creatures are real.

In our Silent Dialogue we use Time to tell others who we are.  How fast you respond to a comment or question, how slowly you move to comply with a request or order, speaks volumes about who you are, who you think you are, and who you think you are relative to everyone else.

For example, if you keep people waiting for you -- say, the family is piling into the car to go see a movie, or guests are gathered in the living room waiting to sit down to dinner -- and you just do not show up "on time" (how early or late you can be and still be 'on time' is a mathematical formula!), you are informing all those people that you and your interests and affairs are more important than their time.

In some cultures, an explanation is due upon arrival, and it better show that your priorities are the same as the priorities of those you kept waiting.  In other cultures, any explanation is viewed as an "excuse."

The maxim is never make excuses and never apologize if you want to be respected.

In yet other cultures, following that maxim, or indeed any maxim, is viewed as indication of a weak character.

What might "time" be worth to Aliens on some other planet?

How would Aliens prioritize life-minutes?  Who keeps who waiting?

Is there some property of objective Reality that dictates cultural attitudes toward Time, or toward another individual's life-minute?

Today, the USA thinks of those who wait as less important than those who keep others waiting.

For example, a crowd gathers to hear a Presidential Candidate speak, and the Candidate is scheduled to speak at 7:30.  The TV cameras light up, the Security folks are their toes, and ten minutes after the appointed moment, a tech comes out and adjusts the microphone -- but no candidate, nothing.

Well, it must be he/she is doing something Important because being The Candidate is Important -- but the audience is not that Important.

Is this cultural value the only possible value?  Is this inherent in just being human?

Not necessarily.  Aliens might look at the entire procedure very differently, as indeed humans have, in other cultures Historically.

For example, you would think the High Priest working in the Temple in Jerusalem would have been regarded as an Important person doing Important things.

The people who gathered to watch, or to hear the High Priest read from the Torah on Yom Kippur, might be viewed by today's Americans as "less important" than the High Priest.  Yet, in that Historic time, there was a hard and fast rule saying the High Priest, no matter what, must not keep the public waiting.  Their "time" was important, too, and it was his duty to discharge his duties in the expected time-interval.

Today that translates into a set of Rules regarding the conduct of prayer services.  There are sections of Prayer which are flagged "Must Not Interrupt" -- if you are in the middle of such a section, and something happens demanding attention, you must first finish the section.  These section demarcations are carefully observed.

HOWEVER, if it should happen that the congregation has gathered and is ready for a section that is to be led by a Reader with specific skills (such as reading aloud from the Torah), or for example, the blowing of the Shofar (the ram's horn), and the ONLY member of the congregation with that skill is in the middle of such a section that must not be interrupted -- then the individual must interrupt that prayer-section and go immediately to serve the congregation with his skill.

The congregation must never be kept waiting, not a New York Minute!

The High Priest or an individual gifted with talent and skill serves the public without delay.  That "without delay" rule indicates something basic about the structure of Reality, while the "keep them waiting" rule used by public speakers today violates the strictures of Reality.  (small wonder things aren't working too smoothly)

We can only infer what that Structure of Reality might be.

We use our cultural prejudices to make that inference.

For example, we might infer that because "The High Priest" is not "more important" than "The Public" (because he can't keep the public waiting) therefore "The Public" is more important than the "High Priest."

But that would be a reasonable inference only if "important" and "more important" is part of the reality matrix.  Perhaps no ONE human is "more important" than another, so that since the High Priest is only one person, and the crowd of The Public is lots of people, the crowd is "more important?"  Or maybe "important" can not be attributed to a mortal being? Perhaps deeds can be "important" if performed at a certain time, but people don't have the attribute "important?"

Leaders, bosses, decision-makers whose decisions must be implemented, holders and wielders of "Power" are nothing but servants of The Public.  There deeds of service are important.  They, themselves, are not.

Aliens might look at it that way.

As writers, trying to create plausible Aliens, we have to be aware of all the ways different human cultures have viewed that objective Structure of Reality, the dimension of Time.

For example, the Navajo saw Time in a very different way than the settlers of the Old West, which led to a lot of scorn and uncooperativeness on both sides.  "Lazy Indians?"  Far, far from it!  But they wouldn't show up for work "on time" or get the job done by "quitting time."  Unemployable, lazy good-for-nothings -- right?

So given the panoply of views among just one species, humans, imagine how Aliens would see Time -- and consequently how they would "speak" in their "Silent Dialogue."

Music and dance are forms of communication stretched along linear Time.

Music, we define as Sound. But maybe it can be Silent?

Dance, is movement usually to a rhythm, but even a drumbeat can be silent, just a Conductor waving his/her hands.

As Media Announcers learn to speak in a "tune" and cadence that just reeks "newscaster" or whatever role they are playing, so too do humans speak in tune and accompany the articulated sound with eye-blinks, hip-shifts, shoulder-shrugs, lip-twitches, and a thousand tiny movements that others respond to.

"Friends" move together when speaking -- eye-blinks synchronize -- and thus friends acquire the feeling that the other person understands them as no one else does.

