Christian Magic: The Philosophical Foundations of the Supernatural in Akiniwazi

One of the reasons I have a love/hate relationship with fantasy is due to my faith.  My testimony is long and winding, and with some strange bumps that even I don’t understand why I experienced them or could prove if they were real.  Suffice it to say, it’s very strange that I’m writing fantasy at all, and here’s why.

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I came from a background where I was raised Lutheran, had my faith broken completely and fell into paganism and new age occultism for 7 years before being born again, I saw and experienced some things I could not place in the natural.  I knew in my heart of hearts that the supernatural existed, and that becoming Christian again did not erase those experiences.  No, instead it made the Bible become that more alive to me!  I saw how the supernatural worked from the wrong side of the tracks to some degree, and then learned even more about the spiritual war that we live in. You may not believe in the supernatural, and that is fine.  Just know I believe in a reality that is more complex and irrational than what you might dream of in your philosophy.  And that’s cool.

“Yes, but M.D., what does this have to do with your distaste for fantasy?”

I’m getting to that, oh precocious one.

Because of my experiences, I’m very open and constantly fighting against temptations and experiences I was opened to from sinning in these areas.  Palmistry, divination, sorcery… Or one big dose of self delusion as well, I need to guard my mind all the more.  A portion of my life that well, I have lots of scars and weak spots from so I have to avoid it a lot.  This means some of my favorite fantasy books, or games are ‘no-go zones’ now.  They tempt me far to greatly no matter how well they’re written, or awesome or whatever.  That means I never have, nor never will read Harry Potter among many other things.  Pick your jaw up.

I also stay away from a lot of horror and sxi fi.  It is part of why I will not read any Transhumanist SF and quit participating in a shared Transhumanist collaboration.  Plus other supernatural things for just that reason.  It gets in my head and messes with me, but the love of the genre is there.  At least some of the best selling fantasy series of all time are Christian.

…so … there’s that, I guess.

“The point is…..?”

The point is that this is part of why I started to be inspired to write this series.  I liked the challenge of creating a fantasy world where there was all the ‘sorcery’ and ‘magic’ like flavor, but it was based on Scripture and in alignment with God’s Word.  For many years I struggled with this very thing when it finally hit me.

“Hey…. ” I sez to Me.  “What about the Gifts of the Spirit?”

“Bwuh???”  Me responds.  “What about them?”

“Well,” sez I. “Miracles and healing, and prophecy and all that stuff is pretty spectacular cinematic goodness, right?”

“Yeah,” Me sez skeptically.

“And demons and angels manifesting would be pretty wild.  Plus you’ve experienced some weird stuff in the form of inanimate objects and seen the possessed be delivered before.  That’s some crazy-ass stuff too, right?  Just as good as flinging around fireballs and lightning bolts.”

“Well… it could be if you turned the special effects of it up to eleven.” Me agrees.

“So why not do that?  You know that’s what you want.” I sez.

“You know what?” Me agrees.  “That’s a bloody fine idea as long as we keep it to stuff founded on scripture and be very careful about it.”

That conversation blazed through the head, and I realized I had a very different way of looking at magic as compared to what I had seen in RPGs and some of the fantasy books I knew from the past.  So the whole philosophy I took to the book is the supernatural is about spiritual authority and relationships.  It’s not like so many games where you find magic lying around like coal or electricity: an impersonal power for you to mine out of the ground or hunt like deer just to bend it to your own will… or even your own supercharged willpower like in another RPG that created the most terrifying “realistic” magic system and view ever.  If I get enough people to ask about it, I’ll explain that.  Post below of you really want to hear me riff on it.  The magic number is 10 comments.

See what I did there?

So, The idea in the novel is that supernatural comes from God or Satan.  God can impart power directly through the Holy Spirit, while Satan sends minion demons to connect you to power from him or his minions.  That means knowingly or not, you pick a side.  There is no neutral.  If you want to know power, you need to follow your master, be it God or Satan.

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So that’s the big underpinning of all the metaphysical stuff going on in Akiniwazi.

For the TL:DR.

  1. It’s a relationship between you and either God or Satan.
  2. There is no neutral party or self empowerment to gain supernatural power.
  3. Your source is your master.
  4. Even if you do not have supernatural power, you chose a side even by doing nothing.

There will be more to come.  Again, comment below if you want me to expound more on something that caught your eye.

 

Oh, as a reminder I will be on vacation next week so I will be not posting anything big I think… But who knows?  Something cool might happen.

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State of the Edit: Face Scrubbing Frustration and Distraction

With a growl, I take off my glasses and scrub my face with my hands.  The frustration of the edit is just painful some days.

I’m late.

I’m angry about it.

I just want it to be magically >PING!< done.  Just done please.

