Author Interview and Giveaway with Nikolas P. Robinson

“For the chance to win a free e-copy (.PDF or Kindle only) of Unspoken by Nikolas P. Robinson, please leave a comment on this post with your email address included in the body of the comment. This giveaway will end at 3 PM (EST) on September 6.”

via Author Interview and Giveaway with Nikolas P. Robinson.

 

 

You read that right, there is an interview with yours truly that can be found over at Writer’s Block Party and a giveaway of my novel, Unspoken, in either Kindle or PDF format. Get to it folks!

Another Religious Discourse Brought About By A Friend’s Blind Hatred of Islam

The same friend that led to the previous religious discussion happened to post something depicting Islam as a vicious, intolerant cult and I couldn’t help myself. Names have been omitted in order to avoid coming across as too much of an asshole.

I responded with, “Yeah, because there aren’t numerous people around the world or even in this Midwest region who haven’t been just as brutally mistreated by Christians, my friend. You let your bias cloud your judgment far too readily with your anti-Islamic nonsense. There are no more people who have been hurt by Islamic violence throughout history than those who have been by Christians behaving the same way or worse.”

It was in response to this that a friend of my friend chirps in by suggesting that I am either misinformed or choosing to spew lies and further, that, “Virtually all conflicts in the world are caused by Moslems killing those who do not agree with them. Fighting back is demonized by the ignorant.” The choice of spelling was not mine, but that of the individual who made the statement. She followed that by quoting an article from FrontPage Magazine by a Buddhist author who expressed fear that Islam would sweep away the cherished practices and people of the Buddhist traditions if it were to gain ascendancy and that Islam is the only belief system that propagates itself by the sword.

I responded to her claim that I was misinformed by saying, “The crusades, the inquisition, and countless other examples of Christian violence exist…and in recent years doctors, homosexuals, and other individuals have been beaten and even killed by Christians in direct relation to what they believe. The only misinformation comes from bigots like you hypocrites.”

She replied by informing me that those episodes from history that I mentioned were reactionary, in defense against Islamic barbarism; and that the more recent incidents that I alluded to were the work of extremists (which can be found in every culture) who don’t represent the majority except (in her opinion) within Islam, where they are fulfilling the wishes of the majority. She further suggested that I need to get educated before I spew my hate and that I really “need to read something.”

To which, I said, “I will give you the benefit of the doubt and operate under the assumption that you are merely Ill/uninformed rather than being a willfully ignorant hate monger. Either way, you clearly know less than you think you do.”

She mockingly thanked me for giving her the “benefit of the doubt” and indicated that she realized that my stance was derived from a government edited public school system, which had deceived me.

I found the condescension irritating and replied by saying, “You literally know nothing about me or the topic at hand. For your information I attended Catholic school for part of my education and spent three years at South Dakota School of Mines & Technology as a double major in physics and chemistry before having to put my education on hiatus because I got custody of my (then) kindergarten age daughter who was in school for half days and her education took priority when it came to the schedule conflicts between our respective schools. I am not one of these uneducated individuals that you can hope to sway without actually knowing what you’re talking about.

“In addition to my own education (and being exceptionally well-read) my best friend’s PhD work is in Middle Eastern Language and Culture, he (another white man of European descent, like myself) is fluent in numerous dialects of Arabic (to the extent that he is paid for translations to and from those languages), Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, and others. I do know what I’m talking about when I disagree with the uninformed statements that individuals like you and my friend are so eager to plaster online.”

She replied by saying that she was proud of me. I can’t quite tell if it was sincere or derisive. I’m opting to err on the side of caution and presume it was intended to be derisive though.

I continued, “Earlier in this dialogue you made a comment about how Islam propagates via the sword, and I feel the need to remind you of what Jesus said in Matthew, ‘Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.’ And Christian history is filled to the brim with examples of that being quite true, no less than the examples that you can provide of/for Islam. You claim that it’s only extremists within Christianity who spread hate and promote violence and the same is true of Islam or of Judaism. There are extremists within each of those cultures and they are no more representative of the whole. Islam is not the enemy. If our nation were to be invaded by a primarily Islamic force, Christians would be reacting with no less violence and hate than you are seeing from extremists over there when invaded by a primarily Christian force. After 9-11 there was a great deal of violence perpetrated against Muslims and individuals who simply appeared to possibly be Muslim (including both Hindi and Sikh practitioners) here in America, violence perpetrated largely by Christians; imagine how much worse it would be if a primarily Islamic army had invaded our nation and began exercising control. I don’t assume that those individuals are representative of Christianity as a whole…you should think a bit more about extending the same courtesy to Islam.”

