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Zeroth Contact, the Video

posted Aug 24, 2017, 11:19 PM by Wolf O'Rourc   [ updated Aug 24, 2017, 11:30 PM ]

When the Lumen5 artificial intelligence engine turns my winning story, Weirdest Story Award, 2016 Sin City Word Hoarder’s Holly-Daze Writing Challenge, into a video

Stardate -307951.1

I flew to the biggest light source, the surest indication of a wealthy advanced civilization. A bright beam guided me to a pyramidal structure completely unsuitable for a landing, but I found a space in the city demarcated by orange cones, next to a sign the computer translated as "The Atomic Testing Museum."

The aliens in their rolling conveyances all converged on the strangest chapel I have ever seen, a huge cuboid structure jam-packed with merchandise of all sorts. Logically, one had to conclude that their King advertised what tribute to pay, but this unusual civilization was not so.

Instead, a male with white facial hair, decked out in red and white, presided on a throne as worshippers filed in and expressed their wishes to him--most blatant attempts at bribery. My computer strained to translate the incomprehensible requests.

A jumpy male child said he “had to pee” and ran away. One female of the species, who turned many heads when she sat down on the rulers lap, requested Botox so she could live in sin. Another alien, in leather, prayed for a collection of music from a long departed King, Elvis.

An elder male asked for what he called a "stripper," but resigned himself to a lumberjack shirt when his female partner, wearing colorful feathers around her neck, stormed the throne. She slugged him hard, propelling him into me. I regret to report that I dropped and lost my auto-writer.

These primitive, corrupt aliens, in my opinion, are unsuitable to join the Vulcan Federation, and I recommend against First Contact.

Highlights from American Dreams: David J. Morris

posted Apr 29, 2017, 3:04 PM by Wolf O'Rourc   [ updated Apr 29, 2017, 4:00 PM ]

David J. Morris, author of The Evil Hours, views the American Dream as the Great American Real Estate Swindle - American Dreams: The Festival, by the Black Mountain Institute and The Believer Magazine.

The thing we Gringos do better than anybody else is the real estate swindle. Our very nation is built upon the real estate swindle. The subprime scam, the mortgage backed security scandal of 2008, is merely an updated and carbureted version of that bogus bait and switch land deal that the US government started engaging in with the Indian tribes in the early 18th century. Of course, dirt and drywall and cinderblock ownership, home ownership, has been a central component of middle class American identity since the end of Word War II.

Citizenship and property go hand in hand, and has both a romantic history (think Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Payne) and a dirty, more nefarious history (think slavery, poll taxes Native Americans, etc.). Indeed, the very dirt and concrete that we sit upon right now [Las Vegas] was itself stolen from Mexico, who, let's not forget, stole it from Spain, who stole it from the Indians, who probably stole it from other Indians before them.

For generations, mortgages were a plain vanilla business. People took out loans to buy homes at fixed rates. In the 70s, we had a minor tradition of the mortgage burning party where people would torch their paperwork after they made the final payment. During the Reagan years, Wall Street set out to change all this, remaking the mortgage industry to the point where in 2006 you have lifelong financial professionals like Steve Eisman, summa cum laude from Harvard Law, saying that after spending months trying to understand the mortgage market, he couldn't "understand a word of the fucking underlying mortgage documents."

ARMS, equity access products, ninja loans, AAA-rated tranches, and synthetic CDOs—make no mistake, the creative use of language here is not done out of some technical need for more efficient understanding. It's designed to obscure the indefensible, to confuse the people who could potentially put the brakes on these deals and call us into some sort of fantasy, namely consumers and regulators.

What do we talk about when we talk about real estate? Do we talk about families, children in front yards, and dinners in backyards? No, what we talk about is wealth, assets, empire building. The American Dream, that fantasy of being on the winning side of the Great American Real Estate Swindle is alive and well. I'd like to suggest a small yet crucial amendment to Hunter S. Thompson’s words: "This may be the year when we finally come face to face with ourselves; finally just lay back and say it—that we are really just a nation of 220 million condo clippers and real estate brokers with all the money we need to buy guns, and no qualms at all about killing anybody else in the world who tries to make us uncomfortable." (originally from Fear and Loathing: on the Campaign Trail '72)

Highlights from American Dreams: Nicholas Russell

posted Apr 29, 2017, 2:33 PM by Wolf O'Rourc   [ updated Apr 29, 2017, 3:57 PM ]

Nicholas Russell lays out his ideas on the American Dream at American Dreams: The Festival, by the Black Mountain Institute and The Believer Magazine.