On a positive note, I hit chapter 13 and am working on that aggressively.  On the downside, I’ve got 15 more chapters to go I think.  Or at least that’s my prediction.  My current page count is 181 pages, but I know that’s going to grow because about 5 of those upcoming chapters I have to write from nearly scratch.  Oh the pain of it all!

So okay… re evaluating a new deadline.  Labor Day.  Sure, that sounds good.  I might have to get back onto the social media and gaming fast to reach it.  Anyway, that’s the new shift for me.

On the other hand, gaming and the election are REALLY pulling at my attention span.  It’s so astounding and upsetting… so I go onto World of Warships and sink some ships to get the frustration out.  (or depending some days GROW the frustration because I suck or the game cheats… I dunno.  Something goes wrong and I get more ticked off.)

I’ve even made some videos of it for fun, though I have stopped mixing in music from my collection because I don’t want to get sued even though it’s not making any money.  Trust me, free music is generally pretty bad for this kind of stuff, and I really miss making videos scored to popular stuff.  That means one last mission, scored was posted and that was it.  But here’s one I can share here.

What can I say?  Even in my free time, I’m doing something creative to some extent.

I have to push myself too in an effort to get as much done as possible for the end of the month, I’m taking a vacation.  Hopefully that won’t throw me off too much.

But this is what life is throwing at me.

Now, what kind of things would you like to hear about?  Personal stories? More politics, philosophy, religion?  Creative stuff?  Post below what you think.

State of the Edit: Spit and Polish

A little late this week.  Life is to blame.

I started once again to edit by text to voice software. I had tried this once before in the past, and it worked out pretty well to pick out areas of ear klunk and other rough passages that you missed when you just read through your manuscript.

So I woke up way too early one morning when I should have been asleep, and downloaded the tts software again and went to work. Needless to say I found so many different little holes and issues in the manuscript that had Rewritten already once, so this is more or less edit 3 through at least the first seven or eight chapters. But it needed to be done because I wanted to feel better about them.

The  second thing that is been interfering with my speed, has been how many chapters I have been writing out of whole cloth. When I decided to split what I had written into to work I realized that it was shorter than what I needed to really be considered a full novel. As is, it is still going to be a shorter novel then some of the 900 page monstrosities that normally written and expected by fantasy authors. I would almost say it is more a young adult length novel as it currently sits. I suspect it will end up somewhere around 250 pages. Of course, this depends on what happens when I finally get to rewriting the conclusion of the novel, which is going to involve a large new section and new characters that I had not originally planned on.

In the end though,  I have been enjoying really listening to some of the things that I had written. I hate to feel conceited enough to say I like the way I write dialogue, because it just seems to flow for me. Everybody has their own area of writing that they enjoy most. For me it seems to be conversation. For others it might be exposition. For others it will be action sequences. I can only hope to improve on these other areas, and maybe gain a little more flavor and poetry of language.

That said I’m so anxious to be able to share this book with people and get their reactions. I admit there have been two people so far… no scratch that… 3 people that I have been able to share this with. I needed a feel of what I’m doing. My insecurities were showing up in one of the chapters,  and I really wanted to get the right feel for it and not…  how can I say this, and not come off as either trite or maudlin… fake ultimately is the word I guess I’m looking for.

Fortunately, it seems as if I have managed to avoid these pitfalls. I could never hear if the voices are differentiated except in my head. To get confirmation that this is so to others that read it are really important to me!

So here I sit, looking at what I have done. It’s achieved a new layer of glossy polishing, and starting to feel as if it is reaching a professional level. Or at least it is reaching the point where it will be ready to send to the beta readers and be ready for an editor to tear it up. My goal is still to try and put the book out before Christmas preferably before Thanksgiving. That will depend completely on how well the new sections I am writing come out, and the reformatted chapters take to fix and blend in. I’m a little nervous about that. But it’s something that I just have to force myself through and do.

So that’s the current state of affairs right now. I’m hoping to get a couple more days of writing or editing in the middle of this week. I expect to probably do some more biographical stuff for the blog coming up here in the future. I have some vacation coming which I’m going to take in visit with friends that I haven’t seen for a long time. I’ll probably write something about a family reunion I went to. It’s been an interesting week and will be an interesting end and beginning of the month I guess you could say coming up here. Tell him thanks for checking out what I have to say. I look forward to any things you have to say, ideas, suggestions, stuff like that down at the bottom.

Till next time.

Animal Farm Lives Matter

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I think trigger warnings are a joke, but I am giving you one if you are so intellectually weak and unstable that you cannot hack another person possibly having an opinion different than you.  With that being said, and the title itself should be a good indication of what’s to come, you’ve been warned.