Her response was to insist that there was not one reported case of violence against Moslems following 9-11, that I “drank the Cool Aid.” She further queried that if what I was saying were true, then why is Europe being lost to Islam? Her assumption was that I obviously only have an education in the areas that I was allowed to see and that I should check the other side for a while.

She also suggested that I check out Eric Allen Bell, an individual who previously worked with Michael Moore. He had been turned around while filming about the bigotry associated with the mosque in Tennessee.

I felt the need to correct her by saying, “Yes, there were numerous accounts of violence perpetrated against American Muslims and others who simply looked like they might be Muslim. Someone has indeed been drinking the Kool-Aid, and it hasn’t been me. Europe isn’t being lost to Islam. I know a lot of people in Europe, and there is no such nonsense transpiring there. However, if we wanted to pretend that was the case, Europe was already lost to the Christians not altogether that long ago as they went through and subjugated, killed, and converted everyone in the path. The same thing happened here in America even more recently. The same thing happened numerous times during the various Crusades. And there damn well is anger in Islam against Europe (as well there should be) since most of Europe was standing behind America and the UN as invaders throughout the Islamic world. In addition to that, it was Europeans who decided to arbitrarily determine that the Palestinians didn’t need the area that was then delineated as Israel…as if they had any right to reorganize political and social boundaries like that. I know a great deal about history, and about world events.”

In addition I felt it necessary to say, “Michael Moore is a hack who cherry picks and conveniently edits interviews to say what he wants…and Bell learned a lot from his time working with him.”

Her response was to imply that I was somehow missing a whole other side to the story and that I should educate myself and not simply, “read the approved text.” She followed that by insinuating that I might, myself, be a Moslem.

I was flabbergasted, to say the least, “Approved text? What sort of mental gymnastics are you performing? I read everything, everything that I can ever get my hands on…and I have large hands. I’m not a practitioner of Islam, I don’t subscribe to Christianity or Judaism, I’m not Mormon, I’m not a Buddhist (though I do actually admire some elements of the Buddhist philosophy, I recognize that it isn’t actually a religious practice in any real sense), and I’m not a Sikh or Hindu either. But I have read the major (and a lot of the minor) religious texts for each of those religions and more.

“The difference between you and I is that I don’t subscribe to some mindless Conservative agenda, I don’t read only those articles and texts that are recommended by the individuals working to further that agenda and I can change the channel and watch something other than Fox News.

“And before you start condemning me for being some sort of liberal brainwashing victim, I might want to let you know that I voted for G.W. Bush both terms (because I felt that neither Gore nor Kerry had a fucking clue how to run a country and Bush at least had his father to help guide him along, sadly that didn’t seem to happen, but it was what I was hoping for since G.W. himself was borderline retarded).”

I admit, I am ashamed to have admitted that part, seeing as how god-awful G.W. Bush was as both president and a human being…but mistakes were made, and I do still have to stand by my decision in voting for that insufferable jackass.

I continued, “I am the dirty little secret that the Republican Party wants to pretend doesn’t exist…I’m a primarily conservative atheist. 🙂 I’m an independent voter, but most of my political views tend towards the conservative rather than liberal bent. Hell, I didn’t start having issues with the Republican Party until they started pandering to the outspoken religious right, those people creep me the fuck out. If McCain had actually run when he was up against Obama the same way that he was running during the primaries that he lost to G.W. Bush, he might very well have gotten my vote…but he seemed to have tossed common sense and critical thinking out the window in order to cater to the vocal minority that is the religious right, and I was sorely disappointed. McCain used to be a sensible, intelligent, and well-spoken individual…but then he somehow lost his way, and the nail in his coffin was picking Palin as a running mate.

“So no… I’m not expressing the thoughts that I express because of some political agenda of my own…and it certainly isn’t because I’m a proponent of Islam. I think all of these religious traditions are ridiculous and that the world would be a better place if people would just grow up and stop obsessing about imaginary friends and the conflicts that they promote.”

There was no further dialogue. Perhaps I shared a bit too much about myself in those last few bits of conversation, but I felt the need to avoid the individual trying to claim that I was somehow perpetuating some myth put in place by liberals.

