Thursday, April 12, 2018

Jurassic World 2 Predictions and Thoughts

Late to the game on this as usual. Had my hands full with other stuff, but predicting things is all the rage these days and I have some ideas for the upcoming Jurassic World sequel based on the trailer.

Let me open by saying that the sequels from Jurassic Park failed for their own reasons. Lost World was based off of the book which was a sequel to Jurassic Park that nobody seemed to enjoy. It was clunky, confusing and Crichton really had to pull something out of his tail end to make it work, since Jurassic Park ended with real finality. Island blows up. Animals all burned. Some may exist on Coasta Rica mainland but nothing major. So it made little sense, was confusing and overall just not that good. The movie wasn't much better save for a rather decent soundtrack and some good effects.

Jurassic Park 3 lacked any sort of imagination and made it into yet another 'oh crap how do we get off the island' scenario. Within three minutes of landing on the island things go sideways, they lose all their guns and are stranded. A few fun effects but otherwise it was creatively bankrupt.

So with that in mind the moment I heard about Jurassic World 2 I was skeptical. The first one was actually rather good in my opinion. Many claim that it was a remake or soft reboot of Jurassic Park. However I disagree. Jurassic Park was a pretty good direct adaption from the book, which had a very non-linear plot. Things really don't start to happen until the second act, and from there the characters are in two groups with two objectives. First objective is with Dr. Grant and the kids just trying to not die. The second is with Ellie and the rest just trying to get things working again. Normally it's a story that wouldn't work, but Speilberg is a deity of movie making and truly made a great adaption.

Jurassic World is very different. One very dangerous animal escapes, and the goal is to recapture it before it gets to the tourists. Very clear and concise objective. But as one plan after another fails the stakes are raised, new things are learned, and they become more desperate to stop it, trying things that they normally wouldn't dream of trying. It's a solid plot that keeps moving and ramps up. It also had enough of a brain to it that I was intrigued. Every now and then I catch myself thinking of the ramifications of the movie and some of the themes they mention.

In Jurassic World 2 the park has shut down. Where can you go from there? I thought they were going to do yet another dumb rescue mission for some dumbarse that got stuck there or something dumb like that. But now it seems that it is indeed a rescue mission, but for the dinosaurs themselves. The island's volcano is acting up and it looks as though the objective is to capture as many as they can and get them off of the island, saving them from extinction once again.

I admit, this idea is compelling to me. It's certainly one I haven't seen before. Some may think the volcano part is stupid. After all, why set up a park on a volcanic island? That seems dumb until you realize that Hawaii fits that description perfectly and regarded by the world over as paradise. Heck if I know why that makes sense. Also it isn't all that unreasonable, since it would directly provide geothermal power. Logistically that makes a lot of sense. After all, the island has incredibly advanced facilities requiring tons of power and lugging a giant power-line from the mainland would be a pain in the side.

This movie also shows Jeff Goldblum, AKA Ian Malcolm, giving a speech about life, blah blah blah. However they seem to be questioning the ideas of life itself. Do these extinct animals have the same rights as other animals that we protect? Do they pose a threat big enough to warrant letting them be destroyed? I think they cut most of that from the trailer and instead relied on his classic lines from the first movie as trailer bait. But I do like this angle. I like being prompted to think about the ramifications of cloning, extinction, life and how it's treated.

This can easily go wrong however. It might be pretentious gobbly-gook that doesn't actually make sense or to trick people into thinking that it's smarter than it really is. I hope that isn't the case. Having a bit of thought provoking themes and ideas with an action story as a back drop is intriguing to me. And that is still in the spirit of the original book.

As for most of the plot I'm not quite sure how it will shake out. It will either be innovative and really interesting, or it will be bloody confusing and make no sense. I'm for trying new plots that don't feel paint by numbers. But that comes at the risk of being confusing and nonsensical. My hope is that this movie will have some curveballs thrown in but still make sense.