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I am going to diverge a little today. Generally speaking I avoid political stuff for this blog, but this is going to cross the line a little bit. Mostly I am going to deal with ethical, cultural, and spiritual aspects, rather than the politics of what I see going on .

Black lives matter.

Blue lives matter.

All lives matter.

The problem is, no matter how much you want a particular group of lives to matter the other side of the equation matters as well. I am not an apologist for the police, nor will I stand up for the actions of race based activists. Right now in America we have created a breeding ground for hatred that this nation has not seen since the 1960’s.

There are very few eras in American history where neighbor turned on neighbor to the point of violence. The labor issues of the early 1900’s was also quite a time of upheaval and brother vs. brother, particularly in the coal fields and before labor unions became a force for good (an era that died out in the 1970’s where they became more of a bane) Before that time which civil unrest was high the previous ways this stress and disagreements over cultural vantage points what’s by bloodshed on Civil War scale. Both the Revolutionary War and the Civil War came from similar levels of disagreement of the people against each other as well as against the governing.

I fear in 2016, we are coming up on another era that has the potential to become another War. Why is this upon us now? Because the last two generations have stripped out from our society the value of human life. In all truthfulness, this began far earlier than this. The me generation of baby boomers was the beginning of this erosion of ethical values by not teaching their children the idea of an objective concept of Good and Evil or the value of human life.  Instead everyone was left to follow their feelings, and objective reality was buried under a horrifying blizzard of feeling based subjectivism.  To steal a line from Dr. Laura:

“You feel hot, you feel cold, you feel sad, you feel mad.”

Feelings change and they change often Emotions are fickle and not a basis for rules, law or society.  Look at what we have now and you cannot deny this is truth.  They do not think or reason, and yet Gen X and now Millennials have been indoctrinated into believing feelings are more important than reason or thinking.

The intention was good, but as my grandmother was fond of saying:

“The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

In an in an effort to right the wrongs of racism that had been banished totally from the Civil War and even went through a Resurgence in the 1930s with Jim Crow and Segregationist policies.  All things that had to be ended.  Instead of getting on with their lives after they had won, they decided to make it a life cause and overcorrected. Now, they found themselves needing to perpetuate the illusion the threat was still there to keep their paychecks and livlihood.

That generation forgot the words of some of the leading cultural philosophers of that era where content of character should matter more than color of skin.  Martin Luther King no longer led the charge of culture in the world of race relations, Malcolm X gained popularity and now has started to supersede the non-violent personal responsibility laden guidance of the former. A hand that is now clenched like a fist, but not without your provocation.

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We are seeing a rebirth of Malcolm X vs Bull Connor. Extremists in both rhetoric and action are beginning to lead.  Police have forgotten that they are Servants of the people not their keepers. The growing militarization of police and the insistence on Zero Tolerance policies has caused a combative impasse between cultures. But what hides beneath the surface is that both sides of this equation have little to no respect for the value of human life or anyone who disagrees with them.

So why the title Animal Farm Lives Matter? Simple, too many people believe that all lives are created equal, those they agree with or identify with matter more, and therefore must be given supremacy.  Just like the pigs become like humans in the book while little changes for the rest… or in many regards, get worse.  Thus, George Orwell’s damning indictment of special rights for special groups comes home in a stinging slap to our American cultural face.

To say that only one group of lives matter, is to become the racist, bigoted evil you claim to hate.  You assume that other group of lives matter less than those you support.

This is the racism.

This is hatred.

It is no better than what the Nazis used to teach children in school.  (You can take your Godwin’s law and shove it sideways up a tender orifice if you try to play that card with me.  Reasonable comparisons are valid.) When you reduce another person to nothing more than a caricature or straw man in which you can vent your spleen upon, you are dealing with abstracts that do not exist, nor exonerate you  from any  guilt for having such evil desires in your heart or actions taken with your hands. Why anyone would want to teach a child this let alone act like this is an adult is abhorrent to me. Yet it happens every day.

Where did this come from? When people decided that there was only one arbiter for what is good and what is evil, as well as divorcing legality from morality.  With that, we set up a culture in which cultural immolation would occur.  If the individual is the only valid arbiter of what is right and wrong, good and evil, legal or moral, then there is no universal code in which we understand how to relate to one another as a culture.  There is no agreed upon social contract which then creates chaos, and we descend into the theoretical hell of Social Darwinism till a new societal paradigm stabilizes in the form of the strongest authoritarian voice.  We still live in a world that is controlled by use of force and the side most willing to kill and die for their cause will become the dominant one.  Don’t believe me?  Publish a cartoon of Mohammed.  See what happens.  Who’s culture is winning there?  That’s right.  The one willing to kill you.

