About My Book

Learn more about my first book, Six Pack: Emergence.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

What Is "Political Correctness"?

Conor Friedersdorf shared parts of emails with a friend of his who backs Donald Trump to be President of the United States last week. One of the reasons his friend backs Trump is his friend's issues with political correctness.

In a similar vein, recent Bloom County strips shared on Berkeley Breathed's Facebook page focused on the character Binkley, who starts cursing at his father because he's modeling the behavior of Trump.

It begs the question: What really is "political correctness"?

If we think of it as "not saying something that somebody else might find offensive," then we all want political correctness to a certain degree, because we all have beliefs and values that are important to us and we don't like anything that runs contrary to them.

People who are strong believers in a religion or philosophy may not like somebody else painting an unflattering picture of someone noteworthy for that religion or philosophy. A person who thinks certain behavior is impolite will not be pleased with somebody who repeatedly engages in that behavior.

And people who hold strong to certain beliefs may insist that our educational systems and our laws, rules and policies must always reflect those beliefs. They may not be willing to consider whether or not that's really for the best for society.

It's understandable that people don't want their beliefs and values to poked fun at when those who do the poking don't understand them enough. The problem, though, comes when people don't take the time to explain why others shouldn't mock those beliefs or values in that manner, and why they believe it to be wrong.

Instead, the usual method people take is to say variants of "I don't have to explain anything to you." But if one cannot explain why others shouldn't make fun of beliefs and values in a certain way, then one cannot help others learn and adapt. This prevents we, as the human race, from evolving, adapting and gaining a better understanding of one another.

It's true many groups have been mistreated in different societies, but just because they were disenfranchised at one point doesn't mean they don't need to explain why certain things upset them. Not everyone is familiar with history and there's so much of it out there that it's hard to remember it all.

Nor should we claim that a disenfranchised group shouldn't be criticized because that group has never dominated a society, because members of that group would not change their minds if their group came to dominate society. But that doesn't mean the group that has dominated society should claim no criticism should ever be levied against it.

What every human being must understand is that, in order for everyone to learn and adapt, we must openly discuss our beliefs and values, why certain words and forms of criticism bother us, and what's the better approach to take to critique such beliefs and values. Only when we do that are we no longer concerning ourselves with "political correctness."

But just remember: If you find something offensive, regardless of what it is, you are arguing for a form of "political correctness." So you better be prepared to explain why you don't like it, then be prepared to listen when people who share different beliefs and values explain why they find something offensive.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Flash: Why This Barry Allen Makes Bad Decisions

So the Season 2 finale of The Flash aired last night and there’s a lot of talk about how Barry Allen is one of the dumbest superheroes around.

A lot of that disappointment stems from how Barry is supposed to be a smart man. He is an intelligent man, but intelligence doesn’t always mean one makes good decisions.

More importantly, one needs to understand why Barry would keep making bad decisions. I think we can easily illustrate this by examining how Barry was supposed to turn out in the “original timeline” Eobard Thawne alluded to in Season 1.

Spoilers for the Season 2 finale are discussed, so don’t continue reading if you don’t want to know more.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Thoughts About The 5th Wave

Airplane flights are a good time to read a book and I read The 5th Wave while on the plane to California and back last weekend.

The book is about Cassie Sullivan and her experiences in survival during an alien invasion, with a subplot about Ben Parish and what he experiences while being trained by soldiers at Camp Haven. The aliens engage in several "waves" to wipe out the human population, starting with a large electromagnetic pulse that shuts down all machines and technology to the so-called "fifth wave" that I shall not spoil for you if you haven't read the book.

I though the book did a great job making Cassie a sympathetic character, one who you are rooting for to come through and be reuinted with her younger brother Sammy. Cassie is the character that sells the story and makes it work.

The main issue I have with the book is that it puts Ben Parish's subplot into the first-person viewpoint, which is a bit jarring. The thing about first-person viewpoint is you get drawn so much into a person's mind, you may lose something when you pull away from that person's viewpoint for too long. Using the third-person limited viewpoint (which is used in a couple of points) might have worked better.

With that said, I liked how the storyline took a different twist on an alien invasion. It was a unique take on a typical plot device and one that stays rooted in scientific theories.