And of course let's not forget the shot of some sort of new mutated raptor that makes an appearance. I confess, I'm not fond of the idea. I'm not horribly against it, but it feels unnecessary. It feels gimmicky like the first Jurassic World. I fear that this is a move from the studio thinking that we need an abomination to keep people interested. If that's the case then they don't understand their audience too well. It worked in the first movie because it served as a contrast to the natural dinosaurs and how the sales-mentality on life can spiral out of control. It was seen as something unnatural that we wanted to see the normal dinosaurs overcome.

Here? Again, it will either be hit or miss. With luck it will be used intelligently, once more serving as contrast for the discussion of life with the normal dinosaurs and mutated ones. I sincerely hope that it will be used intelligently. I strongly suspect there will be the Ingen angle once again, perhaps a team going in with their own agenda to collect samples left behind during the shut down in Jurassic World.

This is all speculation however. My hope is that it will be a smart movie, or at the very least interesting. I can see it either being just as big as the first. The new plot angle has a lot going for it and will hopefully keep things fresh. But there is a lot of risk that it will get confused and tangled.

Well, we will see. I'm going to see it in theaters. But I'll reserve judgement until after I've viewed it.

Friday, April 6, 2018

The Cold Beneath Book Review

The Cold Beneath by [Brown, Tonia]

Zombies are kind interesting, and most of America seems to agree. In the last decade and a half people have been zombie crazy. And much like zombies, everyone bitten by zombie media turns into someone producing zombie material. Shows, games, dlc, movies, books, comics, toys and every other single thing you can imagine has been zombified. Kinda ironic. After awhile I tuned out because it became white noise. Until I happened upon this little gem. If you ever wanted a steampunk story with zombies that doesn't feel like a rip off of The Walking Dead, this is for you.

The Cold Beneath is a full novel by Tonia Brown, who I mentioned once before here as the author of The Railroad steampunk books and gave this one a shot. And I'm quite glad I did.

The Cold Beneath is an epistolary novel, meaning that it's written like a journal or memoir by someone who was involved in the events first hand. This is a wonderful throwback to older epistolary novels by English authors such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, H. Rider Haggard and others. The main character is even English as well! This might very well have been intentional, and if so, I think it worked quite wonderfully. It was nice to read something in that old style.

The story centers around an ill fated expedition to reach the North Pole via an airship, The Northern Fancy and the disastrous results of a secondary agenda by one of the crew members. The latter is very well set up but subtle. It doesn't beat you over the head and treat you like an idiot. "See? See what's going to happen? Nudge nudge!" It's nice to have a book treat you like you are intelligent enough to pick up on the clues left around.

And yet at the same time this book is extremely character driven. Our writer and protagonist, Philip Syntax, is an inventor who sadly suffered the fate of having the credit for his own invention stolen and left bereft of his so-called friends. This could easily turn into a whiny character we want to slap upside the head, but Tonia Brown weaves him very well into a character that's sympathetic, someone we want to see get his due reward. It's a very difficult line to walk, but the epistolary writing style and excellent characterization pull it off perfectly.

In fact, all the characters are a very strong sell in this book. One of the other primary characters, American globetrotter and explorer Mr. Lightbridge is the quintessential hero type character who thrives on adventure and peril, even in his old age. Being somewhat familiar and fond of such characters, I am delighted to say that the author truly understands what it means to love adventure for it's own sake, and yet Lightbridge doesn't fall into the trap of being bland or uninteresting. Quite the contrary. Tonia Brown gives him backstory bits that really flesh him out and fascinated me. I won't spoil one part of it, but it genuinely interested me on a psychological level. That's very rare.

The technology is par the course for Tonia Brown, and by that I mean excellent. The scientific principles are fictional yet very believable. This is true steampunk. It treats the concepts from a scientific perspective and not like fantasy where it's hard to distinguish from magic. As someone that likes looking at schematics and nerdy stuff like that I really appreciate this kind of effort. Yet it doesn't get bogged down in explaining all the details. The story delivers just what you need to know in such a way that you can understand it and get interested, but not hold you hostage with tons of information.

Anyway, I mentioned zombies here, didn't I? Well, without spoiling how the story goes, something very fishy is going on aboard the Northern Fancy. A few things don't quite make sense about it. But things really get odd when one of the crewmen dies of natural causes. The medical staff find that he is absolutely dead and store his body in the freezer for proper burial upon return. Until that night a horrible screaming wakes the crew. And it's coming from the freezer. They think that somehow the medical staff mistook his state and swiftly release him. But he isn't the man that they remember him to be. Violence breaks out, and things end on a very bleak note.