It is a well documented feature of human communication, something we do entirely unconsciously.  It is possible that the aversion some people feel to communicating even via video chat is due to a failure to synchronize body language.  It's not "real" if you can't sit with a person, face to face, and assess them by how well and quickly they synchronize with you.

But what if Aliens felt threatened by the human unconscious tendency to "mirror" twitches and fidgets?  What if, to the Aliens, this involuntary movement was not fraught with deepest meaning, as it is with humans?

Perhaps the British "upper crust" trained not to fidget in earliest youth, to keep that "stiff upper lip" were favored over Americans?  For that matter, the inscrutable Japanese and Chinese cultural facial non-expression might be preferred - but even they blink their eyes.

How do you assess (judge) a person who fails to "synchronize" with you?  Can you have a meaningful conversation with someone who zigs when you expect them to zag?

How many of your limited life-minutes would you spend/waste on who keeps you waiting, who won't synchronize eye-blinks, who can't dance with you?

What would your Main Character make of such an Alien?  How could the communications breakthrough to save Humanity be made with no words to speak?

And of course, there's assessing whether the Alien is lying to you, saying the correct words but telegraphing an opposite meaning -- not just failing to communicate but mis-communicating.  What do you report to your boss when asked what's "really" going on?

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Cyber wargames; Disinformation; Artful Ignorance.

I'm late with my update on online villainy, grist for the imagination mill and stuff to make your blood boil. Sorry, I was driving back from hearing Dr. Caldwell Esselstyne Jr explain how 70% of Medicare costs could be cut if only Americans would abandon the American diet and eat oil-free plant-based nutrition... Heart disease, diabetes, dementia, and impotence can be cured by leafy greens.

While I was driving, I was listening to John Grisham's "Rogue Lawyer" which seems a timely tale for this political season, as it deals with extreme police misconduct, extreme prosecutorial misconduct, lies, cover-ups, incarceration of thousands of African American young men and much more.

Also timely, considering some of the speculation floating around on the internet  (about who hacked the devastating Podesta emails and whether some of them were tampered with or forged) is this article on about the Cyber War Games taking place in Europe where they have real actors, social media, and media coverage (for realism) of their cyber war involving blackouts, powercuts,  leaks, disinformation, tampering with emails and other customer data, ransomeware, manipulation and drones.

Perhaps someone heard the wargame stuff, and got the wrong end of the stick, it's not so far fetched. Orson Welles's radio adaptation of War Of The Worlds was mistaken for a real alien invasion, wasn't it?

Another inspiring blog article discusses the new art of war.... cyber war, that is.

Also this

Finally for the copyright enforcement enthusiasts, has this:

It's every bit as inspiringly inflammatory as any John Grisham scenario!

All the best,
Rowena Cherry

Friday, October 14, 2016

Guest Post by Karen Wiesner

Here's a guest blog by Karen Wiesner, whose writing manual FIRST DRAFT IN 30 DAYS has been a tremendous help to me (Margaret Carter). It begins with a description of her latest novel, followed by Karen's discussion of the writing of the book and the development of the series:

CROOKED HOUSE {Book 3: Bloodmoon Cove Spirits Series} by Karen Wiesner

Don’t close your eyes…

Nestled on Lake Superior in northern Wisconsin is a small, secluded town called Bloodmoon Cove with volatile weather, suspicious folk…and newly awakened ghosts.

Some doors, once opened, can never be closed again…

Orphan and widow Corinne Zellman is stunned when she receives several urgent letters from a lawyer, telling her she’s the only surviving heir of Edward Buchanan, a relative of her recently deceased husband. Though Corinne ignores the first few summons, too grieved to consider them anything but cruel hoaxes, she takes notice when yet another arrives, this time with a family ring identical to the one her husband wore and lost just before he was killed. Stuck in a dead end job and curious about the family the love of her life seldom spoke of, she reluctantly pulls up stakes and heads to Bloodmoon Cove, where the persistent elderly gentleman lives. There, with her best friend Ruby, she finds Crooked House, the family "estate". Crooked House certainly lives up to its disturbing name, as does Edward Buchanan, who is old and pale and disappears so frequently she can almost believe he's nothing more than a ghost. It isn't long before Corinne begins to suspect that her new family member had ulterior motives for insisting she come live with him. But to believe that is to believe that Rafe Yager, a hardened soldier, is entirely correct when he says Crooked House is dangerous. The longer she stays, the less chance she'll ever leave again.

Ghost hunter Rafe is one of the last descendants of the Mino-Miskwi Native American tribe whose elders disappeared during a ritual at their sacred place at the top of Bloodmoon Mountain. Rafe has come home based on a terrifying vision of wide-eyed, wholesome dreamer Cori losing her soul to an evil she doesn't recognize. Crooked House is falling and its sinister legacy demands recompense for her husband's death--something that was no accident, as she supposed. Can Rafe save Cori from a sacrifice she never meant to make when she unknowingly came to love a monster?

978-1-925191-83-7 (electronic) from Writers Exchange E-Publishing

Crooked House

978-1-329-84940-2 (trade paperback) from (30% discount)

Trade paperback from (only $4.95!)

