In Next, Michael Crichton delivers another fun, intellectually stimulating read as he explores the topic of today’s completely unregulated world of genetic science and genetic engineering. The story takes the reader from the wilds of Borneo to the NIH’s primate research campus to corporate labs and boardrooms, where careless researchers and financially-driven biotech CEOs play Russian roulette with the human genome and our collective future. Well researched, with a vaguely drawn line between what is and isn’t real, Next tantalizes as it terrifies us with the unimaginable consequences that can, and probably do, occur regularly, when reckless hubris, unbridled greed, out-of-step courts, absentee legislators and human frailties collide. The book’s depth, however, does not match its breadth. In his effort to keep the pace of the book galloping forward, Chrichton misses an opportunity to create more multidimensional characters and a far richer reader experience. Still, a fascinating and intriguing read.
Take my short tour of the “Endless Desert of the Mind.” And let me know if you agree. At: http://wp.me/1z7F0
When I was just a boy (really showing my age here) our television brought three channels into our home: CBS, NBC and ABC. (I’m not going to comment on whether any of those shows were in color!)
Today, we literally have hundreds of channels to choose from. Cable television’s potential is enormous; the reality, however, is something else again.
Fire up your TV and what do you get? You can shop for tchotchkes from the comfort of your living room; watch fat people compete at growing thin; snicker as beautiful, shallow women throw themselves at equally handsome, equally shallow men. You can catch yet another History2 pseudo-history, pseudo-science exploration of “ancient aliens,” or watch Harry Reid impersonate a mortician on C-SPAN. With 24 of Kippling’s “waking hours” to fill each day, what do cable news channels do? They run recasts, repeats and retreads of the same people reporting on the same stories, over and over again; then, on Sundays the talking heads take over to discuss modern political minutiae: who made a fool out of himself this week?; who’s not playing ball?; whose negative campaign ad deserves a raspberry? We may as well be listening to medieval pundits theorizing about how many angels they can squeeze onto the head of a pin!
With all the problems America faces: Runaway debt, depression-era unemployment levels, Wallstreet Banksters roaming free … and gambling away billions more on casino-banking bets; the first spooky signs of global warming; mounting poverty and inequality, the rise of the American police state, and much, much more — what won’t you find on television? Shockingly, you won’t find a single program, in a single time slot, that’s devoted to honestly, seriously and creatively examining — or even acknowledging — the real challenges we face as a nation. And you won’t find anyone bringing informed intelligent people together to brainstorm fresh, new solutions!
In this endless desert of the mind that we have created, no one is bathing in an oasis of fresh ideas. No one is doing the hard work, and the creative thinking, that could lead to progress. Instead, we are expected to trudge along through this oppressively hot, dry expanse as those responsible for creating Cable’s content line up to throw fistfuls of sand at us!
The problem is, we take it. No one complains about the enormous waste of intellectual resources. No one reaches for the phone to complain when network anchors continuously under report our real unemployment rate (now hovering at about 22 percent, rather than 8.2 percent), or when our policy leaders (Dems and Reps alike) keep dragging out the same old, debunked, thread-bare ideas of trickle-down riches (really?!) and “quantitative easing,” when what we really need are bold, dynamic “take no prisoners” ideas — like an enforced, maximum 32-hour work week that would instantly create new job openings for many in our idled workforce; or changes to our tax codes that would allow individuals to depreciate their intellectual capital (education investments) the way businesses currently depreciate job-killing investments in equipment; or a call to restore the Glass-Steagall Act, the Depression-era law that wisely excluded commercial banks from all the high-risk activities that caused economic ruin in 1929 — and our latest global economic crisis. Glass-Steagall kept Wall Street — and Main Street — safe for 60 years until the Banking Lobby convinced Congress and President Clinton to overturn it in 1994. Now, look where we are!
If we want television programmers to start focusing on creating shows that help solve our problems rather than mindlessly supporting our leaders’ efforts to hide the facts, we must to act. Pick up your phone and call CNN, MSNBC, FOX, ABC, CBS, etc., etc. and demand that they up their games.
