Posts Tagged ‘gun control’

I’m both shocked and, at the same time, not surprised that I’m on this topic again. I was really hoping to talk about something writing related this morning, but events this weekend have caused me to shift gears. So prepare, because I’m about to do one of my world-famous gun violence posts!

Now if you’re unaware, on Friday evening at 10:30pm in the city of Orlando, Florida, singer, YouTube star, and “The Voice” contestant Christina Grimmie was shot by a deranged fan who apparently drove from St. Petersburg with the express purpose of killing her. Grimmie’s brother (without a gun of his own, no less) tackled the shooter to the ground, probably preventing more people from being killed. Grimmie later succumbed to her injuries and died, leading to a powerful outpouring of grief on the Internet. Even I, who only had a casual acquaintance with Grimmie’s work, felt her passing deeply.

Just a little over twenty-four hours later, a man armed with an assault rifle entered the Pulse, a popular Orlando gay bar and dance club, and started shooting, leading to a hostage situation that ended with the shooter’s death. The latest numbers show fifty confirmed deaths and even more injuries, making this the worse shooting in American history, worse than Newtown and Aurora. All this happened despite the fact that an armed police officer (a good guy with a gun) was on scene at the club.

All this, barely a day and a half apart, in the same city, in a state with very lax gun laws and a high amount of gun violence. Both shootings involving guns.

I wrote last year after a spate of shootings that America’s gun problem is like a chronic illness, a constant condition that plagues and grieves us, and needs treatment to be fixed, even when the treatment isn’t always available or the subject doesn’t want to admit there’s a problem, let alone that they need treatment. And that comparison still holds water nearly an entire year later. America is plagued by shootings. We’re the only developed nation with this much gun violence, to the point where it’s almost considered normal. Guns are causing more deaths than the United States should have.

These aren’t toys. They’re not meant for anything creative.

Now, I know some people will say, “But Rami, how can an inanimate object cause murder? People cause murder.” Well, people cause murder, that’s true. But guns, like missiles and military drones, are designed to facilitate killing. They’re made with that express purpose. The first firearms were used for military purposes, and so were the cannons and flintlock rifles that came later, with hunting being a secondary use for the latter. They were invented for the strategic purpose of taking enemy life, not for baking cookies or improving home decor. This is in direct contrast to knives, which unless made for military purposes like the Marine Corps Ka-Bar combat knife, has other primary uses like cutting and preparing food.

There’s no argument around this. Guns are made for killing, whether it’s animal or human life. 

In the next couple of weeks, we’re going to be seeing renewed calls for restrictions on gun sales and ownership, as well as push back from the NRA and other Second Amendment advocates trying to frame this as a mental health issue (in the case of Christina Grimmie’s killer) or as an issue with ISIS or Muslims (early reports indicate that the shooter at the Pulse had ISIS leanings). And while I do believe that mental illness and terrorist ideologies may have played a part in these tragedies, Christina Grimmie might still be alive if the deranged fan had gone at her with a knife instead of a gun, and I doubt fifty people would be dead if the killer had a knife. Maybe a couple people, but after the first few attempts at stabbing, someone’s bound to tackle this guy.

And it’s hard to argue mental illness or terrorism when a man uses a gun to intimidate his wife, which happens all too often, unfortunately.

The problem is, both these tragedies, and so many more, have been made possible by the use of guns.

Luckily, there is treatment for this problem. In Australia, Canada, England, Japan, and many other developed nations, gun violence is at waaaaaay lower levels than in America. The difference is that they have restrictions on who can have guns and what kinds of guns. Not a blanket ban on all guns, but some restrictions are in place. And I’m sure, that if America were to institute similar restrictions, we would see the same results. In fact, states with more gun control measures have lower instances of gun violence than states that do not. If we were to implement the same thing on a nationwide level, imagine how much the loss of life could be lowered.

And for those who say that gun control measures don’t work because bad guys will still get guns, so it’s best to give the good guys guns instead, I have this to say: if there are still people who run red lights, do we throw out traffic laws and just let people drive as they wish without consequences? If a boat or a house has a leak and water comes in, do we destroy the boat or the house and say they were useless and never would have worked? No, we prosecute the people who run the red lights for violating traffic laws. We patch up the holes so that water can’t get in. And if people are still getting restricted weapons and committing acts of violence with them, then doesn’t that prove even more that they’re criminals, and that they were willing to go to unsavory means to commit acts of violence? I think it does.