It is only in the pursuit of the dream's existence that you may find it. Along the way people's ideas about the American Dream became confused with the fact that the American Dream became construed as truth. Unfortunately equality here is also entangled with worth, and it is an American notion that ideas of worth are defined by what one can achieve and a believe in fairness, but America's story is also one of preferences.

The American Dream is a MacGuffin, an object of desire, important to many, pursued by many, but ultimately worthless upon its possession, a vehicle for mobility and change, a goal who's existence accrues value not to itself, but to the endeavors taken to achieve it. If you want to venture out and find it, know that the Dream is itself the dream I think it's limited and it should be discarded.

Highlights from American Dreams: ZZ Packer

posted Apr 23, 2017, 11:52 PM by Wolf O'Rourc   [ updated Apr 29, 2017, 3:55 PM ]

During American Dreams: The Festival, the Black Mountain Institute and The Believer Magazine put the American Dream on trial. Author (Drinking Coffee Elsewhere), judge, and soon-to-be justice ZZ Packer gives her new take on some bestselling books.

Fault is in the Stars

A terminally ill underage girl has one last wish, to visit her favorite author. The septuagenarian would not let her down to make her wish become reality, or at least a reality TV show, but not before he launches an investigation into how three million people, some dead, voted illegally after masterminding the Bowling Green massacre, thereby taking jobs away from hardworking, tax-paying, A-list celebrities who would otherwise have starred at his inauguration. When he finally remembers his promise to his underage siren, it's too late. She's no longer of this world. The septuagenarian  spends his nights wandering the halls. He gazes up at the stars at night, vowing revenge against those that declined to attend his inauguration, and sure of one thing: the fault lies with them.

Go the F to Sleep

Every parent knows how frustrating it can be when their infant cries, whines, tweets throughout the night, refusing to fall asleep. Attempting to take away any sort of attachment item from him, be it a favorite toy, cell phone, or blue Tweety bird, could end in disaster. With the baby trying out its newfound autonomy, trying out new words to express his emotions, suddenly everything is sad, bad, glad. Whether you're a parent or in loco parentis, you just want your baby to go the F to sleep.

Highlights from Walter Kirn's Jim Rogers Contrarian Lecture

posted Mar 5, 2017, 8:21 PM by Wolf O'Rourc   [ updated Mar 5, 2017, 10:37 PM ]

Essayist and novelist Walter Kirn, Jim Rogers Contrarian Lecture, Black Mountain Institute at Doc Rando Hall, in the Lee and Thomas Beam Music Center, UNLV, 02/23/17
  • I am by nature against anything.
  • What's an elite? I define it this way: a group of people, often quite well educated, who truly think they're better than anyone else but are too polite to say so except to those who happen to agree.
  • The most popular of these fake stories garnered more shares, likes, and other interactions than the most-read real political articles of the left-leaning fifteen news outlets combined. That's a fact. You can look it up on Buzzfeed. (laughter)
  • Seekers of public office and producers of filthy videos face a common challenge: how to keep audiences with a product that tends to, over time, make numb. Pornographers solved this problem by continuing to intensify the weirdness of their imagery. Politicians, the smart ones, do something similar. Trump could shock. Nor did he worry about consistency.
  • Big story of convention: a real estate magnate was about to secure nomination of a political party, ushering in what many people feel was a new era of neo-fascist rule, and yet all CNN and Fox could talk about was verbal pilferage by his trophy wife.
  • News took radical turn toward bizarre. PizzaGate: evidence was appearance of supposed code words, much of it based on Podetta's association with avant-garde performance artist.
  • It's all a click away, the true and false, real and ridiculous, Washington Post and Infowars, and they're all next door to one another, saints and sinners, cardinals and crooks.
  • In the real world, the cost of deception is real harm: people shun you, they often punch you, but on Internet they can't find you.
  • Let's trust ourselves instead of offloading responsibility of separating fact and fiction on computers and cable networks, let's focus on refining our own judgement. Let's rely on our instincts, not someone else's algorithms and remember that the Web based global village, like every village, is overflowing with gossip: there's not much to see in a small town, but you sure hear a lot.
  • Fiction provides us something that even real news sometimes can't: perspective, news that stays news. Sinclair Lewis's "It Can'tHappen Here" from 1935 is more relevant now than ever.

The problem with fake news

posted Mar 2, 2017, 11:30 PM by Wolf O'Rourc   [ updated Mar 2, 2017, 11:51 PM ]

Walter Kirn, Q&A after Jim Rogers Contrarian Lecture, Black Mountain Institute at UNLV, 02/23/17
Walter Kirn book signing at UNLV
Fake news isn't just something that has the wrong information or is poor reporting. Instead, it is entirely made up.

Fake news exposes the structure of the thing it satirizes, the exaggerations that go into headline-making in general. I'm also not sure that anybody has trouble distinguishing what's fake news. I think we read it often because it's fun.