Remember, that mirage we see glistening on the desert horizon is as bone-dry as the scorching hot sands under our feet. If we continue to live a lie and bury our heads in the sand, thinking our problems will somehow fix themselves, while we settle for cheap cable tv diversions, we will be in for a sobering surprise.
Get real … and make them get real, too. Then, happier days could be ahead. Your thoughts?
After Israeli agents captured Adolf Eichmann, in 1960, and charged him with crimes against humanity for his role in implementing Hitler’s Final Solution, the unrepentant former Nazi head of Jewish deportations shared several revealing anecdotes with his captors concerning events from those dark days.
One story eventually found its way into CIA files, only to resurface, after declassification, in a 2009 National Archives report about Nazi War Criminals, U.S. intelligence agencies and the Cold War. The story has special significance for all of us who pause today, on Yom Hashoah, to remember victims of The Holocaust. It also further refutes the efforts of the stubborn, hateful few, who despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, continue to insist that The Holocaust never happened.
Eichmann told his captors that while he was in Budapest “sometime” in the fall of 1944, Heinrich Himmler, head of the Gestapo, ordered him to prepare a report about the exact number of Jews the Nazis had killed since taking power in 1933. Because he did not run the death camps or command the death squads in the field, a point Eichmann, no doubt, wished to impress upon his interrogators, he said he had to rely on estimates previously reported by concentration camp commandants and death-squad unit heads in order to prepare a proper report.
The number of murdered Jews Eichmann eventually reported to Himmler was six million. Of these, he said, two-thirds (or 4 million) had died in the camps while the remaining 2 million perished during special killing actions conducted near their homes in Poland and Russia.
Eichmann submitted his report and waited. Eventually, Himmler’s assistant, Hoettl, informed him that his boss was dissatisfied, claiming that the numbers had to be higher. Himmler then ordered Eichmann to forward a copy of the report to the head of his statistical office (apparently, so that he could review and revise it.)
Himmler, who had been closely involved in implementing the Final Solution, believed Eichmann had grossly underestimated the efficiency of the Nazi killing machine. Six million murdered Jews? The number, he insisted, was not even close.
The six-million dead included one million Jewish children, two million Jewish women and three million Jewish men, two-thirds of the estimated nine million Jews living in Europe prior to the war. They represented civilian deaths — unarmed people who the Nazis had singled out for slaughter, slavery and endless brutality strictly because of their familial and religious heritage.
The estimated number of dead may not have been sufficient to satisfy Himmler’s blood lust, but 6 million already is so large an amount that it is truly hard to fathom. How do we put it into perspective? If it took just three seconds to repeat each victim’s name aloud, a single person, reading the names of the dead non-stop, 24 hours a day, seven days a week in a memorial service would need 208 and a third days — or nearly seven sleepless months — in which to complete the task. Of course, no single person’s voice or body could for long withstand the strain such a task would impose, so hundreds, perhaps thousands of individuals would, in actuality, be required to work, in tandem, to complete the vigil.
With each passing generation, The Holocaust’s profound loss of life compounds itself through the conspicuous absence of millions of victim descendants. The six-million Jews who perished under the Nazis represent unspeakable tragedy and pain, horrifying in its scope and impossible, even for the living, to comprehend fully.
- UN honors Holocaust Remembrance Day with new exhibit (timesofisrael.com)
- Some Nazi leaders betrayed by Zionists (middleeastatemporal.wordpress.com)
- Yom HaShoah / Holocaust Rememberance Day (promoteliberty.wordpress.com)
- who is Adolf Eichmann? (rianputra84.wordpress.com)
- A rare peek into Mossad’s capture of Nazi Adolph Eichmann (thestar.com)
- Eichmann exhibit gives glimpse of Israel’s Mossad (ndtv.com)
- Never Again! (golanskistreasures.com)
- Mossad’s hunt for the other Adolf: Spy agency’s search for Eichmann revealed (cnn.com)
- Adolf Eichmann’s capture, as told by the Mossad, in Israel exhibition (guardian.co.uk)
- Eichmann exhibit gives glimpse of Israel’s Mossad (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- The pernicious cycle of Holocaust denial (blogs.timesofisrael.com)
December 2, 2011 — Fantasy/Horror readers, get ready for tomorrow’s interview with author Todd Russell. You’ll find it right here at http://www.writeatyou.wordpress.com
If you loved sitting around a campfire, as a kid, and spinning quick yarns to scare the ‘bejeezus’ out of your friends, then you’ll really enjoy Flash O’Lantern: 13+ Stories, a collection of flash fiction tales by horror writer/novelist Todd Russell.
