It’s The Guns

Most Americans don’t own guns.

We don’t really know (as the gun lobby has successfully kept any agency of the Federal government from first hand studying the topic) but estimates are the percentage of gun owners is dropping, although the number of guns isn’t.

But this is the first lesson. You cannot quote any statistics that are negative about guns without a gun “enthusiast” coming back with some number they plucked from the silly space full of “facts” called the internet. Note when I say “enthusiasts” it’s my nice way of saying the NRA and the fringe of gun owners who are rabid. The majority of gun owners are law-abiding citizens, yet we are also part of the problem simply by the phrase “gun-owner”. We are complicit.

Because most Americans don’t own or know guns they usually ignore the gun lobby or even the issue until we get an event like yesterday. The problem is gun “enthusiasts” think about guns every day. It is the full time mission of the NRA every single day from this humble headquarters.

I read gun enthusiasts posts and their comments. So I am familiar with all the arguments against gun control. Before the bodies were cold in Florida, I saw the same tropes brought forth. I heard officials, such as the Florida governor, offer these tropes.

Not a single one says it’s the guns. It’s everything but the guns.

The first is “we need to do some about mental health” but just offering vague suggestions. The president* tweeted this morning essentially putting the blame on “neighbors and classmates”. Yes, blame the dead for their own demise!

When our gun lobby fought to allow people on the no fly list to be able to get guns on the off chance one legitimate citizen might be denied their gun— what mental illness do we think they will allow to be used to deny a person that same right? I’ve asked this over and over and not gotten a response. What will the NRA/gun owners find acceptable to be denied owning a gun? What DSMV diagnosis will be acceptable? I can tell you the answer: Not a single one.

And, of course, such a course of action requires every single gun owner to get a psychiatric evaluation. Will all gun owners be willing to do that? Will they support a law for that? Never.

Then so many John Wayne wanna-be’s are offering advice for what to do in case of shooting. Which is already too late. Having some training and experience in the matter of close quarters battle with firearms, I am incredulous at these fantasies.

I was very impressed with how the faculty and students reacted to the lockdown even though they hadn’t had a chance to conduct an actual drill this year. I was also deeply saddened that we require this training in every school.

I see some saying we need to change some of those rules about run-hide-fight and people should charge the shooter right away and overwhelm them with sheer numbers. Seriously? Against an assault rifle? (Don’t get me started on what is and isn’t an assault rifle).

Then there are the “we need MORE guns”. More concealed carry. Because mass shooters seek out gun free zones, etc etc etc. The inherent logic failure there is stunning. It is the fantasy John Wayne scenario that pervades so many. Yes, the shooter in Sutherland was “chased off” by a gun owner. After 26 were dead. Then the response is— we don’t enforce what laws we have, because he shouldn’t have been able to buy a gun. True, except does that really matter in a society awash with firearms? Where do we think the guns bad people have come from? The illegal gun factory? Almost every single gun used in a shooting started life legal. Almost every single gun used in a mass shooting was legal. I know all the other rebuttals and am too weary to go through them. I’ve addressed some in two previous blog posts after 58 people were killed in Las Vegas.

Las Vegas: He did it because he could

The Gun Issue Part Deux

BTW– not a single thing changed after Las Vegas. Bump Stocks are still legal. I suppose I will have to address more after the next mass shooting.

If MORE guns were the answer we would be the safest country in the world. But we’re the least safe first world country in the world from firearms. If that fundamental fact can’t be accepted? Thus we’ve all failed the psychiatric evaluation to have guns as a nation.

We Should Definitely Have A Military Parade and Here’s How It Should Go

I absolutely think we should have a military parade.

It should be held on Memorial Day. Every year.

It should start at the Capitol Building. All Gold Star families and veterans who wish to participate should gather. Special provisions must be made for veterans who can no longer “march” due to disability and/or wounds. Their wheelchairs will be pushed by members of Congress. ALL members of both Houses must march. Tammy Duckworth will have the Speaker push her wheelchair if she desires.

The route will lead to the White House where the President joins it. At the tail end. Everyone walks.

It proceeds across the Potomac to Arlington where the Joint Chiefs will be waiting. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs must then succinctly state the strategic goal in every conflict we are currently engaged in and what will be the indicator that we have achieved that goal; the way all military officers are taught.