Not to mention, how do you know who’s a good guy and who’s a bad guy? It’s not as if the good guys are marked in green and the bad in red when they pull out their weapons. And in a crowded room where everyone has a gun? Really hard to tell!

It’s time to put a stop to displays like this.

Treatment is available. We just have to be brave enough to take it.

Otherwise, we’ll continue to have incidents like what we experienced this weekend, and families will wake up without loved ones because tragedies that could’ve been prevented weren’t. We need to admit that there’s a problem, we need to take measures to stop the problem, and we need to do this now. Not tomorrow. Not next month. Not next year, or in another years.

Now. Let’s push for expanded background checks, closing gun show loopholes, and banning assault weapons or other military-grade weaponry on the open market. Let’s also put aside funding for research into gun violence for the CDC, and expand the requirements needed to purchase and use a gun (a yearly gun safety course, for example, sounds sensible enough). If we can do that, I’m sure we can prevent more innocent losses of life.

Or we can go on as we have been doing. And we can’t allow that, under any circumstances.

Note: Immediately after finishing this, I saw a report that a man with weapons in his car had been arrested in LA near the Pride Festival there. Thank God law enforcement caught him, or who knows how many people might’ve been killed.

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Around this time of year, it’s customary for many bloggers to do a post reflecting on the last year and their hopes for the coming year. I decided to wait a few days to do mine because I posted a lot of stuff during the first couple of days of the New Year, and I didn’t want you guys to get sick of me (especially since a lot of what I posted was advertisement). And I won’t be doing the sort of post with the odd comparisons to famous venues and the listing stats, because I dislike doing those sorts of posts. Instead, I think I’ll just do what writers and bloggers do best, and write.

So, how was 2015? Well, I was surprised by how many people found 2015 to be a really bad year for them. So many people on Facebook and in daily conversation went so far to call 2015 “shitty”. Even my sister, who accomplished so much this past year, including getting her driver’s license and car and becoming a certified professional baker (so proud of her on that). This is especially odd when you think about how these people don’t live in war zones or aren’t homeless or anything, but then again we can’t always be expected to compare ourselves to those who have it worse, can we?

Personally, I feel that 2015 was a bit of a roller coaster with all sorts of ups and downs. I had a pretty mellow final semester with only three classes and a thesis to do, but at the same time I had a job search that sometimes felt like it wasn’t going anywhere. During graduation and the two-three weeks surrounding it, I felt like the prom queen, with all the attention on me, showering praise and good wishes. Not too long afterward I got to go see some of my favorite metal bands in concert, and got the chance to intern in Germany. Of course, the trip to Germany got delayed, and one set of tickets I couldn’t fully refund, so that was money wasted.

Life’s a rollercoaster, is it not?

When I finally did get to Germany, it was a great experience. I learned a lot working with the US Army, explored as much of Germany as I could in the four months I was there, and made some memories and friendships that I hope will stay with me for a long time. On the other hand, I could get very tired, and if things didn’t go as planned, that stressed me out. I didn’t get to stay, and even when you’re making a good living and have a place to stay on base, which is much cheaper than getting your own apartment, living abroad is expensive. I came back to the States with about the same amount of money in my bank account as when I left.

And finally, when I got back home, I found a lot a lot of people wanting to know how I did in Germany and what it was like. I also got a lot of support as I started up the job search again, and I finished editing one novel and made significant progress on another. And I even got a narrator for that audio book for Reborn City I’ve been trying to get off the ground! On the other hand…still jobless for the moment, and until I have some income, I can’t get an editor to look at Video Rage for one final touch-up before publication.

All in all, I felt this year reflected life in general. There are things that don’t always go your way and you could live without, but there are plenty of good things to even it out, and in the end you wouldn’t give up the experiences you’ve had for the world. That’s certainly been my experience. While I would’ve loved to not have those delays with Germany and still have some more money in my bank account, and I had hoped to be employed by this point, I am very happy that I’ve had the experiences and learned the lessons that I did this year.