I thought that my few readers might enjoy having this conversation shared with them; I hope that I was correct in that assumption.

If you happen to have any opinions on the matter, feel free to comment, I enjoy conversation and would love to know what you readers happen to think.

Work In Progress #2 [Another Bit of Action]

The shotgun deafeningly tears through the woman’s legs, shredding everything near the knees and bringing her body to the ground.
The body doesn’t lay still for long. Only seconds after hitting the ground it is already struggling to drag its broken form back onto devastated legs. The words horrifying and pitiful mesh together in his head as he is forced to consider what he’s seeing while he watches the mindless creature desperately trying to accomplish the impossible just to get at him and presumably rip him to pieces with teeth and fingers that are already torn so badly that bone is protruding dangerously from some fingertips.
Mercy and anger urge the same reaction as he levels the barrel at the snarling face of the thing clumsily pulling itself towards him and he presses his index finger against the trigger. A mist of bone and blood, brain and flesh spreads out and paints the asphalt behind it as rhe woman flops dead to the pavement.
He stands there, staring down at the mess laying at his feet for a moment longer before tucking the gun against his chest and darting across the street hoping that he can distance himself from the scene before any of the other residents are drawn there by the shots he fired.

An Interesting Religious Discourse

This afternoon, before leaving for work, I became invested in a conversation that an old friend of mine was having. The conversation began when he posted something on Facebook that claimed that the Islamic culture condones rape, murder, terrorism, necrophilia, pedophilia, and bestiality; while simultaneously arguing that no such thing could be claimed with respect to the Christian faith which he adheres to. I couldn’t resist becoming involved.

“Actually”, I replied, “Rape is condoned in the bible…in multiple places throughout the Old Testament. Murder is repeatedly condoned and even pushed upon the chosen people as the right course of action; in fact, Abraham was asked to murder his own son only to have God step in and tell him that he was only testing him. Bestiality wasn’t and neither was necrophilia, you’re right there, but neither of those things are actually condoned in the Koran either…and pedophilia was condoned in all cultures at that time, up until recently (because what we consider pedophilia was nothing more than the usual time when children were of age to marry and bear children).”

At this point, someone else involved in the conversation stated that what I was saying would make no difference as the ‘friend’ in question does not believe in the Old Testament and considers it to be the word of the Jews.

To which I was forced to respond, “Well, Jesus himself stated quite clearly that he didn’t come to change a word of the law that came before him, that he wasn’t changing anything about what God had bestowed through the Old Testament.”

The response to my statements was to suggest that he was glad that I knew my Bible and that it was also a curse for me, he was sure.

Not knowing what he meant, I had to ask, “A curse? I’m afraid that I don’t follow your reasoning behind that.”

His response was that I would forever struggle, while suggesting that he would like to know of any ‘rape’ that could be found in the Bible.

“Struggle?” I asked, “I don’t experience any struggle from knowing the Bible or any other holy books. I guess that I just don’t know what you mean. As far as incidents of condoned rape…you can look to Judges 21, Deuteronomy 20, 21, and 22, Numbers 31, and easily another dozen or so places. Some of the same chapters have some very straightforward references to murder and infanticide as well. I’m curious as to how the repeated pushes for the murder of infants corresponds with the anti-abortion sentiments expressed by modern Christians.”

Another participant in the conversation then mentioned a Biblical reference from Numbers 31 which included multiple rapes, some genocide, as well as a great deal of murder and destruction.

“2nd Samuel has some really pleasant imagery regarding what was just stated,” was my follow up to that.

My ‘friend’ stated that none of this was condoned.

I was forced to return with, “God told them expressly to commit the rape. How is that not condoned?”

I opted to share the following verse:

Deuteronomy 21: 10-14:

10When thou goest forth to war against thine enemies, and the LORD thy God hath delivered them into thine hands, and thou hast taken them captive,
11And seest among the captives a beautiful woman, and hast a desire unto her, that thou wouldest have her to thy wife;
12Then thou shalt bring her home to thine house, and she shall shave her head, and pare her nails;
13And she shall put the raiment of her captivity from off her, and shall remain in thine house, and bewail her father and her mother a full month: and after that thou shalt go in unto her, and be her husband, and she shall be thy wife.
14And it shall be, if thou have no delight in her, then thou shalt let her go whither she will; but thou shalt not sell her at all for money, thou shalt not make merchandise of her, because thou hast humbled her.