The President must then give a speech explaining why the current Gold Star family members have died since we have not officially been at war since World War II. Every member of Congress must also give a two minute speech on why they have abdicated their Constitutional authority concerning War Powers.

The President and each member of Congress must accompany a Gold Star family to a grave for an hour of silence. Trump must go to the grave at right.

I think that would be a very worthwhile march.

Area 51: Redemption available for pre-order

The 10th book in my epic series, Area 51, will be out on 24 April. Pre-order is live.
Amazon   iBooks    Kobo    Google Play

This story picks up from the end of Area 51: The Truth, with Mike Turcotte returning to Earth after apparently defeating the Airlia.

Do we deserve a Second Chance?

Mike Turcotte, the Special Forces officer who led the fight against the Airlia, which ruled our planet from the shadows for over 10 millennia, has returned to Area 51. Earth has freed itself from the shackles of alien domination, but at high cost while winning World War III. He has learned what he believes is the truth about human origins.

A truth so devastating he insists it cannot be made public.

But the thing no one on Earth knows is that in winning the war they’ve initiated the seeds of their own doom.

Something worse than World War III.

Something worse than the Airlia.

Something that means the end of all life in the Solar System.

But there is one who might have a solution; except she’s not human.

Nothing but good times ahead!  The audiobook version and print will be available by publication day.

BTW– the audiobook for the 9th book in the Green Beret series is now live: Chasing the Son.
Also, check my freebies page as I constantly update it with the latest free deal.
Thanks!
Bob

Altered Carbon: An Intriguing Journey

I just binged Netflix’s Altered Carbon.

I was sucked in quickly. Luckily, I had read a summary of the world-setting or I might have been a bit confused. Okay, I was still a bit confused by the end. One of the issues with world-building is being consistent. As I finish edits on my 10th Area 51 book I find myself constantly having to go back to the word.doc that contains all nine previous books and doing keyword searches to try to maintain consistency. It aint easy.

People say Altered Carbon is more ‘steampunk’, but I call it science fiction. It’s been unfairly compared to the two Blade Runner movies. I loved both those movies and while there are comparisons, the reality is in science fiction an author has only so many options. I think its best to leave that comparison aside.

As I said, I was sucked in. Good casting, particularly Joel Kinnaman as Takeshi Kovacs (sort of—he’s actually the sleeve of Kovacs). For some reason he reminded me of a younger Dolph Lundgren. I don’t know if that’s good or not. Then there was the ‘murder victim’ who wasn’t. I kept thinking: I know that guy from somewhere. Especially his voice. Then my wife told me he’d been Marc Antony in Rome, one of my favorite series ever—James Purefoy.

Martha Higareda was very good as the detective. One tiny bit of miscasting: Hiro Kanagawa as Captain Tanaka. He’s a character actor that always seems to be the police captain/lieutenant whatever. Give the guy some other roles, Hollywood. Or wherever Netflix is headquartered.

There’s a lot of violence and a shocking amount of nudity. I think the nudity was a bit exploitive, so be prepared. I started feeling uncomfortable for some of the actresses, especially the sister, actress Dichen Lachman, who had to do an extended fight scene completely nude. I thought she stood out in her role otherwise.

Before I get into spoilers ahead, let me say Cool Gus gives it three of four paws up. With a belly scratch he’ll go for three and a half.

Spoilers ahead:

Sometimes, as a writer, we have a good idea and start running with it and then get overwhelmed with story. I would instinctively say the book was better, even though I haven’t read the book (on my stack—okay bad term when talking about this show). Why? Because there’s a LOT of backstory. Always is when you set something in the future. Hard to “dump info” without boring the viewer. It’s especially hard to do this in film rather than a novel because as a writer I have narrative. A screenwriter doesn’t. I think Altered Carbon did a good job until the last couple of episodes. After the last episode, perhaps because it was late, I was tired, and Cool Gus was trying to grab the remote, I was lost. Who did what to whom? Why? It was like they remembered they were doing a murder mystery with a world changing subplot. So they solved the murder, but no world changing although they hint at it with some law being passed about allowing a murder victim to testify about who killed them? But that law was barely mentioned all along; so it kind of was a let down.

