Whence madness

If you are aware of the onset of madness, are you truly mad? Does self-awareness of degrading mental health accelerate or stymie recovery?

A quick writing practice, 1st person reflective.



Civilization: how thy collapse?

Depending on the mechanism of the apocalypse, the end of civilization would occur in vastly different ways.

Here’s a recent video sponsored by the Royal Institution and conducted by Dr. Lewis Dartnell (of The Knowledge fame).



It’s of pretty standard apocalyptic fare, but there are a few standout notions posed by the panel and audience.

The first is asked by the astrophysicist: How would society change, today, if we discovered that in thirty years an unavoidable asteroid (of ELE size) was destined for Earth? That delay, thirty years, really made me think. Obviously, everybody 70 and older wouldn’t really care, personally. They would, though, work to save their descendants. But aside from who would care, and for what reason, what, if any change would occur in society — tomorrow? What would you change in your life, right now, knowing in thirty years the end of the world was guaranteed?

Another notion, proposed by the generalist, was that in a catastrophic event, like my favorite topic, a CME (coronal mass ejection – and the end of the electrical grid), that there are billions of food animals (cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, chickens and turkeys) that would be available for months after the “end of food.” His theory, which sounded silly, but he confessed it was considered by those who plan for such things, was that humans would be eating burgers for months, but that the lack of ketchup would be part of the critical path of survival. He quipped that there was a National Strategic Condiment Reserve created to store enough ketchup and mustard to ensure that people could continue to enjoy their quarter-pounders.

The third notion that I thought curious was the topic of what goes first? Do people die out quickly (a pandemic, or nuclear, volcanic or asteroid induced winter) or do people survive and their infrastructure fails them (a CME or a nano bot revolt or AI take over).

Generally speaking, civilizations don’t collapse quickly. Jared Diamond’s Collapse, explored the various failures over the last few millennia and, for the most part, things come apart slowly but determinedly. Politics, food, resources, strife, elitists vs plebes, all contribute, over tens if not hundreds of years, to destroy a civilization.

The apocalypse, however, would tend to speed things up.

Mentioned in the second half of the video, is the book Paradise built in Hell, which explores the altruistic fallout during specific calamitous occurrences. That — we are our brother’s keeper — that people, over all, tend to jump in to save each other in times of catastrophe.

This may be true for localized events; single areas, nations or even regions (Hurricane Katrina, the 2011 Sendai earthquake, or the Boxing Day tsunami of 2004). But where I think this fails us, and this is the base theory for this post, is the following:

When we feel secure in our own lives we feel empowered to help others. Even if we ourselves are inundated by chaos, if we know that the province, country or world remains stable — outside of our ongoing criticality — then extending ourselves to our neighbors can be substantiated; we know others will be there to pickup the slack. That, knowing we do not risk everything, we feel empowered to help those in need.

But what happens when, deep in our souls, we know no one else will be there to help us out of our own disastrous situation? When we know that the entire world is under siege? That we know that help IS-NOT-COMING. How will we react then?

Does civilization fail when the realization that THIS-IS-IT penetrates our thinking? Do we resort then to protecting our own, abandoning our neighbors, our jobs of assistance? What would you do if you knew your family, your loved ones were also under attack — but your job, your duty, was to stay here and fight for and protect these folks? Would you stay? Or would you admit that, “hey, I have to get back to my OWN family who needs me.”?

Country size: An interesting perspective



Here’s a curious image.

I’m not sure I recall where I found the site on which I built that, but, what it allowed me to do is drag countries around to see their relative sizes. (Alaska is rotated to bolt to the US.)

I lined all the biggest along the equator, from largest on down. You’ll notice that those countries managed to fit along the equator just as you see — end to end — all the way around. Now, wouldn’t that be a curious world to live upon; with seas between each of nine continents, and oceans above and below and of course all of the remaining 190 odd countries stuck to the tops and bottoms of those nine (lots of Africa and South America to distribute.) But the tops and bottoms all being oceans — just two of them.

An interesting adjunct to this sequence would be to compare the populations for these countries, given their general shapes, and line them up according to that metric. Hmm, I may have to do exactly that (I’ll hunt around). (Of course there would be countries that show up here that are not shown, vis-a-vis population rank.

I’m struck by the comparatively equivalent sizes of Canada, USA, China, Brazil and Australia. Within 20-30%, they’re about the same land mass.