“That, my friend, is rape. Forcibly taking a woman from her home after slaughtering her family (including possibly her husband), keeping her as property and having your way with her…that is rape. Try it today and you will spend a long time in prison (for murder, kidnapping, and rape).”

He replied by saying that those actions were not condoned by God or by Jesus.

I felt compelled to remind him, “That was God issuing those commands…according to the Old Testament. That is more than condoning it, that is forcing it.

“I hate to say this, my friend…but you really don’t seem altogether too familiar with anything pertaining to the Bible…seems a bit absurd to call yourself a Christian while knowing almost nothing about what your holy book happens to say about pretty much anything.”

He replied by insisting that those actions were from the Old Testament which was meant for Jews who were the only ones saved at that time and who got mad when God game the same grace to gentiles and changed the rules, that the old rules were no longer true. He continued by suggesting that those who know the Bible and do not live by the word and humble themselves before God are twice as bad off as those who do not.

I had no choice but to respond with, “There is no Christian faith that doesn’t accept the Old Testament. And Matthew 5 makes it very clear that Jesus did not change a word from the law of the Old Testament or of the prophets. And there is no place that says that those who know the Bible and do not live by the word are worse off than those who do. I do a better job of living a moral and respectable life than most of the Christians that I know…maybe because I actually do know what their Bible says and they simply accept the word of a man who interprets it and spits out twisted variations to suit their desires.”

His response was to say that he accepts Old Testament teachings as well as all Christians, that what he didn’t accept is my using the laws of the Old as those of the New because I know that this is not the truth.

“You really should take the time to actually read the book that you base your faith upon, I replied. “I was raised in a Catholic household, attended catechism classes every weekend throughout my childhood, and even attended Catholic school for two years. I have read the Bible from beginning to end, and snippets of different versions of it to compare them…as well as English translations of numerous other religious texts from other cultures. It is precisely because I am so familiar with these books and that I have studied various sciences and happen to use a good amount of common sense and critical reasoning that I don’t believe what you believe.

“The words of the Old Testament are no less valid than those of the New…nowhere in any version of the Bible does it claim that the New Testament supersedes the Old, replaces it in any way, or invalidates anything written within it.

“In addition to reading the Bible, my friend, I would recommend that you read Misquoting Jesus by Bart D. Ehrman…he’s a religious scholar from Chapel Hill. You might benefit from reading that as well. And, on the subject of reading, I’ll use this as a chance for shameless self promotion and recommend that you read Unspoken, by yours truly…there is no correlation between my novel and anything referenced in this conversation, but I’m trying to weasel in a plug for my book anyhow.”

His immediate reply was to state that Jews don’t believe in or study the New Testament and yet they still do not practice the same way that they used to. Further, he stated that Jesus never paid attention to the laws of the Old Testament, which was why the Jews were mad, and eventually had him killed.

“The Romans actually had him killed,” I returned, “the Jews were subordinates to the Roman rule of Jerusalem. There were some of a scholarly class of Jew that weren’t pleased with Jesus, but they didn’t have him killed. They had neither the political pull to force the Romans to do such a thing nor the sway within even the Jewish community.

“They don’t follow the New Testament because they don’t believe that Jesus was the promised messiah…and early Christianity was hugely conflicted on what they believed as well. It was only because of a Roman, Constantine (hundreds of years after the death of Christ), that the modern form of Christianity exists today…if you were to look back at the various forms of Christianity that existed prior to that, you would consider most of them absurd.”

My ‘friend’ accused me of cherry picking the Bible for the bits that best fit my argument and then proceeded to do precisely that with the Koran, pulling up references to Aisha and using them to promote his earlier argument about Islam condoning pedophilia.

I replied with, “Numbers chapter 31 has multiple references to young girls being taken by the chosen people at God’s behest. But I’m not saying that the Bible promotes pedophilia, nor the Koran. These young girls are no younger than the girls who were getting married during the settling of this country…it wasn’t pedophilia or considered to be at all wrong or unnatural until recently (and only in some cultures, even today).

