If I had my way, my holiday wish list would consist of books, and book related things. I would also have a huge dusty library complete with moving wall ladder, and leather club chairs. I don’t think old St. Nick is going to be able to fit that one in his sleigh. So… It’s back to fantasy for me. I have narrowed it down to my five top book related picks for Christmas. These happen to be mine so if you disagree that’s fine, diversity in taste is key for a more rounded human experience.
This is one that I can actually scratch off this list. I purchased this book the other day, and I am enjoying it so much I wanted to share it with you. Walter Isaacson is a master Biographer. In the years prior he’s written about Steve Jobs to Benjamin Franklin and many others. Isaacson delivers a story in this one, not just a history lesson. I recommend it to people who want to be inspired.
I said at the start of this post that it would be book related things as well. This new Kindle looks amazing, and it’s waterproof. But I do have to say that when your kindle is six years old, any newer Kindle looks amazing.
This is the start of that library I talked about at the beginning of this post. I would have to say the biggest problem for any book lover is space, whether you’re talking electronically or wood space.
This guest post comes to you from a longtime friend of mine, Nick Gideon. Nick is a lyricists, writer, and a no nonsense type of guy. I have never known Nick to mince words. The story in this post is quite unbelievable, but if Nick says it happened, it most certainly did. When I read it I didn’t know whether to laugh, or cry. It seems certain skills have gone by the way side…
The year 2015. The ineptly named Information Age of Earth. Satellites orbit the planet, transmitting invisible terabytes of information on any and all topics one could imagine, to any and all wishing to access it. We can instantly touch millions of people across the globe through social media, empowering the (in)significant individual with the ability to communicate their thoughts, feelings, and worst of all, their goddamned opinions, to every other human being on the planet in the blink of an eye. At the touch of a few buttons on a myriad selection of multi-colored hand held electronic devices, one can be plugged in to the Information Superhighway. Surely this achievement in broad based real time electronic communication is a victory, no… a triumph in the eons-old struggle to give as well as receive information, right? Surely this wealth of knowledge at our fingertips will usher in a new era of enlightenment, yes? As long as the servers are serving, and Apple keeps crapping out I-Phones, a veritable cornucopia of information awaits for any and all who seek it. Science and Technology have given us a glimpse into our technologically-enhanced futures…and doomed us all.
I often contemplate where the line between technological advancement for the benefit of human culture, and technological advancement just for the sake of consumerism has been drawn. Spoiler alert! It hasn’t. I remember an old Star-Trek The Next Generation episode where Picard and the crew beam down to a planet to observe what they deemed to be a primitive human culture. Upon further observation, it was learned that these particular humans had more or less turned their backs on the trappings of a technological society in favor of a simpler, more basic existence. When Picard asked one of the leaders of this “primitive” society why their culture had made this choice, the reply was simple, and has resonated in the back of my mind every day since. He said confidently to Picard, “When you create a machine to do a Man’s job, you take something away from the Man.”
Shit just got real.
To quantify this profound alien’s statement, you must indulge me, and allow me to regale you with an anecdote from my personal life. My very recent personal life, in fact…
While in an elevator recently, I happened to strike up a casual conversation with a group of teenagers. I did not ask their specific ages, but I’m going to ballpark them around 15 or 16 years old. These three guys and two girls were obviously conversing about some sort of school project or report as they entered the elevator. As they joined me in the elevator and selected their floor, one of the girls exasperated that her internet was down, and her project was due very soon. As all of her friends groaned, I chimed in with “Looks like an all-nighter with the Encyclopedia for you.”
They looked at me like I was smoking crack in a leopard print Hitler costume. (which, I assure you, I was not. It’s against Nevada state law to smoke in an elevator.)
The looks of abject confusion and shock told me I had clearly befuddled, and possibly frightened them. Of course, this was followed by about 4 more floors worth of uncomfortable silence. Finally, the bravest one couldn’t take it anymore, and asked me…
“What was that word you just said?”
All 10 eyes eagerly awaited my answer.
“Encyclopedia?” I half questioned, half replied.
“Yeah! That one!” he said, and I shit you not, all 5 of them immediately grabbed their phones and Goggled the word encyclopedia.
Shit just got real dumb.
