Saturday, September 28, 2019

Words Matter... As Do Spelling, Punctuation, Grammar

Which is correct, "inalienable" or "unalienable"?

This aposite quiz for this particular alien romances blog is posed by legal blogger
Elizabeth Scott Mo├»se writing for Nelson Mullins Riley and Scarborough LLP. in a fascinating article about the origins of the O.E.D.

https://www.nelsonmullins.com/idea_exchange/insights/the-scrivener-word-up

or

There are many more multiple choice vocabulary perfection tests, so please check it out.

Also worth reading: the argument presented by Authors Guild on why permissionless captioning is wrong and dangerous and not in the interests of culture and authors' rights.

https://www.authorsguild.org/industry-advocacy/the-authors-guild-files-friend-of-the-court-brief-in-audible-captions-case/

Any traditionally published author, who has spent multiple hours striving with copy editors, editors and proof readers to perfect spelling, punctuation and grammar will understand how distressing it could be to see well-crafted script reduced to phonetically generated "captions".  Any reasonably well read person who has turned on the captions function on television should see the potential problems.

AG is most persuasive.

Finally, and nothing to do with Sp/P/G, the 2015 Fresh Fiction hack has something in common with Groundhog Day.  No matter how many times one changes ones passwords, it seeems, the hacks persist.

If you are not actively videoconferencing with someone, cover up the camera eye. Then, when/if you receive a well-written email from a shady someone trying to prove their bona fides by revealing your latest Fresh Fiction password, you will be less likely to believe that they truly have infected your device and taken naked pictures of you.  Don't even open that email.

All the best,

Rowena Cherry


Thursday, September 26, 2019

Animal Minds

I recently read two books by ethologist Frans de Waal, ARE WE SMART ENOUGH TO KNOW HOW SMART ANIMALS ARE? and MAMA'S LAST HUG, respectively about animal cognition and emotion. ("Ethology" means the study of animal behavior.) They're very lively as well as informative, drawing upon a lot of the author's personal experiences. De Waal makes a sharp distinction between emotions and feelings. He defines feelings as internal mental phenomena we can’t know unless the individual describes them to us. Emotions, on the other hand, are observable in the form of biological changes that can be described and measured. Through unbiased observation of nonhuman animals, he maintains, we can't avoid noticing that they have emotions similar to ours. Therefore, it's not a stretch to believe they have inner lives and consciousness analogous to ours. If we assume certain reactions by our human peers mean those people are experiencing the same internal states we experience when we react that way, it's at least a reasonable provisional hypothesis that the same assumption can be applied to other creatures. We're often reluctant to make that assumption because it challenges the idea of human uniqueness.

Part of ARE WE SMART ENOUGH TO KNOW HOW SMART ANIMALS ARE? surveys the history of the study of animal intelligence. During the reign of behaviorism, the majority of scientists took it for granted that learning occurred the same way in all organisms, so nothing was lost by restricting most experimentation to easy-to-handle subjects, e.g. rats and pigeons. Why bother with difficult animals such as primates if there was no essential difference in the workings of their brains? Ethologists nowadays recognize that animal learning and cognition is inextricably linked to the particular species' methods of perceiving the world and interacting with other animals. There is also an increased willingness to accept that animals have desires, intentions, and goals, that they remember past events (not just in a rote learning, stimulus-response way), modify their behavior on the basis of those memories, and plan for the future. Parrots don't "parrot," for example; they use the words they know in appropriate contexts. Some of them demonstrate counting ability and recognition of numbers. Visually oriented species, including some birds, recognize faces as readily as we do.

De Waal objects to the preoccupation with comparing animal cognition to human capacities, as if nature conformed to the old model of a "Great Chain of Being," a linear ladder of species with us at the top. He considers it more realistic and productive to study each species as important and interesting in its own right, with its own techniques for dealing with its environment and other creatures. Why try to measure another species' intelligence by investigating how closely it corresponds to ours, when that other species experiences the world through biology and social structures different from ours? As he puts it, he emphasizes "evolutionary continuity" rather than the "traditional dualisms." The useful comparison isn't between human and animal intelligence, but "between one animal species—ours—and a vast array of others." Most scientists in the past thought only a few nonhuman animals had self-consciousness, on the basis of the "mirror test" (whether they show evidence of recognizing their own reflections as themselves). Quite a few other species have been admitted to the club now that researchers have realized it doesn't make sense to test such diverse creatures as elephants, dogs, birds, and dolphins in the same way as primates. "Theory of mind"—the awareness of what others know or don't know (useful in trying to hide food from others who might want to take it, for instance)—has been demonstrated in a wide variety of animals, some of which catch on quicker than human toddlers. Ethologists have also discovered that many behaviors previously attributed solely to "instinct" depend on experience, learning, and planning.

In MAMA'S LAST HUG, De Waal explores animal (especially primate) politics and society, whether any emotions are unique to Homo sapiens, empathy and sympathy, animals' sense of fairness, and the questions of free will and the meaning of "sentience."

It's fascinating to read about the many different creatures whose intelligence, emotional life, and social skills far exceed what previous generations of scientists believed possible. The octopus, for example, probably the most intelligent vertebrate, has "brains" in each of its tentacles, so that a severed arm can continue to move on its own for a while and even seek food. Contemplating the "vast array" of creatures on Earth is a great resource for inventing extraterrestrial beings who are more than humanoids in special-effects makeup. If we met aliens on an extra-solar planet, how would we judge whether they were intelligent in the same sense we are? If aliens landed here, would they realize we're intelligent, or would they view our cities the way we regard termite mounds and beehives?

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Mysteries of Pacing Part 1 - Siri Reads Text Aloud

Mysteries of Pacing
Part 1
Siri Reads Text Aloud 

I posted an article from Forbes Magazine on the Sime~Gen Group on Facebook, and discussion erupted immediately.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/ellenduffer/2019/05/28/readers-still-prefer-physical-books/#4e60e2df1fdf

Readers Still Prefer Physical Books

Since we are all obviously online and using electronic devices, you'd think everyone on this Facebook Group would be entirely into ebooks by now.  Maybe they'd all have favorite formats or providers, but you wouldn't expect to find Tree Book Lovers on a Facebook Group.  But you do!

Just as this Forbes Magazine article indicates, readers still love, appreciate, and collect hardcopy books.

Some comments pointed out how text that needs to be constantly updated, such as textbooks, and databases such as phone numbers, plus other material you wouldn't want to save and archive, benefits from ebook distribution.

A counter argument for tree books came from one of the writers on the Group Edward B.Wilson P.Eng., M.Sc. P.E.

------quote-----
Edward Wilson When you are serious about eternity it is pressed into wet clay and fired.

Books are a legitimate harvest of trees, and they are usually replaced quickly in North America with younger fast-growing trees that harvest more CO2 from the air. As long as the books are not burned they are an environmental draw (Perhaps a win, and certainly not a loss unless burned).

Note 30 or 40 years ago a Green organization came to the Acta Publishing company complaining about their magazines. The Greens didn't like the large amounts of clay (Sizing) and that Acta used metallic dies that were quite toxic so the magazines couldn't be recycled easily.

Acta, a science publisher explained, They publish the basis of our civilization (including the proof of Flemant's Last Theorem), their magazines are designed to last for 1000 years, not three weeks. They are NOT meant to be recycled they are meant as the lasting record of what is going on, and what is known in science and engineering (Two totally different subjects).