“To try and state that either the Bible or Koran promotes pedophilia is to misinterpret what was said through a lens of our culture today. Today, it’s not acceptable for a man to take a 12 or 13-year-old girl as a wife, but that was totally fine less than 200 years ago, here in America. You’re wasting your time trying to argue that the Koran promoted pedophilia, my friend…it’s apples and oranges at best…and your own religious heritage promoted the same behavior.”

His retort was that I could condone anything when I believe in nothing.

“I don’t condone it,” I stated, “not in the least…but had any of us been living during the times of Jesus, Muhammad, or Abraham that is precisely what we would have been doing. It was the cultural norm for essentially every culture of the time…and it is still the norm for numerous cultures around the world.”

At this point he returned to commenting on Aisha, stating that she was 6.

I replied with what I had always believed to be true, “Actually, she was either 9 or 10 when she married Muhammad…which was a common age for marriage in the culture…and it wasn’t consummated until after that.”

His reply, which may be correct, was that she was 6 when she married Muhammad but that he didn’t penetrate her until she was 9 and that this sort of thing was still in practice in Islamic culture.

I was getting frustrated by this point when I responded by saying, “Hell, throughout European and American history we have countless examples of girls being promised to men well before the age of maturity…which is the same thing.”

His response was to insist that by arguing for it, I did in fact condone it.

“No, I argue that you’re distorting the facts in order to claim that there is a cultural precedent for pedophilia within the Islamic people…when the same precedent could be argued for your own faith and culture. There are still religious sects within Christianity (not mainstream, by any means) where young girls are promised to older men before they reach physical maturity as well. To argue that there are still Bedouin sects that do the same and apply it to all of that culture is no better than someone looking at those splinter branches of modern Christianity and accusing you of being complicit because you are also a Christian.”

I continued, “I don’t condone a number of things that are practiced in countless different cultures. I don’t condone a lot of what is done by our own culture here, but I’m not blind to it happening. Being aware and non hypocritical about it doesn’t equal condoning it. I’m in no position to judge the actions of a culture that I am removed from by a millennium or more…I can’t even properly comprehend the lifestyle of the people that lived in those days.”

He opted to change the subject then, by stating that he was glad that our morals come from Christianity, and that it was for this reason that I find those things to be wrong.

With no small amount of irritation, I said, “No! Most of the things that Christianity took as a moral code were well established centuries before there was anything even remotely like Christianity. In fact, a lot of the morality derives from pre-Judaic cultures of Babylon and Assyria…hell, Babylon was where a lot of the Old Testament stories and myths were derived from; during the time that the Jews were enslaved there, they adopted a lot of the myths of the Babylonian captors and then rewrote them to correspond with their own beliefs after being released.

“Our morals come from simply knowing what we don’t want to have done to us and applying that same judgment to people external to ourselves (an inverse of the golden rule). Kin selection and in-group, tribal components still apply, which is why it is easier for any culture to commit acts against another culture that they would never allow internally. We practice immoral acts against other cultures on a regular basis, and Christianity is guilty of that same thing just as much as any other religious or nation-state culture. Outsiders are still considered to be “something less” in a number of respects, and that sort of mentality is a remnant of our primitive origins.”

I took a brief respite from the conversation, and during this time my ‘friend’ said something about how God doesn’t want us to go to Hell and that the reason there is a Hell in the first place is because of our own sin and the disobedience of the Devil.

I found myself compelled to return to the conversation long enough to say, “Actually, regarding that whole Devil and disobedience thing; it couldn’t have happened, part of what separated man from angel is free will, angels didn’t have it. That was what it meant to be made in God’s image, to have will and to be able to shape the world according to that will, not that we looked like God…but that we were given volitional consciousness, something angels didn’t have. There could have been no rebellion without will to do so, and though this Lucifer was supposedly cast into the pit, he is right there in Heaven with God in the book of Job, testing the faith of God’s most loyal servant on Earth.”

That was the end of the conversation for me. I had no interest in continuing any further. For those of you who are unaware, I am an atheist and not the least bit apologetic about it. I wasn’t participating in the conversation to be antagonistic or mean spirited, but because the subject interests me.

What scares me is that my ‘friend’ is far from the only person who believes the things that he does believe, and he votes. I have plenty of religiously inclined friends and acquaintances, but it’s this sort of uninformed and ignorant belief structure that my ‘friend’ exhibits that terrifies me.