Just imagine if we could terraform Earth to look like this? Before we terraform Mars, maybe we should consider doing something about living on what we’re not using already…


I need a new Magic

I lay in bed, thinking about things, as I do, and I wondered if there was a new type of magic that I could dream up that had not already been imagined. So, in order to determine what might constitute “new” I had to itemize the existing types of magic. Here they are in no particular order. Note, these are my determinations, I did not consult with other (no doubt numerous) sources. I may have missed some, if so, do be so kind as to correct the error of my waze.

  • Skill magic: enhanced skills, for instance blacksmith, fighting, crafting, doctoring, gardening, baking, singing — any skill where a magic is employed to augment or perfect a skill. The magic is only available during the practice of the skill.
  • Psychological magic: finding, influence, persuasion, mind reading — where psy-ops or reading of other people or creatures is done. Scrying might be included here.
  • Force magic: commanding the power of the Universe against matter or mind. I’d include the concept of Luck magic here too. The concept of being “Lucky” might be attributed to some Universal force. This is an amorphous magic, but can be attributed to power over matter, primarily.
  • Deity magic: command of, or the favor of gods and their powers. Here we can’t wield the power directly, or if we do, then the power (generalized magic) was granted by a deity. But generally, we are subjected to a deity’s magic.
  • Learned magic: spells, incantations, wands and witches & wizards. This is magic that can be learned from books, tomes or scrolls. Or taught by magicians who already have the knowledge. And knowledge is the key here – the magic is unavailable until the knowledge is acquired.
  • Vision magic: dreams or visions that alter the world, I’ll include Time magic here, moving through time. This is the power of a mind or a consciousness to influence the physical world through dreams.
  • Creature magic: elves, faeries, leprechauns, dragons, unicorns, Pegasus — magic that exists as part of a creature’s physicality or legacy. This is magic, like deity magic, which humans cannot wield but may have access to through control or influence of the creature.
  • Wish magic: genies, mirrors, wells, monkey’s paw. Magic provided through wishing, whether through an agent or through a physical “possessed” or magically imbued object.
  • Thing magic: coins, crystal balls, keys, books, swords, shields. When things have been enchanted to contain the magic, and whomever possesses the thing then controls the magic.
  • Perception magic: [per Phil Huston] the illusion or appearance of magic (mundane magic) which is meant to fool us into believing (doesn’t all story magic do this? — Phil would say).
  • Tech magic: [per Phil Huston] Arthur C. Clarke’s “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
  • Nature magic: [per Serendipitious Web Life] Magic derived from Mother Nature, Gaia, Chaos, Eywa (Avatar) and evident in springs (Fountain of Youth), trees (the Ents of LOTR), elementals.

In the end, Magic is power over matter/energy, mind, space or time. Each of the above listed magics represents some form of one of these, or a combination of them.

What other magics might we explore not listed here?

  • Hive magic: A blend of Force, Psych and/or Vision magic but can only be exercised when the necessary number of companions or citizens unite as a hivemind.
  • Anti magic: The cancellation or annulment of any magic applied by others. The black hole of magic.


Would you rather…

Would you rather:

  1. Have your vision expanded to see in infrared or ultraviolet?
  2. At any time, once a day, be able to levitate one foot and float at will for one hour, or fly as high as you like for one minute?
  3. For one day the year, be given Harry Potter magic or Cassandra prophetic vision?
  4. Be President of the 2000’s United States for a year, or King/Queen of 1600’s England for a year?
  5. Die in poor health at 150 or die in perfect health of the most tumultuous orgasm any human has ever had at age 50?
  6. Play poker with Albert Einstein or Richard Feynman?
  7. Wake up in a pool of blood surrounded by dead baby goats, or dead baby deer.
  8. Have lunch with Judy Garland or Audrey Hepburn?
  9. Lose an arm-wrestling match with Arnold Schwarzenegger or The Hulk?
  10. Fall asleep reading about the zombie apocalypse or watching The Simpsons?
  11. Be 10% happier or live 10% longer?

A philosophical minute


Our lives are simultaneously accelerating, while becoming ever shallower.

We’re like skipping stones glancing off the pond of life.

To truly live, we must slow and sink into the world around us.


Shadow Shoals 1.5 end of part one

This concludes Part One of Shadow Shoals at 17,000 words.

Shadow Shoals 1.5: https://goo.gl/a71Nmr

I figure by perhaps the end of my fourth novel (this is #3) I’ll have honed my skills to the point where my work becomes publishable. Until then, I hold no delusions.

In the mean time, writing keeps me busy. It costs nothing as a hobby. And, you’ll be taken aback to learn, my 76 year old mother is my copy editor, with whom I’ve had the best time working on these projects, reestablishing ancient bonds, as it were.