As for this coming year…well, I have my hopes. I want to get a job, obviously, and without getting into specifics, I’ve had some luck with that, thanks in part to the help I’ve gotten from numerous sources. I want to publish at least one book this year, though I’m aiming for two, plus some short stories here and there. And I would definitely like to move out into my own place (preferably a one-bedroom apartment that allows pets, like cute little kitty cats).

Oh, and I would definitely like to finish editing a few more stories, make some more progress on my new collection of short stories Teenage Wasteland, and get that audio book of Reborn City released.

Will any of this happen? I can’t say, because the future is not certain. However, a lot of stuff is very likely, including the stuff listed above. And I’m hoping that along with those, a lot of other stuff happens this year. While I had a pretty good 2015, I know that on a global scale things were, to say the least, messed up. Gun violence, terrorism, refugees not given the treatment they deserve, continued abuse of the environment. There was plenty of good–gay marriage is now legal all throughout the nation, thank God–but I feel we need to see a lot more of that sort of good to outweigh the bad. Already I’ve seen what I feel is good action from the President, but it’s going to take a lot more than that before I’m satisfied.

Cheers to a fresh start.

Well, I’ve rambled on enough for one evening. I’ll finish off with a reminder that all of my books are on sale through January 14th from Amazon, Createspace, and Smashwords, and that I hope we all accomplish the goals we set ourselves this year. And I guess that includes new year’s resolutions, though I know those rarely last long. Oh well, good luck with those too I guess.

Happy 2016, my Followers of Fear!

As many of you know, this isn’t the only blog I write for. Another, Self-Published Authors Helping Other Authors, is another blog I’ve been contributing to for a little over two years now. And there’s a third blog that I set up over the summer, The Voice of Common Sense.

That’s the blog I’m here to talk about. I started that blog over the summer because I was tired of the amount of stupid I was seeing from the US government and the people in it, the things they said and did and how so many people ate it up. I was tired, and a little angry (especially whenever Trump opened his mouth). So I started The Voice of Common Sense, where I pretended to be the actual personification of Common Sense and reamed out in hilarious fashion all the stupidity I saw on the news every day.

And for a while, I stuck with it. I got out about fifty posts, most of them Donald Trump-related. I managed to snag a few followers. And I think I got people thinking a little bit, which was the point. I wanted people to think, to really wonder if they were perhaps getting too upset over the renaming of Mount McKinley or if Kim Davis was actually someone to call a hero (and of course I took several swipes at Donald Trump).

But after a while I started posting less and then I completely stopped somewhere in September, even though I meant to get back into it. And now I don’t post there at all. In fact, I don’t plan to post there ever again. Why? Because I got so busy. Let’s face it, I was in Germany doing a full-time job, I was working on editing two different books and producing an audio book, and I was searching for a job (still am on that last one). I had no time for another blog that, let’s face it, is basically a full-time job that I don’t get paid for.

And I got tired of that blog as well. The Voice of Common Sense was fun, but it was exhausting. You had so many idiots saying so much stuff (especially Donald Trump). I couldn’t keep up. Heck, there are three late-night comedy shows on two different channels whose sole purpose is to do just what I was trying to do, and even between the three of them they can’t keep up. How could I be expected to? After a while you get sick of just trying to keep up.

So while I really wanted to make The Voice of Common Sense something special, in the end time and the amount of work that goes into such a blog made it impossible to do so. I accept that, although a part of me wishes I could’ve still done more with that blog, especially after I got home and I had some time on my hands. Not much, but some.

Still, I think it’s time I shut down The Voice of Common Sense. Like I said, I just can’t keep up, so I’ll take it down and devote my time to the projects I know I have time for and that I can make a success of. Like this blog, for instance. I’ve been doing Rami Ungar the Writer for over four years now, and it’s grown immensely. In fact, these past couple of days I’ve seen an increase in new followers (thank you for joining up, I really appreciate that), as well as people checking out my books. That’s hard work paying off right there, and that’s where I’ll continue to devote my energies: my fiction and this blog.

Not to say I won’t post the occasional politically-themed post. I definitely will when the mood and the energy for it hits me, though that isn’t often. But for the most part I’ll devote my time and energy to writing about horror and the craft and just all the crazy stuff that can happen in one’s life. That’s what I like to write about on this blog, and that’s what you come here to read.

