The bodies are stacked up like cordwood

That’s what happens when you read a Kathy Reichs novel, the current one from back in the 1990s, Death Du Jour. Reichs, of course, is a forensic anthropologist as well as the author of the well-received Tempe Brennan series, so when she gets up close and personal with the bones in the lab, she’s been there and one that in “real life.”

So, in many ways, reading these novels is like walking where Reichs has walked even though the books are fiction. They’re windows into another world and, while they make good reading, they look at a world that makes me doubt the sanity of the human race. As the bodies stack up like cordwood in these books, we see just how many horrific ways there are for killing another person–not counting war and so-called acts of God.

I think this snippet of dialogue from “Terminator 2” sums up my despair:

John Connor: We’re not gonna make it, are we? People, I mean.

The Terminator: It’s in your nature to destroy yourselves.

John Connor: Yeah. Major drag, huh?

I think the jury’s still out when it comes to deciding whether we’re going to destroy ourselves and our planet. My view of reality is fairly dark. Maybe that’s why I read books that make that view darker

What about you? When you read police thrillers, black ops, and other novels do you move on easily at the end of the book with the thought that the story was “just fiction” or do you worry about whether the story is telling us something about ourselves?

I worry about ourselves because the realistic stories in novels aren’t coming from some other world where trust and honesty and a long life expectancy don’t exist. I grew up in a place where the KKK was thicker than rattlesnakes, so that’s what I write about. Even though I’m writing about the 1950s, I wonder about the Jim Crow racism that’s still alive and “well” now.

The klan and its supporters knew how to stack up the dead. I want to turn my back on it, but I started the Florida Folk Magic Series and am not willing to move on to something that could air on the Hallmark Channel. I suspect Kathy Reichs couldn’t either. How she kept her sanity as a forensic anthropologist, we’ll never know. Perhaps, the novels are a good kind of therapy.

I’m not so sure. I wonder how many black stories one can view before one becomes immune to the horror of them. As long as we’re not immune, those of us who write and those of us who read, perhaps there’s still hope for people.

–Malcolm

Don’t ask ‘How can things possibly get any worse in 2023?’

Used to be the worst thing that routinely happened with each new year was writing last year’s date on checks for several weeks. Now, I probably write one or two checks a year since online banking takes care of most of the bills. So, that’s the least of my worries.

Parade Entertainment Graphic

Since I’m superstitious, I try not to predict doomsday scenarios great and small because, well, fate likes pulling questions and predictions like that out from under us so it (fate) can provide what we fear most. I tend to agree with Carl Jung’s idea that “the more you resist anything in life, the more you bring it to you.”

That doesn’t mean we should do nothing while chaos reigns supreme on our doorstep. It’s the personal worry that draws fate our way, not actions meant to improve everything on our doorsteps, home towns, and possibly the world.

We see on the news that shooter incidents have increased, that police are looking the other way as shoplifting (often brazen) increases day by day, that sending Patriot Missiles to Ukraine risks Russian nuclear attacks, and that the seas are rising. I think most of us would prefer to see these problems go away. And yet, I suspect most of us are making them go away by covering our ears and eyes in an ostrich-head-in-the-sand “solution” to problems.

My hope for 2023 is that more people look at what’s happening and fight against it rather than pretending they’re not involved.

–Malcolm

One person can make a difference, a concept I explored in “Conjure Woman’s Cat.”

A few things

Those of you who’ve read this blog for a while, know that I think the Supreme Court made a horrid decision in overturning Roe v Wade and further that that decision was fueled by party politics and religious beliefs rather than a serious and objective analysis of the laws and Constitution.

This decision will unleash a firestorm of tyranny tantamount to the subjugation of women to the point that they will become second-class citizens in more ways than they already are. If the Justices had considered the entire scope of problems that can and will stem from their decision, they could have easily modified Roe within the scope of women’s liberty rights and equality rights and in a way that would block the following:

  • Contraception methods that can be construed as harming a real or imagined fetus will be banned, including the morning-after pill, if the law states that life begins at conception even though science cannot pinpoint when that moment is until long after the fact.
  • Pregnancies will be registered and tracked to ensure that if they aren’t carried full term to a viable birth, women will face prosecution for miscarriages, or activities that could have harmed the fetus.
  • Doctors will be supplied with a list of medications and procedures that might remotely jeopardize a fetus and will be admonished under the threat of sanctions to withhold these from pregnant or potentially pregnant women.
  • The birth rate will go down as more and more women balk at the government oversite into their lives and medical care.
  • Suicides and illegal abortions will rise when women have no alternative, due to the law, to carrying pregnancies caused by rape and incest to term and further allowing, by law,  the rapists’ parental rights.
  • Freedom of speech will be curtailed on subjects related to the above because those speaking out will be considered to be advocating ways around these draconian results.
  • Needless to say, the poor will suffer the greatest injustice because they will not be able to afford to travel to alternative jurisdictions, especially if pregnant women are prohibited from traveling either because such travel might harm a fetus and/or end up in a state allowing abortions.

