Wednesday, April 30, 2008


On my way back from the psychiatrist I took the usual route from I-95 to Sr 520. At the turnoff a semi had been overturned and the twisted remains of the trailer rig still lay along the road. The cargo had been the liquid popsicles that could be popped in the freezer and ready in an hour. There must have been millions of them in their multitude of colors. Two Bobcat light bulldozers were busy pushing piles of them off the road and into the median. The road was smeared with hundreds of them in a dozen different hues. The air was sweet with the sugary liquid as cars rolled over them. An ambulance was present, busy taking away the driver, who, with a glazed look on his face, kept repeating as he was strapped to a gurney “, the colors… The colors!!”

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Dream Job

As children we’ve all had ambitions; to be firefighters, astronauts, policemen, etc. My ambition has always been that of a storyteller. It represents in its own way the power of creation. Though, as one finds out later, creation does not necessarily mean control in that if the creator has done his work skillfully, his creation takes on a life of its own. The works of Shakespeare are still being reviewed after roughly four hundred years, his characters changing and growing as time passes. In this way I have always wanted to be the creator, the writer, rather than the creation.

Having been raised within walking distance of the local library I came to know the structure and its contents better than most librarians. The concept that a book, such a small and simple object, contains worlds and vistas which explore the scope of all that is possible astonishes me to this very day. Starting out with children’s books I soon graduated to science fiction and fantasy. I had dabbled in suspense and drama of realist fiction but found it to be too cumbersome and constricting. It’s bad enough that our physical capabilities are limited by the outside world, but should our minds be as well?

Having been exposed to the diverse works of such authors as; Lovecraft, Asimov, Weiss, Pratchett, Homer, And Kerouac I learned to look around me in the wonder of existence. It seemed like looking in the mind of God and understanding His plan. I knew only that to be one of those gifted few would be the highest honor I could hope to achieve.

In my spare time I write up small stories, limericks and rhymes. I even once planned out a fantasy novel, complete with cast of characters, story arc, description of the world around them, economy, and politics of the surrounding regions. Though it has been several years since I began I have only completed half of the rough draft. I’ve found it difficult to think of the fantastical when everyone around them thinks only of the practical. But that’s just the point of the whole situation. Though the practical is what is required to live, the fantastical is what provides us with the reason to live. What is life without drama, emotion, and art? Why would mankind, as a species continue to fight for its survival every day for thousands of years if we didn’t have something greater to think of, something to inspire us, something to look forward to?

For me the written word has always been the highest form of artistic expression. I’d consider myself blessed if I should become one of those benevolent immortals whose work lives on when even his name has been forgotten.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Book Review: Neither Heroine Nor Fool by Janet L. Coryell

This book covers the life and times of a woman by the name of Anna Ella Carroll, born in 1815 in Somerset, Maryland. She was the daughter of a plantation owner who was too generous for his own good. While growing up she was formally educated by her father, Thomas King Carroll, who had been a law student before the plantation was bequeathed to him. As such Anna was taught in an “unladylike fashion”, learning pre-law, Latin, and all the requirements of well read young men for the time.

As she grew up she took a great interest in the country’s political workings, allying with the infamous American party, otherwise known as the Know-Nothings. This group helped to cement her political views throughout the rest of her life, including a peculiar prejudice against members of the Roman Catholic Church. The hypocrisy in this is based in the fact that her mother’s family was of an old and prestigious Catholic bloodline, the Kings.

Taking an “unladylike” point of view for her time, she was not in the least bit disinclined to dive into the political field of the day, though to soothe those who protested her activities she publicly made it known that what she said was eclipsed by the fact that she was a “weak woman, unschooled in the intricacies in our governing body”. Privately she was anything but. She spent most of her time writing political essays, pamphlets, letters to newspapers, and collections of political arguments in order to take part in the governing process as well as make an income. Unfortunately her father had lost the plantation and she was forced to travel between Baltimore and Washington as her work as an author demanded. The majority of her letters were sent directly to the various Presidents, Secretaries of State, and Secretaries of War. At almost no time did she use a middle man to get her views across. Occasionally her letters were responded to, which she often took as permission to write on her patrons’ behalf and aid in their campaigns for election. It is unfortunate though many such replies which she took as permission, were not, and thus would refuse to pay her for her services.