But that's just the tip of the iceberg. It's when the airship crashes and they are left stuck on the icy wastes of the North that things get really bad. I don't wish to spoil too much, hence my rather vague wording in some of this, because the mystery and build up are half the fun. But the spooky atmosphere are worked up beautifully and when we finally do get zombies, they aren't the stock kind that spread through bites or stuff like that. This is a unique breed with their own origin and I frigging love it. But what partly makes them so much more spooky is the fact that these ones can slagging talk! 

And that's all I'm going to reveal at present. Hopefully I've swayed you to pick up a copy. I truly do recommend it, even if you aren't a fan of horror or steampunk. It works great as those, but it also works great as a character story. It's rare to find something like this. So go take a look! You can find it here:

Friday, March 9, 2018

Am I Any Good?

Unless one is endowed with a toxic level of ego, we all experience times of self doubt, and that increases as one tries to accomplish things of varying scales. I'm currently going through that sort of problem.

I'm reading one of my stories on my Kindle, and all sorts of mistakes are jumping out of me that I never noticed during editing. And I just keep thinking: How did I miss this? Did I really write that? Where did I go wrong? To me the wording and sentence structure feel as smooth as sandpaper, and the minor grammar mistakes are like splinters of bamboo under my finger nails. I don't know if this is due to me holding my own stuff to higher standards due to the fact that it's mine, or if it really is as agonizing as it feels. I can only imagine what other people think. Honestly I'm horrified.

Not that these mistakes were due to laziness or lack of effort. I went over it time and again, trying to fix problems, find mistakes, and smooth things out. But that's part of the problem. When you're editing your own stuff, you inevitably miss things. At a certain point you start seeing what you expect to see, not what's actually there. It's this weird mental trick that I just can't get past. This is where a fresh set of eyes helps out tremendously.

But unfortunately I'm working almost exclusively by myself. I want beta readers. I want an editor to help catch these problems, to help channel my stuff. I don't mean to make excuses. Normally I actually accept more responsibility than is actually mine when things are at fault. But I'm now forced to acknowledge that I'm probing my limitations as a self editor. But reading all of these flaws eats away at my confidence like battery acid.

Am I actually any good at writing? I know some people say that I am. So far I haven't gotten any negative comments except from myself. But are others just being nice and not willing to point out the problems that they see? Getting better requires ruthless honesty to cull those mistakes. Am I shouldering more responsibility than I can handle? I wish I could hire an editor. That would help tremendously. But I simply don't have the funds to do so. My friends are either unqualified or are up to their eyeballs in their own problems. How can I ask them to read my stuff when they are dealing with their own intense hardships?

Nor do I wish to sell my books if they aren't up to a certain level of quality. I have a sense of honor about me. I can't in good conscience tell someone to buy something if I don't believe that it's worth their time and money. Is my stuff actually worth it? I already try to sell them cheap. But at present I feel like a fraud. At the same time I'd like to be able to earn enough money to maybe buy some things now and then. I want to work hard on this and other projects and earn enough to have a decent living. Heck, someday I'd like to have a family, and it'd be nice if I could actually support them like a man, husband and father actually should. I've got no one relying on me now, and given my dating skill that isn't likely to change, but there's always the risk.

I want to get good at this. I want to entertain people. I want to make their lives better by making them forget the crap going on in life by using words to take them to other worlds and whisk them away on grand adventures. But if this is the height of my capabilities, I'm in for trouble.

Maybe I'm being overly dramatic. Maybe this stuff just stands out to me because it's what I made, and nobody else cares about the mistakes. Maybe they aren't actually as big as I'm making them out to be. Maybe I actually am writing good stories and it's just taking time for people to get wind of them. But I just don't know.

