The Predicable Star Wars Letdown


That’s the word I have to use with Rise of Skywalker. Not only does the film not feel satisfying as an ending to this modern trilogy, it feels rushed, out of sync with the rest of the saga and hackneyed. As a writer, I saw great potential in 2015 with The Force Awakens only to follow with somewhat of an unneeded Last Jedi. I blogged previously about this two years ago, stating my issues with the 2017 movie and how the third film should go all in to make up for most of the issues fans had with it. Of course, not one of the plot ideas I saw as potential ended up in the final installment. It’s almost as if none of the writers of the modern trilogy bothered to watch the previous films and understand certain not-so-complex directions the overall arc of characters appeared to be taking. No, we’re going to make the one of the central characters the granddaughter of the evil emperor supposedly killed (but not really) in Return of the Jedi. Okay….

Not only is this plot point a terrible cheat, but it proves that Hollywood writers don’t understand logical character or plot development any longer.

The only exception to this is the wonderful writers at Pixar who tend to write tremendous stories with fully fleshed characters who are placed in emotional dramas that make sense and appeal to people. They’re the ones who were able to successfully develop the character growth in two different franchises, Toy Story and Cars.

So, how does it make sense for evil Sith Lord Palpatine to have made any emotional connections with someone, let alone be married and have children who produce grandchildren? Yes, there are Star Wars novels that have expounded this very thing, but in a massive and episodic story arc, these novels don’t quite feel “canon”. The lazy attempt to explain everything out of ordinary from the two previous films is so cobbled together within the first ten minutes of the film and is not logically satisfying. We’re left to ask “Wait, what?”

From my point of view, this film was a choppy mess of various scenes that had plenty of action. I suppose they were designed to explain all those inconsistencies with the previous two films before attempting to make a good film. If you’re trying to fix mistakes, you’re not trying to create a good story or flesh out the new trio of characters which still has not been done. Not only that, the scenes go all over the place literally where no one can really catch their breath. Nothing flowed right. And trust me, writers notice this kind of thing. Or at least they should.

The Chicken and the Egg Paradox With the Airline Industry

As I frequently do, I like to travel. My wife and I are into seeing this beautiful country and to experience the world. I also like to write about traveling, not brag about it (maybe a little) but to share our joys in the experience. But sometimes the trip itself can get mired in stupid little hangups, usually the type that are out of our control. Delays I can handle. I’ve never, thankfully, had a piece of luggage lost. I’ve never been bumped. We prepare to the nth degree so that things like this don’t happen. We prepare for all slight inconveniences So what happens when you don’t prepare? Those that don’t, end up in a mess of their own making.

Today airlines are more interested in putting as many bodies in those seats to recoup costs. As a result I have noticed some service has fallen off. When people complain that they’re not getting good service, this reasoning is thrown back at them. But events in recent years have made me wonder if bad airline service begat viral videos of bad passenger behavior or has the wretched viral nature of social media and near instant distribution of news caused the increase of bad behavior in airline travelers. People consume these videos of others losing their minds on airplanes or at the ticket counter et cetera. Sure, it’s good fun ridiculing ridiculous travelers with ridiculous expectations (no, you can’t get on board a plane without an ID and other dumb ideas) but if you are a cynic at all, you might think this is normal. In some ways, it is.

Business Insider tries to find out why people are like this, but fails miserably to explain:

Yes, airport travel can be stressful but as with anything, there are ways around it if you prepare. But people intentionally being assholes on flights and getting “roughed up” (or at least claiming as such) to get freebies is not necessarily a new phenomenon. Getting fifteen minutes of fame is also not a new phenomenon. The availability of sophisticated smartphone technology to record bad passenger and airline behavior only adds to the problem. It is in the same vein of using a phone to record police officers while they are in the course of doing their duty in hopes of cashing in on any possible mistake made by said officers. It’s wrong both on the part of the voyeuristic videographer and the one acting like a moron. But human nature once again rears its ugly head. Some people get off on watching these morons. And it is truly ugly in today’s society where it’s easy and inexpensive to become a celebrity just by acting like a toddler.

