Thursday, June 2, 2016


Writing Update

What? He’s starting with a writing update? Yep! The news is that I’ve been on yet another distractive hiatus working on other Maslow Hierarchy Level One and Two projects. DUST’s sequel is well into drafting and developing nicely, but I must stress that I’m not concerned with a release date as much as I prefer—no, demand!—that it be a good book. I’m totally ripping that line from Roger Daltrey’s recent interview (see below), but that’s always how I’ve felt about it. Yes, we’re what, six or seven years into this due to tangents and distractions? Well, it happens. I’m over it. D2 will arrive sooner or later. I promise to draft more manuscript later this year.

Wait! There’s more news. I’ve transferred publishing to a new company called CineCapture Press, and a special edition of DUST will accompany the sequel’s release. For now, it boils to this: “more” and “better”.

Spoon Control
My guess is that if I mentioned the latest school shooting, most of my readers would click out after the first sentence. (Before you get started on me, I’m not the type of person that falls prey to either/or logical fallacies. The tired “You’re either for *more* guns, or you want all guns banned entirely” argument is for simpletons. Please…) This bit is not an argument for or against gun control, it’s about the media’s automatic inclination to feature that discussion before positing the other more obvious causations. Are they asking the right questions? I think not. What caused them to pick up a weapon in the first place?

 Consider these factors in homicide profiling :
  • Chemical Imbalance: How many mass murderers had pharmaceutical prescriptions for psychological treatment? Were they taking at the time of shooting, recently quit taking the medications, or stopped long ago? Depression, SSRI drug withdrawals, etc.
  • Suicidal: How many ultimately kill themselves or suicide by cop? Was this the planned intent?
  • From Broken and/or Dysfunctional Families?
  • Lacking Attention: Lashing out with social media and other public outlets. How much influence did increased attention have?
  • Following a Martyr: Where they inspired by someone who they sympathize as a victim of society?
  • Desensitized by Media? Exposure to violence via media reports, movies, violent video games, etc.
  • Bullied in School?
  • External Loci Type?
  • Has there ever been a case of a mass killing by use of other weapons?

Okay, okay—you get it, right? Unfortunately, CNN, BBC, FOX, CBS, MSNBC and so many other outlets seem hell-bent on the causation as being first and foremost the access to guns. I won’t deny that guns are in fact tools that make the job of killing people easier, but to me it’s akin blaming diabetic deaths on table spoons. One could argue that table spoons contribute to the deaths of **millions** each year in the USA. Sounds rather silly, doesn’t it? The logic’s the same, and before anyone spouts “but people aren’t killing other people with spoons!” BZZZZ. Wrong. We get invited to dinner and go out for a meal all the time. We are always provided the tools that might eventually cause your coronary. The trick is self-restraint…sanity…spoon control.  

Yes, it’s true: people with poor mental health probably shouldn’t have access to a fully stocked pantry. As soon as they’re diagnosed and placed on a psychological prescription, their diet should be regulated and monitored. Additionally, any other threats to public safety should also be considered. Driver’s licenses, flammables and explosives, sharp objects, rope, elastic bands and rocks, and very long words that require a dictionary.

Can’t you see? Any person, for whatever reason—clinical, historical or otherwise—has the potential for harm if they wish to cause it. Removing access to the tools of harm doesn’t solve the root issue. Eventually, long after the anger part of grief settles, most reasonable folks begin to understand that the first line of defense will be good mental health.

(This article was actually written several months ago after the Umpqua Community College massacre in Oregon. My thoughts are with the victims of all these heinous crimes.)

Cuba Libre-ish?

Many have posted their disgust over Obama in Cuba. Being that some of my family’s ancestors originate there, and that much of my wife’s family also came from Cuba—before and after Castro’s revolution—our own feelings are mixed. I can agree that the sudden detente has all the appearances of an American capitulation: What about all those nationalized properties confiscated by the Castros? The political executions reportedly in the thousands? All those criminals sent as political refugees in the Mariel Boat Lift? The Missile Crisis? Yeah, the list is exhaustive, but guess what? The folks who stand to rule after Raul and Fidel are buried are also named Castro. Yes, to any red-blooded democratic society, it stinks. Shaking hands with the devil? (I know to some of you the devil in the Obama-Castro video is subjectively plural – fair enough.)

Thing is, the ones suffering our differences are the Cuban people and their stateside families who are restricted in travel and financial assistance, not to mention all the business and travel opportunities lost in the last several decades. Folks, after 50+ years, the embargo is a failed policy. We must admit that. To continue the status quo out of spite is asinine hypocrisy. Why no sanctions on their trading partners, U.K., Mexico, Canada, China, Russia, and so many others throughout Europe?

Real change will come from economic engagement. Fidel won’t admit it publicly, but Raul and their sons know the truth. We need each other economically and strategically. To be sure, there’s more at play here in the geopolitical than simply USA and Cuba. You can post your memes (camera angles to create a context, mocking still photos to demonstrate a certain point), but this is one of the extremely rare times that I believe Obama and Kerry are actually attempting to do what’s best for the people, however awkward, painful, and ideologically abrasive. There’s no such thing as perfect diplomacy. Ask any robber-baron!