Some of these things have already happened.

–Malcolm

P.S. This will be my last post about this subject because people whom I love and respect are on the other side of the debate. I cannot in good conscience oppose them in public forums.

Happy Birthday, USA

Dear USA,

You were conceived and safely delivered into the world 246 years ago with the highest of hopes that a republic had been born that would last for eternity, as Franklin said if we can keep it.  You were nearly lost between 1861 and 1865 when 620,000 men died trying to keep you together and tear you apart.

Since then, you have given hope to many and taken away hope from others because every hatred and misstep you ever took remains in our collective psyche to haunt us and divide us and cause the meanspirited amongst us to keep trying to tear us apart. Some say you are in the middle of a “cold civil war,” the heat of which is seen in our cities at night.

Many of us think you are on the cusp of losing your way and that we’ll fall into limbo if the disparate voices aren’t willing to pull back a little from their most extreme beliefs and find a common ground.  We need that common ground for, as Lincoln said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” At present, your people are very much divided.

Quite likely, I’m naïve and still believe you will long endure. I still believe there’s a chance for you, even now.

Malcolm

Manifestos are a dime a dozen but the deaths they cause are real–and tragic

The thugs who commit mass shootings often back up their murders with a manifesto that purports to (a) gain converts and (b) show that their actions were justified.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, “The attack in Buffalo is the direct result of white nationalist propaganda, specifically the ‘great replacement’ conspiracy theory, being promoted and now mainstreamed by major public figures. While this false notion that white people are being systematically replaced by Blacks, immigrants, and Jews has deep historical roots, it has gained traction in recent years.  And with that traction has come violence, both physical and political.”

Such theories, ideas, and notions are not only arrogant but abhorrent. Some people argue that the killers in mass shootings are not insane but have been radicalized by white supremacy propaganda of one stripe or another. My view is that “being radicalized” in this way IS an example of insanity, but splitting hairs about definitions won’t fix the problem. Neither will be banning freedom of speech.

I would like to see more forums, books, articles, TED talks, and other initiatives that promote a dialogue about the inflammatory issues that divide us rather than leaving the entire discussion to Facebook and other threads where is no civility or enlightened attempt to explore what is polarizing us and why such things frighten people to the extent that they take others’ lives and are killed in the process.

We need to develop new ways of looking at the world rather than perpetuating fear and distrust that, if not addressed, will turn our country into an armed camp of competing insanities.

Malcolm

What if we’re just machine code?

Ever since the philosopher Nick Bostrom proposed in the Philosophical Quarterly that the universe and everything in it might be a simulation, there has been intense public speculation and debate about the nature of reality. Such public intellectuals as Tesla leader and prolific Twitter gadfly Elon Musk have opined about the statistical inevitability of our world being little more than cascading green code. Recent papers have built on the original hypothesis to further refine the statistical bounds of the hypothesis, arguing that the chance that we live in a simulation may be 50–50.” – from “Confirmed! We Live in a Simulation” in Scientific American

The Matrix Poster.jpgMy first question is this: “Whose computer is it?”

And then, I want to know if they’re running Windows 1.0, Windows 95, or Windows ME.

I haven’t read whether or not accepting the validity of this sumulation is a red pill/blue bill matter. I’d probably take the red pill if I got to have dinner with Trinity.

Then, too, I like the idea of downloading whatever information I need to do whatever I want to do as–in the movie–suddenly have the skills to fly a helicopter.

Perhaps the red pill will prove that the idea of a computer simulation world is just an illusion or, if it isn’t, that the whole shebang is running on Jerry Seinfeld’s computer. Or, worse yet, on Steven Wright’s computer.

I’ve always believed that seeing isn’t believing, that things are not what they seem to be. So, I have my doubts about the idea that everything is machine code or assembly language running on a Fugaku compter hidden in a nondescript barn in Peoria.

If it is, heaven help us if somebody accidentally hits crtl/alt/del.