Passenger air travel is literally something that has been around less than a hundred years. Jet airplane travel, probably around sixty. Even in the early days, people respected traveling by air because it was a luxury. It was something to be excited about because it was out of reach for many until cross-continent travel was available. In today’s standards it is still a luxury based on current prices. Back then people treated it with respect despite the large expense.

The sad statement is that government regulations, airline pilots unions and airport workers unions also hamper air travel for consumers, another aspect that airlines have to adjust for to make a profit and pay their overhead. I don’t fault the companies for trying to make a profit. I fault them for making it difficult for people that follow the rules and making it easier for petulant and disruptive passengers and customers to get their way. Stupid and avoidable mistakes are also the fault of airlines.

Take, for example, a flight my wife and I took from Atlanta to Los Angeles back in 2018: our flight was delayed an hour because the pilot’s seat was “malfunctioning”: the seat wouldn’t slide all the way up or something like that. Meanwhile, the plane full of people had to wait in their seats as mechanics pulled the pilot’s seat out to “repair” it on the jetway and put it back. We were both upset about it but cooler heads prevailed and we were patient. We had to look on the bright side: we didn’t get deplaned. delay did not cost us anything but time. Apparently, the rest of the airplane felt the same as there were no incidents of anyone acting out.

And then there’s the whole issue with “emotional support animals”, probably the dumbest concept I have ever heard of in my life. People have been testing the limits and pushing the envelope on the policy even so far as some guy wanting to bring his steer on board as an emotional support animal. Or horse or even a damn peacock.

When you take amenities away from passengers, you are going to get more asshole fliers. When you cost additional time, the same. But here is an instance where ground should be stood and keep people from using this ridiculous loophole.

Our solution to this whole mess of service and insane attnetion-seeking passengers? We fly first class. In our minds, it’s totally worth the price….

So…Now What?

Yes, it’s been a while since I have posted on this blog and there is no excuse for it. Life has been interesting recently–not bad per se, just busy. However, there is good news for everyone to hear. Shout for joy! Celebrate! The dream of having my novel on sale at a reputable self-publishing venue (Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing) has finally come true! It’s been live for a couple of days and it feels wonderful to know that I have a global presence on the Amazon marketplace.

Audacity: A Novel Kindle Edition

Now comes the hard part. And what, pray tell, is this the hard part? Well, it comes down to the issue of who is going to hawk your work to an eager online and brick-and-mortar public. The simple answer, of course, is it is my responsibility to see to this. If I were to have been lucky (relative term) to have been accepted by the venture-capital (or vulture capital as I see it sometimes) book publishing industry, they would do 60 to 70 percent of the marketing work for me as per a contract with an agent, representative et cetera. They would be obligated to promote the book they have invested money into. And it is an investment that very few authors get the opportunity to receive for their hard work and talents. Most of us independents don’t get that opportunity because, frankly, the cart is always before the horse. Name recognition usually garners a writer the chance to be published, to be in that select club that the New York/West Coast publishing industry has had a stranglehold on for many years. Alternatively, there is the slim chance you are causally associated with the club that affords the opportunity. As I said, they are the lucky few.

For those of us with genuinely good ideas, and have struggled to get our voice heard in the sea of literary agents, it is quite frustrating to have our dreams shot down in flames with rejected query form letters and seemingly impersonal rejections at literacy conferences. Desperate people turn to “vanity publishers” to prove to the world and themselves that they have accomplished this publishing dream only to discover that these publishers are only out for your money and not your welfare in your writing career. I have felt the frustration many times but have pushed forward all these years to perhaps one day feel the thrill of having my work available for purchase and to gain an audience or at very least, a fan base. Who wouldn’t want that? What it took to achieve this hope was the realization that your work has to be tinkered with over and over again until it is damn near perfect and even then, perfection sometimes won’t get your heard.

