Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Read This

Most people just don't read anymore like they used to. Why should they when it's so easy to get everything from a video or a three second sound bite? Reading is not passive like watching a video or a podcast; it takes energy to focus your mind and process text a line at a time. People don't want to do that anymore. It's mental work and we all know folks want to avoid anything that makes them uncomfortable. So, if you write for money -- they call it "creating content" these days -- you're kind of screwed as far as earning a living, unless you're plugged into the publishing machine via family ties or fraternity connections or your political party.

The thing is, reading makes you smarter, it exercises your brain and improves cognitive abilities. Watching images on a screen does not. In fact, watching passively surrenders your cognitive centers into accepting as truth whatever passes into your conscious realm. That's a big problem when so much that is presented to us is illusion and, yes, even outright lies. You're still thinking and using judgment when you're reading.

Memes are wildly popular these days. You know, a picture of something accompanied by a pithy saying that is supposed to capture your attention and sway your emotions. Here's one I just made up.

What does it mean? Actually, nothing. It means I made up something and presented it in such a way that perhaps someone would mistake it for a profound statement. It's not profound at all but it has an emotional impact. "Awww," a casual observer might think, "isn't that cute? And when you think about it, it's true. Birds are for everyone!" Baloney.

Here's another one (to the right):

What does this one mean? Not a damn thing, but it makes you wonder if some of your thoughts are worth thinking.

Here's one more (below), just for fun:
Good advice or an ad for Waffle House? You make the call. You see what I mean? It's the Age of Memes and it's ludicrous. I wish people still liked to read. Maybe they would buy my books and I could move to Tahiti. Sigh. Aloha.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Are You Free?

"None are as hopelessly enslaved, as those who falsely believe they are free. The Truth has been kept from the depth of their Minds by Masters who rule them with lies. They feed them on falsehoods till wrong looks like right in their eyes." -- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Father's Day, 2019

I'm a little late in getting this out but here goes anyway. Last weekend, I rented a car and drove the 400 miles down to Houston in order to attend my brother's memorial service at the church where he had been an associate pastor for 24 years. My brother died six weeks ago and was subsequently cremated without a funeral so my bereavement was put on hold until the memorial service. It was indeed a sad duty.

While there, I saw relatives I had not visited with in years. There were a number of people I expected to see who did not attend. I do not know why these folks did not come around to pay their last respects because there was plenty of time to make arrangements. My suspicion is that because my brother was a professed conservative Christian, political opinions over-rode family connections.

I say this because some family members will not acknowledge my presence either although I am certainly not the religious guy my brother was. I do believe in God and Jesus Christ and so base my view of the universe and resulting philosophy on the bedrock of Christianity. That does not mean I totally accept everything I am told by fellow Christians.

My detractors, of course, like to point out my failures as a human being as well as my many sins, some of which are ongoing.

One of my cousins is a Bernie supporter, which in my mind makes him a communist, or at least a supporter of communism. I know his family history and so it does not take much imagination to follow his psychological reasons for pursuing a social and political philosophy that eschews freedom for man-made ideas of social equality. It is not a leap to assume his wife and children are also partisans of the same mindset.

Other of my family members and acquaintances have lived such severe materialist lives that they have become enmeshed in personal philosophies that merely bolster their need to constantly verify who they think they are and the pursuit of their every desire. Generally, they are fat and selfish.

Me? I am not that much better off. While I do not consider myself a miserable human being, I am far from being the person I had hoped to be. I have no close friends and consider people to be untrustworthy and dangerous. I am not as smart as I usually think I am and most of the time I feel as though I am coming up to the dead end of my life.

Now, my brother was sure he was going to heaven. He told me several times he looked forward to dying and being promoted in his consciousness. It is true, I am a believer, yet I do not always maintain such an unwavering faith that I will end up in a pleasant place after death. After all, I have been a stalwart libertine and a slave to my own desires. With all my sins against myself and humanity, it's hard to believe I deserve any kind of reward. I still have to fend off my material nature and the reasoning that this is all there is and after the ride is over I will be nothing. Faith is a rocky road for me.

Yet, I still lower my head and ask for forgiveness and guidance. It's all I can do. The other choice is to embrace the corruption and become more like what I see all around me -- and that is nasty and ugly. I don't want to be like that.

Well, I try to remember to be grateful for what I do have. I have a home and I have a dog and I have 10 cats who look to me for food and attention. I have the books I have written and the hope they will make me enough money to allow me to make the required purchases that will facilitate my material life. I eat a lot of beans and cornbread. I have a computer and so I go online and tell others what they should be thinking about. I ask them to have mercy on me and purchase my books.

And I ask you, my unknown reader, to have mercy on me. I ask for forgiveness and understanding and compassion. In exchange, I will give it to you as well.

Father's Day, 2019.

Friday, June 14, 2019

The Xylanthian Chronicles

The Xylanthian Chronicles is a sci-fi trilogy by Thomas C. Stone. The three books, in order, are Xylanthia, Return To Xylanthia, and The Galactic Center. In Xylanthia, the reader follows the adventures of a group of interstellar explorers who start out cataloging the flora and fauna of Xylanthia -- a moon in orbit about a gas giant locked in place between the binary stars at Sirius -- and end up fighting for their lives.

A gateway in time is discovered amid speculations on the nature of the origin of life on Xylanthia. Additionally, an enterprising lab technician derives a recreational drug from an alien substance and suddenly, we're off to the races. That's even before the transdimensional beings show up. Yep, that's what I said. Transdimensional beings.

To avoid spoilers, we only want to say that the second and third books extend the original story. What would you expect with a title like Return to Xylanthia? The entire trilogy is an incredible, down the rabbit hole reading experience.

The Xylanthian Chronicles is written for a general audience with a suggested rating of PG-13 with references to drug use and violence. If preferred, each book is also sold separately.

Available ebook formats: epub mobi pdf lrf pdb txt html

Sold at Smashwords and Amazon as well as other fine online book retailers.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Sandy Pearl and the Blades

In the mid-1970's, Sandy Pearl and the Blades were the hottest band on the scene. They topped the charts and wowed the concert audiences. Sandy Pearl was the mysterious frontman for the band and everyone was taken by surprise when the group re-located from LA to a small college town in Texas. Yet, the party continued. Sandy had an open door policy at his mansion on the edge of town and the soiree was legendary. Revelers, hippies, and groupies made the scene among a seemingly never-ending parade of sex, drugs and rock 'n roll. But no one knew who Sandy Pearl really was -- until Conrad Snow moved in next door.

In the grand tradition of F. Scott's tales of alcohol-fueled days and nights during the torrid 20's, Sandy Pearl and the Blades reminds us of the tragic futility of pursuing dreams whose time has passed.

Available in ebook format at Amazon or Smashwords.