Work In Progress #2 [Attempting To Hide, Draft 1] (Yes, I know that I shift the tense throughout, I haven’t figured out which I want to use for the novel or even written this whole chapter)

Moving silently was made substantially easier for Miles with the downpour and frequent thunder masking any noises that he made; but he was painfully aware that the same muffling was working against him being aware of any potential threats that he would want to hear coming.

He needed to just find somewhere to duck away from the storm and his pursuers long enough to get his bearings and establish some sort of plan of action. He hoped that everyone else was having better luck than he currently was, finding some sort of safe haven. Hopefully they were all still together. Maybe Gale had gotten them all back to his house and they were securely holed up and waiting for him right now. He damn well needed to do the same thing for himself or he was going to wind up just as dead as Kateb.

The rain was colder than he would have liked and his clothing was sticking uncomfortably to his skin. He wanted nothing more at the moment than to get out of this fucking torrent; he wanted the fuck out of this god-awful town and to be as far away as possible from the crazy assholes that lived here, but first he wanted out of the rain.

He had seen a lot of terrible shit when he was overseas, a lot of things that made very little sense, but none of what he had seen even in Afghanistan or Northern Africa compared to the sheer, unreal insanity of what he had been seeing in this small Idaho town.

Hidden behind a sturdy privacy fence, he saw what might actually be the first lucky break of the night. The lights were out in the house and there was no apparent movement anywhere around him, but he was damned if the door to the backyard wasn’t wide open and swaying slightly with the breeze.

He made his way to the gate facing the alley and tested the latch, relieved to find that it opened without any difficulty. The door to the house is indeed open, he was hoping that it hadn’t been an illusion played by shadows as he made his way down the dark alley.

It takes every trace of willpower that Miles has to keep from going right for the door, but he can’t just ignore the situation that he was in. He makes his way from window to window, peering in through the lower corners, long enough to see that nothing is moving inside and that there is an unoccupied laundry room on the other side of the open door. There appeared to be another door at the far end of the room, which was a good thing, it gave him a buffer between himself and whoever might be lurking in the darkness of the structure.

He stood in the almost absolute darkness, listening for any sound, no matter how slight, that might not be caused by the storm going on outside. His ear pressed against the door leading to the interior of the house, he could hear nothing that indicated that anyone was home, so he built up the nerve to test the handle, as slowly as he could turn it.

An empty kitchen waits for him on the other side, only marginal light coming in through the blinds from the distant light down the alley. There appears to be a living room through the arch ahead of him and to the left. He doesn’t want to go any further into the house. He wants nothing more than to just stand there dripping onto the linoleum floor until there isn’t a trace of moisture left on his clothing, but he needs to check things out and make sure that he’s as safe here as he wants to believe he is.

Miles crosses the dark kitchen, his movements slow and deliberate. The house appeared empty as he crossed the backyard and peered through the first floor windows that faced the ally, but that was no guarantee that the occupants weren’t present. The door into the kitchen from the laundry room had been unlocked at least and kept him from having to force his way through, and he had let himself in with all of the stealth that he could manage.

He stood silently in the entryway between the kitchen and living space for close to five minutes, listening to the silence of the place, attuned to the slightest whisper of his breathing until the sound of his own pulse in his ears echoed like a drum. He didn’t make the slightest motion until he assured himself that nothing moved in the almost pitch black interior of the residence.

His foot descends softly and the faintest creak of the floorboard beneath causes him to immediately shift his full weight back to the other. His breath halts mid-exhale and his eyes widen as he scans his surroundings with sweeping movements of his eyes; his head stationary, like the rest of his body, as still as a living statue, each muscle tensed to react at the slightest impetus.

Even within the structure he is aware that the noise couldn’t have been a fraction of the volume that it was to him, but he was unwilling to risk the possibility of being discovered by anyone that might be there. There was no chance of the sound carrying beyond the walls, but still Miles worries that his misstep could draw the attention of either of the threats currently roaming the town.

In the den he discovers something that makes him want to cry tears of gratitude, above the mantle is an older pump action shotgun. He moved as quickly as stealth would allow and slid the gun from the hooks that held it in place like he was receiving communion.

 

(Gap in narrative, still unwritten)

 

In the darkness something latches onto him with hands like a hungry animal, clawing at him and struggling to pull him towards it, or it towards him. Either way it amounts to the same thing.