Now I’m not saying that my work is 100 percent perfect. I’m sure that someone who looks carefully enough will find some stupid little editing mistake (because I sure find them even in mainstream published work) and others who will take upon themselves to be the greatest experts of literature to trash the story, plot characters et cetera. I didn’t write this for them. I wrote this for people who want a good story. And I’m hoping that three times as many people that don’t know me than do find it a good story. And the only way to do that is put it out on the market and let it sink or swim. That’s all any product can do. And this is where self-promotion really takes the center stage.

But promoting oneself for people who aren’t good at it can be a challenge. It takes a certain kind of ego to stand in the bazaar without fear and try to sell your wares one at a time. For me, I’m not comfortable enough in my own skin to be able to do this. In the independent author world, this is what you have to do. You cannot rely on the internet alone and expect everyone to just happen upon the book and buy it. There is no choice but to market yourself. It’s a damnable reality. You must recoup your cost. I’m not talking in terms of printing cost but rather hours of labor. Hours spent writing and rewriting, editing and reading. It’s the time spent junking what you have and redoing everything. It’s the time you spend outlining, developing characters, acting out scenes in your mind, getting up in the middle of the night to jot down an idea that comes to your mind and the countless hours fixing your own mistakes and reaching that perfection needed to make a great book.

No doubt that this will be a learn as you go process. I figured out this is the best way to work by studying of all people Walt Disney, who was described once as being an “optimal behaviorist”, meaning a person who just did the work and let the chips fall where they may as far as success. Disney was also fond of say that “quality will win out” meaning a quality job will maximize the success you have. Both philosophies have been very helpful in determining what will help me garner the most presence. And it all starts with friends and family. You know whatever you do that these are the people who will wish you the best luck and give you the most support. If you can convince them you have a great product, that’s one way of networking. Word of mouth is and always will be the best marketer, especially in these social media conscious days. My recipe for success will hopefully be a mix of the Disney philosophy and the use of the technology we have today to make a global presence in the book buisness. I’ve taken the first steps by independent publishing. Now the next steps are to spread the word. I know it won’t be easy but if I don’t try I’ll never know what I can do. Hopefully I can share with you more stories of my success in the near future.

Cross your fingers with me and keep reading….


The Forensic Art of the Sketch

No surprise here that I love a good mystery, so it pleases me to write about an intriguing local mystery that has been circulating. I live near Bartow County, Georgia (northwest of Atlanta) and there has been an interesting if not creepy unsolved case to hit the news: a body of a woman found at a local landfill on Monday August 13. At this time, attempts are being made and a tip line has been set up to identify the woman found. So far, at the time of this post, nothing has been uncovered about the victim. Rumors, of course, have been going around: the body dismembered and such. None of that has been confirmed.

Georgia Bureau of Investigation provided a fairly good and tasteful (but not necessarily accurate by their own admission) sketch of the victim:

In certain instances where identification is tricky, some police and investigative departments have failed (oftentimes miserably) to get a decent likeness of a victim or perpetrator, as seen in the YouTube channel Dark5:

Sketches are obviously more art that science and although these forensic works of art have been helpful in the past, they are not one hundred percent useful. But what the Bartow County Sheriff’s Department is also doing is releasing pictures of victim tattoos, one of which is the following:

Again, this method of identification, by releasing to the public identifying marks like a tattoo, is another great idea yet is not one hundred percent helpful. Yes, tattoos are unique but they’re not that unique, or at least not unique enough to say that this ink is wholly connected to a specific name that someone can remember. Tattoos are either boldly displayed or hidden purposefully by clothing, depending on the individual. There are some cold cases languishing in file boxes waiting for a victim to be identified with only approximate sketches and tattoos as the means to reach out to the public for help. My opinion of tattoo identification is mixed. But at the very least, it is a starting point for investigators.

As a resident of this general area, I know that a major Interstate highway (I-75) runs right through the middle of Bartow County. Given the number of truckers and transient (both good and bad) people that drive through the area, it is possible that this victim could have come from anywhere. However, it is equally likely that this woman was a local, as there is homelessness in this semi-rural county in Northwest Georgia and the specific landfill where she was found is in a more rural part of Bartow County near Interstate 75.