Here's a problem with fake news. It started as a vehicle for injuring Hilary Clinton and helping Donald Trump and a lot of it came from foreign places or the fever swamp of the alt right. But Donald Trump turned the tables recently and started calling major organizations like CNN and the New York Times fake news, so now it's a right wing attack concept and what each side calls the other's stories.

Both sides belief the other side is lying and we can't agree on reality itself—maybe they never agreed. My fear is that anger and suspicion and distrust grow to the point where violence follows. Propaganda usually precedes violence. It's a way to soften up people to do things they wouldn't do before.

The economics of media no longer encourage on-scene reporting. Stories about comments on Twitter costs a network exactly nothing. Commenting, pitching attitude don't constitute reporting. It's a form of spitball throwing. I wish the places that have the resources dig a bit deeper, look longer at their subjects, and try to produce more content instead of waking us every day with outrage.

The Fourth Estate as a check on the powerful

posted Mar 2, 2017, 11:26 PM by Wolf O'Rourc   [ updated Mar 2, 2017, 11:37 PM ]

Walter Kirn, Q&A after Jim Rogers Contrarian Lecture, Black Mountain Institute at UNLV, 02/23/17

Walter Kirn at UNLV

Political reporters and their subjects are married. Their kids go to school together. They eat in the same restaurants. The fake fights they stage for TV audiences end when the cameras are off. The coziness of the press and the truly powerful is a problem and truly exists. Reporters use people as sources and they protect them instead of telling the truth about them sometimes.

There are fantastic stories people in Washington are holding back to guarantee their sources. One of them would be Ted Kennedy's alcoholism. I attended a party where Kennedy was the drunkest human being I have ever been in the room with. His shirt was off. He was up against a wall and a teenager was licking his hairy self. Walter Kronkite was right there. This guy nearly became president and I very much doubt this alcoholism started several month ago. Now what in the hell is going on there? We weren't being told something that may be crucial. I've seen more relationships that do more to protect the powerful than expose them.

Yes, it's a check and especially in times of crisis, but it's also sometimes a danger. We wouldn't have gone to war in Iraq if a reporter for the New York Times wouldn't have gullibly had a relationship with a government source that was feeding her basically misinformation.

Make the book consumable

posted Dec 17, 2016, 10:45 AM by Wolf O'Rourc   [ updated Dec 17, 2016, 11:19 AM ]

People want a sense of accomplishment. Make the book consumable, more eye friendly.
  • short chapters
  • graphs, pictures to break up big blocks of text
  • paragraphs no more than 7 lines
👀 Boomer market has failing eye sight, so don't use 9-point font. Help them get through that book.

Bret Ridgway, Publishing Success Summit interview (may require payment)
#writingtips #writers #authors

Winner, Weirdest Story Award, 2016 Sin City Word Hoarder’s Holly-Daze Writing Challenge

posted Dec 13, 2016, 10:34 PM by Wolf O'Rourc   [ updated Dec 13, 2016, 10:55 PM ]

Zeroth Contact

Stardate -307951.1

I flew to the biggest light source, the surest indication of a wealthy advanced civilization. A bright beam guided me to a pyramidal structure completely unsuitable for a landing, but I found a space in the city demarcated by orange cones, next to a sign the computer translated as "The Atomic Testing Museum."

The aliens in their rolling conveyances all converged on the strangest chapel I have ever seen, a huge cuboid structure jam-packed with merchandise of all sorts. Logically, one had to conclude that their King advertised what tribute to pay, but this unusual civilization was not so.

Instead, a male with white facial hair, decked out in red and white, presided on a throne as worshippers filed in and expressed their wishes to him--most blatant attempts at bribery. My computer strained to translate the incomprehensible requests.

A jumpy male child said he “had to pee” and ran away.
One female of the species, who turned many heads when she sat down on the rulers lap, requested Botox so she could live in sin.
Another alien, in leather, prayed for a collection of music from a long departed King, Elvis.

An elder male asked for what he called a "stripper," but resigned himself to a lumberjack shirt when his female partner, wearing colorful feathers around her neck, stormed the throne. She slugged him hard, propelling him into me. I regret to report that I dropped and lost my auto-writer.

These primitive, corrupt aliens, in my opinion, are unsuitable to join the Vulcan Federation, and I recommend against First Contact.

https://www.facebook.com/Sin-City-Writers-Group-1679970738942303/

Facebook Author Page Up

posted Jan 10, 2016, 9:43 PM by Wolf O'Rourc   [ updated Jan 10, 2016, 9:44 PM ]

View my Facebook author page at

https://www.facebook.com/WolfORourcAuthor

No Facebook account necessary

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