----end quote--------

Traditionally, Romance novels have been read-and-toss category, but all that changed as other genres were blended in, and a woman could become the hero of a woman's story.  Science Fiction Romance and Paranormal Romance novels are not only breaking new ground, but also tackling deep, profound, and far-ranging topics at the edges of human awareness.

Some will become classics, republished in more permanent form.

See How Do You Know If You've Written a Classic series.  Part 1 is about people "discovering" novels, Part 2 about Spock's Katra and Theodore Bikel, while Part 3 is written answers to questions posed by the producer of a podcast who interviewed me in 2019.

https://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2019/07/how-do-you-know-if-youve-written.html

One of the attributes common among works elevated to "Classic" status (i.e. that appeal to more than one generation of readers, become gifted to children by parents who want them to understand the world) is pacing.

Pacing means many things too many people.  Editors look at it one way, publicists look at it another, and writers -- well, most writers just muddle along as best they can.

But discovering what pacing is and how it alters the reader's perception of what the novel says about "life, the universe, and everything," is very possibly the most advanced lesson in writing craft.

Many writing courses emphasize that a writer should test-read aloud the words she has just crafted to discover what to change.  This works for some, and will uncover some chronic errors (accidental alliteration being one big deal! Incessant word-repetition is another.) it doesn't work well for most writers.

Writers are readers, and most readers don't SAY the words in their heads while reading.  Somewhere in elementary school, you learned to detach your tongue and throat from the flow of words through your eyes.  You don't say or hear them, you read them.

Much of the craft of "pacing" a story lies within the simple choice of word, length of sentence, and grammar.  Language usage to evoke non-verbal cues in the reader is an art form.

But all art requires craft.

Focusing on how the reader absorbs the words, and how the reader responds emotionally to the words, and how much time it takes for the reader's autonomic nervous system, and endocrine system to process the words into meaning, will help the writer unleash their art.

In screenwriting, and in learning acting, -- in casting a stage play -- there is a part of the process of production called a "Table Read" where actors who will play the parts sit around a table and read their parts, beginning to develop how to bounce dialogue off each other and create the Characters they are portraying.

Reading your own words aloud won't get you that effect because you know what you wanted to say.  It's as ineffective as trying to proof-read your own typing.

Most writers don't have a bunch of friends who happen to be trained actors or vocalists, and if they do, those actors are too busy acting to spend the hours doing chapter by rewritten chapter Table Reads of raw material.

There is now, in our modern world, a tool writers can use to get an idea of how their writing sounds when read aloud.

Experienced and very active blind people use Siri to read text aloud.

I assume other platforms have similar features, but as we were discussing the preference for paper printed books that persists, one of the responders who is severely sight impaired supplied the following information in answer to my question about how Siri on iPhone can read aloud from ebooks and pages.  I know I have a number of blind fans reading Sime~Gen as the series was one of those selected for Braille and recorded editions by the Library of Congress.

If you write on a word processor, you can use Calibre (on Mac or Windows) to convert whatever you write to whatever your voice assistant reads.  Some people might want to try different voice assistants to compare.  We are in a world full of adventure.

So to use Siri, take the advice of Cheree Heppe, experienced reader. 
https://www.facebook.com/cheree.heppe


---------quote--------
The feature where a voice on the iPhone reads books and things is marvelous. It is not incompetent, like dictation.

This feature can be enabled so that it can be turned on and off with a simple command or gesture. Are use the triple click home gesture because it works fast and because I have a home button.

I think Siri can turn the voice over feature on and off, but I don't use that way because there is interfering ambient sound in some of the venues where I want to make adjustments.

I prefer an exploratory method for the screen. I do not like the method where a user simulates a board game for the structure of exploration by flicking, flicking, flicking through choices until finding the right one. This method is very 1970s and inefficient and plays on an old stereotype about blind people not having spatial orientation sufficient to explore a screen. I found out that someone invented it so trainers who are cited would not have to try to use eyes free methodologies to explore the screen.

The voice I use is the Karen voice. This is an Australian female. I have the speed and the voice set so that this voice reads my books and is my main voice for the iPhone. I have also set voices for Hebrew, German and Spanish. These have to be configured in Settings/General/Accessibility. I think the sub setting is Speech.

Once the voice or voices for the different languages is set, it is possible to change settings on the fly, such as speed and which voice responds to text, by using a gesture called the rotor. This rotor gesture is tricky to use. Especially if an operator is working eyes free, but it is a doable thing. It does require practice. One time, I got stuck in a language I didn't understand and had to call Apple to get me out of the jam.

When this voice feature is enabled through accessibility, it changes the gesture patterns. This is why it helps to be able to turn the accessibility feature off and on, especially if the phone is used by people who see, as well as by people who want eyes free operation.

Apple Accessibility Help Desk support is available 24 seven. They ask that people using their service either have a disability or that the people calling be in the process of setting up a device for someone who is disabled.

The phone number for this help desk is:
1-877 204-3930.

This help desk, which is open 24 seven, can screen share if they require detailed examination of a problem situation.

If someone were to call and need help with this service and they thought that someone was not disabled under the definition, it should be possible to solve the problem suggested in that short story, Operation High Time, where a Gen could slip through by wearing retainers.

-------end quote---------

Here is a cultofmac.com article on getting an iPhone to read aloud.
https://www.cultofmac.com/627620/how-to-make-your-iphone-read-any-text-out-loud/

You can use this method to find out what your blind fans will hear from an A.I. reader, which is a totally different experience from an audiobook.

Whether you want to alter your style to translate well into Siri, you will learn a lot about how your work communicates with your readers.

It is a start on unraveling the mysteries of Pacing.

Jacqueline Lichtenberg
http://jacquelinelichtenberg.com

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Once upon a time, an online book seller began to sell a convenient device that made it possible for purchasers of that device (or others like it) to read myriad tomes of copyrighted intellectual property (books) conveniently, and quite cheaply.

As time passed, people who had bought that device or others like it, came to feel entitled to cheap and free entertainment, and they called the entertainment "content".  Then, they came to feel that public libraries ought to lend them "content" without any charge or restriction.

If they thought at all about the rights of authors to be paid, the thinking was very similar to the "let them go on tours, give concerts, and sell T shirts for a living" mindset that plagues elderly musicians who once thought that royalties on the timeless songs they wrote and performed in their prime would sustain them in their old age.

Library patrons claim that if they can read everything an author writes in e-book form, borrowed free and as soon as it is published, the author will benefit from the exposure and publicity.  Readers will read free, they won't even have to visit a library or interface with a librarian.

Apparently, libraries are worried about delays and wait times for e-book-reading patrons if new releases are "embargoed", and librarians fear that limited availability of new releases will make it difficult to expand and sustain their e-book programs.

Heather Schwedel writes sympathetically for Slate on these librarians' concerns.
https://slate.com/business/2019/09/e-book-library-publisher-buying-controversy-petition.html

But wait....  why is it a priority for librarians to expand their e-book programs?  Who benefits?  Patrons who have an urgent desire to read a particular book can visit a library, and borrow a physical copy. There is no embargo on physical copies. The librarians can buy as many physical books as they need, and the authors are paid.

Surely  physical patrons inside libraries are a good thing.  If patrons don't physically visit libraries, librarians could be replaced by chat bots.

