While safely bunkered during Black Weekend (used to be Black Friday), giving thanks for what we already have, a quiet moment alone (always a dangerous scenario), had me pondering of things we’re still waiting for as a modern society. I grew up expecting we’d have flying cars by this time, and believed the book “2001 Space Odyssey” to be less fiction, more coming soon, give or take a few years. Hell, we put a guy on the moon in the sixties, a first step to our planetary neighbors. Granted, I was a kid, and never considered serious concepts of economic reality, but really, it’s 2014 already. Why aren’t we throwing Frisbees on Mars?
With Thanksgiving around the corner, thoughts turn to chilly days, roseate cheeks, the promise of snow, and the advent of blubber season. Some are of the opinion that our annual glutton festival begins at Halloween, evident by tacky fingerprints from stealth-diving into the kids goodie bag. As far as I’m concerned, the starting bell for the World Series of holiday binging, technically rings on Thanksgiving Day. Unlike our puritan ancestors, who ate foods native to the New World, our modern tables groan with big-breasted birds, carbs the density of a black hole,and sugar confections to send us all to diabetics anonymous.
I read a book review on Jeanne Abram’s Revolutionary Medicine, and it reminded me of how primitive our medical knowledge was a couple hundred years ago. A common treatment for fevers was the practice of bloodletting, believed to enhance the balance of body humors, or fluids. Sterile technique wasn’t a concept back then, with soiled fingers probing open wounds. Ms. Abram tells us our 20th President Garfield didn’t die of a would-be assassins bullet, but the resulting infection from dirty fingers digging for it. George Washington was bled four times just before he died. No wonder the mortality rate was so high. I think it’s safe to say we’re fortunate with today’s modern medicine, where the concept of bloodletting is limited to samples and donations.
I’ve read plenty of stories in dystopian and apocalyptic fiction where humankind is punted back to the dark ages. Having the medical resources of our revolutionary times would be thinking on the bright side. Look at stories like The Hunger Games, or the movie, Ephesium, and tell me your heart won’t break at humanity mired in poverty, and a privileged class isolating themselves from “human chaff” with access to better diets and care. Of course, it is just a story, but the recent tragedy in the Philippines is a wrenching reminder that adequate, basic medical care is beyond the reach of way too many people in this world.
It’s getting cold out there, and I’m about to make my esophagus searing chili. I call it “Dante’s Nine Circles of Smoking Hell”. People sometimes ask why I voluntarily put myself through tear-inducing misery of first and secondary degree burns to the salivary glands. It’s not just a male ritual thing, like opening beer bottles with our teeth, you’d be surprised how many women love spice in more than just their romance novels.
I love this time of year. Geese are flying in the wrong direction, teen boys still wear shorts in freezing weather, and soon, costumed adolescents will wander to the door in search of free handouts. Who’d have thought a pagan ritual from yesteryear would be so popular. With all the invented holidays proudly supported by card making companies, Halloween remains in the top three. It’s the start of the real season, a preamble of sorts to November’s demise of Big Bird’s cousin and the bankrupting king of holidays, Christmas. Enjoy yourself. After January, we enter the bleak phase of our calendar where holidays go on … holiday. Don’t even think about Valentine’s Day being a holiday.
Blade Runner, Dan Brown, Dystopia, Dystopian Fiction, Elysium, Joachim Boaz, Malthusian Catastrophe, Overpopulation, population growth, Robert Heinlein, Soylent Green, Thomas Malthus, World Population, Writing Dystopia, Writing Science Fiction
Those who read or write dystopian and apocalyptic stories, are likely to know what a Malthusian Check is. For those who don’t, a quick Wikipedia definition.
“The power of population is so superior to the power of the earth to produce subsistence for man, that premature death must in some shape or other visit the human race. The vices of mankind are active and able ministers of depopulation. They are the precursors in the great army of destruction, and often finish the dreadful work themselves. But should they fail in this war of extermination, sickly seasons, epidemics, pestilence, and plague advance in terrific array, and sweep off their thousands and tens of thousands. Should success be still incomplete, gigantic inevitable famine stalks in the rear, and with one mighty blow levels the population with the food of the world.”
Also known as a Malthusian catastrophe, it refers to humanity’s forced return to subsistence-level conditions if population growth outpaces the world’s agricultural production.
It involves a subject we hear about in a regular stream of media events, population growth. Today, the human population is estimated around 7 billion. In the last two-thousand years, we’ve gone from just another mammalian species struggling for a niche, to the most dominant, animal life form on the planet. We can thank our developed frontal lobe for allowing us to think our way out of natural selection limiters designed to keep numbers in check. Today, humanity’s only real predator is …
My name is DT. I once was a chronic Brand avoider.
The collective assembly replies. Hi …. DT.
I follow a number of diverse blogs on the writing craft and publishing. The subject of establishing an author “brand” comes up frequently. We’ve all heard it, to succeed in marketing a story in today’s environment, an author needs to establish a brand relevant to the author’s work as part of a total social media package. A recent article by Jan O’Hara rekindled the memory of how I struggled to think like Madison Avenue, so much so, I put it off for way too long. Resurrecting a post written last year on the trials of creating a website, I would like to recall those random thoughts on how I discovered my brand.
I’m sure you’re first thought upon reading the title, there goes ole DT, off on another weird subject. Can’t help it, I like unusual subject matter, especially if it can relate to the dystopian, apocalyptic stories I write. Summer is nearly over, but the Culicidae parasite is still in high season. Plenty of biting insects fill the roster of least favorite critters in this world, but none are as universally despised by the global community than mosquitoes, or mozzies as the Aussies like to say. In my latest tale, a future where humans teeter on the edge of extinction, our hero ponders why mosquitoes continue to have free reign of the environment when 95% of the human race has perished from a plague virus.
I read an article recently that ten percent of Americans do not own a cell phone. Really? How can they possibly hope to speak the new age language of texting? The stats must be heavily skewed to include religious orders who take vows of silence, full time participants of historical reenactment parks, and children under the age of five (though I’ve heard many of this age class are born with innate skill). It’s hard to fathom a subclass of people who don’t text at red lights, standing at the check-out counter, or sending text replies while pretending to listen — standing in front of me, as if I can’t see them ignoring me.
Last year, I visited a small National Monument called Pipe Springs in Utah, the site of the Piute, Native American reservation. It wasn’t the museum of native artifacts dating back thousands of years, amazing in its own right, that struck with me awe. Nights crisp cold, the sky blazed with an unencumbered view of the Milky Way against a backdrop of pure onyx. It had been long time since I seen such cosmic majesty with my own eyes and not from Hubble satellite pictures. A recent weekend newspaper suggested exotic places to visit with National Geographic views of the heavens. I’m usually looking for light in the darkness, but it saddened me that we must now travel off the beaten track to experience a sky uncluttered by luminous pollution.