Still, I do feel I need to get out a few things involving our crazy, mixed-up world, so I think I’ll take the time to do that now:

  • Donald Trump, your fascist and prejudice-filled rhetoric is sickening, and I wish you would stop making remarks that remind me of Adolf Hitler, because they’re scaring me. The fact that so many of the GOP base like you still and the fact that so few of your opponents in your party take the time to thoroughly condemn you just makes me worry more. Here’s hoping you get visited by three ghosts tomorrow night!
  • Why do so many people think it’s a good idea to increase the number of guns after so many shootings? If we were having a series of stabbings or missile attacks, would we call for more knives or rocket launchers? And how do we know who’s a good guy with a gun, especially in a crowded room? It’s not like a video game, where the bad guy is marked out in red or something. In fact, it’s often more complicated than that.
  • Turning away Syrian refugees because of their religion is no different than turning away the St. Louis in the 1930’s. As a nation founded by religious refugees, we shouldn’t turn away others in dire straits because of a few bad apples who interpret a religion practiced worldwide in a violent away. Either that, or all Christians should be treated like they belong to Westboro Baptist, and all Buddhists should be treated like the radicals in Myanmar who advocate killing Muslims. And I know nobody wants that.
  • Ted Cruz, stop trying to deny climate change or warp the data for your own ends. It’s going to be an unusually warm Christmas this year, that should set off alarm bells in your head.
  • Ben Carson…open your eyes, I guess? Nap time was over a long time ago.

Well, now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, I’ve got editing and a few other things to do today, so I’ll get on them. Unless something blog-worthy happens soon, I’ll see you all on Friday (you know why that is). Have a good day, my Followers of Fear. I know I will.

I really think they could’ve worded this cover caption a little better.

Lately I’ve seen a lot of people attacking the Millennial generation. There were even two sketches on two different comedy shows making fun of Millennials  as technology-addicted, overly entitled misanthropes who drink a lot and prefer interacting with a computer than a real person. Apparently we also whine a lot when we don’t get our way and expect things to go our way easily, or we get super offended and feel oppressed.

Now, I’m not writing this post out of some sort of feeling of offense or oppression. More out of annoyance than anything else. And I know using a blog is kind of playing into the stereotype a little, but I’ve reached more people through a digital format with some of my posts than if I sent a letter to a print publication, so why not?

Anyway, I just need to clear the air. Some Millennials may be like I described above. There’s always going to be someone who seems like a perfect example of some stereotype or another. However, that doesn’t mean that all people in a particular group fit the stereotype of that group. I certainly am not a technology-addicted, overly entitled misanthrope who drinks and gets easily offended when life doesn’t prove simple. I actually resisted getting on Facebook and Twitter until my college years, precisely because I thought they were unnecessary and I didn’t want people to think I was addicted to those sites! I only got on them finally because I wanted to stay in contact with friends I’d fallen out of touch with and because I thought they might help my writing career (and to some degree, the latter has happened, though not as much as the former).

I didn’t even get a smartphone until this past year, and that was because I was graduating, possibly doing an internship overseas, and I thought it might be handy to have some more advanced tech to stay in contact with family, friends, and coworkers.

I also don’t expect life to be easy for me, and neither did a lot of the people who went to school with me. Yeah, a lot of us loved to goof around, have a drink every now and then, and just relax, but that was between intense studying and going to work. Yeah, a lot of us either had jobs or were looking for them. Don’t know if those disparaging my generation has noticed, but higher education is expensive! We’re taking on more debt than previous generations, and all in the hope that we’re going to get jobs that’ll pay for all that debt. Of course we have to make sure to keep our grades up! Otherwise we may lose scholarships, have to stay in school longer, or even get kicked out of school, among other things.

Yeah, we work hard to get what some of the previous generations think we feel we’re entitled to. Trust me, if I thought the way my generation is supposed to think, I would have twice as many books out now, all of them with very little editing (if any), and be very surprised that I wasn’t living off my writing in some big mansion, lunching with Stephen King and going to movie premieres with some hot actress or singer on my arm. Maybe I’d even throw a tantrum about it.

Reality is, it’s just not true. Most of my generation is hard-working, trying to get the most out of life despite humongous obstacles in our way. We’re aware of what’s happening in the world and want to change it, even if we don’t always think the polls are the best way to do that (or our time is so constrained we can’t go to the polls). And yeah, we’re on our phones a lot. But I think people were once saying Baby Boomers were addicted to TV and dancing to soul-corrupting rock music, and for the most part that generation and the one after it turned out okay.