Librarians' other complaint (in this case about MacMillan Publishing) is that a two-year license for one e-book costs $60. Is that really an outrageous sum?  Two years is 24 months. If a library allows each loan to last for 14 days, the one e-book could be read by 48 different readers.... more if some readers return the e-book more quickly.

If the book is new, or a very popular read, the library could limit the loan per patron to 5 days, or even to 2 days as they do with movie rentals. Over two years, that $60 could cover 360 readers, which works out at 60 cents per read.  It could even pay for itself if slow readers had to pay fines.

Apparently, chat bots are "a thing".

Writers can use them.
https://publishdrive.com/messenger-bot-writers-build-use/

Writers can develop a "chat bot" so their fans can have chats with fictional characters from books, with minimal interaction with the author. There was a time when authors were honored to communicate one-on-one with their readers, and readers wanted to interact with their favorite authors.

Is a bot really a satisfactory substitute?  What do you think?

One of the vanity publishers (at least, I assume that is what they are), is suggesting to their paying subscribers that they can use Facebook Messenger Chatbots to get "positive, verified" book reviews "on autopilot", and allegedly, this canny method will thwart Amazon's unceasing attempts to ensure that book reviews are legitimate.

The Authors Guild and Romance Writers of America author chat forums reflect authors' concerns that valid and legitimate good reviews are removed because Amazon bots cannot tell the difference between a friend and a fan, and bad reviews are given the respect of a bot, even when the "review" is by someone who has not read the book in question.

Piling on Amazon, there are complaints that the site is using its advertising power to give preferential search treatment to its own products.

Dana Mattioli writing for WSJ covers the topic thoroughly:

https://www.wsj.com/articles/amazon-changed-search-algorithm-in-ways-that-boost-its-own-products-11568645345

Finally, and only for those who subscribe to the New York Times, there is an op ed by Richard Conniff  about book piracy, especially in academia.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/15/opinion/book-piracy.html

It gives new meaning to old sayings about "being" or "getting" "on the same page"!
 
All the best,
 

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Digital Media Bait-and-Switch

Cory Doctorow's latest column targets DRM but touches upon the abusive business practices of digital marketing in general:

DRM Broke Its Promise

The philosophy behind restricted access to the media we "buy" begins with the premise, "The problem with markets is that selling things is inefficient. There are so many people who don’t need the thing, just a momentary use of the thing." So the promise of DRM was, "Thanks to a technology called 'Digital Rights Management,' sellers and buyers could negotiate a subset of rights and a reduced payment for same.. . .In other words, we were told that we must reject the promise of unfet­tered digital in favor of locked-down digital, and in return, we would enter a vibrant marketplace where sellers offered exactly the uses we needed, at a price that was reduced to reflect the fact that we were getting a limited product." As Doctorow sardonically summarizes, "In the futuristic digital realm, no one would own things, we would only license them, and thus be relieved of the terrible burden of ownership." The actual outcome: "We got the limited product, all right—just not the discount." For example, the DRM-protected books from publishers who use that technology cost no less than Tor's unrestricted e-books. The promise of "flexibility and bargains" gave way to the reality of "price-gouging and brittleness."

Doctorow discusses several limitations and abuses arising from the fact that we don't own the digital media products we thought we were purchasing. Without warning or recourse, customers can suddenly lose access to books, music, or video content (e.g., Microsoft's e-book store). Libraries pay more for e-books than print books and have restrictions on the number of times a book can be borrowed. Streaming services control how consumers can use the content they rent or "buy" (e.g., inability to skip commercials). College textbooks are a particularly egregious example. Electronic texts should be cheaper than hardcovers, but that's not necessarily so. Moreover, the login codes for mandatory online supplements have to be purchased afresh every year. Having finished my terminal degree well before e-textbooks, I had no idea of this catch before reading the article. I have a personal gripe with academic publishers (those that publish scholarly works rather than college textbooks): When they started producing electronic as well as print editions of their exorbitantly overpriced books—clearly marketed with libraries, not individual scholars, in mind—the e-book versions should have been cheaper. Much cheaper, within reach of individual would-be readers. Instead, they're typically priced only a few dollars lower than the hardcover editions. A $90 book discounted to $80, to pick a typical pair of figures at random, is still too expensive for the average unemployed or under-employed academic to justify buying. Granted, producing an e-book requires paid labor, just as a print book does. But in the case of an electronic edition of an existing print book, most of that work (editing, proofreading, etc.) has already been done. I often mentally rage, "Don't those people WANT anybody to read their books?" Some of us who would like to do so don't have access to a university library.

In an electronic media market where consumers have little or no choice but to spend "more for less," Doctorow summarizes the state of affairs thus: "DRM never delivered a world of flexible consumer choice, but it was never supposed to. Instead, twenty years on, DRM is revealed to be exactly what we feared: an oligarchic gambit to end property ownership for the people, who become tenants in the fields of greedy, confiscatory tech and media companies." Don't hold back, Mr. Doctorow; what do you REALLY think? :)

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Soul Mates and the HEA Real or Fantasy Part 9 Mixing Soul, Science and Politics by Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Soul Mates and the HEA Real or Fantasy
Part 9
Mixing Soul, Science and Politics
by
Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Previous parts of this series are indexed here:
https://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2019/05/index-to-soul-mates-and-hea-real-or.html

More on how to incorporate Headlines that are current news into fiction plots, themes and Characters aimed at a possible future audience is here:

https://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2019/08/index-to-posts-about-using-real-world.html

In Part 7 of Soul Mates and the HEA, we delved into the esoteric theories of how a Soul is structured and why science can't locate, identify, or characterize a Soul.

In Part 8 we looked at the Science behind the HEA, citing the most recent Harvard study, an 80 year project, that came down to steady life infused with happiness (by the study participants self-assessment of how happy they were with their lives) is most likely to be achieved by those who establish and maintain solid Relationships.

Relationships are key?

Really?

For this we need science?

An 80 year study?  How much did that cost?

So let's explore how Aliens (in our Alien Romances) might view happiness, and how that might cause a Conflict with humans they could fall in love with.

On this blog, in the Tuesday posts about writing craftsmanship, we're discussing the Romance Genre and the respect it garners (or does not garner) among the general population.

We've focused on how to convince skeptics and disbelievers in Romance that this genre actually contains value for them, personally.

There are so many urgent problems in our general society, that would, it seems to me, be more easily solved if everyone read Romance novels in their spare time.  You can take any Genre - Western, Mystery, Action, Intrigue, Suspense, Horror, Science Fiction, Fantasy - and insert a Love Story.  From there, to a hybrid-Romance sub-genre is a matter of adjusting the Plot so that the usual genre content is carried on the Story while the Event-Sequence focuses on the stepwise development of the Relationship.

If Relationships are the key to Happiness, and therefore to Happily Ever After (THE HEA), and if as noted in Part 8 of this series of posts, the disruption of the family and its ties to local community has left a generation bereft of the brain-development necessary for Relationship Building, then it seems to me Romance genre is the key to healing society.

In Part 8, we also noted the epidemic of Loneliness now officially noticed by sociologists.

This Harvard study
https://www.inc.com/bill-murphy-jr/harvard-spent-80-years-studying-happiness-we-now-know-1-key-habit-that-makes-people-happier-the-problem-most-people-never-even-try.html

says many important things and links to other articles in Inc. Magazine, but this one stands out to me because it's mentioned only in passing:

---quote---
From a pure physical health perspective, researchers say loneliness is as bad for you as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
---end quote---

That's from US government statistics.