Biggest issue was genre. I say it’s science fiction, but it’s also a murder mystery, it’s also noir, it’s also world building, so it’s ultimately kind of confusing and didn’t land solidly. It was like a gymnast who was doing great but didn’t stick the landing.

Jennifer Crusie taught me that the ending of a story is the most important part; I used to say it was the beginning. She is right. And this show is an example where a strong beginning couldn’t save a weak ending, because that’s what you remember.

It sort of reminded my of The Expanse, which has run into the same problem but handling it better. That started out as detective scifi and then grew larger; but at least that’s been on long enough to be dealing with the larger story. In fact, it dealt with it from the start. I think there’s going to be another season, so I assume it will expand the storyline.

PS: Hey, if you want to get notified of special deals, free books and audiobooks, etc. sign up for my newsletter. Also, exclusive pictures of Cool Gus.

For some reason my blog sign up disappeared in this latest version of WordPress (the widget isn’t showing up in Jetpack) and I lot all the previous list. If anyone knows how to fix that problem, I’d appreciate the help.

Nothing but good times ahead.

Home Before Dark

Another classic film my wife found. I think she might have too much time on her hand. Right now she’s reading the NY Times as she does every day. It’s the Sunday edition and she reads every single word.

We watched this 1958 film, Home Before Dark, the other day. We constantly remark to each other that film used to deal with the issue of mental illness a lot more than it does these days.

The protagonist, played by Jean Simmons, has just come home from a mental institution, which is always an interesting hook. Crazy? Not crazy? Gas-lighted?

You keep asking yourself that as the movie goes on, because although it appears her husband is the bad guy, she also might be a little bonkers, to use a DMSV term.

It’s a relatively simple story, but it’s not just about mental illness. It’s also about what true friendship is; and how much “liking” someone is more important than “loving” someone. How a real friend is someone you can call in the middle of the night and all they say is “How can I help?” BTW, that’s one of our favorite lines from The Royal Tenenbaums spoken by Danny Glover’s character.

If you’ve got some time, look it up and watch it. Cool Gus gives it four paws up. Which means you have to scratch his belly.

Love And Terror On The Howling Plains Of Nowhere

My wife can find the weirdest shit on TV. She always has the remote and she’s always right about whatever she found. Truly must see TV. Last night we watched a couple of things in our quest for enlightenment and she brought up this documentary with the rather intriguing title above.

It’s a murder that might be a suicide but no one knows. In a small town in the middle of nowhere Nebraska. I’m not trying to insult Nebraskans– I’ve been out there, and it’s a long way from one place to another. I remember driving some road and out of nowhere there was a stop sign on a four way intersection.This after miles and miles of nothing.

The local cafe in the town I visited was the aptly named “Chat and Chew”. I went to dinner with a friend and we went a piece down the road for some steak. To Yankton which is in another fraking state. South Dakota which I believe is still at war with North Dakota.

Anyway, the town in this documentary has one stoplight. And a university. And a whole bunch of, let us be nice, intriguing people.

So Cool Gus’ recommendation (it’s currently available on Amazon) for some interesting and far out watching is

Love And Terror On The Howling Plains Of Nowhere

 

Capetown Water Crisis: A Harbinger of the Future? 1st Major City to run out of water

Water levels are seen at about 24 percent full at Voelvlei Dam, one of the regions largest water catchment dams, near Cape Town, South Africa, November 8, 2017. Picture taken November 8, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

Zeroday for Capetown, South Africa, is projected for 12 April 2018.

That is the day the taps run dry.

When the municipal water supply is zero. In a city of 4.3 million people.

I predict we will see this happen more and more due to climate change, the inability of many of us to accept that reality, and poor planning.

Capetown is the result of several factors: a severe drought from 2015 to the present. The city gets its water from reservoirs formed by 6 major dams in the mountains (much like Los Angeles, Denver, San Diego and many other municipalities around the world).

Additionally, Capetown’s population has increased 79% since 1995, while the infrastructure to supply water was increased 15%.

The first warnings were sounded almost 30 years in 1990. They were, overall, ignored.