Though those generations are also the ones who helped spur climate change along and are sometimes denying it exists. And they’re also the generations leading the companies that are putting out the technology that we’re supposedly addicted to. And…I’m going to stop there.

So instead of lamenting the current generation and making fun of us, how about you try to get to know us a bit better? Maybe you’ll see we’re not that bad, and have great potential. Heck, you might even come up with a way for us to use that potential to the max and make some positive change in the world. Plenty of companies like Change.org have done so, as well as corporations and charities who are sponsoring folks like this guy who’s working on a smart gun to save lives, and more than I can name here.

Unless of course you like, can’t even. You like, totally can’t even imagine, like, changing your opinions ’cause you like, so totally stuck in your ways. Then, like, whatever. Nobody cares.

I’ve been without Wi-Fi these past couple of days at home, so I’ve been only able to get online at work and at a cafe not too far from my apartment. If that wasn’t the case, I would’ve written about this soon after these latest cases happened. But I’m making up for it now, and I’m doing it with the same sense of bereavement that I would if I were writing this as soon as it happened.

First South Carolina. Then the attacks in Tennessee. A few days later, we’ve got shootings at a movie theater in Louisiana, three years after the shootings in Aurora, and one in Los Angeles on Ventura Boulevard. That’s four major shootings in two months. And once again, it seems unlikely that anything’s really going to get done about it. America isn’t suffering from a gun epidemic. It’s suffering from a chronic condition, and maybe only half the country is willing to admit that this condition needs to be treated (I think we can call that a political schizophrenia of sorts).

Despite what some have said, this condition needs to be treated. And the treatment is not more guns. According to the latest research, self-defensive gun use occurs very rarely, and that when it does it does very little to actually stop injuries or property loss. So there goes that whole “good guy with a gun” belief. Besides, if you were going to treat AIDS, you wouldn’t give more people the virus, would you? So why give more people guns if guns are the problems?

Now I know what the Second Amendment says: “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” And since the people in favor of the Second Amendment say we need to follow what the Constitution says, guns should be available…in case the government needs to form a militia in order to protect itself. But there should be more restrictions as to who gets guns, and what sort of guns. Why have an automatic rifle in your home? You’re not going to go hunting with it, and if you ever have the need to use it in your home, you’re likely going to end up making your living room look like it’s been visited by the Terminator or John McClain. What sort of use is there for that sort of weapon outside of a battlefield, then?

When it comes down to it, America’s chronic condition needs to be treated. The loopholes that allow gun sales to go through without sufficient background checks need to be closed, and the system errors that allowed Dylan Roof and the man from the Louisiana shooting need to be fixed as well. Background checks should be expanded and made tghter, and what sort of guns are available to the public should be restricted (like I said, what use is there for military weaponry i a private home? Might as well keep a rocket launcher around), and there should be fewer people allowed to carry firearms on them in public unless they have a legitimate reason for having them (stalker or important public figure who is likely to be targeted? Sure. Generalized anxiety of being attacked? There’s medication for that). And of course there needs to be more resources for the mentally ill, a lot of these attacks are carried out by people with mental illnesses. But of course perfectly sane people can carry out acts of extreme violence as well.

And that’s enough to worry me.

Say what you will, but after so many acts of violence involving guns, what’s happening isn’t a few rogue individuals with problems or just random accidents. These aren’t hurricanes or earthquakes. What we’re dealing with here is a long-term illness, and it needs to be treated. Research has to be done, effective treatments have to be developed. Otherwise this will keep happening, and more people will be lost and nothing will be done until none of us are left.

And I may just be shouting on the Internet, that happens a lot. But to stand by and not say something when evil is occurring in my nation allows evil to proliferate. So I’m shouting for treatment, and i’m hoping something actually gets done before another attack occurs.

Because no one should have to lose someone to something that is completely preventable. And that includes a chronic condition like gun violence.

I went to a certain event on campus this evening, but I arrived not realizing that while the event is advertised as happening at a certain time, it only really starts much later (a part of me actually knew that, but the part of me that’s a total freak for being on time or missing something won out in the end). The library being nearby, I decided to pop in and check my email before I decided to go home or not. When I logged onto WordPress though, I saw a notification that I had a comment. I checked, and it was from a post I’d commented on a while back.