Here's the thing.  Tobacco use became a huge government focus, forcing warning labels with black borders onto packages, raising prices with huge taxes, litigating to bar smoking in public places without consent of others there (so now we have outdoor areas designated for smoking breaks).

So tell me, why isn't there government action targeting LONELINESS?

This same article in Inc. Magazine puts forth the cure for Loneliness.  It says people have the most success breaking out of the prison of loneliness when they VOLUNTEER -- to help others, just do something for free.

In Part 7 of this series we looked at theories of the intricate structure of the Soul as described in articles posted on chabad.org

That's a Jewish religious organization, the fastest growing one in recent decades.  People drift into it, feel comfortable, and just linger or return.

One core message of Judaism that has communicated to both Islam and Christianity, and which has arisen to prominence is all the other world Religions, is that doing a Charitable Deed benefits you as much (sometimes more) than others.

The leader of Chabad (called The Rebbe) often prescribed some act of Charity for the woes people brought to him.

Doing an act of Charity almost always changes a person's life direction, mostly for the better.

Mostly, it doesn't matter what the motive is.  GIVING initiates a cycle of interaction with the world that is different.

We talk of Giving And Receiving -- always with giving coming first in the sequence.

https://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2012/05/theme-element-giving-and-receiving.html

Is this a magical principle, a religious principle, a scientific principle, or some social or political principle?

Some might say the demands of "socialists" to strip wealth from the 1% and level the income distribution curve (nobody ever says to what slope we need to level it) is flat out wrong because it's stealing.

Others might say that the insane profit margins that "capitalists" demand are stealing.

Maybe they are both correct?

Maybe money isn't the root of all evil, but rather is the source of happiness?

Most religions extant today insist that money can't buy happiness.

Maybe they're wrong?  Maybe happiness can be evoked, instilled, triggered, or initiated somehow only by GIVING.  To give, you have to HAVE what to give.

Maybe the monetary transaction that transports happiness from one to another is not "purchase" at all?

Aliens with a different view of what a Soul is, and thus a different experience of Romance, Bonding, and all Relationships, might consider money (the artificially created coin of a realm, such as a dollar) a medium of exchange, but not one of "giving."

That is, Aliens might view Charity as every sort of Giving except the giving of money.

One can give Service, Respect, Honor, handicrafts, skills, education, information, and sometimes the Performing Arts can give entertainment.

If giving Charity, or as the article in Inc. Magazine noted, Volunteering, is the one thing securely happy people do, and happiness depends on secure Relationships, and Relationships depend on volunteering (e.g. giving) why isn't government focused on the Public Health Benefits of free will giving?

Giving, by definition, has to be a chosen action, a free will choice, without any coercion or requirement or form to fill out to prove you did it.

It's not a tax deduction.

What would these Aliens who think of Charity as everything but money see in us, today?

Today, government has become the largest Charity institution -- and has labeled many of its Charitable institutions "Services."  But all the Services are provided by people who are paid money (coined and regulated in value by that very government).

The money the government sends out to people who can't support themselves is likewise coined and valued by that government, but it is taken (by force of taxation) from the people who would benefit by giving it to the poor.

After having been fleeced by the government, these people don't have any money to give as Charity.

Small wonder loneliness is a spiritual plague sweeping the world.

What would the Aliens who don't see money as something you can give as Charity make of us?

Catholics still pass a plate at services, to collect donations, and the givers who put money in the plate gain in virtue.

When natural disasters strike, our first impulse is to establish a FUND, so people can GIVE MONEY.  Some organizations still collect things (food, blankets, shoes, laundry detergent) to distribute to disaster victims. But that has become too inefficient to be useful in today's world,  so organizations ask you to Message a certain number to donate $10.

It's a wonderful feeling to be able to help out others without getting mud on your own shoes -- but suppose our Aliens held us in contempt for that, and blamed the use of money instead of personal effort as the source of our misbehavior as a species.

Suppose we were deemed ineligible to join galactic civilization because we regard giving money as giving while at the same time the money we are giving has actually been TAKEN from its rightful owner?

Government TAKES from tax-payers.  Every cent government gives in disaster relief (or social services) it got by taking from its citizens.  Even coining money reduces the value of money people have saved, (that's hard to grasp, but it's true), so coining more money to distribute for disaster relief is another form of TAKING.

Taking doesn't have the same Soul-level effect as Giving does.

If the Aliens we're talking about regard Humans as having kindred Souls, as we noted in Part 7, G-dly Souls, and therefore regard humans as potential mates, potential Soul Mates, but see human Souls as somehow unable to mate because of trying to do Charity in impossible ways, what sort of Conflicts would you construct for your Alien Romance?

Humans might be regarded as infected with a Loneliness Plague (which could be deemed contagious) because of this abuse of Money.

The Loneliness Plague is deadly because it reduces lifespan measurably.  Humans know that, but ignore it and keep on (insanely, the Aliens would think) taking money by force and then giving it instead of real Charity.

Do you see what I'm doing with these Headlines?

The headlines combine into a Theme:  Giving and Receiving
https://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2012/05/theme-element-giving-and-receiving.html

From the THEME - a world is built.  A strange world inhabited by governments that take money by force.  Who ever could imagine such a thing?

The point of view Character has emerged, confounded by the specter of humanity and human insanity.  He's looking at a global civilization morally impaired by misbegotten beliefs and no valid concept of ownership, what it means, where it originates, what it's for, and what dangers it presents.

Humans are either idiots or proto-intelligences.  There's something very wrong with Earth.  It's toxic.

But his job is to infiltrate and map this global civilization.

So he puts on his human-disguise, lands in a remote location, and proceeds to infiltrate -- oh, say Los Angeles where the stranger would not be noted.

He's scared to death, but doing his job.

And he meets his Soul Mate.  She's out collecting Charity donations for Earthquake victims in Japan.

What is she asking for?  Money, bills or coins.

He's met his Soul Mate, and she's a raving lunatic who thinks Charity has something to do with money, especially government coined money.

What happens next?

Or take the set of Headlines we've discussed in Part 7, 8, and 9 and rip out a different theme, something having something to do with Loneliness, Happiness, and Volunteering.  Design your postulated Soul-Structure differently, so that your Theme, Conflict and Resolution speak about something other than Giving and Receiving, and Charity.

Find another answer to the question: "Why is government not addressing the Loneliness Plague as a disease caused by substituting Taking for Giving?"

That answer is your Theme.

Jacqueline Lichtenberg
http://jacquelinelichtenberg.com


Sunday, September 15, 2019

Slow Change

Last week, the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act (CASE) aka  HR2426  and S1273 cleared the hurdle of the House Judiciary Committee.

It still has to pass a full House vote, also a full Senate vote. Assuming it gets through those two gauntlets, it must then survive conference committee. Finally, the snail approaches the goal line, which is the President's desk, before the end of the 2020 session.