Chances are most of you out there aren't the commenting type, but this would be a good time to get a few. I want to know the honest thoughts of you folks reading this. Don't BS me. I need harsh truth. I really need some help with this, and I'd really appreciate anything you all can give me. Sorry if this blah-fest bored you. I'll try to have something better soon.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

The Winchester 94 450 Marlin

Tested: Winchester M94 TE Lever-Action in .450 Marlin
Winchester 94, bigger and badder
The classic Winchester 94 continues to prove one of the most enduring rifle platforms ever conceived. In spite of the continuing advances with bolt actions and semi-autos like the AR-15, and repeatedly being declared a relic fit only for the wall or museum, the 94 and its kin like the Marlin 336 and others keep coming back like steel and wood revenants. This shouldn't be surprising however. The designs are simply too good to fade away. They have proven consistently reliable, handy, versatile and have a history to them that few other classes of firearm can match.

But that's not to say that they can't adapt. Winchester has shown that the vaunted 94 is capable of even more than even its greatest adherents could have suspected. For the longest time the 94 has been seen as a medium cartridge class rifle, firing thirty and sometimes thirty five caliber pills at modest but serviceable velocities. Firing the big 45 pills was the business of 86's and 95's.

But now that's changed!

The new 94 has somehow been stretched to its utmost limits and is now chambered in the potent 450 Marlin. For those unfamiliar with this cartridge, it was an attempt by Marlin to have a modern big bore cartridge capable of taking big and dangerous game at modest ranges, meant to compete with the old war horse, the 45-70. It's a full-size belted magnum, something normally seen on old African cartridges. Nothing was actually wrong with the 450. It was a solid performer and did all that was asked of it. So why is it not more popular?

Well, the 45-70, it's ancient opponent, proved to still have plenty of fight left in it. Despite its age, the 45-70 is one of the most versatile and reliable cartridges of its class. It can be loaded to very low pressures and take deer and similar sized game like a champ, but can be stoked with bigger powder charges and modern bullets to take just about anything within its shooting range. Vince Lupo famously used the 45-70 in the Marlin 1895 lever action to take Africa's Big 5. It slew hippo, lion, leopard, Cape buffalo and elephant all with authority. Despite never being envisioned to do what it's been called on to do, the old cartridge has proven to have extraordinary potential in modern frames, able to be loaded to fantastic pressures, even though the 450 Marlin is meant to do all of that from the get-go.

The 450 Marlin was the youthful upstart coming for the throne of the aging and supposedly washed up 45-70 Government. But it was trying to fill a niche that was already filled. But with this new concept of a big bore 94, the 450 was given a new chance at life. In the picture below you will notice the big fat rim on the 45-70. That seemingly insignificant bit of pudge creates a problem with feeding in some platforms. Heck, it's length and width were what made it such a devil of a cartridge to fit into leverguns in the first place! But the 450 Marlin is a bit more narrow in the hips even with the addition of the belt, and thus was selected for the new line of 94's.

Image result for 450 marlin vs 45-70
45-70 on the left, 450 Marlin on the right

I must admit, it seems to be a good match up. Somehow what was considered a lightweight rifle, a carbine best suited for those with chronic nostalgia, has now been imbued with a wonderfully potent big bore cartridge. The 94 is one of the lightest, fastest and best handling arms out there, having fought from the snowy permafrost of Northern Canada, all throughout the dusty Old West and even into the steaming jungles of the Amazon and consistently given stellar performance. And now its paired with one of the most efficient modern big bore cartridges. This can safely tame any game you can come across in the New World, and most if not all of the Old World, if you feed it the right loads.

It's still packing six rounds in the tube magazine, with a seventh up the spout if you like being prepared for Comanche raids at any time, and all in a platform just a hair over three feet long. I'm amazed at the compact design combined with raw power.

Although it's likely to give a devil of a kick, what with having such a strong cartridge in a light six and a half pound gun, the designers had the wisdom to grant it an integral muzzle break and butt pad, so hopefully broken collar bones will be at a minimum. It's also been graced with side-ejection, allowing scope mounting, swivel studs and best of all, iron sights! I confess, I turn my nose up at most bolt actions today because they are robbed of their dandy iron sights. True, scopes allow better sighting and shooting at long ranges. But there is a sense of independence and reliability with old irons. I just can't be cured of that love.