I think the best we can do at this point is continue to live our lives as though we’re real and never say anything nasty about Jerry Seinfeld or Steven Wright.

Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of “Conjure Woman’s Cat.”

Good electricity or bad electricity?

When a bricks-and-mortar (“real life”) friend or an online friend buys an electric car and leans on me to go and do likewise because that’s good for the environment, I tend to skip the usual questions such as how far can you drive, how fast can you drive, and do you have to map out the locations of charging stations before you go anywhere?

Mustang Mach-E

Since I’m “supposed to buy” an electric car to “do my part” in reducing climate change, my first question is “are you charging up what car with good electicity or bad electricity?”

“But electricity is neutral,” they say. “It has no agenda.”

“Okay,” I respond, “but if I’m to help fight climate change with my electric car, I’m not making much of a dent in the problem if my–let’s call it ‘bad’–electricity comes from fossil fuels, right?”

Some people look like deer in the headlights. “I hope that’s not where my power comes from?”

“Odds are, it is. Look at these statistics: 60% of our electricity comes from fossil fuels, that is, petroleum, coal, and natural gas.”

“I thought we were going better,” they say.

“We are, but not better enough. Do you have solar panels on the roof of your house?”

“No.”

“They might help reduce the amount of bad electricity,” I say.

“They would. Maybe I’ll do that some day.”

I have these conversations all the time when new owners of electric cars suddenly become disciples even though they were driving a gas-hog car the day they saw the light and went all electric, car-wise.  Maybe we need cars with solar panels. Until then, I’m going to want to know where that electricity is coming from.

Malcolm

Lena (Florida Folk Magic Stories Book 3) by [Malcolm R. Campbell]Malcolm R. Campbell writes fantasies, magical realism, satire, and realism though he’s never sure which is which.

When the pharmacy loses a prescription

The stranglehold doctors and pharmacies and the feds have on prescription drug is always hard to navigate through, much less cope with.

My wife had three refils on a prescription. After getting two of them, the pharmacy says there isn’t another one. The doctor says there is. Making matters worse, the pharmacy has lost the original paper. They won’t budge.

Rx Symbol Images, Stock Photos & Vectors | ShutterstockOur only hope is that the doctor will call in a new scrip. Meanwhile, the situation causes a lot of stress. My libertarian viewpoint is that we should be able to buy the drug without a prescription. First to avoid the hassle that occurs when things screw up. Second to get drugs available out of the control of big pharma and find a way to take bottles of pills that cost pennies to make away from those who charge thousands for a handful of pills.

The system is broken in so many ways. But, the fix is a political football. Meanwhile, a lot of people are hurting.

–Malcolm

I’m tired of springing forward and falling back

If I were king of the United States, I’d get rid of daylight savings time and mandate standard time for everyone all year. I’m trying to sail against the wind on this, I know, as more states are shifting to permanent daylight savings time.

I guess that means people are more willing to put up with dark mornings than dark afternoons.

Every darn thing in the house has a clock on it. Other than the phone and the TV, that means wasting a  lot of time changing everything forward and back. As for the car, forget it since (on our cars) there’s no “set clock” function, so we have to push various unrelated buttons on the radio to change the time.

I know some of you are thinking that time is an illusion anyway, so who cares? A lot of people care, apparently, since DST is apparently more popular than standard time.  I guess if we actually left our houses for after-work shopping, we’d want that “extra” daylight to be after work. But, we’re all shopping online these days, so we don’t need more after-hours sunshine.

Since more people are quitting their jobs these days, they can go shopping whenever they want.

And, no matter what time we’re using, most people are late anyway.

Life would be much easier if we embraced the darkness.

Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of novels based on magic.

In the old days. . .

. . .we said we were killing commies for Christ because in many ways we were. Before that  we were killing heathens for Christ and now I suppose we’re killing Jihadists for Christ.

Dark sarcasm summed up the way many of us felt when the “Killing Commies” phrase was popular, though just as politically incorrect as it is now.

In reality, it’s easier to fund and justify war if you don’t mention that you’re killing people. It’s also easier if you leave Christ out of it since He was never really in it in spite of what some people thought.

Around the world, bloggers are blogging for peace today. I didn’t sign up at blog4peace so this is an unauthorized post.

Peace comes from within, I think. That’s where it starts. You have to feel it and know in your heart and soul that war (or killing anyone for any reason) is a violation of universal tenets. War comes from the ego’s fear. Peace comes from the soul’s love.

I really don’t know any other way to say it.

Malcolm