Copyright Enforcement has powerful foes with massively attractive campaign-funding potential, so our valiant little snail of a C.A.S.E. could be crushed along the way.

https://files.constantcontact.com/d2e8d4e5501/a4c07fa4-aac4-46f2-830c-03015770d298.png

The framers of the American Constitution intended for it to be difficult and time-consuming to make new laws and to change old ones. For good reason. That means that creators who are frustrated by piracy and the unjust enrichment of others, and by rights on paper that cannot be enforced owing to the ruinous costs of bringing a federal lawsuit, must persist.

The Copyright Alliance and others ask us all to continue to telephone, email, write letters to our representatives urging them to support and co-sponsor this legislation.

https://copyrightalliance.org/get-involved/add-your-voice/

That's an easy link for the purpose. Add your information and zip code, and you will be forwarded to a pre-penned template (revise it to be your own words).

Also, this week, Cloudflare had a wildly successful IPO. If you look at your list of stored cookies that track you without your knowledge or consent, you will probably find that Cloudflare is among them. Traders and investors should read Chris Castle's blog for some warnings Cloudflare gave about itself.

https://musictechpolicy.com/2019/09/12/rut-roh-loc-hoster-cloudflare-discloses-incorrect-submissions-to-treasury-dept-office-of-foreign-assets-control-for-blacklist-payments-by-narcotraficante/

All the best,

Rowena Cherry

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Hard and Soft SF

The September-October 2019 MAGAZINE OF FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION contains an article that indirectly addresses the perennial question of defining science fiction,"Science: Net Up or Net Down?" by Jerry Oltion. He asks, "How scientifically accurate does a story have to be?" How far from scientific rigor can a work drift before it ceases to be "science fiction"? Is STAR WARS science fantasy, space opera, or science fiction? Many hard-science readers wouldn't consider Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover series SF, because they don't believe in the scientific possibility of psychic powers. (Personally, I classify "space opera" as a subset of SF. And if a story claims a scientific rationale for its content, I'm prepared to accept it as science fiction. Did Edgar Rice Burroughs's John Carter series, which includes several wild implausibilities, such as a fertile union between a Terran male and an oviparous Martian female, cease to be SF when it was discovered that Mars holds no advanced life?) Oltion begins his essay by analyzing the book and movie THE MARTIAN, demonstrating that the wind forces possible on Mars couldn't endanger the lander and force the crew to evacuate, stranding the protagonist. Oltion admires the story anyway, willing to give the author a pass on this one point for the sake of setting up the plot.

As he puts it, "the author gets one porcupine," meaning the reader will swallow one factually problematic element but seldom more than one. The greater the deviation from possibility, the more suspension of disbelief is required. Faster-than-light travel, for instance, is a convention we accept for the sake of moving stories along, provided everything else in the work is "rigorously scientific." Or not, such as STAR WARS. If we find the tale captivating enough, we can overlook numerous factual implausibilities. Going too far, though, resembles "playing tennis with the net down." Oltion declares, "I'll read anything that hangs together internally, unless some wild howler knocks me out of the story." It also matters whether the writer appears to know when he or she is bending the rules and shows evidence of doing it deliberately for sound reasons.

So is internal consistency the minimum requirement? Oltion thinks so, but he cites students in a writing workshop he taught, who didn't even seem to care about that. He appears to throw up his hands in surrender at this point, declaring, "You can write anything you want as long as you can pull it off with enough panache to satisfy your readers" (starting with the editor who has to like the piece enough to publish it). Of course, a story composed with this philosophy will attract different readers from those who favor hard SF and insist on scientific rigor. In my opinion, internal consistency can't be jettisoned. In the type of fiction I write, fantasy and supernatural, it's even more important than in SF. If a writer expects readers to swallow the "porcupine" of magic, psychic powers, supernatural creatures, or other fantastic elements, nothing must throw the reader out of the fictional world. Everything has to hang together, and if (for example) the hero rides an ordinary horse, it better behave like a real horse.

I have a strong preference for playing with some sort of net. Inconsistencies do throw me out of a fictional world. And yet I can't deny that an exciting story populated by engaging characters—the latter being, for me, the most important factor in a story's appeal—may cover a multitude of authorial sins. Still, in my opinion a writer risks losing a large segment of the potential readership by ignoring consistency and solid world-building. It's not as if such attention to detail is likely to repel other kinds of readers!

On the whole, however, I can support the general principle with which Oltion sums up: "So as readers, and as writers, decide what kind of story you like and plan accordingly."

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Soul Mates and the HEA Real or Fantasy Part 8 - Science of the HEA

Soul Mates and the HEA Real or Fantasy
Part 8
Science of the HEA
by
Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Previous parts in this series are indexed here:

https://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2019/05/index-to-soul-mates-and-hea-real-or.html

This post might fit very well into the series indexed here:

https://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2019/08/index-to-posts-about-using-real-world.html

Today, let's look at happiness as a scientific phenomenon.

Mostly, today, scientists (grad students at least) are making "original" contributions to the body of human knowledge by doing statistical analyses of data long ago collected.

Some original studies, though, have been going on for decades, and still collecting data.  Recently, Harvard reported on such a long term study of humans.  We'll get to the Harvard study below, but first consider whether "science" can have anything to say or do about "happiness."  Science studies absolutely everything about the real world, so if it can't study happiness, does that mean happiness isn't of the "real" world?

You can't "experiment" on humans but you can "study" behavior, and you can collect and analyze what humans SAY about this or that, and how a particular individual's assessment changes with time.

Nobody knows if this is because of age, per se, or if humans are actually changing. 

Self-assessment is tricky, and science seems convinced that it is impossible for a person to assess themselves accurately (yet doctors still rely mostly on what people say about where it hurts or how they feel).

People are studying, and "correcting" statistics for, a phenomenon called "The Flynn Effect" which identifies reasons for differences in I.Q. measurements between 20 year olds, and 80 year olds.  Do we really get stupid as we age?  Is that why we seem to "mellow" out and become happier with our lot?  There is so much to know!

--------quote-------
 Thus it appears that people in 1950 were a lot less smart than they are now, that is if you define intelligence in IQ scores. How is that possible? According to the Flynn effect theory, the increase in IQ scores can in part be ascribed to improvements in education and better nutrition.
--------end quote------

But the gap seems to be narrowing, or measurements are improving.  Nobody really understands this while we still use I.Q. tests for college entry evaluation.  Grades and social involvement -- and parental contributions to the university -- all figure into "who" gets educated, but they also track who gets well fed.  And we also have a raging argument about what, exactly, constitutes "healthy" food!  Nobody really knows, but certain opinions get huge promotional money pushing them into general awareness because there are products for sale based on those opinions.

There are, at least right now, no products to buy to boost your HEA score.

In Fantasy, of course, there is the magic love potion.  Find something else to write about!

A good science fiction romance could be crafted around such a discovery, but you'd need to study neurology and psychology to craft such a story.

Standardized "tests" of I.Q. have been relied upon to distinguish one type of human function from another, but even that is changing as various sorts of intelligence are identified as different from one another.

In other words, science is finally acknowledging that such a thing as Talent actually exists, distinguishing one person from another.  Emotional Intelligence, mechanical, mathematical -- different parts of the brain are responsible for producing different sorts of effects on human behavior.  The map still has "Here Be Dragons" around the edges.

Nobody knows if children can be raised to develop parts of the brain that were underdeveloped during gestation.  Education and training do change brain development in humans, but studies are also showing new brain cells are constantly produced, even into old age.

