See you at Dudley’s Bookshop Cafe

We are getting some traction on “Chalice,” and thank Dudley’s for their enthusiasm. Stop by on Sunday at 2 p.m. for the reading (look upstairs if we’re not downstairs), and 25% off on coffee. It’s a very cool book store.

Dudley’s Bookshop Cafe
“This Friday is Friday Art Walk PLUS Fall Festival. We are privileged to have Kelly Riley & The Range Benders playing their amazing set of Americana, Blues & Folk with attitude!! Originals, traditionals & a few surprises! 6.30pm. ALSO, on Sunday October 6th we will be having a signing and reading by Erik Dolson of his new book “Chalice”. Erik is a local author and I promise the book is fabulous! All drinks and treats will be 25% off from 2 to 4pm.”

Reading canceled

The local book store in my home town has canceled my reading. They’d received an email from a woman who said the book was about her. They got three phone calls from the woman’s friends. The owner admitted that not one of those who complained had read the book, but he just didn’t feel comfortable promoting it at this time.

Now questions will be asked. Now the book will be perceived as being about this woman, and I won’t have the chance to explain that it is a work of fiction based upon conversations with countless people over decades, woven together to create a novel hopefully rewarding to read.

So much for art. For meaningful discussion. For relevance.

I had just written another reader, “The book is fiction, a story constructed of bits and pieces, yes, some you will recognize… but it was constructed, and therefore a fiction, to build a theme that I hope is universal; that relative standards are no standards at all if driven by fear, irrational hope or selfishness… how we find morality within ourselves… that faith is required to leap the abyss… how losing everything can be redemption… how what we seek is connection.”

These are the topics I was prepared to discuss at the reading. And what it is like to create, why a story has parts and arc, what it is like publishing a novel, how hard it is to know something, and someone, whether objectivity is even possible, how all of us live in a world of our own creation. And why I chose an optical illusion for the central metaphor.

Now the discussion has become about something else, about something it was never about in the first place. Which, I suppose, is what it is about, in a way.

Turn it off, Part II

I have renamed my “cell phone.” It is now my “Link.” Not just because it links me to the world via communication and information. But also because it is one link in the chain that binds me to their intent.

Cell phones, Internet. Visa Cards. All this noise about the NSA and cell phones: Does anyone really believe, once they have spent four minutes thinking about it, that the NSA has not compromised your (easily revoked) VISA card, your Master’sCard? In exchange for the ability of card companies to condition you into spending more than your limits, or missing payments, so they can charge rates that once were considered usury?

Is anyone so naive to think that VISA, MasterCard, AMEX and the rest don’t slurp your data? And share what they learn with the NSA, and their corporate “partners” (i.e., those willing to purchase the info)? Read the fine print.

Have you ever bought a gift card? Have you received one that represents a corporate “refund” (talking about you, T-Mobile)? Did you know your “money” on that card can evaporate? Read the fine print. And then realize that a percentage of those cards never get redeemed.

Where did that money go?

When in hell did banks take ownership of our money? Our transactions? And how do they get to rent it back to us at discounted value? It’s too late to do anything about it, because they own too many political waterboys like Rep. Greg Walden of Oregon, and many others, but it’s good to think about once in a while. Next time you buy something, ask if there’s a cash discount equal to the highest rate your retailer pays for you to use the credit card.

If only for an hour, turn it off. Use cash for your next transaction, at least while you can. They won’t know where you are for that period of time. Until they get the cameras up, or satellites start recognizing cars and addresses… oh, crap. Drones. Too late.

It won’t be long  before there is no “money.”  It’s good for you, it’ll help you keep track of all your expenses. And it’s good for them, they won’t have to pay to print all those $5, $10, $20 and $100 bills. Or keep track of them.

Or lose track of you.

Turn it off.

Turn off the Security-Technology Complex

On January 17, 1961, when President Dwight Eisenhower delivered his farewell address, he warned the country about the “military-industrial complex.”

Acknowledging the need for a strong military during the Cold War (Eisenhower was a five-star general leading troops in World War II and Supreme Commander of allied forces in Europe), he cautioned against the loss of liberty if Congress, the military, and industry colluded to hijack the public interest (emphasis mine):

“Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society. In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals so that security and liberty may prosper together.

It’s been nearly three generations since that speech. During that time, we have unwittingly initiated the greatest experiments in the history of our species on what it means to be mankind, and society. Television. Cell phones. The internet.

But Eisenhower’s warning is not only relevant today, it is more important than ever before. The phrase “military-industrial complex” sounds nearly quaint. But its spawn, the “security-technology complex,” is not only alive but very active, very aware of itself, and very sophisticated in its manipulation of information and abuse of power.

It’s not just politics, or the illusions of freedom. Hiding behind false facades built of threats and promises, they analyze what you buy, what you read, what you drive, where you live and where you go. They use sophisticated tools to learn what you think, then tailor information you receive to create perceived threats and solutions that serve their interests, not yours.