But until that new ‘strongman’ culture takes over,  there is only one possible course: chaos and nihilism. If people cannot or refuse to recognize that other lives outside of their own personal existence or tribe’s existence have value, how is it that we can even preach to another person the idea of goodness, charity, or righteousness? If you do not believe that even your own life has value, how can you see any other result then complete destruction of a society?

If we are to get through this without destroying ourselves as a nation and divorce ourselves from what our founding fathers created, all lives must matter. This is not a negotiable point. We can’t sit there and scapegoat like the Nazi’s did, first to the communists, till they secured their power, and then to others like the Jews and Gypsies.  If all lives do not matter equally, even the lives you don’t agree with or value, then no life matters at all. This is why we are stuck in such a terrible crossroads. You do literally have two camps… no let me rephrase that we have three camps actually forming.

One that believes all lives matter and every life is important.  I will call these “Rationalists”, because they are using more than just their emotions and bias

Another camp that believes only the lives that look and act and think like they do matter.  I will call them the “Bigots”, for they want to destroy anything that is not like them.

Those that do not care if any life matters because their own life does not matter to them.  These are Nihilists and Anarchists who just want to watch the world burn.

The problem is made worse because the Bigots want to protect themselves, but destroy the rest.  The Nihilists want to kill everything, and will sabotage any attempts at bridge building.  The Rationalists are caught in the crossfire between two groups of bigots and the Nihilists trying to make things as bad as possible.  What needs to happen is more people to move into the Rationalist all lives matter camp.  No special rights, fiefdoms or powers.  The corrupt and wicked need to be rooted out from all sides in this, and all must turn on the Nihilists and take away their power or ability to incite cultural sabotage and disaster.

Sure, you might think that is a hypocritical statement, but its not.  You cannot have people running around who’s goal is to foment destruction and chaos in any society.  They must be neutralized.  But from a rationalist point of view, you must also realize that there is a point that comes along that when you have no choice but to put down mad dogs.  Be they bigots, or be they nihilists, or even if they’re rationalists who somehow pervert the right for people to coexist.

Of course, none of this will happen till we can come upon a new objective, universal set of societal rules that can be learned, taught and enforced.  That means this emotionally driven trigger-warning, offensensitivity culture must go too.  Society cannot walk on egg shells anymore because you think you have the right to be as comfortable as a day-care toddler.  That life ended when you became an adult.  Sorry it’s such a shock, but time to focus on being adults, or get out of the way and be quiet so the adults can fix this mess.  We’ve run out of time and money to coddle anymore.

You’re offended?

And?

Life’s offensive.  Learn to deal.  Your opinion is not worth more than mine.  Your life is not worth more than mine.  Develop some mental toughness and stop trying to call for mommy to come get you from your day care culture by throwing a tantrum.  Learn to overcome intellectual adversity and deal with your stress.  Only then, when you can behave like rational, thinking adults, do you become a valuable member of society instead of a turd chucking monkey playing law of the jungle with other people’s lives.

Nor will spouting slogans and catch phrases fix this.  Real debate and discussion is required.  A skill long abolished from universities across this nation because feelings have become supreme and people call objective facts racist.  I saw a wonderful little Q&A with Ben Shapiro the other day where a woman wanted to talk about institutional racism.  Ben was all fine with that!  What institution is racist, and what did they do?  The problem is, that was just a buzzword to the woman.  She had never considered that for an accusation to be true, there must be a real, objective noun behind it, not just a feeling.  Demanding the elimination if institutional racism is fine in theory, but we are talking practicalities here.  Mr. Shapiro challenged her to name the institution and the actions they had done so he too could fight them with her.  She had nothing, because nothing really existed.

This is what we have to overcome.  Objective reality and facts come first.  Subjective feelings and theory come last.  To take an ill used quote from George Bernard Shaw:

You see things; and you say, ‘Why?’ But I dream things that never were; and I say, ‘Why not?

In the realm of culture like this, the answer to “why not?” is “Because it is not.”  We must deal with what is.  Then, and only then can we move forward and fix what is wrong with this nation.

All lives matter.

Now butch up, Sally Frillypants.  We have work to do in repairing our culture, and throwing tantrums is helping no one.

 

Oh yeah! Friday…. ermmmm.

Since I did a Wednesday post, I don’t have much to say today really, and did not prep any more Timeline or Atlas posts nor any Orion’s Articles.  Nope instead I spent it… Dun Dun DUN!!!!!  Editing the novel!  Huzzah!

No way!

Way!

Okay so I’m a bit loopy.  Good news I’ve burned through 90 pages or so, depending on how the software counts it today.  Yeah… I don’t know why it changes either sometimes.

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But! I am happy with the results other than keeping finding grammatical edits I missed like changing I and me to he, us to they, so on and so forth.  It’s like finding legos by feel in  the dark, with your feet.