See this Forbes article, also well covered by the BBC:

The Brain Can Give Birth To New Cells Throughout Life, Study Finds

https://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2019/05/26/the-brain-can-give-birth-to-new-cells-throughout-life-study-finds/#58b4cf4763c9

So can Talent be infused by training?  Is I.Q. a "Talent?"

See Part 7 in this series on Soul Mates and the HEA for a theory of how Soul and Spirit figure into human consciousness.

When you put it all together, we are only beginning to discover how MUCH we just plain don't know.  That area, the Unknown, is the province of Science Fiction -- and Fantasy thrives there, too. 

On Quora, I found a Question ...
Is someone with an IQ of 130 typically aware that they have gifted intelligence?

...and thoughtful answers ...

https://www.quora.com/Is-someone-with-an-IQ-of-130-typically-aware-that-they-have-gifted-intelligence

...that might help you sketch out the Characters for a (really hot) Romance, involving body, soul, and I.Q., wrapped in a package of Talent.

This one addresses self-awareness -- or in writer's terms, Internal Conflict.

Who you think you are vs. who other people think you are is a Conflict.

--------quote--------
Is someone with an IQ of 130 typically aware that they have gifted intelligence?
Emmanuel Brun d'Aubignosc
Emmanuel Brun d'Aubignosc, Self Employed IT
Answered May 11 · Upvoted by Lauren Adele, MBA Psychology (1999)
No.

An IQ 130 (SD15) is higher than 98% of the population. It is quite high, but not genius level either.

People with an IQ of 130 are intelligent enough to understand the scope of what they don’t understand, to have an idea of how little they know. Therefore they have a tendency to feel stupid more than anything else. Doing IQ tests might be a validation, but they will question them too.

I talked to someone who scored 155 on WAIS IV. He always insisted on that he isn’t that intelligent!

The more one knows, the more they are aware of how little they know. The smarter one is, the more they are aware of how little they really do understand. Only idiots think they are smart.

-------end quote------

This may not be objectively TRUE -- but it sketches out an opinion  your readership may hold firmly.  That gives the writer a springboard into a dynamite plot.  "You think you're so smart!  I'll show you!  So there!"

So clearly "intelligence" (whatever that is) does not guarantee an HEA, and in itself, doesn't "make" people happy.  Neither high nor low scores correspond to happiness. 

Related Questions
Could you list differences between moderately gifted (I.Q 130) and profoundly gifted (I.Q. 160)?
What is it like to have an IQ of 130?
How do I tell if somebody is intelligent?
Do people with 140 IQ see normal people (IQ 100 to 130) as stupid?
How can they tell how smart you are from an IQ test?
What are the characteristics of someone with a 125-130 IQ?
Is the difference between IQ 190 and 130 as big as between 130 and 70?
What are some signs of intelligence?
How can you increase your IQ?
I'm an elitist. What is wrong with thinking that smart individuals should only associate with other smart people?

Notice how none of the questioners are linking I.Q. to Happiness.  Why?

Is there a link nobody has noticed?  Could you create a hypothesis to use in a novel?

Which brings us to Harvard University's long term study.  This one went for 80 years searching for a scientific answer that (as far as I know) everyone already knew.

Science is like that, you know.  After centuries of argument, science declares to be true what everyone knew all along.  What everyone knows is "folk wisdom" or "old wive's tales."  What science knows is to be understood only by the high I.Q. individuals among us.  Right? 

Here's what Inc. Magazine said about the Harvard study.

https://www.inc.com/bill-murphy-jr/harvard-spent-80-years-studying-happiness-we-now-know-1-key-habit-that-makes-people-happier-the-problem-most-people-never-even-try.html

Harvard Spent 80 Years Studying Happiness, and We Now Know the 1 Key Habit That Makes People Happier. (The Problem: Most People Never Even Try)
If you're not happy, at least now you have a roadmap.

----quote------
Over time, it's turned into one of the most extensive longitudinal studies ever, and has revealed a trove of insights. Perhaps the most famous and useful insight is this oft-repeated quote by Robert J. Waldinger, who is the current head of the study:

"The clearest message that we get from this 75-year study is this: Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Period."

That's wonderful, right? But how do you fix your life if you don't happen to have good relationships?

An 'epidemic of loneliness'

To be honest, this is what's bugged me about this study for a long time: the clarity of the answer with no real guidance on how to get there.

Because it's one thing to say if you want to be happy, nurture good relationships.

And it's another to suggest that with a straight face in the context of the "epidemic of loneliness" that Americans largely feel today, in the words of more than one writer.

----end quote------

Considering the divorce rate, the delay in the current generation of marriage and children, and from the 1960's and 1970's, the breaking of communities by moving high I.Q. workers employed by corporations from city to city to climb the corporate ladder, and current increase in lifespan, it's no wonder we have about 40% of the population living in loneliness.

------quote-------
A few alarming statistics from the federal Health Resources and Services Administration, just to back this up:

40 percent of Americans say they "sometimes or always feel their social relationships are not meaningful."
20 percent describe themselves as, "lonely or socially isolated."
28 percent of older adults live alone.
From a pure physical health perspective, researchers say loneliness is as bad for you as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

----end quote------

We have a generation of adults (book readers) who have not had the part of the brain responsible for "bonding" properly nurtured and developed as children.  They have done OK for themselves, but have not been able to teach their children how to "bond" and form steady, solid, rooted communities.

And now the advent of social media is shifting relationships and bonding online, to the virtual world.

Is that a good thing?  Or crippling?

Is it a part of the brain that is underdeveloped, or overdeveloped?

Or is it a component of the complex Soul (described in Part 7 of this series)
https://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2019/09/soul-mates-and-hea-real-or-fantasy-part.htmlthat is starved, over developed, under developed, or impaired? 

What part of us BONDS?  What part of the human being is responsible for relationships?  Are we just primate bodies jerked around by pheromones?  Or is something else going on? 

Pick an answer to one of those questions and build a world around that premise.  It will generate a long series of complex Romances. 

The blush of First Love, the Romance condition, is an activated radical condition where all the parts of the human being (body and soul) are energized and able to break apart and reform into something new, emitting the energy of formation (e.g. children).

Somehow, Romance has been blunted, shunting aside, starved for energy in this new, dawning, culture of A.I. 

Explain that and solve the problem - see if Love can conquer that All.

Jacqueline Lichtenberg
http://jacquelinelichtenberg.com



Sunday, September 08, 2019

Transformative? Permissionless Use Of Distinctive Body Parts, And Other Images

Cover art issues affect authors. We can learn from the woes of other artists.

For instance, there is the case against a mix tape recording artist who appears to have borrowed part of the  distinctively decorated, largest organ on a man's body in such a way as to suggest (at least to the man in question's friends and family) that the man was intimate with her.

Beware of using other people's tattoos in cover art!

Link to Hollywood reporter article by Eriq Gardner:
https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/thr-esq/cardi-b-face-lawsuit-distinctive-tattoo-album-cover-1234057

Link to Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz original article, penned by legal blogger Brian Murphy:
https://advertisinglaw.fkks.com/post/102fpy6/the-man-with-the-tiger-and-snake-tattoo-redux

Link to Lexology article:
https://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=5c9c232c-38f5-4c27-a19f-b779c6e3d304&utm_source=Lexology+Daily+Newsfeed&utm_medium=HTML+email+-+Body+-+General+section&utm_campaign=Lexology+subscriber+daily+feed&utm_content=Lexology+Daily+Newsfeed+2019-08-30&utm_term=
 
The lady's lawyers claim that her use of his tattooed back skin was transformative, because she only used
part of it, and put it between her legs. The kicker --for her-- is that a "Transformative Use" defense is only useful if defending against a claim of copyright infringement.