Perhaps the greatest influence she had in America was her suggestion during the Civil War to use the Tennessee River as a staging point for an attack on the south using gunboats. The problem that the Union army had originally faced was the main river, the Mississippi, which they used for naval attack and supply would become to shallow in the summers for large boats to traverse. After Anna’s consultation with an experience boatman name Charles Scott, they submitted the idea to President Lincoln and the Secretary of War. The plan was accepted and was a wide success, but Anna was never given credit for the plan because of the effect it would’ve had on Union soldier’s morale that a woman had thought of it.

The point the author is trying to make in this novel is that although in life she made a surprising difference in the country for someone with no legitimate political power, the American Suffrage Association of the early 1900’s made her a heroine after her death. They did so by crediting the Tennessee Plan to her as well as giving recognition to her political prose. Though it is sad to say, it seems she had a greater impact on America as a symbol rather than a human being. Such evidence is well grounded as much of Anna Ella Carroll’s original writings and personal journals are still intact.

Personally I found the book to be cold in its reference to Ms. Carroll, there was never any mention of her personal life or motivation for her actions. All that was ever mentioned was the writing that took place between her and various political figures. No mention of lifestyle, husband, or children. I found this to be disconcerting. I would not recommend this for recreational reading, though it does a good job of showing the political turmoil up to and during the civil war.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Implicit Association Tests

Implicit Associations Tests are evaluations in which various words and pictures are associated with concepts such as good or bad, black or white, etc. In these tests one must group these words and pictures into defined categories as fast as possible. The speed at which one is able to accomplish this task is often an indicator of the unconscious biases a person may have.

In the Implicit Associations Test which requires one to group light and dark skinned persons, an average or baseline is defined for that person by the speed at which they are able to complete this task. Later on the groups may be altered, wherein one must group together words and pictures that have an overall good meaning with pictures of dark skinned persons. For a person with a subconscious bias against dark skinned persons they will have greater difficulty completing this task. They will make mores mistakes and take longer to give the correct responses. The reason for this is that a person with such a bias would not normally associate dark skinned persons with a good or positive word or concept. In order to give the appropriate response the person will have to override their immediate response of filing dark skinned persons with negative terms, and then do the opposite. Naturally this would mean they would not complete the test as quickly as a person with no such biases, this new time is compared with the previous time in which they gave responses to groupings that felt more natural for them. The discrepancy in times is an indicator of their bias or preference.

Having taken several of the tests myself, I was surprised at the result. The tests detected that I have a strong preference for thin people versus fat people, light skin versus dark skin, and straight people versus gay people. While I must grudgingly admit that I probably do have a bias against dark skinned and homosexual people as a result of personal experiences, the mention of preferring thin people to fat people is a bias I was not expecting. Being overweight myself as well as having many friends that are not in the best of physical health suggested to me that it was not an issue. At the very little such a result is hypocritical of me.

If this test is indeed accurate I should think then that there are very few
people who would be evaluated as not having one preference over the other. Through the stereotypes we are in contact with, as well as our life experiences, it would be virtually impossible to maintain total neutrality. In this light I don’t think it was surprising that preferences were found, but having them define me as the classic middle-class white bigot was certainly unexpected as I had always thought of myself as being comfortable in most any company.

I believe that the tests are probably accurate and that my protests are mainly due to the differences in my ideal self image and the more realistic, but less popular, actual self image.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

A Genuine Problem Rapidly Devolving Into A Pointless Rant

I just received a message that has me in a bit of a puzzle. I was hoping perhaps someone out there would be kind enough to respond so I could get the benefit of their opinion and point of view.

I've just been offered my first paying writing position. Unfortunately its not all I'd hoped for. The organization that's interested in hiring me (Which shall remain nameless as there is a possibility they might read this and not appreciate any bad press) specializes in providing clients with "sample" essays and research papers made to order. I do have a great deal of experience writing such things, though they've only ever been for my own grades before.