Flash O’Lantern presents 13 Flash horror stories interspersed with Russell’s own thematically-related commentaries about memorable October events and trivia. The stories deliver quick, light, entertaining reads, and the commentaries provide plenty of great water-cooler conversational grist. Together they make Flash O’Lantern particularly good reading for people on the go. Here are my four favorite flash fiction offerings from the book:
Brush is the creepy story of a homeless guy who, let’s say, bites off more than he can chew, when he hijacks a kid’s Halloween goody bag. ( I think the National Dental Associationshould purchase reprint rights to this one and distribute them in dental offices nationwide.)
Graveyard Crazies offers a fun, yet spooky, take on working the mid-night (graveyard) shift in a supermarket. (Great atmospherics, and some well-done tension-relieving humor.)
Remdee Gate won me over immediately with the imaginative concept of the gate itself – an altogether new idea that I’ve never come across before in sci-fi/horror fantasy writing.
And finally, I found Rachel’s Number to be a quick, but haunting, story.
Other Important Todd Russell Links:
Mental Shrillness – An earlier collection of Todd’s short stories
Fresh Flesh – Todd’s debut psychological thriller, horror novel
Connect with Todd Russell Online
- Jack O’Lanterns (enjoyingourlittlefamily.wordpress.com)
- Jack O’Lanterns: The Inside Scoop (education.com)
- Fright Night – The Legend of The Jack O’Lantern (jackholesrealm.wordpress.com)
- HorrorAddictsCon: Steven Rose Jr. – Horror and Dark Fantasy II (horroraddicts.wordpress.com)
- Read: Pineapple Puts Pumpkin In Its Place (halloweeninvirginia.wordpress.com)
- Howl is now available on Smashwords! (annalisegrey.wordpress.com)
- FarmVille Huge Jack-O’Lantern: Everything you need to know (games.com)
- Fearsome Friday – Jack O’Lantern (usaukwoods.wordpress.com)
- Halloweensie Blogfest (catherinemjohnson.wordpress.com)
- HorrorAddictsCon: Steven Rose Jr. – Horror and Dark Fantasy III (horroraddicts.wordpress.com)
If you believe there’s more to the world than meets the eye, and if you have a fondness for the occult, history, fantasy and horror, then the Mad-Gods series, by Athanasios Galanis, may be just what the doctor ordered. Athanasios is a Canadian born graphic designer/writer and perpetual student of life whose imagination occupies a multidimensional world that serves as a crossroads for ancient spirits and modern men. It’s a place where current and past events interact forming a living background for the ongoing struggle between the agents of good and evil, of prophecy, treachery, intrigue and divinity. I’m pleased to introduce you to the subject of today’s author interview: Athanasios Galanis.
1. Athanasios, what got you started writing what I’m going to call historical/fantasy novels?
I haven’t written anything else. So the singular would apply here and to be specific what I write is what I would read. The Predatory Ethics story that begins with Mad Gods is not intentionally cross genre but it is Occult/Thriller/Historical/Fantasy/Horror because those are the subjects that interest me.
2. How would you define your genre, and what do you find most compelling and challenging about writing in it?
I define it as Occult/Thriller/Historical/Fantasy/Horror and the most compelling thing about writing it is seeing how the themes and subjects I explore really do affect my thinking in the same way as the separate subjects have affected me in the past. To me the best examples of those genres explain and illustrate life and reality as nothing else can. I try and do that with Predatory Ethics. Hopefully it comes through.