Whatever the outcome of this investigation–we’re all assuming homicide at this point–I have a feeling that police will have their work cut out for them. A previous post I made about the Jacques and Jane Doe murders in rural South Carolina (both still unidentified after forty-something years) comes to mind. Hopefully, identification will not take very long and a good tip will bring some kind of closure to whoever this person is.

If you have information, please contact the Bartow County, Georgia Sheriff’s Department at (770) 387-5100.

The Misunderstood

There is a group of artists that are hard to understand and easily misunderstood, not for their art but their decisions to be loyal to their country. Don’t misunderstand me, though. I am completely loyal to the United States of America, but I don’t quite get the group of Soviet composers who stayed in Russia following the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917.

Of course it is natural that a majority of composers and artists think themselves intellectuals and eggheads. There a few that don’t–there’s a handful off the top of my head. But a trio of Soviet composers from the twentieth century are misunderstood by the intellectuals today, believing that they are and were fellow travelers. This is wrong to assume. All three of these men were artists, but forced to fly their Communist-Party affiliation ahead of their artistic needs. When a totalitarian regime has a stranglehold on what is deemed acceptable to the State, you are not an artist. You are a subject like everyone else and subject to the whims of the happiness of your patrons who also happen to have to ability to kill you at a moment’s notice. These men carefully tread on the line, pleasing their own creativity while pleasing the State. It didn’t go very well most of the time obviously.

Dimitri Shostakovich (1906-1975) is the most well-known of the group and has a significant output of classical music in the twentieth century with many glorious symphonies and other great works.

Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953) had left Russia following the 1917 revolution, but found that many of his best and most lucrative commissions were coming from the Soviet government and therefore returned and thrived creatively, mainly during the Second World War.

Aram Khatchaturian (1903-1978) is the lesser known of the group but is probably the most talented of the three. Many of his melodious works are hummed in our minds because of them being featured in movies and television.

The common thread is control and the Soviets had their control on each of them, even after the brutal Joseph Stalin died in the mid 1950’s. Each composer has dedicated works to some particular part of Soviet existence or a Soviet leader (Stalin being the “favorite”). For example, Prokofiev’s final symphony, the 7th in C Sharp Minor (one of my absolute favorites), is dedicated ambiguously to “Soviet Youth”. Many of Shostakovich’s symphonies have a dedication to Stalin or to moments of Soviet History (his one movement 2nd Symphony).

Imagine living in a society where whatever your art is, it must glorify those in the Kremlin before it glorifies anyone else, much less your own accomplishments. Tooting one’s own horn was against the establishment.

The Soviet Union of the Cold War era is much more of a mystery than we as Americans realize. It was an insulated culture then and perhaps still is in it’s current form (the Soviets haven’t really gone away just so you know) and westerners like to believe they know what was in the heads of these three composers. We don’t. Not really. We don’t know if their art made them happy or if their lives were fulfilling as composers in an era full of uncertainty and a waning popularity in classical music. American classical music lovers have an appreciation for Shostakovich, Prokofiev and Khatchaturian to which I’m sure would surprise the hell out of three of them if they were around today.

Obviously, they all lived long lives and survived the harshest years of the Soviet Union. To assume that it was easy for them is going to be hard to prove. Like the whole history of Cold War Russia, the true stories of each of these composers are probably going to be shrouded in what we as westerners want to beleive: they did it for the sake of music

Nessie, Will You Please Show Yourself?

Based on my thoughts on other paranormal- phenomenon-blogs, my opinions on cryptids may shock you: I am on the fence as to whether I believe they exist or not. In other words, I’m not so sure I believe in the existence of them, mainly the two most infamous, Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster. The argument has always been, the only way to confirm the existence of such creatures is if one is captured alive or is hunted and killed. The need for proof is of course part of human nature. Neither of these options sound appealing because it doesn’t seem right to sacrifice a thriving single living creature put in captivity for a specimen to satisfy a scientific curiosity nor should anyone be actively hunting either of these creatures for the same reasons. That is why I ask that Nessie finally show herself (or himself?) to the world, to end a debate.