But I got to edit my first big conflict chapter.  It’s a whopper and I really REALLY hope changing the voice does not steal from the tension and impact of the work.  But I was left emotionally spent after slogging through about 10,000 words for that rough 2nd edit.  We’ll see how it turns out in the end.  That means I’m getting closer to some more difficult choices as what is to come is a reorganization of the middle build.  I suspect that will be harder than the final conclusion which much of that I will have to make out of whole cloth as the saying goes.

At least it goes.

Now back to my real job, so little to no editing again till Monday.

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The State of the Edit: Special Announcement

Yep.

My fears came true it seems.

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I’m going to be blowing the first deadline I made for myself so far and that really has me frustrated.  For those not in the know, I started writing this book  when I took up a 40 day social media and gaming fast from Ash Wednesday to Easter.  In that time, I put out about 350 pages.  It was a brilliant time.  Of course, I fully realize that it was compensating for me consuming media rather than producing it.  But it was worth it on many levels.  Once off the fast, my productivity plummeted dramatically.  It is really amazing how much of your time disappears into the black hole of social media or gaming.

My second deadline was to finish my second book of the series, which I did 4 days before Memorial Day I think it was.  What I learned in that very difficult next 40 days was how hard it can be to write if you do not focus 100% of your energy and cut off passive or semi passive consumption of art.

Well… for me it is.

But since then, I started studying  about how to edit, and the needs a manuscript has before I send it to an editor and make a complete ass of myself.  The realization dawned that I had written a draft for me (As well I should I learned), but not for the public.  I have a great concept, great hook, and middle build for genre fiction…

…. but no finale.

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With that discovery driven home, the second edit began fighting me.  When I finally settled on converting the whole book from 1st to 3rd person that helped, but it lost a lot of intimacy present in the first draft, IMHO.  I’m biased, so what do I know?  What that meant is I had to engineer a new finale, and shift around a half dozen chapters, plus… PLUS bump up my major supporting character to co-focus.  Reimar, the boy you meet in the sample chapter is not the only hero… well he is, but… bah!  You’ll see.  In fact, although he is the focus of the novel, I now had to focus on the other strong voice, Brother Finn, who you will all meet soon enough.  I needed to build his back story more, fill in how he got to the second chapter, and sprinkle in activity throughout, in his voice, to create a cohesive whole.

That’s not easy as it may seem.  Then two more challenges reared their ugly heads and nommed my brain.  My villain/foe/obstacle was weak on some level.  I have two levels of them… but they are not saying to me “boss fight” at any point to create the final conflict the book needed.  Oh they’re good villains and scenes.  In fact the initial villain is probably getting even more and more interesting as I write in Brother Finn’s chapters.

That means I had to re-examine my existential societal threat to the book, the Skaerslinger.  I realized I did not have enough depth to them to write authoritatively about them and give them both the dignity a good danger/enemy/challenge deserves.  Never sell a villain short or treat them shallow.  Your heroes depend on the danger being credible.  Plus, I had only featured them so far in the very beginning, they have to come back for more!  As Chekov said, “If you show a gun in the first act, it must be fired by the last act.”  Or something close to that.  So this has trapped me as well.  How do you write a fitting denouement of proper depth, breadth and power without something colossal to overcome.  Cheesy 3 act development?  Sure. Why not?

And the last hurdle, beyond creative intimidation?  Friggen virus computer crash hire someone to fix it and save my data level disaster.

Yeah… queue the freakout.

Thankfully the computer techs I hired got my system back, saved all my data (except my bookmarks for all my writing resources which I’m starting to rebuild) and I could start again with little lost.

So… long story short, this adventure to try and get this book done, and published took a delay.  Therefore, Toulouse… the story shall not be ready to show the financier tomorrow!

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 In the end, this is all in a way of an apology to those expecting to hear from me with a completed second draft by the 9th or so.  Seriously though, I wanted it done, but my schedule, thanks to my waffling, indecisiveness, panic, and computer crashes has been making me struggle mightily.  But, it IS coming!  Fret not, and I will need opinions.  My goal is still to publish this year, but it’s looking more towards Christmas than anything else.

Special addendum:  I’m running low on book stuff relevant to share with you, plus there seems to be rather low interest in my creative stuff that I post as compared to my biographical posts.  So comment below what kinds of things are you interested in reading about.  Come on now, don’t be shy.  Give me hints.

Nature Reminds Me: I am Fragile.

Want to know a sound that is truly terrifying?  It’s not the sound unto itself that makes it bad, no.  I’ve heard the sound probably a thousand times in my life, and it often comes with an experience of dread or irritation depending on the context.  But on Saturday, that sound became truly terrifying.

