Bull Run Mountains, VA (Piedmont)

 

I did a little field trip today to the Bull Run Mountains behind Haymarket, VA, just north of Va-55 and I-66.  There is a road, Antioch, which connects to Hopewell Road and goes through the mountain pass (at about 1000 feet) and goes down to The Plains, VA.

I think I was here in the fall of 1962 (while a patient with NIH) with high school (Science Honor Society) old friends.

I found a horse attraction, then a county park with a lake, and then went up the mountain.

Three videos follow.  I talk a little about the last story in my DADT-III book, “The Ocelot the Way He Is”, as this is the area that “Bill” drives through to meet “Nolan” and then go to the fictitious ashram or intentional community, after which stuff happens.  (See June 25, 2014 for treatment of “Two Road Trips”.)  I also talk about some legal issues that could potentially occur with hosting asylum seekers.

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(Posted: Thursday, January 12, 2017 at 8:30 PM EST)

Cato forum on “Men Without Work”

Today I attended a Cato book forum, about “Men Without Work: America’s Invisible Crisis”, by Nicholas Eberstadt, from Templeton Press, from the American Enterprise Institute.

Davd Bier also spoke, about how immigrant males compare in workforce participation compared to naturally-born Americans.

Men with less education, and especially black men, and especially also men with some law enforcement problems, have shown a steady decline in employment, up to about 25% non-participation. The decline has been consistent during economic recoveries as well as declines (2008).

These are men who do not even look for work, but “watch”, on electronic devices, as if doing so were a fake job.  Some live at home with parents as adults.  They tend not to participate in childcare or volunteer work or chores.  They seem lazy.

Immigrant men do not show this problem as much.  Immigrant men (despite the “Trojan horse” issue) have lower crime rates than native men.  Men who are married with children are much less likely to remain idle.  The lecture did not address same-sex marriage, but presumably a male couple with children to raise would perform similarly to traditional couples.  Immigrant men are more likely to be married with kids and follow conventional gender roles more than native men.

Immigrant men are also more able to move around geographically, but this could mean lower home ownership rates.   In higher paying tech jobs, I would think that single men would be more geographically mobile.  When education level improves, the performance of single men starts to compare much better with married men.

 

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(Posted: Wednesday, January 11, 2017 at 12:30 AM EST)

More background on the connections between my novel manuscripts

I do expect to get back to more detailed editing of the novel “Angel’s Brother” within the next week.

But I wanted to make some more notes about the connection between this novel document, which continues from some notes on July 3, 2014.

First, let me give some history.  To the best of my knowledge, “Novel 2”, or “Tribunal and Rapture”, as started first, in the summer of 1999, after I had been to Europe and my mother was more or less recovered from bypass surgery.  (I did not go back from Minnesota but for about a week, but the whole situation then was stressful.)   I believe a draft with most of it was finished by early 2000, all while I was living in the Churchill in downtown Minneapolis. As I note, the story is largely told through the viewpoint of someone other than myself, a retired Muslim-American FBI agent, with considerable military experience, and with a largely secular, modern life (Dubai-like), including a UFO abduction.  He has no conflicts over scriptural religion and modern individualsm, and tends to believe that all three major Abrahamic faiths have more in common than their differences.  I met Muslims like this in the 1980s and 90s during my career and never gave any thought to terrorism.  The book is apocalyptic, ending with the “evacuation of the angels” to a colony on Titan, a moon of Saturn.

I apparently started the “Novel 1” (“Rain on the Snow”) in the summer of 2000, after a vacation and then a minor crisis at work.  The first part, which presents “Bill” getting invited to a “re-education” Academy (in west Texas) to get to join a doomsday prepper squad (the whole “There is no ‘they’” thing), his getting involved with a mysterious youth Matt who comes across as a Clark Kent, and his being jailed after effectively being framed for Matt’s “death”, ending with his escape with the help of his other minions, and climatic ritual at the end of the book, preparing him for a new world.

When I went to Europe at the end of April 2001, I thought about the idea of deploying the novels.  I remember an afternoon in a hotel in Toulouse, France, having a debate with myself, and thinking about “Rain on the Snow” as the logical choice because the events happened first.

Well, not exactly.  I had written a lot of backstory passages for “Tribunal and Rapture”, which also explained some of the setup of “Rain on the Snow”.  I remember a weekend in July 2001 (about two months before 9/11) when I drove from Minneapolis to the Northwest Angle, and gave a lot of thought to the sequel, “composed first”.  I remember “Frankie and the Path Pit”.  (Frankie is one of Bill’s old boyfriends, who becomes a kind or archangel at the Academy.)  I began to think that this background material needed to be put into “Rain on the Snow”.

So between late 2003 (after I returned to Virginia, because of Mother) and 2005 (in the heart of my substitute teaching) I fashioned a new structure for “Rain on the Snow”, as a kind of Opus 111   The original story center at the Academy and then jail – itself a two-act structure, turned into the “Theme and Variations”, and the entire backstory became the Sonata form, the first movement.   But many of the individual passages and summaries had been proposed as passages in the early chapters of TR (like the “Nighthike” scene at the very end became an erotic backstory insert into Chapter 8, when A;I reads the story of Bill’s escape.)   In TR, I had also played with the idea of lumping much of the backstory material into one prologue (as Clive Cussler and Irving Wallace would do).   I called these passages the “Lumps”.