Needless to say, I had to bite my lip VERY hard to keep from losing it, just on general principle. My mind was reeling from the concept that mine might have been the last generation in this country to know how to do anything at all, even look up a topic in an encyclopedia, without a cell phone.
Certainly, I am not blind to the fact that every single American generation since the first has hated and despised the generations that have followed subsequently, at least to some degree. For we can all hearken back to our younger days when grandfathers told tales of 5 mile barefoot walks to school in blizzard conditions, and the like. Spoiler Alert 2! That’s how old folks call young people pussies. Because the implication is that we could not have hacked it before the advent of the modern conveniences we enjoy now. Are our lives easier? Undoubtedly. Are our lives better? Who knows?
But, understand, the irony is not lost on me. I am the kind of person that has a thirst and aptitude for knowledge of any kind… except mathematics. I recall my own parallel experience as a 16 year old student who spent most of his sophomore year of high school with an algebraic boot in his ass. I kept thinking to myself…when or why will I need this? Why would this shit even be necessary to know?
And thus, the parallel…, the irony. My rationale was that if there is a hand held device called a calculator, that I can fit in my pocket and take with me, that will automatically do these complex calculations for me, then I don’t need to waste my time and energy learning this ridiculous nonsense.
Hypocrisy is the truly the greatest luxury.
Extrapolate my previous view of the relationship between learning mathematics and calculators to basically any given manual task. These young folks have GPS to tell them where they are, where they are going. Can any of them read a map? Or, dare I ask, a compass? They have Google and Yahoo to give them answers that they seek. Did any of the Useless Five (as they forever in infamy shall be known) know what an encyclopedia was? Where one was? What to do with it when they found one? Apparently not.
Maybe I’m just reaching that point in my life where I think “the country is going to hell” with every cell in my body, like countless men before me. Maybe every other young generation that came before mine thought they would change the world, and did, and then watched it all taken for granted and trivialized by the subsequent and following generations. Maybe I’m just some very logical dude who thinks if our youth is so technologically dependent that no one knows how to locate and operate a fucking reference book, it could get very ugly very quickly. Perhaps, however, unlike the previous generations, we actually are witnessing the tide turn. Could it be possible that we are living in time when our society has truly been reduced to pre-programmed consumer cattle; not only unable to think for ourselves, but unable to manually find answers even if we wanted to without the help of manufactured devices to do the work for us?
And people said my generation’s baggy pants were bad…
In celebration of me finishing Walter, my short story “A World Without” is free once again. Give it a read, and leave a review!
“If the one person in your life you loved the most was there one second and gone the next what would you do? You would explore every possibility to get them back. Losing someone is a bone crushing, soul emptying experience, but now it doesn’t have to be! At NorWorld, we prolong life through A.I. We take away the suffering with Technology.” – Dr. Thad Feast
Anthony and his wife Susan love each other very much. So much they can’t let go.
This is a short story from the up coming NorWorld series By Ernie Howard.
“At Norworld, we prolong life through A.I. We take away the suffering with technology.”
The guy looked like a CIA agent, complete with plain black suit and sunglasses, that were not needed since it was almost dark. In one well manicured hand he held an envelope that had the name in question written in what looked like old cursive, or calligraphy. The envelope was old, it was browning at the edges and looked like it would fall apart at the slightest touch. I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. Every time I glanced up at the man, my eyes would dart back down, as if the paper were made from a magnet exclusively for the two round objects that fit neatly in my skull.
I was not Steven James, the mysterious man who gets hand delivered letters from guys dressed up like secret service. No, I wasn’t him, but at that moment I wanted to be him. It seemed his life was a lot more interesting than mine. Bet he wasn’t an assistant manager of a gas and sip, who came home every night to sit alone and watch bad TV and eating bad food.
The man extended the envelope towards me, and not even thinking I said “Yes I am,” and snatched the note from his hand. He gave me a smirk as if saying he knew damn well I wasn’t who I said I was, making me instantly want to give him the envelope back. “Humanity thanks you.” He said. The man tipped his head as he walked away. I could hear his footfalls echoing, each one making the foreboding feeling that had come over me almost unbearable. I turned around to tell him the truth of my identity, and give him back the letter, but he was gone like he had become one with the molecules in the air.