I sit alone at work in a nice little shack in the dead of night.  Generally speaking, this is a quiet job, dealing with drivers and the radio and the needs of the Distribution Center from time to time, but essentially, I work alone.  I like it for that most days, but it does have a peculiar effect of enhancing the feeling of exposure.  If something goes wrong, there you sit, alone with nobody who can reach you in a short period of time, and in a crisis, five to ten minutes is not a short period of time.  Even hooked in with radio, text and phone, you are still isolated.  You feel fragile at times out there alone in the dark, even though most times that is a blessing allowing me to look inside myself in the quiet periods.

Saturday was hot and humid all day, and thankfully I got to sleep through it, and by the time I got to work, I was happy for air conditioning, and doubly thankful for it working in my shack.  I did not have many truckers to deal with so that small blessing added to my stack.  I was on alert for the weather.  The radar showed storms far to the north, but others were forming small intense pockets.

The night was a dull haze as well.  The cooling of the evening was halted at some point by atmospheric forces I could not begin to understand, and instead of obeying the normal expected pattern of the night that cooled it into dew and ground fog, the humidity and temperature began to rise to daytime heat, making for a sweltering and uncomfortable night every time I went out side.

In the distance, I started seeing the yellow cloud to cloud lightning cracking through the thunderhead, turning it into a giant celestial Chinese lantern.  I always loved that effect.  I did not expect severe weather, but seeing that level of dancing in the clouds was mesmerizing and fun to watch with no one around on this particularly slow evening.

I went back to work as the lightning faded, only to be blasted to attention again by the weather radio screaming.  I immediately opened up my web browser and saw the weather alert.  Half dollar sized hail and 60mph gusts.  Being exposed, my first thought was that my car was going to get wrecked, and all the windows on the little shack, which is almost all glass, would be blown out.  Horrible thoughts crossed my mind on how to prevent the destruction.

I prayed of course.  It was my only course of action, and God seemed to be listening.  The storm which only a little while before that was aimed directly at me veered to the north of the city and pounded the fields and forest up there.  I was relieved because this was only a precursor to what looked like a more gentle line of storms coming in maybe an hour after.

The night rolled on, uneventful save for a quick sprinkle of rain from the violent storm that missed us.  I went back to work while listening to an audiobook of “Last of the Mohicans”.  I’ve learned not to listen to things that could frighten while out there and so exposed.  I don’t need to add stress.

Horror came in another way at about 3am.

First my phone started yowling in a weather alert.  I was expecting maybe a severe thunderstorm warning.

Not a tornado warning!

Within seconds, and before I could call up the web browser again to see the text of the alert, the weather radio we are required to have went off and it read out loud what I was just discovering.  Radar indicated a tornado coming right at me.  My blood chilled.  It was unclear if the thing had touched ground, but to even see my small subsection of town listed as being under the gun was enough to add a few white hairs.

Then the keening wail of the tornado sirens began to drift to me over the stifling hot night air.  It sang its song of warning and impending destruction to me.  Not just one siren but a half dozen of them were singing in chorus.  Some shrill soloists close by brayed to me while a quartet of them drifted at slightly different pitches far in the background permeating the night air like the humidity.  It was a beautiful cacophony that drove home how exposed and fragile I was in my little shack.

Compounding the matters, I had no protective shelter that was within 3 minutes of reaching, so if I looked out the tinted windows and managed to see a funnel cloud coming at me, I was dead meat.  There was no way I could make it.  Plus, I was surrounded by semi trailers that would instantly become projectiles

I contacted them inside and they said abandon the shack and come in to the shelter.  I reminded them I could not because my duties required me to have the gate manned at all times.  Shut the gates, we’ll send you help was the response.

The 10 minutes I was out there, while the sirens finally died was unnerving.  I had no idea how fast the predicted disaster would take to get here.  Five minutes?  Fifteen?  Not at all?  By the time my supervisor drove out to be just as exposed the downpour began.  I was constantly looking over my shoulder, dreading the horror of seeing a lightning lit tornado flickering in the night.  We fought with the gates and finally got them as shut as we could get them and fled to the tornado shelter.

Thankfully, the tornado never materialized, but gave spectacularly threatening clouds dimly visible from the city lights below as they zipped this way and that.  We waited out the event and life went back to normal.  It seems very anti-climactic in some regards, but I was thankful for God’s providence and mercy on the city.  The disasters did not come about, and everyone was safe.

It was that sound that awoke a primal terror in me that stuck around.  The confirmation of my own frailty was.  During that interim, when I first heard it echoing and filling the night as we raced to close the gates which argued and protested being shut in a downpour was punctuated by looking over my shoulder for impending doom; that was the refining process making me fully conscious that this could be the day God called me home.  I have had a few of those types of incidents in my life, and they are always something you look back on and go say to yourself: “See?  This is when you were not sure whether your next breath or next minute would be your last.”  It focuses the sensibilities so sharp, you cannot deny how alive you feel afterwards, even if it is buried in the grey weights of exhaustion.