They manage you. They herd you behind fences of fear, corral you with a tight focus on “message,” follow you and quickly respond if you get out of line. They feast on the heart of what our founding fathers worked so hard to achieve.

It may be too late, but there is one response they can’t control.

Turn it off.

A “Shoe”

Kunicki discovered a water leak before racing even began and had a DNS (did not start), Edelstein blew a rear end in the morning session, which he had to replace before we went out at 2:50 and had a DNF (did not finish). So two of the fastest drivers on the grid had to start at the back of the pack when the afternoon race started.

Rick Stark was on the pole, Randy Dunphy next to him, John Goodman and I were third and fourth, with Kallberg behind me. When the green flag came down, monster V-8s howled down the straight, through Turn 1 and into the wide sweeper, Turn 2, nicknamed “Big Indy.” Kallberg moved by me as I moved past Goodman.

Stark and Dunphy, fighting for the lead, had contact. Dunphy’s red Falcon went into a slow spin in the middle of traffic. Somehow, we all avoided him, and his job then became cutting through the rest of the pack along with Kunicki and Edelstein.

It’s easy to build a Corvette into a competitive race car, half the work is alrady done. It is harder to do a Camaro, and much, much harder to do a Falcon. But Dunphy and his mechanic have a very fast Falcon that consistently places near the top of the field, despite the fact that it is essentialy a brick.

Watching Dunphy come through Turn 9, whether from a race car behind him or from the stands, is breathtaking. The car lurches and hops and moves the very outside. I’ve always been afraid the loose gravel and dirt on the outside of that turn would grab him.

Like in the first race this morning. He didn’t miss a beat as he raised a cloud of dust.

“It was out there for 50 feet or so, but I just rode it out,” Randy said to his mechanic, or something similar. I got it second hand, and it was noisy when I heard it.

“Ride it out.” At 100, maybe 110 miles an hour, in a turn, “riding it out” is not the first thing one feels like doing. But doing anything else is far, far worse. It used to be said of Porsches that you never, ever, “lift,” or take your foot off the gas in a turn. That is a recipe for a spin.

So is touching your brakes when half of them are on hard pavement, the other half in loose dirt. That is the number one cause of fatal accidents on the highway, and it would have put Randy nose first into the concrete wall in front of the stands. So, he “rode it out.”

Randy is quiet in that sometimes intense way of Viet Nam Vets, willing to take responsibility (he wondered aloud if he had caused the contact, until reassured by others he did not) and very reluctant to blame, he usually wears a smile. He drives well, is very predictable, and in our sport, that means a lot.

“He’s a real ‘shoe.’ If people knew what it takes to drive that car that fast, they would be amazed,” said his mechanic.

A “shoe,” in our world, is someone who wears a racing shoe to do the best that can be done with whatever he has, does it very well, does it better than most.

Randy didn’t win the race this afternoon. I finally got past Rick Stark, who has been driving the wheels off his small block Corvette in this event, and I took first. But my vote for “Shoe,” of this weekend in Seattle, goes to Randy Dunphy in his red Ford Falcon.

A noisy weekend

“Congratulations, your application has been accepted for entry to the 2013 Portland Historic Races at Portland International Raceway June 28th – 30th.  We look forward to having you join us!  This year we celebrate the 60th anniversary of Corvette, “America’s sports car”…

You have entered: 1969 Corvette

Your Car # is: 95

You are in group: 5”

Losers in a new world

There are always losers. That’s what the uncle of the two boys who set bombs at the finish line of the Boston Marathon called them: “losers.”

The uncle, also from Chechnya, also a Muslim, is a winner, and a man who loves the opportunity that America has given him and his family. His is ashamed of his nephews, what they have done to Americans, to Muslims, to Chechens.

The two boys were also very different. It is hard to understand how the younger one followed his older brother into terrorism. The last few months had been tough on him, too, but we don’t yet have a good idea of cause and effect, whether his implosion as a student and citizen was the cause or result of his taking the path to hell.

Their father, too, who returned to Chechnya, who says his boys didn’t do this, who says they were framed: How did that father contribute to the tragedy of lives lost, those of his own sons and of those they murdered and maimed? Or is he yet another victim?

This was not an act by Muslims, not an act by Chechens. This was an act by misguided young men like Timothy McVey, who blew up that building in Oklahoma. And there may be no cure for that in a free society, in any society. It may be biology, genes programmed to create cannon fodder; it may be chaos. But we should not rush to fix something that may have no fix, especially when the solution destroys what we are trying to protect.

Hopefully the man in the cowboy hat who saved the life of the young man who helped solve the crime will find meaning… the loss of his own two sons lessened by what his heroism accomplished. Nothing can bring peace, but perhaps his pain can be reduced for  a few minutes each day.

There is much to think about the amazing accomplishment for law enforcement, too, in a world that is changing faster than anyone could have imagined.