The envelope seemed to burn in my hand. It wanted to be open, the note wanted to be read.
I opened the envelope. The brittle paper crumbled in my hands. Glue that had been sealed long ago obliterated into dust, leaving my hands a chalky yellowish color. The note looked newer, and was folded in classic letter style. I unfolded the paper methodically, relishing the moment even being overcome with the most horrible fear. It said in big red letters, “Look behind you.” As I turned I felt the cold hand of death on my shoulder, and then I was staring it in the face.
The emptiness is what I remember most. Where my soul resides is a dark place where monsters lurk in every corner. Yes my friends, hell is not the fire and brimstone kind of hell. Hell resides in your mind, on a Tuesday, when your bored, and coming home from work.
Oh are you wondering what I saw…? Well I saw nothing.
Other writing by me that you can find on Amazon. Click the images if you have further interest.
James didn’t believe he deserved any of the things in his apartment. The big screen TV sitting on the solid oak entertainment center was a constant reminder of how he didn’t deserve to be alive. His chest moving up and down was a constant reminder. He didn’t deserve to be alive after what he had done. Not after the screeching tires broken glass, blood, and the screams. Oh god the screams. The screams woke him up at night.
Everyone told him it wasn’t his fault, even his parents. But every time he looked into their eyes he saw how they felt. It was there. The place behind their eyes, as obvious as a blinking light. “You killed her.” It said. “You killed our baby girl, you killed your sister.” Non of the late night crying sessions with his mother, or the reassuring pats on the back from his father made the blinking light go away.
Sara never wanted to wear her seatbelt. James never made her. She was 20 years old and an adult, at least on paper. Gone were the days of being big brother. He wished he had endured the eye roll and made her wear the damn thing. He relived that moment backing out of the drive way every day for the last 2 years, going over every detail, the sun setting, his sisters hair blowing across her face, the flash of the truck bumper, the screams, and then silence. He couldn’t relive that moment anymore, and he wasn’t going to. The gun he purchased a day ago would remedy that. One bullet and things would be set right. One pull of the trigger and the agonizing guilt would be laid low like the bad guy in a spaghetti western.
The gun sat like a brick in the palm of his hand as he raised it to his temple. He felt a lightness come over him. In two years he hadn’t felt this good. This is right, he thought.
He almost pulled the trigger when he heard the knock at the door. The suddenness of the rap left him confused for a second and made him think the gun had gone off and ended his miserable life. He looked around the room, and everything was as it was. James got up from the couch and walked like a zombie to the door. He leaned his head against the hard wood, exhausted by just a few feet. He contemplated going back to the couch and getting on with it.
The door vibrated against his head as he leaned. His desperate feeling turning to anger. He looked through the peephole. The image on the other side of the door wavered as James’ eye adjusted finally focusing on a face he had not seen in 2 years. His sisters face looked perfect. Beautiful like he always remembered. He sighed and opened the door, not glancing back at the physical deed done. Not looking at the wreckage that laid on the couch clutching cool hard steel.
If you liked this story, you can purchase my short story, “A World Without” on Amazon. Just click the image.
Your life is clicking by you one second at a time. Those goals you had yesterday are still rattling around in your head today. You tell yourself all you need is time. Your missing time with your kids, friends, and loved ones and you still tell yourself you wish you had more time. You do. TURN OFF YOUR TV.
1) Your life is clicking by you one second at a time. Those goals you had yesterday are still rattling around in your head today. You tell yourself all you need is time. Your missing time with your kids, friends, and loved ones and you still tell yourself you wish you had more time. You do. TURN OFF YOUR TV.
2) TV has always been a way to control the hearts and minds of the masses. The powers that be are using you. They look at you as a mindless consumer/voter/taxpayer. You watch your “Programs” while they program you. TURN OFF YOUR TV.
3) Life is about experiencing it. Your life. Not the lives of mindless idiots who air their dirty laundry for everyone to see, and who you feel you relate to. Lets hope you don’t. TURN OFF YOUR TV.
4) The news is not informative, and it is not news. It is entertainment, it has always been entertainment, and it is fear based. The news would have you believe that everyone is out to get you, your family, your things, and your freedom… But the reality is the great majority of people are just like you. How could they not be like you! They have TV’s and they are fed the same bullshit you are fed everyday. Most people want a little bit of peace and happiness.TURN OFF YOUR TV.