Then just like the clouds, that sensation of terror and relief recedes again beneath the normalcy of life.

Orion’s Articles: Afflueconomics

Afflueconomics in Orion’s Arm (OA)

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What is an Afflueconomy and how can it exist?

One of the main features of OA is the idea of a Afflueconomy. What is meant by this term? Afflueconomics is the idea that there is no lack or want left in society, often referred to as a Post Scarcity Economy. This is a highly efficient system of obtaining full need and maximal want fulfillment. The question remains of how does this incredible economic environment arise and what factors are required to maintain it? By its very nature, Afflueconomics are not a stable state and require effort to maintain. So what needs to happen to create this economic outcome? We must first describe the requirements of such an economy. How large a society can exist in such a state. What preparations must be done to maintain an Afflueconomy? For simplicity’s sake, we will skip most of the permutations and styles of social and environmental variances that can color and shape an Afflueconomy and stick to the fundamental requirements with a few descriptions for color and elaboration.

The Pillars of Afflueconomics

These Pillars of Afflueconomics are the essential factors in creating and maintaining this economic state. Without these, this system of economy and exchange cannot survive. These will vary in size, power and degree of influence, but all are required in some form to create this state for at least some of the population affected by it.  The resultant state will be only as strong as its weakest pillar which ultimately becomes the limiter of its scope and durability to stress.

The first pillar in any Afflueconomics society is effectively unlimited elemental resources. Matter, by nature, is a limited resource. So an Afflueconomy must have access to the entire spectrum of periodic elements, and potentially artificial elements to become a true Afflueconomy. Ideally, these supplies of periodic elemental abundance must be brought close enough to negate transportation costs for the population, and be refined enough to eliminate processing efforts as well. Once this hurdle is conquered, one can look to the next major hurdle to the existence of a Afflueconomy.

Energy is the next essential pillar for the existence of an Afflueconomy. Without an effectively unlimited energy source, this will enforce a market on energy. Energy must be plentiful, easily and instantly accessible by all in the Afflueconomy and it must be abundant enough to be essentially free. Many sources of energy can be used to create this state, but one must be wary of any form of energy that consumes or destroys matter for that will slowly but surely create a strain on the first pillar; elemental resources.

The third pillar of Afflueconomics is distribution. Without a highly efficient and powerful transportation infrastructure, pockets of need and scarcity will begin to occur. To prevent this, the most rapid system of transportation possible for cargo, point of purchase manufacturing, or many other methods are required to speed the finished good or service to its requested location.

Fourthly, an Afflueconomy requires unlimited manufacturing technology. Goods and services must be produced at a rate that either equals or surpasses that of actual need. Often this can be averted by projecting the expected need into a certain area, or utilizing a “JITPOP” (Just In Time Point Of Purchase) manufacturing system.

If all four of these factors are met, an Afflueconomy is possible. In fact, the scale of an Afflueconomy is what is most in question. A single person can have a personal Afflueconomy if the proper technology is applied, and his needs do not outstrip his supply of any of the four foundations. The larger the four pillars, the larger an Afflueconomy can become.

What other factors can effect a Afflueconomy?

A few factors exist that can increase the size and power of an Afflueconomy or limit it or even destroy it. These will vary from place to place, nor are they always present. These factors can also counteract each other in a way that leaves the Afflueconomy unaffected.

One of the largest factors in limiting Afflueconomies is information and data. Without a highly effective communication system and ability to record data, an Afflueconomy can be severely stunted. This system can be anything from Genetic to Memetic to computerized or any other variation you can think of. It must be reliable and able to supply the needs and wants of the people to communicate desires as well as fulfill them. When manufacturing is automated and available to anyone, designs and copyrightable information will become the limiter. New patterns and designs and uses for the materials can both limit and expand the luxury of a people as well as more or less efficiently meet their needs and wants.

The most powerful ally or enemy of an Afflueconomy is political will. If the governing polity or Sephirotic decide that they will or will not allow Afflueconomics to exist in a certain location, there is little to stop it. The abundance for each of the pillars limit the size and form that it can take. A government can even force a certain area to become an Afflueconomy even though it is not ideally suited for such an existence due to lack in one or more of the foundations. This artificial propping up may not be obvious to those inside the Afflueconomy, but will become increasingly painful and destructive to the systems supporting it.

A related limiter to Afflueconomics is privilege. Since it may be desirous to a polity to limit the types of commodities accessible to its citizens, some access to certain aspects of Afflueconomic Pillars may be artificially limited. Their reasons may vary from caprice to safety. How a citizen gains or loses privileged access to levels of their Afflueconomics is up to each individual polity.