The shotgun in Miles’ hands erupts with an almost deafening explosion and the hands are no longer there holding onto him. Something wet and visceral hits the ground a few feet from where he stands. Almost immediately he begins walking backward slowly towards the open doorway that he knows is there, and he can hear the hungry thing in the darkness shifting itself around, breath gurgling in its throat.

It drags itself across the floor, the gender that it might have been before disguised by the severity of its wounds. Still it moves inexorably forward, desperate to reach its prey even as the final traces of life begin to dissipate within it. There is no question though, that it should be dead already, that its momentum should have ceased some time before; but somehow it just keeps dragging itself along, leaving a trail of blood punctuated by viscera at irregular intervals.

Miles had seen some terrible things in combat, been party himself to some of the most monstrous actions that one human being can perform against another, but in the minute or so that he had spent watching this creature crawl its way towards him in the half light, he felt bile surging against his esophagus.

Worse than the appearance; the hoarse, guttural groan that issues from its ravaged throat forces Miles’ teeth to clench.

Finally he raises the table leg that he wields like a sledgehammer and he brings it crashing down onto its skull, again and again until he can no longer distinguish between the sounds of splintering wood and bone. So much more silent than the shotgun that had initially shredded its body had been. He finally takes a moment to mutter a prayer to any gods that might be listening that the sound of gunfire hadn’t seemed to attract the attention of others like the thing he has just dispatched, perhaps within the same house.

“This simply cannot be happening,” Miles whispers to himself as he begins to analyze what he can remember of the town’s layout, working out the best route available to him back to Gale’s home and the SUV that he left parked there.

Everyone would be making their way there as well, if they weren’t already there, anyone still alive at least. But the rest of them didn’t know about the firearms and ammunition that Miles carried in a false compartment in the back, so he muses hopefully that Gale is armed, or he makes it back there quickly enough to make a difference. It seems that his obsessive preparations for terrible scenarios finally proves itself to be worthwhile.

My Thoughts After Curiosity’s Landing

I am so pleased to see that the landing on Mars was pulled off without a hitch. My friend Ryan suggested that the degree of difficulty alone should earn JPL an Olympic gold medal for each of the engineers involved in the Curiosity landing. After all, we stuck our landing from 35 million miles away. I concur, it’s god damn right, no one really seems to comprehend just how difficult it was to accomplish what that team of scientists and engineers made look so simple.

Ryan works in a hotel and apparently one of the mouth breathers that he checked in as a guest yesterday informed him that the only reason we sent a rover to Mars was because Democrats think we’re destroying the environment and they sold the government on colonization. A truly absurd declaration, a bit paranoid and ill informed, but it did get me thinking about colonization.

Colonization of Mars is, or should be, an imperative without any need to sell a particular government on the idea. Only the functionally retarded would think that it was part of some insidious agenda to suggest such a thing. If you lived in immediate proximity to an active volcano, you fucking move away from it…if you have an ounce of common sense.

The same goes for us as a species. The further we spread out, the safer we are. Colonizing Mars may be expensive, but we damn well should be doing it. Not because we have fucked up our environment here on Earth, but because we are no more safe here than the goddamn dinosaurs were.

The reality is that we aren’t prepping for colonization, no matter how much we should be. Curiosity is all about trying to increase our knowledge and understanding of the universe around us…and the first real steps are to become more familiar with our neighborhood.

I find it sad that we don’t have human beings on the surface of Mars already. At the very least we should have adaptive intelligence of some kind there…a rover with the capacity to redefine mission parameters to suit the conditions it discovers. Even if it isn’t cost effective to send a human being, we should be sending a swarm of networked robots…something with an approximation of a neural network, something that can learn as it goes, troubleshooting and problem solving.

Maybe we should send death row inmates, get them some training and ship a bunch of them to Mars; put them to use collecting samples, collating data, and constructing long-term habitats. The same sort of thing worked for Australia. Give them the opportunity to give something back to the society that has otherwise been providing their care and well-being since incarceration. Hell, the responsibility and need to depend on one another for survival might actually rehabilitate them in a way that no known prison system ever could.

The irony, Ryan says, is that he would go out and kill someone just for a ticket to Mars. I can’t even blame him for it. But, if we were committed to sending human beings out there, I imagine that we would be sending volunteers as well…something akin to the Homesteader’s Act back in the mid-1800s here in America. I would probably sign up for that, even if it was guaranteed to be a one-way ticket with a higher than normal risk of fatality.