Legends of both have been circulating throughout history in North America and Scotland respectively (“Champ” or “Champie” in New York State’s Lake Champlain for example is “our” Nessie) and “man-like apes” from all over the world, specifically the American Pacific Northwest and the Himalayan mountains. The truth is, Bigfoot is quite a sales boon in the Pacific Northwest as a tourist draw. The same for Nessie in Scotland.

Legends of course are based on truth and I have no doubts that creatures of these descriptions have been seen throughout history by many straight thinking people. I also do not dismiss Nessie or Bigfoot as tall tales, steeped in recycled cultural folklore. The legend of the Loch Ness Monster goes back much further than the famous 1934 photograph:

This photo has been authenticated and disproven so many times over the decades, the latest determination being that it is a hoax. My opinion is it probably IS a hoaxed photograph, but it doesn’t necessarily mean the legend isn’t true.

We’re so ignorant of what is in our oceans and lakes because they are environments to which human beings are not suited or designed for. Even in our curiosity with current technology, we still have no clue what really exists in the bottoms of these bodies of water. Loch Ness is kind of an anomaly, a glacial lake formed by trapped ice between mountains. It is not as need or wide as, say, Lake Superior in the Upper Midwest. But how do we really know what is in these mysterious bodies of water? The reality is, we don’t know.

A while back, I did a post on the strange mystery of people that disappear in our National Parks. One of the actual mainstream theories is that these people have been attacked and killed by either wild animals or by Bigfoot. This Bigfoot theory is just as plausible as the next, frankly, and I never dismiss it because the unknown factor, the fact that like our oceans, we just do not know what is in our forests.

Of course with most phenomena, skeptics always hit you with what you didn’t see: i.e “you didn’t see a prehistoric aquatic dinosaur” or “you didn’t see an previously thought to be extinct hominid”. This talking down to of our own senses is both annoying and insulting, vaguely similar to “explanations” for unidentified flying objects. The historical accounts of these two particular cryptids being seen over the centuries automatically disqualifies the skeptics. Certainly somebody saw something otherwise there would be no legend. And if the legend dies, a great story will die and I say we shouldn’t let that happen.

Memento Mori

Is a family portrait not complete without everyone in the photograph, even if one of the family is, well, deceased? Ask this Victorian family as well as many others of the era on both sides of “the pond” and they would argue yes.

The practice of photographing dead loved ones is almost synonymous with the early beginning of photography itself in the mid to late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Photo portraits were an expensive luxury at first, but as the technology developed further (glass negatives instead of the Daguerreotype metal plates first used), many families began to use this seemingly morbid practice to remember those who have passed. But is it as morbid as we in the twenty-first century may believe? The Egyptians mummified their great leaders for, at a basic level, to be remembered for all eternity. So far so good.

We’re living in a time where digital photography reigns and will continue to do so thanks to smart phones and tablets with high-resolution and high-quality miniature camera lenses. Also we’re a society as a whole that takes an endless series of selfies wherever we go in life. And while it’s fun to take self portraits of ourselves and loved ones at beautiful sites and places, there are those who will take self-portraits in the most mundane of places, say Taco Bell for instance, and sadly, in the bathroom mirror. The purpose of selfies naturally leans towards selfishness, but it is also to be remembered. People as a whole never forget stupidity.

I’d wager most of the amateur shutterbugs today probably don’t know of the practice of memorializing dead loved ones through photography as much as they should because they proably don’t know the circumstances behind the reasoning: high death rates. It wasn’t until the polio vaccine was developed in the 1950s that American death rates were able to plummet as they have. In the Victorian era before antibiotics and vaccines, any number of common and uncommon diseases could take away a loved one. When death struck and took someone, many families wanted to memorialize that person after death other than a simple headstone in a graveyard and photos were the means to accomplish this.

Keep in mind though, the shutter speeds of early cameras were not fast at all and sometimes required sitting still for a longer period of times than a mere few seconds. Can you imagine the family pictured above sitting in these positions with their dead daughter for a minute or more to get the exposure on film? The many generations before us were certainly a lot less squeamish than we are today. Again, that also has to do with the modern mortality rates. In other words, people were more accustomed to death.