Negotiations for desalination plants bogged down in political wrangling; unlike San Diego which has forged ahead in this area. One thing to keep in mind is that desalination, while yielding potable water, is energy intense.

The current drought began in 2015 and is largely the result of climate change. Rainfall in 2017 was the lowest since 1933.

Public appeals for water consumption have only been partially heeded. Reading reports about this, it seems a large number of people don’t seem overly concerned. I don’t know why that is, since we can only survive three days without water. I think that popular media, especially movies, along with outside responses to natural disasters such as hurricanes, floods, etc have given rise this assumption among many of us that “someone” will swoop in and solve our problems.

People collect drinking water from pipes fed by an underground spring, in St. James, about 25km from the city centre, on January 19, 2018, in Cape Town.

Once the water runs dry, and IT WILL, the city plans to have 200 water collection points where people can get 6.5 gallons a day per person.

You might think this is a lot. The average American uses 80-100 gallons of water a day.

My wife looked at me last night and said “You were talking about climate change and water when I met you”. Which is a long time ago. I’ve been predicting wars over water like we’ve had over oil this past century, for the next century. This is a case where I wish I wasn’t right.

This is a no bullshit event. It is happening. We all need to take a look around where we live (do an Area Study as I suggest in Prepare Now-Survive Later).

In most survival and emergency situations, water is the #1 priority. Most of us don’t have sufficient water on hand if even a mild emergency interrupts our water supply. We all need at least three days worth. There are ways to make potable water. We also have sources of water we don’t think about. I go into that in detail in Survive Now-Thrive Later.

Below are some facts, techniques, things we all should do etc. in a free slideshow.

 

 

What Would A Good Person Do?

In the last 16 years there have been at least 6,000 bodies found in the deserts along the Mexican border.

This image of a Border Patrol agent emptying jugs of water left for illegal immigrants in the desert has stuck with me.

Not just for the actual action, but for what it represents about people. We are going through a tumultuous time in our country, indeed in the world.

It might be a bit simplistic, but there are good people and there are bad people. It’s a sliding scale. The Border Patrol agent emptying that water might be the most loving parent in the world. But in this moment, who is he?

BTW—the Border Patrol’s official stance: “We do not condone or support the destruction or tampering with humanitarian provisions.”

I’m not going to argue the politics of immigration, this practice of leaving water, destroying the water, etc. I’m looking at it very simply: what would a good person do?

While there is much to lament about the past year, here is something I believe we have to accept, willingly or not: Trump’s presidency has ripped the fake facade off many people. It’s always been there, we’ve just hidden it.

There are those who claim they aren’t racist who have made themselves known as racist.

There are those who claim they are pious who have made themselves known as hypocrites.

There are those who claim they are honest who have made themselves known as willing to lie and accept lies.

There are those who claim they are Patriots who have made themselves known as traitors.

Harsh? Yes. But we are living in harsh times.

What To Do In Case Of Nuclear Attack (and other important info)

Duck and cover. How many remember that? While many might think it futile, it’s better than doing nothing.

First, a nuclear war probably won’t happen in a vacuum. Keep an eye on the news. Currently the situation between Israel and Iran, or North and South Korea, are the most likely flashpoint for a nuclear exchange. It is more likely there could be a small yield nuclear explosion by terrorists and it will probably be a ‘dirty’ bomb. That means the fallout is more dangerous than the actual explosion, as the fallout will be very radioactive. Port cities are high probability targets for a terrorist nuclear attack via being secreted inside a cargo container.

We have DEFCON levels, which are defense readiness conditions for the Armed Forces.

DEFCON 5: lowest state of readiness. Supposed to be the norm.

DEFCON 4: Increased intelligence watch and strengthened security measures. Above normal readiness, but no running around screaming in the streets yet.

DEFCON 3: Increase in force readiness. This is when alerts go out to military forces to up their alert status. The Air Force is on 15 minutes notice to mobilize. Still no running around screaming but take some deep breaths.

DEFCON 2: The next step will be nuclear war. All military units are ready to engage in six hours. Start screaming.

DEFCON 1: Nuclear war is imminent. The code name for this is Cocked Pistol, which gives you an idea.