5) Commercials are designed to hit on your emotion centers, and are fear based as well. Buy this crap and you’ll be beautiful! Purchase this car and you’ll be just like the Jones. You want to be like the Jones don’t you? What they don’t tell you is that the Jones don’t exist and if they did, you would hear about how Mr and Mrs Jones got into a fight and are getting a divorce, and little Bobby Jones is crying himself to sleep at night. There is no competition between you or anyone. And if you think there is… You watch to much TV. TURN OFF YOUR TV.
6) You were not put on this planet to mindlessly stare at a box with moving pictures. Consuming and competing with the people around you. But TV tells you to drink the soda/beer, Cheer for this team, or hey did you hear who won on that dancing, or singing show (art is not a competition by the way). Your life is ticking by my friends. Turn the game off and actually throw the football with your kids. In the spirit of camaraderie, and physical fitness. But do it mainly just to spend time with the people you love.TURN OFF YOUR TV.
7) You learn very little from watching other people do things. You have to experience things up close and personal while doing them with an open mind. If you want to know how to live off the land, you have to be taught in person while you are doing it. You will not learn how to do that by watching a marathon of Survivor Man Reruns. TURN OFF YOUR TV.
8) “Well I watch TLC, or the History channel.” Wanna know how screwed TV is? To actually watch quality shows on those two channels you have to pay for the premium TLC, and History channel. The regular old TLC plays Honey Boo Boo these days. TURN OFF YOUR TV.
9) TV lowers your attention span so much that the average person cannot stay focused for one damn minute these days. And it isn’t good for your kids. Little Jimmy is not doing horrible in school because he is a genius and hes bored. Hes doing horrible in school because he watches to much TV (and plays to many damn video games, but that’s a whole other blog post) and has the attention span of a jack rabbit on crack! Do little Jimmy a favor, have him go outside and use his imagination. Or god forbid you could have him read a book! TURN OFF YOUR TV.
10) Leaving the TV on when you sleep can alter your dreams! You’re not only affected by it when you are awake, but when you’re sleeping! TV was made to program you into a subservient, tax paying slave. It was made so you don’t question, and think for yourself. It was made so you wouldn’t see the infinite power and intelligence you hold inside of you, just waiting to get out. TURN OFF YOUR TV.
The seconds are clicking by in your life. On average most Americans watch four hours of television a day. 4 hours X 365 = 1460 hours a year. That is roughly 60 days of your life you are devoting to people who tell you what to consume into your body, what to wear, how to act, how to talk, your moral compass etc… Do you not think that the powers that be would take advantage of that?
Think of all the things you could do with that time… You could change your life.
I am obsessed with the old Twilight Zone episodes. One of my favorites is “The Parallel.” If you haven’t seen it I suggest you do. The story is about an astronaut orbiting the earth whose communication systems stop functioning and he blacks out. he wakes up back on earth with no memory on how he got there. When he finally meets back up with his family everything is the same, just with subtle differences. I won’t tell you the ending.
A month ago I was looking at my 15 month old baby boy. I watched him play with his new plastic truck as he squealed with joy. My eyes went from him to my wife, and back. I had been blessed with such happiness that I could not believe I deserved. This little piece of the big world was mine. This is my reality and believe me I cherish and would guard it with my life if I had too.
After a while of letting the joy I felt in that moment wash over me, dark thoughts started to creep. The darkest one being what would I do if I lost my family, or if something within my life were to drastically change. This is a normal thing for me because I started watching the Twilight zone at age 8, and started reading Stephen King novels at age 13.
I started thinking what it would be like to come home to an empty house. The routine of my life gone and never to return… It gave me a stomach ache just to think about it. Don’t get me wrong. I love silence and being by myself every once in a while, but to never walk through the door and hear my sons squeals of laughter, or feel my wife’s hands around me ever again… Just writing about it makes me shudder.
So to be exercising the demons so to speak, I wrote a story of a husband and wife. It was amazing how fast it came out of my over active, and somewhat demented brain. The short story is called “A World Without.” It is short and sweet, I didn’t want to stay in that world for too long. I hope you enjoy it. Click the book cover below to purchase it on Amazon Kindle.