I have not seen the film adaptation, but it's too bad the film received negative reviews. The 5th Wave did have the potential to reach the heights of The Hunger Games, given how well the book is written. I would hope those who saw the film but have not read the book won't pass up on it, because the book does a great job with character development and its take on what might really happen if aliens were among us.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Just Some Short Notes

I'm just going to go over a couple of things this week, some which pertains to writing, some which pertains to life.

1. Queries are still going out to agents. I believe I need to keep exploring this route until it becomes clear it's not the best route for me to take. I plan to send out several in the next few days and keep looking for others who seem like a good fit.

2. In the meantime, I wrote a short story for the Kansas Writers Association's 2016 Anthology. The story is only in the second draft and I'm hoping to get a little more feedback at the next KWA meeting before I send it in. The anthology won't be published until later this summer.

3. I spent time with the family at Disneyland the past couple of days. The best part was spending time with the family, of course. The least favorite part was flying to California and back. Thank goodness for books -- the flight gave me the chance to read The 5th Wave. I'll have a review up next week. I just need to sit down and think about what I want to say.

4. Once my work schedule lightens up, I should have more time toward writing the second book I have in mind. I also have other ideas swimming through my head and will likely sit down to get those ideas out in written form. Perhaps one of those other ideas will let me get my foot in the door.

5. I should also have more time to get a few other things sorted out, such as a Facebook page, an Amazon author page (even if I don't have a published fiction work yet) and who knows what else. Also, I hope to be a little more active on my @sixpackwriter Twitter account during the summer months.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Review of Captain America: Civil War (SPOILERS)

This year, we have had two movies that explore conflict between superheroes, with DC/Warner's entry into the series, Batman vs. Superman, and Marvel Studios' entry, Captain America: Civil War.

The latter does a better job exploring the depths of this arc than the former does, finding a good mix of lighthearted material with more somber moments that cause one to reflect about who is really right or wrong in the debate between Captain America and Iron Man.

Spoilers come after the link, so don't read any further if you haven't seen the film yet and don't want to know what happens.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

What's Really The Easy Way And The Hard Way?

There's an expression that I'm sure many of you are familiar with that goes like this: "We can do this the easy way or we can do this the hard way."

It gets tossed out frequently in movies, usually in which somebody is prepared to interrogate another person. We all know what's considered the easy way in this scenario: Just talk and nothing else will happen. And you can guess what would be the hard way.

But perhaps there's another way we need to think about the easy way versus the hard way.

The easy way is that everybody should just conform to whatever one sees fit. The hard way is recognizing that everybody is different and not insist people conform to everything you think is right.

The easy way is to embrace one solution that takes care of everything because it sounds good to you. The hard way is recognizing that most issues are complex and there is no single solution that will solve everything.

The easy way is to expect every problem be solved in a short time span because we have things ranging from the microwave to the Internet that can get things done quickly. The hard way is to recognize that solving most problems takes time, much like it takes time for a tree to grow (and in some cases, it's a long time).

The easy way is to stick by your principles, no matter what. The hard way is recognizing that, while you can't bend on a few principles, refusing to bend on them all is going to make things worse rather than better.

The easy way is to pretend that if every human being just followed one set of rules, all the world's problems would be solved. The hard way is to recognize that every human being is flawed to a certain degree and no one set of rules is going to keep every human being from making mistakes.

The easy way is to insist you are always right. The hard way is to admit you might be wrong.

The easy way is to demand instant gratification. The hard way is to recognize you can't always get what you want.

The easy way is to do things the way they have always been done. The hard way is to recognize that, while not everything needs to change, some things to do.

The easy way is to refuse to adapt. The hard way is sometimes you need to adapt if you want to keep moving forward.

The easy way requires little to no thought. The hard way requires you think about what you are doing or saying.

If you think about it, the easy way as referenced in my opening example is actually the hard way. It's hard to wait for someone to talk until they are ready. But it's easy to do something vicious to get that information out quicker.

Anything easy doesn't require patience. Anything hard does.

So the next time you think about that expression, "we can do it the easy way or we can do it the hard way," ask yourself what you really want. Chances are, the easy way isn't what you think it is.