They offer between eight and twelve dollars payment for every three hundred word page written. I must include all my sources of course, in whatever notation format the customer specifies. Deadlines are very strictly enforced and they will not pay for late papers. It's a genuine organization, no scams involved. It does sound like a lot of work. I would have to average more than ten pages written a day to make more money than I previously did.

That's not really my concern though, I know I can write enough to make a profit. The question is what sort of research will have to be completed on my part before I can begin writing, and how much time is that likely to take up? I suppose if they had multiple subscriptions to online libraries and magazines it would save time trying to track down the appropriate research material. But if they don't, then there might be a problem as I live in a pretty small town and the local library is an absolute joke.

I guess what I would like to ask is; if anyone reading should have experience with this sort of thing, could they please respond with any information about their experiences in this situation? What this sort of job is like, how difficult and in-depth the requested papers typically are, etc. It would be much appreciated.

Also I'm very much aware of the morality issue at play here. Is it right to compose other people's reports and papers for them? In all honesty I would have to say no, but then again I never had enough money to afford this sort of service when I was in school, so I can't really say whether or not I would've used such a service. What I can say is that nowadays morals are a luxury. They're for people who have enough money to live comfortably for the forseeable future or who have some deep seated need to make a martyr of themselves. Not that I'm against that exactly, if people want to make themselves miserable for no good reason I'm happy.

Why, you ask? (Well probably not, I suspect of people couldn't care less, but I'm on a roll here so don't interrupt me.) Well to put it this way, mankind has always seemed to equate (or mistake) pain and suffering with sacrifice, divinity, and a higher purpose. Just go to any church, mosque, or synagogue and you'll get the point.

Please don't think that I'm bashing religion. I have absolutely nothing wrong with it and consider it, in most forms, to be a good thing. It can bring out the best in essentially good people. What I'm simply trying to say is that anything, taken to an extreme, can cause harm to oneself or others. Something as powerful as religion also has the potential to bring out the worst in essentially bad people. And I'm quite certain there are more bad people out there than good. If you don't agree with me then either you're made of much more optimistic stuff than I or have yet to experience the pleasure of their company. I know its a bit simplistic to label people as good or bad being that these concepts are relative.

For example a person may take vermin off the street, grind them up and give the meat to soup kitchens. You're killing two birds with one stone here. You're getting rid of pesky critters that dig through my trash cans and you're feeding the needy. It might be considered a good thing that person did to the observer, but from the point of view of the people in line at the soup kitchen, it would probably be a bad one.

So from the point of view of a pathetic little worm like me on this earth who has to rub shoulders with the crowds of effluvia that makes up the modern day gene-puddle on a daily basis (as I'm sure many of you do too), I would say that people blowing themselves up, castrating themselves and each other, fathering fifty bajillion children by a group of fifteen women who're all sisters and then defiling said children all in the name of (God, Yahweh, Jehova, Buddha, Allah, Jesus, Vishnu, etc.) is a bad thing.

Theory and Treatment of Night Terrors

Night terrors are a sleep disorder which is relatively common in children from the ages of six months to three years old, affecting roughly five percent of the population. It can potentially occur in people of any age, but is far less common at one percent.

Also known as sleep terror disorder, and Pavor Nocturnus; the typical night terror episode starts with the child awakening during the fourth stage in the sleep cycle in a state of absolute terror. They will scream, shout, and run around as if in a living nightmare. For this reason many people suffering from this disorder are often mis-diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Though their eyes are open and they are technically awake, they cannot communicate and often do not acknowledge the presence of other people. Physical symptoms include tachycardia averaging 120-150 beats per minute, pupils dilated to pinpricks, uncontrollable shivering, and high blood pressure. The episodes last up to thirty minutes, and while apparently conscious, they cannot be reasoned with and appear to not recognize other people and their surroundings.

It is nearly impossible to wake a person during a night terror, but when they finally do snap out of it they will have little memory of what happened and the faint suggestion that, up until that point, their surroundings were in some way horrific and terrible that they needed to flee from immediately.