Take a look if you can find one! This will be a contender with Marlin's impressive 1895 Guide Gun. I admit, I want one. The 94 might be old, but it's got plenty of life left in it. Take note gun makers! Some of these old pill pushers will crawl back out, no matter how much you try to bury them!

475 Linebaugh Levergun

Big Horn Armory hasn't been idle in the years since they delightedly released their Model 90 460 S&W lever action rifle. And boy have people been happy to hear about it. In the interim they've been polishing their craft, releasing ever refined improvements and have now released a levergun in yet another cartridge in their Model 90 frame. This time it's chambered in the venerable .475 Linebaugh cartridge. For those unfamiliar with the cartridge, it's a trimmed down 45-70 meant for big game hunting in revolvers, much like its cousins and is most certainly in the same league as the 454 Casull. but with a slight edge in bore diameter.

Model 89B - 475 Linebaugh
Big Horn Armory Model 90 .475 Linebaugh

As you can see, it's still a ruggedly handsome rifle based on the staunch Winchester 1886 and 92 frames, using vertical locking bars to hold the square bolt in place. It's an efficient and durable design that has lasted for over a century. And now it's stoked with yet another potent magnum-class pistol cartridge. It can comfortably handle most if not all big game in North and South America, provided one is using the appropriate loads for the game they are hunting. Stoked with heavy duty solids this handsome gun can handle brown bear, bison and moose, although it wouldn't be my first choice.

Then again, that being said, if offered to me for such tasks I wouldn't hesitate a moment to give it a try.

I hope these boys keep up the good work. If you want to learn more of their products take a look at their site here:

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Political Spectrum: More Than Left and Right

All of us are aware of the general idea of the political spectrum. Generally speaking, those on the Left favor a larger government with more power and responsibility, while those on the Right put more emphasis on smaller government and more power to individual citizens. Between these two are a wide array of different people, groups and ideas. These include everything from gun rights to gay rights, immigration to traditionalism and a vast array of others that I won't list here.

While convenient for casual use, the simplicity of Left and Right is inherently limited and fails to tap into the far greater complexity represented by those within them. If you dig deeper, you will find people identifying themselves as moderates. Usually these are people with beliefs of both sides, somewhere in the middle. Yet this too fails to really take much into account. Two or three groups is a gross oversimplification for the sheer variety of individual opinions and beliefs. This also becomes troublesome when those engaging in debate use examples of extremists to paint the whole as flawed. This inevitably results in everyone within a broad belief being painted with the same brush of guilt. Those on the Left are accused of all being Communists and those on the Right of being intolerant religious bigots.

Yet despite sharing similar beliefs, these people may in fact disagree heartily with the extreme elements.

It is for this reason that I hope to delve deeper into these intricacies and shed light on a new perspective that might help in the current political environment. I will start simple, but slowly show more complex examples.

First, imagine a square. Now imagine a line drawn down the middle from top to bottom. You then of course have the Left and the Right. For simplicity's sake, let us say there is no Moderate. Now, on both sides you have good and bad people. Some are tolerant of those who disagree with them, others react with open hostility. But how to tell one from the other? Negativity grabs attention far more than positivity. If one does something wrong, it is seemingly shared collectively across the board. They are on the same side, and thus tar the whole with their bad deeds, whether it is an action, statement or belief.

But now imagine another line, one drawn from the sides horizontally. Now instead of two rectangles, the Left and Right, you now have four squares, Up and Down. Imagine now that the Down is for those who represent hostility, violence, intolerance and in general behavior considered uncivilized or dangerous. Up represents those who are tolerant, kind, helpful, and even extend generosity to those on the opposite side of the square.

This introduces a very different dynamic. Left Down can be considered extremists you see on TV who blacklist their opponents or call for the silencing or deaths of others. But Left Up consists of those who disagree with those on the Right, but hold no ill will towards them and respect their beliefs and standings. The same with the Right. There is the Right Down which includes those who wish to harm Leftists, both Up and Down, who take extreme positions and are openly hostile to those who disagree. But there is also the Right Up. Like the Left Up, they are tolerant, enjoy political debate, and don't shy from interacting with those different from them.