I know; there exists a certain degree of bias here. My wife has visited Cuba twice, but to my knowledge, none of my family has stepped foot on the island to trace its roots, and we hope to make that trip someday soon. Nobody’s getting any younger. Oh, and music. MUSIC! The dream sojourn... Yeah, many reasons, but Cuba must be ready for us. I’ve read too many articles corroborating inadequate hospitality infrastructure and security, but the sooner we all make the effort, the better.

Forget the Castros and the worn-out political posturing. I don’t see anyone yackin’ about China or publicly boycotting their wares. We do quite a bit of business with Russia, Venezuela and Vietnam too, not to forget the numerous monarchy-run Arab countries with brutal civil rights issues. Don’t ask why, you either know the ugly answer or you’re an ostrich. Change is a process, and I don’t believe it starts with isolation. Cuba has so much to offer, and we can’t wait our entire lives for The Egos to sort it out. They won’t. It takes a little prodding (thanks to Pope Francis and Nelson Mandela), a little courage, and a few friendly overtures.

Rogering the Music Industry

Did you happen to catch this Rolling Stone interview with Roger Daltrey? Loved it for many reasons, but once again, another legend bashes the state of the recording industry. He says he can’t make a record without paying for it. I suppose he means that he can’t make a profit from a new album. I’m not so sure there. My guess is that Mr. Daltrey hasn’t explored crowd-funding or the likely army of studios and engineers that would bow their mighty facilities just for the street cred. Sure, there’s the whole professional methodology at play when doing a proper job of a new project, but honestly, can he really say he’d have to personally pay for a record? It’s a beard-stroker for certain…if you’re still wearing a beard, that is. Are beards still in? Hmmm… oops tangent… 

I’ve already spent my two cents on this subject, and I’m sticking to it. What else is there to say?

On the Outside Looking Up

Oh, to fly again… <looks at old flight log>

24 Years. That’s how long it’s been since I last carried the moniker of “Pilot in Command”. It seems like a long time—okay,it is a long time—but once you get the bug, it’s awfully hard to suppress. I still think about it at least once a month. I’ll spend time perusing Plane & Pilot or FLY mags, practice landings on a simulator and, once a year or so, I’ll look at the going prices for a decent Mooney M20-something. <sigh> But as much as I enjoyed it, flying continues to be an economic and common sense challenge. Even 24 years ago, planes were expensive, maintenance costs insane, and insurance premiums, well, insert hysterical laughter. Not much has changed with the notable exception being that flying is—relative to inflation and income growth—more expensive than ever. Couple accessibility hurdles with failure to keep a relative pace with progressions in common highway driving, and you begin to understand why general aviation has seen cataclysmic decline.

Something’s got to give!

Well it has. Sort of.

The relatively new US FAA regulations regarding light sport aircraft and the somewhat recent new Sport Pilot License have indeed fostered entrepreneurial adventures in aviation.
Icon A5 convertible folding seaplane. (Photo via Wikipedia)
More innovative designs such as the Icon A5 are upcoming, but take a look at the bigger picture. These are recreational aircraft not meant to fulfill the dream of speedy personal (or family) transportation for the masses. Okay, Pandora’s Box (reportedly a jar, actually) opened. Arguments: Is flight really meant for masses? Training involved similar to a calculus final exam? What about the surge for self-driving land vehicles. Can we not (and more easily) devise automated aircraft? Some observations over the years are thus: When flying was relatively attainable for (at least) the middle class, say, in the mid-1960s, there seemed to be no shortage of funds for airport infrastructure nor lack of John Qs frothing—checkbooks in hand—for flying instruction. 


An intelligent person with a modicum of economic sense knows what’s happened and why. Again, an ugly truth. Inexpensive flight as an alternative means of distance transportation competes with which industries? Now look at the barriers they might lobby to raise. FAA rules, supply manipulation, fuel costs, insurance regulation and costs, stifling maintenance regimens—you name it. What’s needed here is the equivalent Ford Model T manufacturing paradigm that meets today’s transportation needs. It should be reliable, safe, modern, inexpensive to operate, fast!, and priced within reasonable reach of John Q without the need for group ownership schemes. For me, that’s a 4-6 seater that cruises 200+ knots quaffing less than 10 gallons per hour. Add the latest glass avionics, a 5000 hour TBO, insurance premiums less than my house, and keep the purchase price below $70K.  Who’s working on that?

Even if they were, $70,000 buys a lot of commercial airline passage. Okay, maybe not into the municipal airports mentioned previously, but I’m okay with renting a car for the final leg. Then there’s the inclement weather factor. Commercial wins again. This debate could rage for days, but I think you get the point. Private piloting must make sense. For a blessed few, it still does. For the rest of us, it’s either a super-passionate all-consuming hobby or a dream of once was.   

T. Nelson Taylor | Official Site | DusT | Bolita