These episodes are not in and of themselves dangerous, but because of their frantic behavior they run the risk of tripping, falling, crashing into things, and even hurting themselves while operating household appliances. Paradoxically there are some people that seem to gain near superhuman traits while under the influence of a night terror. My own brother has suffered from them for many years and still does, which, at the age of eighteen, is extremely rare. When experiencing a night terror he is able to run through a pitch black room at top-speed without breaking step. He becomes incredibly agile, able to leap over most anything in the house, and is incredibly strong to the point that he once picked up and threw a large sofa half-way across the room. In spite of this, he moves as if he is light as a feather, once scrambling halfway up the tiled wall of a bathroom before falling.

It is unclear as to what causes such episodes. They can occur within infants as young as six months, it is not likely they are trauma induced. They do often to run in the family, however, suggesting a genetic tendency. During such an episode the person should not be held or touched as it will trigger an immediate attempt to flee. Several drugs have proven marginally effective; imipramine and several benzodiazepines have had the best result. It has been suggested that by changing the mood of surroundings the person in a sleep terror may be slowly calmed. Specifically, turning on lights and electrical appliances that are commonly heard throughout the house. Also talking to the person in a quiet, soothing manner and playing comforting music can help.

In most cases the episodes are just a phase which the child will grow out of, but in adults there is little that can be done. It is unfortunate that at this point medicine has little knowledge about what can trigger sleep terrors, as well as effective treatments.

Berkeley Parents Network.
March 21st, 2005.

Richards, David W. Night Terror Research Center. 2003.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Only War

The cathedral stands tall in the day’s gloom, its soft interior dusted with age. The warrior trudges forth. The old campaigner is tired and his shoulders are slumped. His sword is dull and his armor battered. Sitting in a pew the dust rises up to greet him. Eyes like flecks of granite, filled with sorrow, raise with pleading to the heavens, they have seen too much. The warhorse is old and beaten. This clanking engine of warfare has seen his last skirmish, a worn husk now, no closer to his goal than when he first took up the sword. The world has moved on and he sits immovable in contemplation. He sits, the last off the field, the last of the fallen as the silent ballad fills his mind. Was his cause just? Did he do the right thing? These things no longer matter as the ballad continues on, leaving him behind to sit, dusty, rusting amid his tarnished days of glory. His life is coming to an end, yet he cannot think of one worthwhile achievement. No loved ones to speak of, his battle brothers are no longer beside him to fight the good fight. What was once a boy is now a giant of blood and iron. A commander of vast armies, defender of the weak, liberator of the oppressed, avenger of the wronged. Yet he is no closer to understanding his life, even so near its end. He sits in contemplation, his memory a haze of battle, bloodshed, and stalwart resistance. His foes faces are blurred; there is no one he has not fought at one time or another. For all those he saved in his life, all the bravery, courage, and valor that has come to be synonymous with his name, he is left a shattered husk. Beaten and worn to the nub by the rigours of life. In the silence he can still hear the moaning of the wounded on the field meshed with the cheers of the victors. His entire life he’s devoted to being strong and doing the right thing, no matter the consequence. But what has it left him with? Nothing. He is no more intelligent than when he was a child. He understands nothing more of the world or his place in it. Even as his heart flutters its last he knows there is still much work to do, as there always will be. The world is a giant meatgrinder, glutted upon the minds, souls, and bodies of untold billions. Still it hungers for more, for its thirst for blood shall never be quenched, nor its hunger sated. Slumping in death and defeat, his voice, which had rang out loud and clear over the insufferable din of battle was reduced to a shaking whisper, “There is no silence, no calm, no respite. There is only war”.

Golden Goose: A Book Review

The book Golden Goose by Edmond Humm is a classic action-adventure novel in the style of Jack Higgins and his famous Sean Dillon Series. This novel, a fictional work about actual historical occurrences clutches the reader's attention in a hard and unyielding grip, refusing to let go, from start to finish.

During World War 2 an agreement was made for the United States to hold Great Britain's gold reserves in trust should Axis powers succeed in taking England. Many gold shipments were sent across the North Atlantic, only a portion arrived safely. German U-boats laid claim to the rest, pillaging the gold or sending them to the murky depths.

This novel follows the story of the Western Star, a ship whose Commanding Officer chose to send to the bottom of the sea -along with himself- rather than let fall into Nazi hands. Many years later, his only remaining descendant learns of his valiant decision and the gold he consigned to the deep.