Now suddenly we can view things with greater precision. Instead of now identifying Leftists or Rightists as inherently bad based on the actions of a minority from their half of the square, now we can divide them based not just on beliefs, but on behaviors and most importantly, actions. This also allows us to fight against disagreeable elements that are technically on the sides we are on. For the Left, this could be classical liberals debating with hard core communists or fascist socialists. For the Right it could be classic conservatives arguing against extreme anarchists or fanatical Trump supporters. Despite technically sharing the same inherent base beliefs, the degree to which they hold to them and how they treat others as a result shows a great deal of difference.

Often in this heated political climate we are somehow forced to defend those who are deplorable by the simple virtue that they technically are on our side. I find this unacceptable.

Political beliefs come in degrees, not in absolutes.

Continuing with the example of the squares within squares, let us get much more complex. What many don't seem to be willing to acknowledge is that there are those considered to be on one political side that share some beliefs of the other. There are Leftists who support gun ownership rights, capitalism and religious freedom. There are Rightists who support gay rights, immigration and some level of government assistance.

Let us take the view of government assistance with personal lives as an example. Let us start with the with the middle and go Right. The middle would be some level of government assistance in the lives of citizens. Social Security cards, the DMV, various licensing, stuff that you most likely see as reasonable for everyday use. There are taxes and fees for small processes undergone. We nudge to the Right and see the desire for less government involvement in say, welfare. At first it's just a gradual reduction. Perhaps those on welfare have a slightly reduced volume of benefits. A little less in the welfare checks, a little less Medicare, etc, in the hopes of saving tax money from those who aren't on welfare and prompt those who are into improving their situation. Nothing drastic.

Take a step further. Some programs will be greatly reduced. Those who milk the system will be up in arms, but there are even some on the Left who can acknowledge that some such steps are necessary. After all, if someone has the physical means to work and simply chooses not to, should he or she really receive benefits? This falls within the Moderate Right. But then let us get more extreme. You find those who not only want to reduce programs, but get rid of many altogether. Eliminate Affirmative Action, Medicare, Medicade, and a host of other programs. This is opposed vehemently by many on the Left, but most on the Right support.

Take it to the hard core extreme, and introduce the idea of no government assistance whatsoever for anyone. This will make even most Rightists pause. After all, some will argue, correctly, that there are some who do need help. What if someone is crippled in an accident and unable to care for themselves, but are not affiliated with any church to help them or have no family. What then? Obviously, such a person needs help. What about the man trying to support his family, but has been laid off through no fault of his own? Times can be bad, and purely through circumstance be in a very bad spot. But this man seeks only to have enough help to get him through this bad patch until he can get back on his feet. A temporary boost. This is something that we can all clearly sympathize with and acknowledge as a case where some help is necessary. After all, if a mother is widowed and she has children who need to be fed, but she can't find a job because she must watch them, what else is to be done? Suddenly most Rightists sound like Leftists! In such an event many Rightists would acknowledge that there need to be cuts, certainly, but would equally acknowledge the need to help those who are simply beyond normal help. They first advocate receiving help from friends, family and church, with government help as a last resort. But it is still a resort that may be reached, and thus there must be some level of government assistance for those who truly need it. To forego any and all help entirely, to the point that it is more akin to anarchy where everyone must fend for themselves, would be more than most could stand.

The lines blur, don't they? Now lets go to the Left and see the layers there.

On the Moderate Left you have those who believe many are in very difficult circumstances that need help from the government first and foremost. After all, not everyone has reliable friends, family or other organizations to help them where they live. These people are to receive help in the form of food stamps, government housing and medical help. Those on the Moderate Right can see this point of view and sympathize with it, but disagree on terms of how much of these things are received.

Go further Left. We see those who believe that government should not only supply the basics of life, but provide help with continued schooling and college. After all, college is a very important means of acquiring knowledge and securing a firm career with high pay to support ones self and family. Most of the Left agree with this. It requires raised taxes, but they see that as a duty and a privilege for the community as a whole.