We as a modern society do not handle death as those, say, a hundred and fifty years ago. We’re a little past the sesquicentennial of the end of the War of Northern Aggression (that’s the Civil War for all you Yankees) which was America’s first real visage of death, a war that also popularized photography in America. Some of the best and most grisly images in American history come from pictures taken after some of our most heated and bloody battles, Antietam, Shiloh and Gettysburg for example. The public couldn’t get enough. And perhaps it is a good thing that this conflict was documented in this manner for teaching future generations about the horrors of conflict and war, sometimes a sadly necessary function of humanity.

But what can and do death portraits teach the selfie generation? I see daily posts on Facebook of friends of mine opine through status or meme how much they miss a parent or other meaningful loved ones and I understand fully. It is hard to let go. And I see posts of people who are screaming for attention, often in various and dangerous ways in a public forum like Facebook.

The literal translation of memento mori from Latin is “remember that you have to die”. It is the “medieval Latin Christian theory and practice of reflection on mortality, especially as a means of considering the vanity of earthly life and the transient nature of all earthly goods and pursuits”. The “live for today” generation doesn’t truly appreciate the time we have now and the looming end each of us have. Perhaps the Victorian era had a leg up on us with this realization.

Success Always Brings Haters

My wife wanted to know why I have been researching the life of Walt Disney over the last few months, absorbing tons of videos on YouTube and soon to be purchasing many books. Perhaps it’s the great American story behind him that I respect and have been yearning to learn more of. True men of genius fascinate me and there are many other unappreciated geniuses I would eventually love to talk about. Walt is not like the others I have posted about such as Jim Henson and Mozart, two men in totally different eras in different places and working in different arts. Those two geniuses I described as being “tortured”, constantly wrestling with their own minds to create new art and never quite satisfied, whether it be music or with storytelling and film. Walt’s mind was not tortured to create, but driven to innovate not for his sake but for everyone’s benefit and enjoyment. And the biggest difference between them all was he was allowed to stoke the fires of his genius by being successful. He also was what Ray Bradbury called an “optimal behaviorist”, going out and trying new things, experimenting without thought to success, failure or even profitability. If the idea works, great. If it doesn’t, oh well. Let’s move on to the next idea.

People of the present, learned or not, can either defend or lambaste the reputations of people from history. My choice is to defend the defendable and chaste the inexcusable. It is difficult to defend the dead however without knowing the ins and outs of that person’s lifetime and that is why I have been studying Walt.

At the 90th birthday of a certain celebrity mouse, there’s a new book coming out, stating in so many words, that Walt Disney deliberately and with malice stole the character of Mickey Mouse from his creative partner and co-creator Ubbe Iwerks for his own use and purposes. We know that Mickey Mouse is the intellectual property that began an entire entertainment empire. Scandalous as that sounds, as I believe the intent is, it is completely preposterous according to Disney historians, family friends and those that knew and worked with the man.

For decades after his death, Leftist haters have spread so much rumor and innuendo about Walt, from slave driving his employees to rampant racism, sexism and anti-Semitism from himself and in the entire Disney organization. Walt didn’t make many friends testifying before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) in 1947 following the unionization of his cartoonist staff and the strike against Disney Studios in 1942 and the personal attacks by union agitators. That may have a lot to do with the hate, jealousy and conjured derogatory myths towards him that continues today and seeing that future president Ronald Regan also testified in front of that same 1947 committee provides insight into why he was despised as well.

Jealousy is, in my view, simply fear of others successes. Walt’s entire life was dedicated to proving naysayers wrong, either producing high-quality art and story through his cartoons or his ventures into technology and innovation, including theme parks and urban planning. And in most cases he both proved them all wrong and made tremendous profit on it. Even when he lost money on projects, his optimal behaviorism looked forward to the next project. And there was always another project.