Jean Harris, a strong British woman, goes about trying to reclaim the gold in order to pay the back taxes on her family's ancestral home. Along the way she encounters many characters, some sincere, others with ulterior motives. It isn't long before she finds herself in a struggle with less than ethical businessmen for more than the gold.

The story moves quickly, hammering out one twist after another, not giving the reader time to catch their breath as it plunges deeper into a rich world of vivid, yet concise backgrounds and quirky characters that are the real beauty of this work. They are interesting, yet realistic. The author never forgets to show their humanity above all else. I believe that Mr. Humm's depiction of the story's Dramatis Personae is what makes this a truly exceptional book.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Rage and Pain

Circling and spinning, men losing and winning. These men of war devoted to peace.

Fighting immortals, unquenching fury, unslaking bloodlust. Stabbing and spinning, whirling and winning through time immemorial.

Arms untiring, guns always firing, battling the blackness till judgment day come. Blood-drenched pillars of righteousness in the spinning sea of chaos unending.

Hearts filled with savage joy, coming alive and dying a little more. And the unnamed feeling tricks them this way, as the train toes over the line, derailing in the mind.

And the chaos marches on, from dusk till dawn. Then the unnamed feeling toes over the line and takes me away, no quarter asked, none given as time marches on, from dusk till dawn.

The war whirls on, gleaming swords steeped in the blood of madness, ripping swathes of flesh, fighting through the tides of time.

Always fighting, always falling, the demons of madness, sweating evil and riding the sky. Eternal sacrifice to save man from himself in the maelstrom of war.
Peace everlasting far too boring, they cannot sleep in this down filled world. I rage, I gaze, I hurt, I hate.

Charging as the bleeding tip of the sword shows us the way. As I wait for the train my toe rolls the line and the unnamed feeling takes me away to the playground of pain.

In between life and death, today and tomorrow, this and that the warriors fight onward, untiring, unending, holding back the tide of madness. The immortals of man sacrifice themselves as one instant lasts for eternity.

Into distance let them fade, they're okay, but don't go away, they're okay, but please don't stray too far. I'm blind here. Please be my eyes, my ears, my mind, and my soul. For I have none of my own.

War ending, our souls pending on the scales of reality. It comes alive and I die a little more.

Rage, hatred, pain, fear locked within the mind and flesh, let the madness come and flay it bare. That we may be as they, pillars of strength in the world of weakness with nothing but their rage to keep them warm as they battle the Nothing through the ages.

You and I have joined them already in the unholy matrimony of pain. Screaming until our vocal cords burst, fighting till our bones snap as the unnamed feeling comes over us and binds us in the world of freedom, through the pink fog of the mind into the heat of the fight.

Not caring about living or dying, there is only the struggle, the fight, the battle forevermore as we seek the right to be.

Forever raging, forever fighting, staking our claim in the great void of the pit that birthed us.

The band plays on, the music of life. The chord that brought us to be in this endless waltz.

Wailing strings and snapping drums carry us forth to war, to life, for only in the loss and taking of life do we feel alive and know its true value.

All men stand alone on the field of honor with no soul to damn and no ass to kick. Blades parting mist to bury back within ourselves, yet we fight on, joyful of the chance to rip the emotions from ourselves that they may stand beside us. Our rage lending us insurmountable strength, fear speeding our limbs, pain stilling our hearts.

We come gladly to this place that our souls may take form and drive back the darkness within, the darkness without, and the darkness beyond. No longer imprisoned within its cage of flesh, our rage is the storm that beats mountains to dust.

There are no complications, only war. No love, only war. No guilt, only war. That we may forge ourselves in the fires of hell and be reborn in perfect crystalline hatred.

The Beginning

Today I've taken the next step in what I hope will be a long and glorious career. By starting this blog I'm ensuring that I have a website where prospective contracters can peruse my work.

I've enjoyed writing since I was very little and I feel that I finally have enough exposure and experience to make it a career. At the moment I'm looking
everywhere I possibly can to find employment for a freelance writer. So far I have experience in creative writing, content writing, copy writing, and research articles.

Over the next few weeks I'll be updating with thoughts, reflections, and various samples of my work. I hope it will prove an enjoyable read.