Further still and we find the advocacy for government not only having a hand in many facets of life, but controlling them. They see the mistakes widely made by citizens and believe that control should be transferred to those in government and have a much larger hand in how people conduct their lives. Here we come to socialism. But you will find some Leftists a little worried when they learn that they will be taxed much more heavily for programs that do what they can do by themselves. After all, they are happy to help others by paying taxes, but not at the cost of being plunged into poverty themselves through taxes too heavy to be sustained.

Jump to the extreme of the Left and you find people advocating the confiscation of not just money through taxes, but personal property, cars and even homes! Here many Leftists will openly oppose such measures. It's one thing to help someone find a home, but to provide it by robbing others and throwing them on the street is another matter altogether. They find their pockets emptied through taxes, their purchases confiscated as being a waste of money and turned over to others, and most facets of their lives intruded upon. In fact some Leftists might eagerly assist this process through vandalizing and robbery. Other Leftists would be horrified as they see citizens and businesses pillaged and openly condemn such behavior. Others on their same side will suggest that those being robbed deserve it. It would be contested that yes, there are perhaps those who must give up some of what they own to help others, but to carry out such action through violence and destruction is unacceptable. Here it will be widely acknowledged that this is too far, and we see the elements of the same side divided amongst themselves.

See how the pendulum can swing so far from one side to the other, yet be pulled back by the side it is swinging towards? The extreme sides of both exist and must be reined in. Nor is this behavior limited only to government assistance. It applies to each and every issue we discuss politically.

In fact, far from being simple Left or Right, there is a field of overlap and varying degrees of political belief. It comes in degrees, not absolutes. To visualize this concept, now look at what we have.

Image result for color scale

Here we have a vast and wide color gradient. Now imagine that this represents all political leanings of different degrees from Left to Right, Up and Down, and you have a very real idea of what actual political leanings are like for individuals, not just groups. It is a vast spectrum. The further to the sides you get, the more extreme the belief. The closer to the middle, the more moderate. Now when you hear that someone considers themselves a Leftist, ask yourself, what kind of Leftist? How extreme or moderate are their beliefs? Same for the Rightists.

People are infinitely more complex than one simple word. In fact, even in the examples I've given of ever growing complexity, it's possible that it might become more complex still. This I can't illustrate. Perhaps I haven't even thought of it yet. These show only political leanings. But there is so much more outside of those. What is the mentality of the individual? Their upbringing? Their family? Friends? What are they afraid of? What do they like? What do they hate? Such things are all pieces of what makes up an individual person and can't be captured in any sort of graph or model.

Often in the brutal political climate today we divide ourselves on very simplistic and limiting criteria. We grow more and more aggressive towards those we perceive to be our enemies from the simple virtue of the fact that they are on a different side. It is a very dangerous thing to stray towards any extreme. Not only does it dehumanize others, but it will force your opponents to take equally extreme positions. A universal law of physics is that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Politics is no exception.

I noticed this especially in the last election. I'd always considered myself very far on the Right. But then suddenly strange extremists came about and I found myself identifying as a moderate. Likewise there were many on the Left who found the continuing extremes of their side becoming distasteful and frightening. In fact, the majority of the country didn't vote for either candidate.

Through this article I hope to emphasize the humanity of all sides. Don't look at others as less than human because they believe differently from you. Don't brand all with the stamp of one side or the other. They may in fact have much more in common with you than you realize.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Sure-Fire Solution to Stop School Shootings

Folks, I have the one and only true way to not only keep school shootings from happening ever again, but also eliminate school bullying and child-molesting teachers without spending a single cent!

How you ask? Quite simple! I'm actually surprised nobody else has suggested it. Get rid of schools!

It's just as reasonable as all the policies I've heard from other people. Bad things happen a few times with something, get rid of it altogether. That's the reasonable thing, right? Plus this way we save billions of dollars annually on taxes, teachers unions, lots of time on driving kids to and from school, no more stupid fund raisers or band. Best of all, no homework! We can all fall-back on homeschooling with online tests. The benefits are limitless!

Come on everyone! Let's work to ban schools with their intelligence shaming, sex shaming, teen shaming, shame shaming, the whole kit and caboodle. After all, it is for the children!