The post itself had been from a woman who was relating her experiences being sexually assaulted in the work environment, and how several other women she’d worked with had been in the same situation, and the owners of her workplace had tried to sweep it under the rug for the sake of business and for the attackers’ families’ sakes! Naturally, I was upset when I read that post. Sexual assault is a horrific thing that happens to so many people, mainly women but men as well. And what’s just as upsetting to me is not only the act of rape itself, but those who try to cover it up or downplay it or make it seem likes it not a big deal. This sort of conduct not only adds insult to injury to the victims, but it also sends a message, that rape is okay, that the attacker can go on doing whatever because it’s not a big deal, that if we make it into a big deal than it is then innocent people will get hurt and besides, it’s only one measly person who had a bad experience, right?

So I commented on the post. Since so many women had been attacked at this place, I suggested that maybe they band together and bring to the workplace a class-action suit or something, because sexual assault and covering up for it is illegal and a disgusting act to boot. That comment got a few likes during the preceding week or two after I’d read it, but the post got a lot more! Comments, likes, new stories coming out, stories of tragedy and stories of support. One newspaper even did a story on the place, so I’m assuming that got something rolling. At the very least, that place is seeing a lot less business than it had prior to so many women coming out.

Of course, not all of the people commenting have been supportive. The comment I got was from some woman with a generic sounding name. She basically said that while sexual assault was a crime, so was lying about it. That’s it. Lying about sexual assault was a crime.

Now, I’ve seen this sort of behavior before, and I know not to comment lest I end up getting attacked. Heck, I wrote an article on this very subject a while back, so I didn’t want to be a hypocrite by getting confrontational. But I was curious. Maybe because it was supposed to be a woman who commented, maybe it was the subject matter, maybe it was because I was kind of bored and I didn’t want to walk back to my apartment just yet. But I wanted to know who this person was.

So I clicked on the article to familiarize myself with it again. I also viewed my comment in full, as well as the reply comment. And then I started looking through the comment feed, seeing if anyone else had gotten any comments from this person. Sure enough, there were more than a few comments from this person on other people’s comments and they all had a similar message:

  1. Rape doesn’t happen
  2. The women who say they were attacked at this place weren’t attacked. Whatever happened there, they wanted it.
  3. Any woman who says that they were attacked is lying for attention or some other cockamamie reason and they’re the ones being sexist and cruel by calling supposedly innocent men rapists.

Very curious now, I clicked on the person’s username to see their blog. All I got was a bland background. No blog posts at all. Not even a post saying, “Hi, this is my first post. I’m hoping for good things while I write about so-and-so a subject. Please support me and follow me.” I checked the About page as well. Not a single thing.

At this point, any doubt I have has flown out the window. And while I’m not certain if this is someone who’s personally connected to the case and the workplace in question, or just someone who generally feels that they’re being assaulted as a man (yes, I say a man, because based on the language used by this person they’re probably male) by feminists with too much power and really without hacking skills, of which I’m lacking, there’s no real way to find out. But it does tell me something. That whoever this is feels threatened by women who speak out and feminists in general and will go to great lengths to stop it.

As if there weren’t enough obstacles making it seem like a bad idea to victims to speak out. On university campuses, some of which have really bad sexual assault rates, college administrators have mishandled assault cases, expelling or blaming victims and protecting rapists with light or no sentences at all. U Va recently got into trouble for this, and even my dear Ohio State has gotten into a lot of trouble over this. In the justice system, the system that’s supposed to protect us, there are cops, judges, and many more who will say that rape isn’t a big deal or victimhood is a status to be desired or that the victim knew what they were getting into, or that rape has to be “legitimate”. Some of this is even said by politicians at the highest levels of government. And when women speak out, they can face ridicule or disbelief by strangers, acquaintances, or even their friends and family. If their case gets to court, they risk being attacked by lawyers on the stand and disbelieved by juries. There’s a chance the rapist goes free and they have to live with that every day.

In other words, there’s a great fear, and a legitimate fear too, that speaking out will only make things worse.