We’ve never gone to DEFCON 1. Publicly, we’ve gone to DEFCON 2 once, during the Cuban Missile Crisis. On 9-11, we went to DEFCON 3.

One sign that a nuke has gone off somewhere is the EMP effect. If all electronic devices suddenly fail, assume a nuclear bomb has been detonated high in the atmosphere and expect more to be coming.

If warned of an incoming nuke, seek shelter. You don’t have much time. Minutes at best, maybe just seconds.

If a nuke goes off, seek shelter immediately.

The first sign of an explosion will be a flash, which travels at the speed of light. Behind the flash comes the shock wave, so you will have some moments to react. Do not look in the direction of the blast. If outdoors, seek a depressed area, exposing as little of your skin as possible. If indoors, get away from windows and fight the temptation to see what the bright light was about—the imploding window will likely kill you with lacerations. If you survive the initial blast, you have to take the correct steps to stay alive.

Most people who survive initially, will want to flee. However, this is the exact wrong thing to do. You are exposing yourself to fallout by fleeing. The blast has thrown a large amount of irradiated debris into the air. This fallout will be coming down. You don’t want it to come down on you. Your goal is to place the most protection between you and the fallout and radiation. Ideally be underground.

Fallout tapers off relatively quickly. After an hour it’s down about 50%. After a day it can be down to only 20%. So these first hours are critical.

After that, the issue is whether this has been a large-scale attack or a local event. If a local event, wait for responders. If a large-scale event, time to bug out.

This is just an over-view. Another key is being prepared, which is very much the same as preparation for any man-made or natural disaster.

48% of American households have no emergency supplies.

53% of households do not have a three day supply of water.

52% of families do not have an emergency rally point. I could go on, but you know whether you are prepared or not.

I have links on this PAGE for a variety of preparation and survival slideshows that can be downloaded for free (click on the cover at top all the way to left and the links will pop up). Also preparation checklists and even a slideshow and the three survival items you absolutely need and can get for under $50 total (not from me!).

Between the recent hurricanes, floods, wildfires, landslides and nuclear warnings, this is a subject we all have to take seriously. At the very least, look at the slideshow on FREE Apps everyone should download.

Cool Gus says BE SAFE!

Dunkirk and Lucky, two movies, two takes. One MUST SEE!

My better half bought these two movies yesterday. She always controls the remote, she’s always right, so we watched them.

I’d heard great things about Dunkirk. Christopher Nolan has done some interesting work. Memento is a classic. Brilliant and hard to wrap one’s mind around.

Dunkirk had some Nolan elements. The key one was to pay attention to the time hacks at the beginning. Because we’re following several stories here inside the larger story and going back and forth in time and each story has a different time length. And the stories interweave, of course, because they all cover the same topic: the great rescue at Dunkirk.

He didn’t spend much time setting things up; which is fine. Although I’m not sure how many people actually know the history. It truly was a miracle.

There’s very little dialogue, which is actually good. The action is well filmed. You get an idea of the both the courage and desperation. At one point I said to my wife: “This is a big dilemma for a soldier. Is it more important to survive to fight another day, or to fight now?”

And how far to go to survive? Should you cheat? Lie? And are you doing it for selfish reasons?

Overall it was a good movie, but not quite what all the reviews had led me to believe.

I hadn’t heard much about Lucky other than it was one of Harry Dean Stanton’s last movies and came out a few weeks after he died.

All I can say to summarize it is: WOW!

It is one of the best, understated, powerful movies I’ve ever seen. There’s not much drama (if the most exciting scene is a non-fight outside a bar or an old man singing at a birthday party, you’re not exactly in CGI battle zone). Actually, nothing much happens. But a lot happens.

And a lot happens which you still don’t even know by the end of the movie. It is one the best examples of show don’t tell and less is better, two of the rules of writing I try to abide by, but this movie was bowing to the master. The red phone? Who is on the other end? I won’t say much more to avoid spoilers, but it’s a slow movie and well worth the ride. Researching it, apparently about 75% of it is who Stanton was; what he believed. The role was explicitly written for him. Tom Skerrit’s brief appearance was critical.

RIP in Harry Dean Stanton and thank you for this poignant Goodbye!

A MUST SEE!