Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Register to vote/Check your voter status


It seems every four years the political talking heads come out and say that “This election is the most important election of the modern era.” And you know what, for 2020, they might actually be right.  Because whether you think everything is hunky-dory, or you think the best description of the country is a dumpster fire, there will be major repercussions whoever wins this November.

Now you could just sit back and say, “Why bother voting when the system is broken?” Well, one aspect of why the system is broken is because too many people don’t bother being a part of it.  The only way to have a government that reflects the country is if the majority of the people participated in choosing that government.  Our government is not perfect – it’s very, very far from perfect – but not voting is you saying you’ll just take whatever happens.  And if you don’t like what you’re given, well, you can’t complain because you had the chance to make your voice heard and chose not to.

The way to make your voice heard is to register to vote.  How to register should be laid out on your state’s website.  But even if you’ve already registered, you should take the time to check your registration status, which I think is an option on most state websites.  (You may also wish to double check on your polling place.)  An important reason to do this now, is that there are several reasons why your status could be wrong: you moved and forgot to update it, a clerical error, or maybe you were caught up in an overly enthusiastic purge.  Whatever the reason, if you check now and find a problem you can get it all worked out before Election Day.  Election Day is hectic enough without people waiting in line only to find out there’s an issue.

So register to vote, or check your status, so everything will be in order come November 3rd and you can make sure your voice will be heard, in this, the most important election of the modern era.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Fourth of July Sale!

For the last few years, I’ve tried to have a free sale for my ebook of political stories, Political Pies, around the Fourth of July.  But this year – because of everything – I figured I’d include a few of my other ebooks as well.  So if you are so disgusted with real politics you don’t want to even read fictional politics, you have a few other choices.  All of these will be free to download from Wednesday July 1st, through Sunday July 5th.  So grab them before you get too drunk.

Political Pies

Everybody complains about politics, but does anyone do anything about it? My attempt to do something about it is to collect forty of my short stories with a political element into this anthology. The stories are either politically neutral or equally condemning of the national parties. Instead of trying to sway you to one ideology or another, my goal is to just get people thinking about politics in the hopes a rose might grow out of all the political manure.

A Man of Few Words

A Man of Few Words is a collection of fifty of my flash fiction stories. What would really happen if a “T-Rex on steroids” attacked a city? Why do science fiction writers make the best lovers? How does a company get to Second Base with VIPs? I explore these questions and more using less than 1000 words and in various genres from humor to horror and general fiction to science fiction.

The Moon Before Mars: Why returning to the moon makes more sense than rushing off to Mars

Over the last few years a lot of people have caught Mars fever. It seems a week doesn’t go by without a report of some new group wanting to send people to Mars, or some big name in the industry talking about why we have to go to Mars, or articles talking about the glorious future humanity will have on Mars. All of this worries me. In my opinion, a Mars base is currently not sustainable because there’s no way for it to make money. A few missions may fly doing extraordinary science, but if it’s then cancelled for cost the whole Mars Project may just be seen as an expensive stunt.

Fortunately, there are other places in the solar system besides Mars. While bases on the moon and amongst the asteroids won’t be as inspirational as one on Mars, they will have opportunities for businesses to make goods and services as well as profits, meaning less chance of them being outright cancelled. This will make life better on Earth and secure a firm foothold in space for humanity. The essays in “The Moon Before Mars: Why returning to the moon makes more sense than rushing off to Mars” allow me to describe my ideas on what can be accomplished on the moon and with the asteroids, and why Mars isn’t the destiny of humanity its cheerleaders make it out to be.

Duty

Who cleans up the mess when the time machine malfunctions?

A Cabin Under a Cloudy Sea and other stories

Hopefully, in the not too distant future humans will return to the moon. We will build bases and colonies, make farms and factories, and live, love and learn. “A Cabin Under a Cloudy Sea and other stories” contains five of my short stories that are all set upon the moon. They give the tiniest glimpse of the possibilities awaiting us there.


Monday, January 13, 2020

Too young to die for the country


I work in a store to pay my bills.  One of the things we sell are cigarettes.  Recently, the age to buy them was raised from 18 to 21.  This has upset a few people.  Oddly, the people upset seem to all be in the thirties who proudly announce that they are non-smokers. 

The common argument seems to be “If they’re old enough to fight in a war, they should be old enough to buy cigarettes.” And, they have a point.  It does seem odd that people that can get shot at or watch their friend get turned inside out by a roadside bomb shouldn’t buy cigarettes because they’re dangerous. 

Ignoring the idea that the human brain apparently doesn’t fully mature until we are in our mid-20s, which is why – from some vaguely remembered article I read years ago – some people argue that the age for buying beer and cigarettes should be older.  It’s far easier to damage younger brains.

But ignoring that, I wondered what if we switched things up.  What if we didn’t send people to war until they were 21?  People could still join the military at 18, go through all their training, but then get stationed either within the US, or in some safe allied nation, like Germany.  Only older troops would be sent to possibly hostile areas, like Iraq.

Wouldn’t that hinder our capabilities in a war? you ask.  Well, the way around that is that whenever Congress votes on a bill declaring war, they’d just stick in an amendment saying that the age restrictions would be lifted for the conflict. 

The biggest problem, that I can see, would be unit cohesion.  Right now a unit has people of various ages in it and you can’t just send 20% of a unit overseas because everyone else is under 21.  Of course, if this was a direction we went in, there would be ways to work around the problem.  It’s almost funny that – at one point – the ancient Romans had almost the opposite set up.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

A Random Electoral College fix


In the last few days I’ve seen a lot of … “discussion” over the Electoral College.  Some are demanding doing away with it, while others are shocked at the mere suggestion of doing such a thing.  My opinion is that the Electoral College is a flawed system.  My experience has been that many of the supporters of the college either flat out ignore these flaws, or take the nihilistic view that any attempt to fix these flaws would just create new flaws so why bother.

In this atmosphere, I’ve come up with an alternate plan to “fix” the Electoral College by making it random.  By this I mean that three months before the election, the various election officials will get together and pick five states at random.  So let’s say that in August of 2020 they select Rhode Island, Tennessee, Washington, New Mexico, and Florida.  And there would also be an alternate selection, say Ohio.  What would happen is those five states would decide who is President.  The other states would have elections for other offices, but they wouldn’t vote for President.  The people in the selected states would vote in November and their Electoral Votes would be decided as normal.  The point of the alternate, would be to cast a tie-breaking vote if needed.  Then in August of 2024, five other states would be selected.  Selected states would be held out of the pool for two elections, so the people in New Mexico might be selected again in 2032 to decide the Presidency.

Now, if you find that idea offensive because vast swaths of the country would have no voice in deciding who the President is, I would hope that you also oppose the Electoral College.  Because that is what happens.  Actually, what happens in reality is worse than in my system.  Most states already have their Electoral Votes locked in: we all know that California will go for the Democrat.  The Presidency is not decided by We The People of the United States, but by the people who live in a handful of swing states.  My system would at least change these swing states every election.

So what do you think?