His commitment to American free-enterprise and cooperation with American industry and belief of working closely wrankled anti-corporate rewriters of history. Walt’s affection for other large corporations and his love of innovation goes hand in hand–working together to promote new ideas and technology for everyone’s benefit. He saw corporate America as something not to be feared but a relationship to use to reap those benefits. It is true there would not have been a successful American space program if Walt hadn’t shown the interest and passion to go into space and his efforts to educate the public on the need to invest time and money. His promotion of space exploration on his television show in the 1950s garnered the public’s understanding.

Walt’s belief in and promotion of sacred traditional American values is what I believe is the most important aspect of the man. To always work hard, dream and achieve is a hallmark of the American story. As the following article written in 1968 by critic Richard Schickel for American Heritage puts it, Walt was “a man whose taste and morality comfortably reflected those of the middle-class American majority“:

For the last fifty years, intellectuals have pooh-poohed middle-class values. If you look at Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World, the Main Street that typifies middle America is celebrated and appreciated out of a partially nostalgic yet practical view that those Main Street values do matter. I don’t know what is to hate about that.

Schickel also in this same article points out that Walt was an ‘inarticulate, withdrawn man. Intellectually and emotionally he remained a child, but he was anything but childlike when it came to managing and directing the only thing he greatly cared about—his business or, to use the phrase favored by his publicity department, his ‘magic kingdom’.” Shame on Mr. Schickel for calling Walt, one of the best storytellers of this century inarticulate. I think that many of learned academia lookdown on and condedsend those with little education pedegree–Walt never completed a high school education–that are more successfulthan those who ridicule. Again, jealousy.

Sadly, Disney has become more of a brand name than a legacy, only superimposed (rightly so) on a corporate logo. Walt was a lion of business and creative ingineuity yet very few understand what a difference in the world he made as an individual. I tend to believe the people who ran the empire after his passing slowly lost the passion and energy he had for making the world a better place. Yes, that sounds totally banal, but can you imagine a world without Walt’s influence? How sad it would probably be. What is sadder that people who had a strong positive influence on our lives as Americans are being torn apart after the fact.

Which Alien is More Frightening?

There was a recent Facebook clickbait list of the scariest Sci-Fi aliens in films and I of course couldn’t resist. Among the ones chosen, the most interesting was the alien virus from the 1971 film The Andromeda Strain. This begs the question: as scary as the monster-like outer space aliens are, are the aliens we can’t see more frightening? Naturally, the enemy you can’t see coming is the one to fear the most.

If you are an afficianado of The X-Files, you already know the mythology of the grey aliens as we know them, that they are the original inhabitants of Earth and has origins as a virus suspended in crude oil, natural to the planet, with the intention to reconstitute themselves physically through mass infection at a later date. Even though this is science fiction, it has the most plausibility of actually happening. And who is to say it hasn’t?

The Spanish Flu epidemic of the early 1900s devastated the population of the Earth. In fact, as the First World War was ravaging in Europe, the flu was killing off many throughout the world including U.S. servicemen. There were more U.S. military personnel killed by the flu at home than we lost by combat in France in 1917 and 1918. The origins of this particular strain are still not completely understood by medical science, nor the origins and complexities of many viruses that are known and catalogued. Could it be that the Spanish Flu was a space-bourne virus, thus technically making it extraterrestrial? Possibly. There are theories that HIV/AIDS could be something extraterrestrial in origin, born and cradled from some asteroid meteor or comet hurtling endlessly through space before somehow crashing to the surface of the Earth. But as we all know, space itself is dangerous and has its own health effects on humans:

Diseases themselves are a mystery to science. As much study has been done, there is not truly an understanding of them as much as could be known. There are cures and sometimes only stopgaps to protect us but bacteria and viruses are some of the most adaptable organisms on the planet. Even the historical/scientific origins of these origins are in question. If the theory of evolution is to be believed, do bacteria and viruses also have a supposed common ancestor? Could that common ancestor be extraterrestrial?

This discussion of alien viruses and bacteria dovetails into panspermia, the theory that life was begun on Earth via this similar method of bacteria and viruses carried by natural space objects like meteors and comets or by the more wild theory of ancient aliens purposefully spreading their DNA across the cosmos in an attempt to save or create life. While I don’t personally subscribe to the theory as a whole it is interesting to ponder on.

