Wednesday, September 23, 2015

This is the Way the World Ends (yet again)

It is possible that the following bit of prose may come down at some point in the future. Why? Well, as you recall, the last time I ended the world... it all began on this blog.

There exist the possibility that I might end it once again...
...and continue to do so... (Yes, that means what you think it means)

So without further ado, allow me to introduce,

The Engineer

When Dr. Thorza Murphburt was twenty five, she built a wondrous device. The first of its kind. Dr. Murphburt's device was in fact the world's very first robot capable of free thought. She filmed a video in which her device (which was roughly the same size and shape as an average cellular phone)  spoke glibly with philosophy students, questioning its own existence as well as ours, and generally proving it was indeed the most sophisticated creation at that time. Surely, thought Dr. Murphburt, this video will be seen by all the right people and not only will I get my grant, but perhaps even a Nobel prize.  When her video was uploaded to the internet, Dr. Murphburt went to sleep, dreaming of her acceptance speech.

The next morning, Dr. Murphburt was pleased to see that her video already had several hundred comments. Excited, she clicked on the link and read. Nearly all had the same message:


As well as


And dozens more that questioned her sexuality and slandered her ethnicity.

With a calm, cleansing breath, Dr. Murphburt quietly deleted her video and placed her device in a shoebox, which she then placed on the top shelf of her closet.

The world was not yet ready for her wondrous device.

When she was thirty five, Dr. Murphburt created and even more wonderous device. Not only was this device capable of free thought, but it was also ambulatory, capable of deciding for itself if it wanted to move. This device (which looked a bit like a mechanical dog or cat), she filmed chasing after and dodging balls thrown its way while discussing the finer points of free market capitalism with a group of blustery economics students.  With her video uploaded, Dr. Murphburt went to bed.

The following day, she found that this video had nearly a full thousand comments. She braced for the inevitable onslaught of comments claiming to be the first. There were always several of these and, fittingly enough, they were never first. What she did not brace for was the fact that nearly all of the comments were from two individuals who seemed to have watched an entirely different video and were having a very spirited argument that had devolved into name calling and aspersions being cast upon the other's mother.

And there were several who called


And others who called


And yet more who rated the video out of ten, claiming to have used it for auto-stimulation.

With another deep and cleansing breath, Dr. Thorza Murphburt deleted her video and placed her device in the closet, next to the shoebox containing its predecessor.

Once again, the world was not ready for Dr. Murphburt's wonderous device.

When she was forty five, Dr. Murphburt created what she felt was the ultimate wondrous device. Not only was this one capable of free thought and ambulatory, but it was roughly the same size and shape of a petite human female and it was capable of irrational as well as rational behavior. For this video, she had the device argue with a human male, get mad at him and storm off to do some therapy shopping on a popular online shoe store.

Upon awakening, Dr. Murphburt was beside herself. This video had over ten thousand comments in just one evening! Excitedly, as she quickly scanned past all of the claims of first comment, she was elated to see that no one was calling her creation fake! No one accused her of 'shopping the results! It was a glorious day!

At least, it would have been.

Nearly every comment had the same question.

Can I do sex with robot?

Though some were not as eloquent.

mAke nAked nExt rObot.

And yet others had scathing words for the way the device treated the man (who was an actor and made fifty dollars for his whole minute of acting) and claimed that the man was victimized by the dreadful device, but that mainstream media would never acknowledge this.

So Dr. Murphburt quietly deleted her video, made some room in her closet by clearing away several decades worth of shoes she had bought on clearance, and placed the device alongside the others.

Still, the world was not ready for Dr. Murphburt's wondrous device.

When she was fifty five, Dr. Murphburt created a wondrous and truly awful device. This device was capable of free thought, free movement, and irrational behavior, but instead of the small size of a human female, this device was fifteen feet tall and half as wide, with laser blasters for eyes and a mouth full of razor sharp teeth. Worst of all, it was capable of self-replication.

This time, Dr. Murphburt did not make a video.

Monday, September 14, 2015

What's So Funny 'Bout Peace, Love, & Understanding?

Ya know what? I don't even like that song. In fact, I don't particularly like any of the bands that ever performed it. In fact, if I were to hear it on the radio, I'd probably say, "Ugh! This is the WORST!" and I'd change the channel.

Suffice to say, I would likely complain. I might even complain to you. How fun is that? You get to listen to me telling you about something I don't like! And I bet you would turn right around and tell me about something awful that happened to you. And then I would have to one up you by telling you all about this thing that went horribly wrong. Before you know it, we've just spent the last several hours being completely miserable grumps to each other. We really should get together more often!

This is what we do. We as a society tend to do a lot of complaining and negative thinking. Even when we try not to. This is true. We post more negativity to social media than positivity. For a good long time now, I've tried to be mindful of this. Yes, I am a complainer. Yes, I get frustrated and disgruntled just like everyone else. But you know what? No one really needs to hear about it.

There really is something to be said for remaining positive. For not automatically thinking the worst of everything and everyone. I've mentioned before that society tends to look at optimistic people as being less intelligent. As not having a realistic outlook. I'd like to call bullshit on this. The difference between having a negative attitude and a positive one could be as simple as not letting the small things stress you out or it could be as monumental as keeping a rational and level head in the event of an unforeseen catastrophe.

I could go on and on about this subject, but I will spare you all for one reason: my good pal and fellow author Riley Amos Westbrook already wrote a fantastic piece on the personal rewards of staying positive. You can read that right here:

Now, when you're done with that, and you better have a smile in your heart if not on your face, let me tell you a little about how the power of positive thinking can be a benefit to others. We are creatures of conformity. Yes, even you, you special and unique little snowflake! Mob mentality rules. Get a group of people together and start complaining. I guarantee that you will soon have a room full of complainers.

Now, take that same group of people and smile at them. Compliment them. Tell them about something awesome that just made your day. Now, the ball is going to get rolling a lot slower because we are also creatures of habit, but eventually, you will have raised the spirits of nearly everyone I'm that room. I say nearly everyone because unfortunately, there are some people who just don't want to be happy.

Riley and I are both moderators of the Support Indie Authors group on Goodreads. One of our main rules is no negativity. At times, we have to step in and enforce this rule and that makes me sad. I don't think any less of the folks who get down and frustrated enough to make comments that are not constructive, but it upsets me that anymore this is the default. We, especially those of us living in the developed world, have so much that we take for granted. Our default should not be 'I want' and 'I wish.'

It should be 'I am grateful' and 'I have love for.'

I'm definitely not perfect. I still complain. I still blow up when too many things fail to go my way. I still get frustrated. But I'm making an effort to change that, one step at a time. My first step is to be mindful of what I say on social media. Am I being supportive of others or am I bringing them down with my own problems?

For more than ten years now, I have had a benchmark for my comments in a public forum: Would this sound natural in Dumbledore's voice? If yes, I post. If no, I rewrite. I'm extending this to all social media and I'm inviting you all to do the same. Smile. Love. Compliment. Uplift. Be the positivity that no one thinks they want in the world. Show them how very wrong they are to think that happy equals dumb.

Let's lower our collective blood pressure, one tweet at a time.