Please read the articles to see what *is* being litigated.

And then, there is the case of the digitally altered woodpecker... in which a woodpecker was digitally placed in a digitally darkened and deepened hole where no actual woodpecker had gone before.

The complaint was that this was a derogatory display of fake news, designed to call attention to a competitor's product's shortcomings, as Jeff Greenbaum, blogging about Advertising Law for the law firm Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz (again!) explains.

However, the woodpecker does not have standing to sue for being shown in a false light. To see the offending woodpecker, check here: 
https://advertisinglaw.fkks.com/post/102fpy4/planning-to-use-digitally-altered-photos-of-your-competitors-product-in-your-adv

Lexology version:
https://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=af5b35d9-8d37-424f-a496-e4655a3b287e&utm_source=lexology+daily+newsfeed&utm_medium

Authors are more likely to make "Transformative?" use of a meme, than of a rival author's cover art, but --word to the wise-- the rules for exploiting memes are a-changing.

Legal blogger Aaron P. Rubin, writing  for Morrison and Foerster LLP's Socially Aware blog (about the law and business of Social Media) explains about the different layers of liability, and the importance of a platform's Terms Of Use to would-be exploiters of other people's memes, created from yet other people's copyrighted film stills or photographs.

Original link:
https://www.sociallyawareblog.com/2019/08/20/the-meme-generation-social-media-platforms-address-content-curation/#page=1

Lexology link:
https://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=ceab05f6-7bbf-4bf4-aae4-6b78dd267f49&utm_source=Lexology+Daily+Newsfeed&utm_medium=HTML+email+-+Body+-+General+section&utm_campaign=Lexology+subscriber+daily+feed&utm_content=Lexology+Daily+Newsfeed+2019-08-22&utm_term=

Finally, for today, authors and their friends in particular should be aware of their biometric privacy rights.
Legal bloggers Dotan Hammer and Haim Ravia, writing for the lawfirm Pearl Cohen Zedek Latzer Baratz cover the case against Facebook's photo tag suggestion tool.

Original article:
https://pearlcohen.com/news/2019/09/01/ninth-circuit-certifies-privacy-class-action-against-faceboo/

Lexology article:
https://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=e387c728-2994-4597-9b03-dcde8294484f&utm_source=Lexology+Daily+Newsfeed&utm_medium=HTML+email&utm_campaign=Lexology+subscriber+daily+feed&utm_content=Lexology+Daily+Newsfeed+2019-09-05&utm_term=
 
Might you be part of the class and not know it?  Being tagged is annoying enough without Facebook tools suggesting that one should be tagged based on robo-face-recognition.

All the best,

Rowena Cherry 

Thursday, September 05, 2019

Deep Time

The September 2019 issue of the SMITHSONIAN magazine contains two articles I found especially interesting.

"The Homecoming": An ancient skeleton of an Australian aborigine is returned to his people for ceremonial reburial. This individual, known as Mungo Man, lived about 40,000 years ago, one of the oldest specimens of Homo sapiens found outside of Africa. Previously, conventional wisdom maintained that the aborigines had migrated to Australia at most 20,000 years ago. Current estimates place the arrival of human inhabitants between 47,000 and 65,000 years ago. By contrast, the earliest known Egyptian pyramid is less than 5000 years old.

"Saturn's Surprise": The water ice that makes up the rings of Saturn is raining down onto the planet, so that the rings will eventually cease to exist. They may disappear in "only" 100 million years—eons compared to the length of time anatomically modern human beings have existed, about 200,000 years, but a minute fraction of the estimated 4.5-billion-year life of the solar system.

Yet another SMITHSONIAN article delving into relative antiquity, "The New Treasures of Pompeii," reports the latest investigations of a Roman city destroyed by a volcanic eruption less than 2000 years ago, in 79 A.D. That's nothing compared to the age of Mungo Man but a long time in the perception of most Americans, for whom the 400-year-old Jamestown settlement seems ancient.

Both the article on Mungo Man and the one on Saturn highlight the vast expanses of time (contrasted with a single human life, anyway) covered by the history of our species and the unimaginably longer history of our solar system, not to mention the universe as a whole.

How would an immortal alien, or even one with a lifespan measured in millions of years, regard us? Would we be able to communicate with such an entity at all? Mark Twain, in a passage included in the posthumous collection LETTERS FROM THE EARTH, sardonically compares the lifespan of the human race in the context of the history of the cosmos to the thin layer of paint atop the Eiffel Tower, with the tower representing the age of the universe. Twain asks how we can believe ourselves to be the pinnacle of creation. That's like believing the entire tower was built for the sake of the skin of paint on the top. Maybe an incredibly long-lived species would see us that way. On the other hand, maybe a million-year-old intellect would view tiny, ephemeral creatures with compassion.

The immortal, cosmic, transdimensional entity in Stephen King's IT (the second half of the film adaptation comes out this week) finds human beings interesting enough to torture and feed on. Let's hope that if similar entities exist and we eventually meet them, they will have matured beyond a sadistic appetite for the fear and pain of lesser beings.

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Tuesday, September 03, 2019

Soul Mates and the HEA Real or Fantasy Part 7 Is The HEA Balderdash

Soul Mates and the HEA Real or Fantasy
Part 7
Is The HEA Balderdash? 


Previous parts in Soul Mates and the HEA are indexed at:

https://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2019/05/index-to-soul-mates-and-hea-real-or.html

That index also contains links to posts discussing the HEA in the context of other subjects we've tackled here.

Today, let's look at some real-world views of the mystical element we call Soul.  Previously, we usually approach "Soul" as a binary proposition - either Souls are "real" in your built world, or there is no such thing as "Soul" in your built world.

In other words, as with entering a video game, you choose this or that trait, and throughout the game, stick with that choice.

But as we've noted, the readership most hungry for the payload a good Romance delivers, the HEA, is the very readership that thinks the HEA is balderdash, and thus the whole Romance genre is just balderdash.

I was in a casual discussion the other day with 3 men who were fans of the action-superhero-films, and devotees of Game of Thrones.

The shared, main complaint of this non-Romance reading audience was simple -- how come there is so little dialogue in action-superhero films?

One thought it was because dialogue is only exposition -- that's not the reason as you know if you've followed all the posts here on Tuesdays.

The reason that, over the last 15 years or so, the amount of screen time allocated to dialogue has steeply declined is simply that to afford the spiffy special effects, the film must hit it big in the non-USA market.  As someone on Twitter noted recently, you can't read subtitles while watching an action-film and enjoy the action.

Romance's "action" (plot-movement, change of situation, and character arc) all happens in words-spoken, in dialogue, and mostly in sub-text (dialogue that carries meaning other than what the dictionary says the words mean).

That's why we have a few heroic films like ROMANCING THE STONE,
and the Indiana Jones films, and so forth, and they do attract wider audiences, but Romance as such has a firm presence only in Comedy (which is, by the way, where Science Fiction started to break into wider audiences).

So there is a growing audience for the simple Romance where the guy gets the girl, and that's it.