And it’s the people like my wayward commenter, someone who seems determined to shut up victims and women in general, who are making the situation worse. There seems to be a great terror among certain sections of the population that giving women any sort of equality or power is akin to castrating all men and forcing them to live in a dystopian society where men are slaves to power-hungry lesbian dominatrices. That is simply not true. Feminists (of which I am one) only want women to have the same economic, social, and political rights as men, without taking away men’s rights. But there are those who believe it, and will go to great lengths to make sure women are afraid to speak out or seek equality.

Last month, feminist media critic Anita Sarkeesian was sent a threatening letter by a man who claimed that feminists had ruined his life and that if she spoke at Utah State University, he would commit a mass shooting at the event. Because of Utah’s ultra-relaxed gun atmosphere, Ms. Sarkeesian had to cancel the event lest she risk her life and the lives of others. What does Ms. Sarkeesian talk about? Her latest videos, articles, and appearances tend to talk about how women are objectified in video games and seen less as actual people and more as sex objects or devices that (often violently) advance the game’s story.

Violence is a common threat from people who don’t want women speaking out. And while the actual incidences of violence are low, these threats, plus the threat of ridicule, of becoming a punchline in a joke, of being called a money-grubbing slut or a power-hungry feminazi man-hater, makes it much more difficult for many women to speak out. No one wants that sort of attention on them, and for victims of assault, it’s even harder to come out when facing all that.

So what is there to do about it? Well, I’m doing it right now: I’m fighting back. I’m writing an article that exposes what is happening and pushes back against it. And I’m letting people who have been attacked and that are afraid to come out that I’ve got their back. Yes, I’m a man, but that doesn’t mean I don’t believe women should be equal in society. Far from it. I’m willing to fight alongside the many women out there who demand to be treated equally and with respect in the world towards men.

So know this, folks. If you’re a woman and/or you’ve been assaulted, know that I support you and I’m there for you. And for those who still think that men are under threat by these women, I’m so sorry you feel this way, but it’s not true and some day I hope you come to this realization.

Thank you, and goodnight, Followers of Fear and everyone else.

Reborn City

I’ve been advertising my novel Reborn City a lot lately (and doubtless I’ll be doing some of that here too), but I thought this was interesting enough that it deserved a blog post.

Near the end of RC, I introduced hoverbikes, motorcycles that, instead of wheels, hover in the air much like the hoverboards seen in Back to the Future Parts II and III. The way they hover is through magnetic plates that act against the magnetic forces in the earth, allowing them to hover. The thing is, neither hoverboards  or hoverbikes exist, so for now they’re still just science fiction.

Or are they?

Last month, tech company Arx Pax unveiled its own hoverboard, which does apparently hover a few inches off the ground. They are currently funding research and construction through a Kickstarter campaign which at this time has surpassed its original goal of two-hundred fifty-thousand dollars and made over four-hundred thirty-six thousand dollars. Backers have the option of getting their own Developers Kit or “White Box”, which allows them to create their own hover devices. Check out their campaign video.

Pretty amazing, isn’t it? Apparently the science behind it also revolves around magnetic forces, though not the same kind that the hoverbikes in Reborn City use. What the Hendo Hoverboard does is manipulate magnetic fields, which creates flux, or changing magnetic fields. In conductive surfaces like metals, it creates current, and according to a law known as Lenz’s Law, the current will create its own magnetic field which will act in opposition to the original flux. With enough flux, the magnetic fields will repel each other and, in the case of the Hendo Hoverboard, cause it to levitate (thanks to the Nerdist channel for explaining this to me. Click here for their video explaining the concept of the Hendo Hoverboard).

Now, the Hendo Hoverboard does have its limitations. It can only work on certain circumstances, it’s loud, and it has a short battery life. But part of the hopes of its creators, as expressed in the video above, is that people who buy a Developer Kit will be able to make breakthroughs and develop the technology further. With technology progressing in amazing new ways each and every day, and with people in high school developing amazing new programs or devices (like this kid who developed his own smart gun) we could be seeing new developments in this field within the next decade or so, enough that Wikipedia might stop calling hoverborads a”fictional device”.

And since Reborn City takes place in the year 2056, or about 41 years from when those first developer kits get shipped, there’s plenty of time to fine-tune the technology and find new applications for it, including in creating hoverbikes. Perhaps even utilizing the design that I made for the ones in Reborn City.