As much as we collectively are afraid of Xenomorphs “Martians” or little grey (not green) men, we also tend to forget about the obvious, that it doesn’t necessarily take War of the Worlds or Invasion of the Body Snatchers to conquer humanity. There is so much in this vast universe that has the potential to harm us but the unknown is so much more scary. We’ll never be able to understand everything that the universe contains considering that the Earth is 4.6 billion years old and we have no idea the actual age of the rest of the universe, only scientific guesses. And the natural and biological mysteries of our own planet are just as difficult.

We’ve been asking the questions “Are we alone in the universe?” and “Have we been visited byan alien species?” Perhaps the second question can asnwer the first if we consider the realm of the microscopic and realize “they” may have been here a while and we haven’t noticed yet.

Our Gasoline Safe Space

The electric car is being forced on consumers by a leftist multi-billionare. That’s the only way I can describe Tesla and Elon Musk and not be too political about it. A recent article I recently read about the company and its process of manufacturing their new Tesla 3 model is quite concerning and defies the “laws” of manufacturing common sense. To attempt to learn as you go when manufacturing cars before you are truly ready to put it in production is dangerous at best. In other words, Tesla is putting together its line of cars when it hasn’t perfected the means of doing so in mass production and assembly line terms. It’s almost like putting together a LEGO set with no instructions and only a picture.

I cannot say it enough: the completely electric vehicle is still not practical for everday Americans. Until certain technical and engineering challenges have been solved Tesla and others like it will not bring the innovation of fully electric vehicles to the market successfully. And people like me are perfectly satisfied living in our gasoline-powered safe spaces, willing to keep our trust in oil.

The folly of Tesla’s methods for manufacturing its cars is similar to a writer publishing a novel without any edits. Cars and books are both products and if they are not ready for consumers to buy, they just aren’t ready. Editing and research and development have to be part of the processes. You can’t be a Walt Disney and just invent a theme park and vacation industry on the fly. It is perfectly acceptable to try and innovate, but sometimes the old ways work best.

Elon Musk may shun the old ways of the Detroit automakers assembly line but there was a reason that system has worked for almost a hundred years nearly consistently. Of course over the years, robotics has come in to play to make these assembly lines more efficient in tandem with human counterparts, but the basics of assembly lines are as American as apple pie and baseball. They are tried and true. But there is a caveat.

Tesla wants to be a Ford Motor Company, despite their recent tiffs and insult trading with this competitor automaker. The problem is Tesla is too big for its britches and should stop trying to be a mass production company. The reason, Mr. Musk? Your company and your product is still a novelty, available to a select few able and willing to pay out the nose for an impractical vehicle for their own sense of self worth (that includes other rich leftists and the Hollywood types). Plus, the demand for your cars is, pardon the pun, manufactured by elites. As much as everyday people would like to have a clean electric car that looks cool (and they really do look cool), paying $2.65 a gallon at the gas pump is more affordable than the $35,000 starting price (the Model 3) despite other assertions.

The electric car is a lot like the Laserdisc of the 1980s, a technology designed to fill the need of a problem no one was aware that truly needed fixing. Laserdisc was a luxury that wasn’t practical for entertainment consumers of that era. VHS tapes could fill the need mostly cheaper and with equal or better quality. Again, gasoline cars are still the best mode of transportation as far as long-term cost and efficiency and if there is any alternative energy sources for cars that should get more research and more time it is both natural gas and hydrogen.

Don’t come at the American consumer and make promises you can’t keep. If your product is not great, keep working at it until it is ready. If your manufacturing process is still flawed, stop building until you have worked out all the kinks. Tesla, I believe, has forgotten a major factor in capitalism, that failure is perfectly acceptable as long as you learn from the mistakes and readjust to start anew. Do I think Tesla is a failure? No, I consider Tesla a good product idea way ahead of its time with ambitious plans and partial delusions of grandeur.