My inspiration comes from everywhere. Mostly from documentaries and books about religion, history, myths, psychology, and the subjects I stated earlier. My writing process is sitting down and writing out in a steno pad whatever comes into my head. It’s mostly stream of consciousness but I always have a rough outline to follow but not adhere to. That is my first draft that I end up typing into my computer as the second draft. Once that’s finished I print it out double-spaced and edit and revise what ends up being my third draft. I then update the computer version from the revised printed copy and that’s my process.
4. When did you know you were going to be a writer? Was there a specific incident or triggering incident? And how did that knowledge make you feel?
I want to tell this story, I didn’t think about being a writer or not, the idea never entered my head. I thought this was a really captivating idea. I want to transcend and make readers feel and think as I did, and still do when I read a great story.
5. Balzac had a simple method for staying focused and churning out copy: He chained himself to his desk and consumed endless cups of coffee? What’s your technique?
No great technique, I “just do it,” with respect to Nike. I’ve worked as a graphic artist for most of my adult life so I know that you’ve got to keep plugging and knowing that if you’re dedicated to something you keep doing it when you’re not inspired. Inspiration makes the process easy, it’s doing it when it’s just not coming out and it feels like you’re fighting yourself that shows dedication to what you want to say.
6. How long did it take you to write Mad-Gods? Is the book cycle (5 books) complete yet? If not, how many more volumes do you plan to write?
It took nearly 20 years from the first germs of the ideas inherent in the wider story arc. I don’t know if the book cycle is more or less than 5 books.
7. What were the biggest challenges you faced in writing the Mad-Gods books?
The biggest challenges were and still are doing it in my spare time. I so hope and wish to be doing this as a full time endeavor that will keep me comfortable and happy.
8. Since the books are set — at least in the beginning — in Constantinople/Istanbul — how did you research the area: it’s streets, there appearance, the traditions, history and language, etc.?
Some of it came from the myths and background stories I grew up with. My family was always talking about how we Greeks used to have a great empire called Byzantium and the golden capital of Kostadinoupoli. Whatever I didn’t know I researched online. Thank the gods for Google.
9. How much time, if any, did you actually spend there?
10. Do you have a favorite passage from your book? If so, would you share it with us here and tell us what is it about it that has such special significance for you?
Yes. It’s short and encapsulates my day to day, hour to hour, minute to minute thoughts that I finally wrote down and still shake my head at how on the mark it was about me. “Endurance is overrated. I wish I were weaker and able to endure far less.”
11. What writers have influenced you the most in your writing career and in developing your writing style? What, specifically was it about them that captured your attention and imagination?
I don’t know if they’ve influenced my style but they did influence my desire to affect people the way they did me. The first was Michael Moorcock and his Eternal Champion series. It showed me how expansive imagination could be with the wonder and fantasy that was on every page. The next was Mary Renault who showed me that our own world, whether it was history or our own time could be and was as full of wonder, fantasy, danger and transcendence as in any fiction.
12. Why did you choose to take the Indie route in publishing your books? How satisfying has it been so far? And what lessons have you learned about indie publishing that you’d like to share with others?
I chose indie because there was no other avenue. I’ve gotten nothing but rejections from agents and publishers. It’s been critically satisfying but little else. The only lesson I’ve learned was learned a long time before my indie publishing, keep trying and do anything and everything to make your work reach paying readers.
13. What book marketing efforts have you found to be most effective?
Do whatever crosses your path. Everything. Plenty of time to be discriminating once you’ve gotten SOME recognition.
14. What valuable lessons have you learned about self-publishing that you’d care to share with other writers?
Fake it till you make it.
15. What is it that you want most readers to get out of reading your books? What do they tell you about their experience?
I would like readers to think about reality and what life is. Lofty goals I know but that’s not my specific intent, I just hope that the story will do that.
16. What other books have you currently got “in development?”
I just finished Commitment, the second part of Predatory Ethics. It’s being edited and I hope to have it up by Halloween. I’ve started In Who To Trust, the third part. I don’t know where that will lead me, but I’m excited to find out.
Thanks, Athanasios, for giving our readers a deeper insight into your books, your character and your thoughts!
Book Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pu2O4StE8DQ