Below I’m including an excerpt from RC featuring the first appearance of the hoverbikes, which will also feature in the sequel Video Rage. If you’re interested in checking out RC, it’s on sale through Friday on Amazon and Smashwords, and there’s still a giveaway to participate in for a free copy. Hope you like what you read, Followers of Fear. And I’ll try to stop myself from talking anymore about RC till Friday, but I make no promises. HYDRAS!


 

When they were all safely inside, Harvey closed the door and pointed to a row of crates sitting under a single, unlit light bulb. The crates, five in all, were large and rectangular, and were marked with big red letters that read HEAVY BULK OBJECT.

            “D’ya guys want help openin’ ‘em up?” asked Harvey.

            “I got it.” said Rip. Extending his claws, he went to the crate closest to him and cut through the nails holding one of the sides to the rest of the crate. The wooden side fell with a loud clatter, revealing the hoverbike inside. It looked like a regular motorcycle, except it seemed more box-like and instead of wheels had two half-circle panels at each end. The entire thing had been painted black, even the handles and panels.

            “Huh.” said Rip. “I thought it’d be mo’ showy.”

            “Them rich kids prob’bly wanted to do the paint job,” said Fox. “Give it their own gang colors an’ shit.”

            Iori scoffed. “Never say ‘gang’ an’ ‘rich kids’ in the same sentence.”

            With Harvey’s help, Rip lifted the hoverbike up and out of the crate. The key, a small plastic rod with an electronic laser identification tag at the end, was wrapped around one of the handles with a small metal chain. Unwrapping the chain from the handle and setting the key in the ignition, Rip tried to start up the engine.

            There was a loud rumbling sound from within and the hoverbike rose a foot and a half into the air, bobbing slightly where it stopped. From beneath the panels there was a faint blue glow, probably from the magnets, Zahara guessed. Everyone around Zahara gasped and stared at the hoverbike.

            “Wow.” said Ilse. “’Kind of ‘em to put the gas in ‘fore we needed ‘em.”

            “Y’all mind if I test it out fo’ ya guys?” asked Harvey.

            “Be our guest.” said Rip, gesturing to the bike.

            Harvey swung his foot over the hoverbike and sat in the seat. It dipped slightly but other than that did not react to the new weight that had been added to it.

            Harvey sat there for a second, looking like he was trying to get his excitement under control. “Alright.” he said. “Now how the fuck d’ya drive this thing—?” Harvey twisted the throttle and the hoverbike sped forward. He lost his grip and fell off the bike, landing in Rip’s arms with a loud grunt. Both of them fell to the ground, neither really hurt but both looking shaken. A few yards away the hoverbike had come to a stop, hovering serenely as if nothing had happened.

            “Shit.” said Harvey.

            “That bastard’s gonna take some practice.” Rico observed, looking at the bike.

            Zahara was still staring at it, not really listening to the others. She had seen what Harvey had done and thought that if he had just twisted the throttle slowly and hadn’t tried to move too quickly, he wouldn’t have fallen off the bike.

            I have to try it out. she thought, feeling like she was being drawn to it. I just have to know if I’m right. Before she realized it, Zahara was striding towards the bike and swinging her leg over the seat.

            “Zahara?” said Alto, and Zahara knew without looking that all the others were watching her. “What’re ya doin’?

            “Babe, are ya crazy?” said Ilse. “Ya can’t just get on the bike an’ expect t’ get it right on the first try when we haven’t even tested it out—!”

            But she ignored them. Bending over the handlebars, she twisted the throttle slowly. The bike sped forward, going at a pace that was slower than what had it had been going when Harvey had gotten on but still pretty fast. Feeling the air whipping around her, Zahara timed a turn and spun to the left as the wall neared. Navigating the maze of boxes and crates, she reappeared in front of the Hydras, braking with ease.

            Only when she looked at the others and saw their mouths hanging open did she realize what she had done: she had ridden a hoverbike without any previous practice and made it look easy. She looked at all of them, then at the bike, then back to the rest of them again.

            Finally Miguel closed his mouth and said, “Well, whaddya know? The chica’s a gangsta after all.”

            “Yeah.” said Owl. “The riding-a-hoverbike-like-it’s-easy-as-pie type of gangsta.”

            “Wow Zahara.” said Ilse, and Zahara felt herself glowing with pride and accomplishment.