Thursday, December 26, 2013

Freedom to Offend

In the last week there's been quite a pother (: about freedom of speech.

Let's start with the basics. Those we know as the founding fathers came from a political situation where freedom of speech relied on who was in power at the moment. If you were a royalist and the royalists were in power you could say pretty much anything you wanted. If you weren't, you'd better keep your mouth shut or you might end up in prison or dead. The same thing went for religious and moral questions--if you disagreed with those in power, it was important to keep your mouth shut.

Because of this, they wrote freedom of speech into the US constitution. Not freedom if you agree with those in power, not freedom to speak as long as no one will be offended, but freedom for everyone at all times. If someone chooses to say something that offends me, that's their right. I have the right to say something that offends someone else because if you start drawing lines of offense, where does it end?

If we start saying this is allowed speech but that is not, we're walking a very shaky line.

Let's just say (to select an example not at random) that speaking in derogatory terms of homosexuality becomes unacceptable as a form of free speech. You must then extend that same protection to all groups, correct? Christians? Gun owners? Muslims? Business owners? No more bashing the stupid flat earther morons!

Oh, it doesn't apply to those groups? Because one group is in a position of social power, they are protected while others aren't? You see where I'm going with this?

Who defines offense?

I was told once that lies are not protected, but what he referred to as lies were truth to me. I consider myself a conservative, and much of what I believe is derided by those at the opposite end of the political spectrum. Does that mean they should not speak? If I speak and they consider what I say to be lies (or offensive), do they have the right to shut me up because of superior social or political power?

This is where the Founding Fathers were coming from, this is what they hoped to prevent in their new democratic republic.

It snuck in anyway.

If you curtail someone's right to speak, regardless of whether you feel their speech is offensive, then you risk your own right to speak if the wheel turns.

When someone deliberately asks you a question which they know many of their readers will find offensive, and it's either lie or be hung, then will you change your mind about freedom of speech? What about when the courts uphold the right to silence you?

Think about it.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Another scenario

I decided not to cover the electrical thing in the last post, but just suppose?

Let's pretend that something did happen that destroyed the electrical infrastructure. That could be anything from a shortage of gas (everything has consequences, remember?) to terrorist attacks on the electrical system. But the electrical system is gone. Kaput. Finis. No more electricity except the bits and pieces from renewable sources such as home-mounted solar panels or windmills. The solar and wind farms are disconnected from the distribution apparatus because the rest of the infrastructure is totaled.

Without some viable alternative ("You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means") what would happen?

It depends largely on the time of year and the location, but lets just say big city summer, and let's make it an immediate disaster rather than a slow burn.

My opinion:

Most hospitals can't function for more than 24 hours on separate generator power
Radio communication would go down quickly, leaving whatever area was affected in communication blackout
Transmission for cell phones would end (probably within 24 hours)
Lights and air conditioning would end, air movement in most buildings would end
Computers, electric cars, etc, would last through one battery use
Anyone reliant on life support is dead within 24 hours after the power ends unless they can get to a location with backup power
Anyone with refrigerated medication (such as insulin) is dead within 48 hours unless they have access to alternative power
All refrigeration goes down immediately. Stores lose anything that has to be refrigerated within 24 hours. A deep freeze will last up to 72 hours (if you're not mobbed by people coming for your food)
Anyone who cannot leave their home and has no one to help them is dead within two weeks
Since most people in a city environment keep only a week's supply of food on hand, within two weeks the mobs are out looking for anything they can eat
Addicts roam the streets, unable to get their next fix. They target pharmacies, doctors offices, and hospitals
Those people who are left after the first two weeks head for the countryside

So no communication, no hospitals, no refrigeration, no AC...piece of cake.

And no, I'm not going to write this. If you want it, that's your job. :)

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Think (or don't)

Normally I just start writing. I'm a pantser, or another way to put it is a discovery writer. I just sit down and start writing, then work with what comes.

But sometimes I have to sit down and think about things. Not timeline stuff or plot details, but social details. The one I have the most fun with is "How did this culture get this way?"

Sometimes it's very simple; sometimes it takes weeks of work to figure out where the roots are. That leads to more details and a more complete picture of the culture, because if I know how it got that way I can extrapolate other things that might have changed due to the history I discover.

Think of a dystopia in which the original root of all the problems was a foreign borer that got into all the strains of wheat. Well I can start with the character, and I know the situation s/he is in, but that one detail adds layers--did all the wheat die? If so, do they still have bread? I can imagine her going to a museum that grows a 2x2 foot patch of wheat so people can see what most of the world used to eat. The lack of wheat meant that many of the food animals that relied on that wheat also died out, so the current diet is mostly vegetarian with manufactured proteins. So right there, with that one detail of "history," I have an idea of their diet, what their world is like, and if I worked at it I could find hundreds of other details based on that one item--the lack of wheat.

If other grains were or were not affected, that would make a difference as well. How did the government respond? How did individuals respond? If the lack led to rioting, the government could have clamped down and created the dystopian culture for those that were left. A small group of people could have banded together to protect the last of the wheat culture, and they're besieged by the dystopian government.

A lot of this might have nothing to do with the story itself, but it creates a more textured and three dimensional world if I know the history and the present that came out of it.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Cover Reveal for Dark Spirit

My cover for Dark Spirit is finished!

This story was supposed to be out last October, but *wringing my hands and wailing* it got pushed back because I just couldn't figure out the cover.

So of course it falls together in a day once I make my mind stop playing and actually do some work. :)

Here it is: The second book in the Spirit Cycle.