Finally, I made an Access Database of the enhanced “Tribunal and Rapture” but I applied the stages of screenplay analysis  (Hague, see Feb. 3, 2016), to each of four major characters (most of all Bill) separately.  Later I’ll figure out how to get this analysis into WordPress.

The character Ali has been taking training in remote viewing in a manor in Virginia that is probably modeled after the Monroe Institute.  Some of the materials he views are essentially “The Book of Bill” (rather like “The Book of Eli” (2010)), and some have been stored on optical (EMP-proof) CD’s.

But in “Angel’s Brother”, a major element of the setup is Bill’s duopoly of novels.  The plot builds up to another Nighthike-Initiation-Immolation scene before the “real” Armageddon and evacuation of Earth by the chosen.  But CIA agent Randy has to figure out whether what is in “The Book of Bill” is really fact or fiction (like the 1998 indie sci-fi film “The Last Broadcast” about the Jersey Devil).

In “Tribunal and Rapture” (Novel 2), the protagonist, Ali Mogul, is depicted as mixed-race (about the same as president Obama, perhaps).  So the story is told through the eyes of a minority person (who includes his son, Amos, who gets in trouble with the law with computer hacking, at at time when hacking was just getting started). But in “Angel’s Brother” I move back (that is, regress, from the viewpoint of social and political correctness) to making the primary character subjects white males, both attractive, one gay and one “straight” (sort of), one college age and one entering middle age, in the late summer of life. That makes erotic tension buildup through the first two thirds of the novel possible.   (I’ll have to do a Hauge analysis soon. )  I was drawn back to this viewpoint by my interest in shows like “Smallville”, “Everwood”, etc.  with “attractive” late teen or young adult male character leads.

One can imagine a movie franchise based on all three novels, each of which encapsulates its prequel.  Perhaps the sequence would be called “Tribunals”.  Maybe it could be a Sci-Fi cable series of about three seasons, 8-10 episodes each.  I’d be game for it but I couldn’t do all three alone right now.

At the end, it seems that there is an “evacuation” from an Earth that is going to see its way of life challenged.  (That’s also true of “Epiphany”).  I know how this will come across to some people:  I don’t have room onboard for “losers” (as Trump would see them).

(Posted: Thursday, Jan. 5, 2017 at 11 PM EST)

Some clips from a pre-Christmas service at a local “southern” Baptist Church

Today I paid a visit to Columbia Baptist Church in Falls Church VA. It was a service associated with this church that provided caregiving when my mother broke her hip and had surgery in 1997 while I was moving to Minnesota for a job transfer.

This was the classic, formal service at 11:15 AM.

A bit of the prelude (orchestra, “O Little Town of Bethlehem”.

And Advent wreath lighting.

The improvistory sermon by Dr. Baucom started out with some jokes about Christmas customs (including how most people really don’t like to eat fruitcake that much – I don’t, but “fruitcakes like fruitcakes”, an unfortunate metaphor) before admitting that faith in Grace and in a savior was not completely logical, and counter to what we view as intellectually sound behavior everyday – but necessary because we are broken – for quantum effect reasons. Reproductive life, after all, exists to counter entropy in the universe. And consciousness, leading to free will, directs it all.

Another quote: “The birth of the homeless should be celebrated in every home.”

(Posted: Sunday, Dec. 18, 2016 at 7:30 PM EST)

MGM is back: that is, the MGM Grand at National Harbor

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A short day trip to MGM Grand in National Harbor, on the Potomac River, just south of I-95 (really 495), the Beltway in Prince Georges County, MD,

I visited the “rooms” of the Hotel, the District, the Parlor, all kinds of places that belong in another Clue game.

and then the outdoor deck

The parking lot was very crowded (but free) but I finally found parking on P4 mid-day weekday. (The number-of-space counters are misleading.) The crowd indoor was moderate on a weekday, but there were lines in all the eateries.

In the “lobby” atrium, the Hotel tower looks a bit like Freedom Tower in Manhattan.

Does Oprah own some of this?  I thought she had an interest in bringing MGM back to its former glory.

(Posted: Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2016 at 8:30 PM EST)

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Kristin Beck (Lady Valor) speaks at AGLA Christmas Party

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Kristin Beck (author of “Warrior Princess” and subject of the CNN film “Lady Valor”) spoke tonight at the Christmas party for the Arlington Gay and Lesbian Alliance. I see that I have footage from her speaking to AGLA at the Arlington VA library Nov. 25, 2014, too.

Here are the clips. I have to admit my attempt to wide-screen them on the cell phone backfired. Later I’ll figure out how to rotate them in the embed statement. For now, just play in YouTube and rotate the smartphone 90 degrees/

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(Posted: Tuesday, December 13, 2016 at 9:30 PM EST)

Comparative media reviews on hot topics