Download from Amazon:

Crooked House

Paperback from Amazon:

Crooked House

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Crooked House

While writing up the proposal for BOUND SPIRITS, Book 1 of my Bloodmoon Cove Spirits Series, I had an idea about writing a series of ghost stories. I love scary, terrifying ghost stories as well as fun or playful ghost ones, but I also like the idea of exploring well beyond the boundaries of what a typical ghost story is. I intend to delve into the depths of supernatural elements with haunted places, cursed objects, portals to other worlds and/or time periods, and even unfathomable creatures from those other realms that have crossed into ours on Bloodmoon Mountain. This is what readers can expect all through this series.

I wasn't sure how to go about developing BOUND SPIRITS as a series until I realized another book of mine (which is a mild ghost story), THE BLOODMOON CURSE, was lagging with its at-that-time current publisher. I knew the town mentioned in that story, Bloodmoon Cove, would be the perfect setting for the series. Long story short, I got the rights back to THE BLOODMOON CURSE after BOUND SPIRITS was in the pipeline and was published by Writers Exchange. THE BLOODMOON CURSE became the second book in my Bloodmoon Cove Spirits Series, but I had to revise it slightly to make it fit this new series angle. From there, book ideas for this series have abounded in my imagination. Currently, I have nine books planned along with a collection of six shorts. You can find out more about them (including a sequel to THE BLOODMOON CURSE, coming early next year and titled RETURN TO BLOODMOON MANOR) here: Bloodmoon Cove

The basis of CROOKED HOUSE was formed when I had a dream long ago with a modern Gothic feel. In the dream, the heroine was visiting some obscure relative of her brand-new husband. When I woke up, I wrote everything down that I could remember on the off-chance that I might someday use it as a basis for a story. While I didn't use the idea verbatim, I was able to utilize parts of that dream for CROOKED HOUSE, the third title in my Bloodmoon Cove Spirits Series, which is newly available.

CROOKED HOUSE has a lot of the classic elements of a ghost story--vengeful ghost, haunted house, tough-guy hero and vulnerable heroine--with some unique twists and turns in the form of a cursed ring, a white-witch best friend who literally has no idea what she's doing, a ramshackle house in Bloodmoon Cove serving as a portal into the spirit world, along with a reluctant ghost-hunter that's one of the last descendants of the Mino-Miskwi Native American tribe whose elders disappeared during a ritual at their sacred place at the top of Bloodmoon Mountain a hundred years ago. That ritual ripped a hole in the mountain and let loose a flood of spirits that haunt Erie County. The heroine Corinne has come to Bloodmoon Cove with her best friend after being bequeathed her recently deceased husband's family estate, Crooked House. Cori hasn't yet realized the witchcraft that was weaved into the fabric of her life and she's only begun to wake up from the trance she's been in when she meets Rafe. In helping Cori break the curse on her stemming from the ring, Rafe may save himself as well.

Rafe and Cori's story starts in CROOKED HOUSE, but I wasn't ready to let go of them when I was finished with this tale, nor of an intriguing plot thread that actually started earlier in the series about a lawyer that caters to the dead with unfinished legal business. Rafe and Cori will make a generous appearance in Book 4, as all the other main and even some of the secondary characters from Books 1 and 2 will, but also in their own brand-new story, ELDRITCH JUSTICE, Book 9 of the series (release date TBA).

One of the things I love the most as I'm developing this series is that the characters from previous books make solid (i.e. not simply "glimpses" from one book to the next) appearances in later books. Considering how small the town is and how involved they are in each other's lives, it makes sense that the developing characters would be seen all through subsequent stories. I can hardly wait to write each one of these books and expand the world I'm creating with them. I hope readers will also be just as excited in seeing more from this series that's already getting five star reviews and has won numerous awards.

Author Bio:

Creating realistic, unforgettable characters one story at a time…

Karen Wiesner is an accomplished author with 116 titles published in the past 18 years, which have been nominated for/won 134 awards, and has 40 more releases contracted for spanning many genres and formats. Karen’s books cover such genres as women’s fiction, romance, mystery/police procedural/cozy, suspense, paranormal, futuristic, fantasy, Gothic, inspirational, thriller, horror, chick-lit, and action/adventure. She also writes children’s books, poetry, and writing reference titles such as her bestseller, First Draft in 30 Days and From First Draft to Finished Novel {A Writer’s Guide to Cohesive Story Building} (out of print; reissue available now in paperback and electronic formats under the title Cohesive Story Building). Her third offering from Writer’s Digest Books was Writing the Fiction Series: The Complete Guide for Novels and Novellas, available now. Look for Writing Three-Dimensional Fiction: How to Craft Lifelike Plots, Characters, and Scenes Using Multilayered Storytelling from WDB, release date June 23, 2017 and available now for pre-order from Visit Karen's website at Karen Wiesner. Check out Karen's author page at Facebook, where you can like, friend and follow her: Facebook. If you would like to receive Karen’s free e-mail newsletter, Karen’s Quill, and become eligible to win her monthly book giveaways, send a blank e-mail to