The speed of light is another limitation to the size of an Afflueconomy. Although Wormholes can expand the territory included, relativistic travel will still cause limitations or slow the speed of an Afflueconomy down. This delay, if attached to especially time sensitive needs can be incredibly dangerous. Unfortunately, little can be done about this outside of moving supplies closer and spread evenly across an Afflueconomy.

Speed of manufacture can affect the size and robustness of an Afflueconomy as well. If the equipment used to manufacture goods and services are limited or slow, lack may occur if sudden need arise and surpass emergency reserves if any. Much of this can be fought with JITPOP manufacturing, nanofacture and other local forms of construction.

Picotech manufacturing (the ability to reassemble the parts of atoms to create or destroy elements) can nearly eliminate the Elemental Foundation of an Afflueconomy. Since it can construct any type of element from other elemental parts, this is incredibly useful. The more broadly used Picotech is, the greater it’s impact on the Afflueconomy. This technology has the largest impact of any on the nature of an Afflueconomy because it allows an unlimited elemental resource. Since Picotech is a Transapient technology, it often is rare for baselines to have access to such equipment.

A system of recycling also increases the stability of a Afflueconomy, and prevents entropy of maintaining it from being a problem. Although through use of Nanotech or better recycling methods, this can nearly be eliminated, it can never be totally stopped from happening. Matter will be consumed and destroyed, or lost in some manner over time. The rate of this loss is what will govern the need to replenish lost matter.

In regards to nanofacture, intellectual materials, like designs and programs to create commodities. Intellectual commodities and services cannot be satisfied by material manufacture, and often become the major pinch point for any Afflueconomy. If there is a large and effectively comprehensive freeware community, this minimizes the impact any intellectual property pinch-point, although it may not address all the issues.

Where in OA do Afflueconomies exist?

True Afflueconomies are relatively rare when compared to the total state of the Terragen Sphere. They are usually associated with Nanotopias and other ultratech societies. The chances for their existence increase dramatically when a polity has readily available Picofacture, and energy supplies. Occasionally you will find true Afflueconomies outside of a Nanotopia, but this is increasingly rare the less technologically advanced the society is. The farther out from the Inner Core one goes, the fewer and fewer systems are capable of supporting Afflueconomies without extreme external effort. Almost universally, these become rarer and smaller as one travels outward.

Can there be partial Afflueconomies?

Most economies in Orion’s Arm are partial Afflueconomies. They may have the technology to manufacture or distribute or even the materials, but lack the energy. In places where the energy exists, there will be a full Afflueconomy, but a greater effect will be made on society as a whole by manufacturing for the larger area for a cheaper price. Often, the more stable the four pillars of Afflueconomy exist, the cheaper goods and services become till they become essentially free to all ad infinitum. In some cases, whole sections of the economy, but not the whole economy itself will become Afflueconomical. Often this shows itself in the form of basic needs being met first, and some rudimentary luxuries. This is referred to as “The Welfare Syndrome” by some economists as a derogatory term. The more solid the pillars, the larger variety of “free” goods can be found and population included in this largess of society.

Most often, due to the level of technology commonly available in the Terragen Sphere, the major limiting factor is Elemental availability.

When it comes to Afflueconomic limitation due to Elemental reasons, a few categories of limited Afflueconomics have been discovered. They are SiCHON (Standing for the five most common elements in the universe; Silicon, Carbon, Hydrogen, Oxygen, Nitrogen), Common and Trace.

SiCHON Afflueconomics occurs when the most common elements are abundant enough for nanofacture, but the less common elements are rare enough to warrant market forces to be placed upon them. This is the most common limited form of Afflueconomics. Often this is what economists talk about when referring to the “Welfare Effect” of an Afflueconomy.

When most of the naturally occurring elements are practically unlimited, then a Common Afflueconomy is possible. This means that non synthetic, non-trace element essential nanofacture is possible in a Afflueconomic manner. Often the luxury and comfort of this form of limited Afflueconomy is far greater than SiCHON Afflueconomy.

Trace Afflueconomy is almost indistinguishable from a true Afflueconomy to most baselines. Only synthetic particles are excluded. Since most of these particles are made by Picotech, or specialized equipment, this is the most rare form of limited Afflueconomy. Since almost all commodities and goods in this society do not require synthetic elements.

In conclusion, Afflueconomics are everywhere in some forms or another. They may be artificially propped up or the result of truly lucky circumstances. Many variants and styles of Afflueconomics exist here and there, but essentially follow the same pillars and principles, and are ultimately seen as varied offspring of a true perfectly working economy free from all need and want.