Collect a mixed bag of volunteers, criminals, and the like…put them through an astronaut/scientist boot camp…a few months of study and preparation…ship them off to the red planet. Drop supplies and equipment beforehand as well as additional supplies and such along with the passenger transports, redundancy is key when it comes to proper engineering…make sure that there is more than is necessary to insure that there is enough to fit the needs of the colonists.

We could get a couple hundred people up there on Mars; digging tunnels, establishing habitats, setting up greenhouses, water reclamation systems, and scientific outposts. Fuck terraforming, just set up pockets of safe, secure, underground inhabitation zones. Underground colonies would be our safest bet. Dig and dig, reinforce the walls with combinations of concretes and plastics to hold in our artificial atmosphere.

We could easily have a few thousand people living permanently on Mars in less than a century and thus we would have increased our odds of survival dramatically.

There is little to no core activity on Mars, no active volcanic behavior or quakes. They would be safer living underground than we are above. The thinner atmosphere makes those terrifying looking storms nothing more than dust storms, not even enough to damage household window glass; so we could easily build domes for above ground purposes.

Surround Mars with satellites for GPS and communication purposes and it would ultimately be no more inconvenient than living on Earth, but with a sense of wonder and exploration that is lacking here.

Experiment with breeding flora that can thrive outside of domes and caverns, some fauna as well; it could open up huge new avenues of exploration for genetics and agriculture.

And, best of all, once we have firmly shown that we can survive and thrive there on Mars; we could jump to the next option, Ganymede (which is barely smaller than Mars) and possibly Callisto.

From Jupiter orbits we would have a suitable base of operations for studying Europa. I envision massive submarine cities anchored to the underside of the ice on Europa, or slowly floating through the oceans there.

From there we can spread out to the moons around Saturn and Neptune, maybe even Pluto/Charon. Hell, there’s no really good reason not to go further and set up smaller colonies on the larger Kuiper Belt objects.

There’s no good reason not to do any of these things. There’s nothing to say that we couldn’t have colonies of at least hundreds (if not thousands) of people littering the solar system, including permanent station-based orbital colonies within the asteroid belt.

The economic forces could change substantially, with no need for Earth-based products given adequate time especially on the larger, nearer Earth colonies.

The asteroid colonies could be hollowing out larger bodies, turning asteroids into hollowed out structures for additional colonization; or, better yet, into durable substrates for additional exploration, cored asteroids as vessels.

Even if we acted conservatively we could easily have people exiting the solar system in less than a thousand years. By all rights though, even if we took our sweet time I see no reason why we couldn’t have huge colonies all over the solar system in less than 500 years. The Americas have been colonized from the European expansion for only about that long and look what we’ve built.

Some of those transoceanic voyages for our ancestors took just as long as the voyages between planets would require, and were far more costly both in terms of proportionate economics and human survival.

Just having a network of humanity spread out through our own solar system would greatly increase our knowledge. The discoveries we would experience are greater than I can actually imagine (not having been out there). Who knows how vast our understanding of the universe could become from something so small. The social implications alone would be amazing, to learn how cultures would change and evolve from one colonized region to the next. Over thousands of years we could even begin to see small changes in our species as different gravities, atmospheres, and keys to survival impacted natural selection.

The payout from colonization of just nearby regions of the moon, Mars, and the asteroid belt could be massive. They could easily become self-sustained with no further need of anything from Earth, and they could even provide resources that would more than return the initial investment.

All we have are excuses as to why we aren’t doing these things…no reasons.

We should have underground cities on the moon and Mars already…they should have been established since before I even reached my 20s. These were things that should have been done right along with the assembly of the ISS. We might have brought nations together in ways that we have otherwise never been able to manage.

How long before people forget about being Japanese, American, Palestinian…and begin to see themselves in the more realistic terms of being Martian, Lunar, Jovian, or whatever? That might be what it takes to beat the reality into our thick fucking human skulls.

How petty and stupid would imaginary borders look from the perspective of people who are millions of miles away, separated literally by being worlds apart.

We live in a world of myopic, juvenile little nation states…populated by people who are somehow stupid enough to believe that an imaginary line drawn in the sand makes me a citizen here, but four steps in another direction a foreigner. That is ludicrous beyond belief.

That’s all; I just wanted to babble a little bit. Hopefully it wasn’t terribly disjointed and impossible to follow.