To enjoy an action-romance film, the audience does not have to accept the HEA as either goal or distant possibility.

But the payload the disillusioned, cynical audience wants is the HEA-made-REAL.

We have discussed Believing In The Happily Ever After, and those posts are indexed here:
https://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2016/11/index-to-believing-in-happily-ever-after.html

Each subset of the audience is looking for their own, unique, convincing premise to let them revel in the reality of a Happily Ever After lifetime.

With more and more people living to and beyond 100 years, ...

See the Wall Street Journal

...today's writer has so much more material to work with, to illustrate what happiness in marriage is, and how things work out in the long-long run.

"Ever After" is not about your 30's or 40's -- it might be about your 80's but more likely you won't understand "Happily" at all until after 100.

Now why is that?  And what good is happiness if you don't understand you have it until you're about gone?

The concept of the HEA is built on the concept of Soul Mates, which can't exist unless you postulate Souls plus some sort of structure for the Soul.

"Mate" implies that all souls have something missing that can be supplied by the opposite-number, the mate, like a key in a lock, two parts that make a whole.

So already you see in your world building process that postulating A Soul is not enough to drive a Romance.  You have to create some sort of structure from your amorphous Soul.

Luckily, many mystics through all human existence have come up with many theories of what a human is, and what part of us distinguishes us from animals.

Most pet owners are convinced their animal has a Soul - or whatever awareness it is that humans have of Self.

This theory is part of the theory of Soul-structure you find in Jewish Mysticism.  Animals have Souls, yes, but the structure of the animal's soul is different, simpler, than the structure of the human soul.

In Jewish Mysticism, the human body all by itself has a Soul, the animal Soul, absolutely essential for a human to live and with the goal of staying alive, but we also have a G-dly Soul, with the goal of reconnecting with the Source of all Soul.

So humans are bifurcate creatures?  Mysticism goes on to theorize five distinct levels of our non-material (no length, no breadth, no depth, no mass, can't be detected by physical existence)  structure, and our Souls exist on each of these 5 levels.  Each level of Soul has a name.

Here's an article that sets this out with extreme simplicity.

https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/3194/jewish/What-is-a-Soul-Neshamah.htm

As a writer building a world, you might not want to copy any particular, existing, mystical system.  Your Aliens might believe in some other system (which might be true for them, if not for humans).

But here is a quote to study from the article What Is A Soul Neshama.

--------quote-------
Five Levels

But it is the human soul that is both the most complex and the most lofty of souls. Our sages have said: "She is called by five names: Nefesh (soul), Ruach (spirit), Neshamah (breath), Chayah (life) and Yechidah (singularity)."2 The Chassidic masters explain that the soul's five "names" actually describe five levels or dimensions of the soul. Nefesh is the soul as the engine of physical life. Ruach is the emotional self and "personality." Neshamah is the intellectual self. Chayah is the supra-rational self—the seat of will, desire, commitment and faith. Yechidah connotes the essence of the soul—its unity with its source, the singular essence of G‑d. For the essence of the soul of man is "literally a part of G‑d above"3--a piece of G‑d in us, so to speak.

---------end quote------

So you see, merely establishing whether Soul is real in your built world may not give you the plot that derives from that theme.  Plot requires conflict, but mere eternal conflict isn't a Plot -- plots have structure, just like Souls, and the plot's structure demands a beginning, a middle, and an END.

Souls, we know by definition, are "eternal" and thus don't "end."

The Happily Ever After "ending" can't be an "ending" at all since it is FOREVER by definition.  Ever-after = forever.

Here's a question to answer to generate a theme.

"Is Ever After Unchanging?" 

As we've noted in previous posts, the mystical theory is that Souls enter manifestation through the dimension of Time.

As I said above, the reason science can't design an experiment to identify a "Soul" and thus prove or disprove the structure of the universe, is that Souls as described in mystical thought, have no height, depth, width, or mass.

However, mystical thought postulates that Souls enter manifestation through the dimension of Time, which means Souls Exist.

In this system, we know that G-d does not exist, since "exist" means ride along the timeline one moment after another, subject to the laws of Time.  The concept G-d includes the postulate that this primal Cause is not subject to anything, least of all the created universe.

G-d creates Time, from outside it.  This is a notion that is very hard for a creature subject to Time, counting the years to 120, too conceptualize.  Nothing is exempt from Time.  Well, yes, exactly - no thing.

This is a fundamental axiom in the Visualization of the Cosmic All used by many people to make decisions, even about what to have for dinner.

It is worth pondering just how abstract, how fundamental, these axioms are because when you build your artificial world, you must depict everything and everyone (human and Alien) in a way that is consistent with your most abstract axiom.

Conflict arises to drive plots when two Characters in your built world disagree about their axioms.  What is an axiom to some is a mere postulate to another, subject to disproof.  Wars have been fought over this - and in fact, are being fought right now over such notions.

You can create a Fantasy world, or an alternate-reality, using the Souls notion, and the different ideas about the structure of the Soul.

But once you have included Soul, and defined it with its structure -- not in your narrative or exposition but just in your worldbuilding so you can keep your world consistent, weaving an aura of verisimilitude for your readers, -- then you can create Soul Mates.

If Souls have no structure in your world, there would be no mates, and no conflict. Each individual would be sovereign and in isolation, unable to Bond with others, and therefore unable to conflict.

Souls created for high drama will be dynamic, learning, growing, changing, both continuously and in leaps-and-bounds, discontinuously.  (like real people).

https://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2015/07/why-every-novel-needs-love-story-part-2.html

So once you've included Soul in your world building, you give your Souls a structure that allows for "mating" and a part that drives the Character to find a mate, allows a Character to identify a Mate, then you have a Theme and Plot-Worldbuilding integrated set of postulates.

Now, if you can get your skeptical reader to suspend disbelief and empathize with a Character for whom Soul is an axiom, you can tackle the next part of "Happily Ever After" that your reader has problems with.

Most people who reject the fictional worlds with a thematic structure that allows for an HEA, do so because the HEA itself is an idiotic notion.

HEA requires both an eternity (a Soul)
 and a specific definition of Happiness.

Some readers reject the HEA as realistic because they don't know anyone who has lived it, or found it, or even heard of someone who is persistently happy.

In fact, the absence of real-life examples of an HEA couple is the biggest stumbling block.  Only children, teens who haven't lived long enough to observe the real-life absence of happiness or ever-after-to-a-hundred-years, actually believe in the HEA -- in "if I could just find my Soul Mate all my problems would be solved and I'd be happy."

Many cynics choke on the definition of happy.  The lifestyle depicted in many novels, the hopes and dreams as stated by the young and inexperienced, would be unendurably boring.

Boring?  Happiness?

Well, yes, by definition it's all over, no conflict, no giant projects, no Cause To Die For.  What an empty, boring life.

Would you be happy if you never had to wash another dish?  Ironing.  Mending.  Planting, reaping, washing, churning butter -- we used to work so hard, and one by one these daily chores have been lifted off our tired backs.  But are we happy?  No, now it's carpooling, PTA meetings, office work, ever-available-by-cell-phone.  We are not happy doing nothing.  And we're not happy having nothing to complain about.

So what is happiness?  You can't craft an HEA without a working definition of happiness, but your Characters may "arc," may start out the novel with one definition and travel a curved trajectory through the plot to end up with another.

Readers who can't abide the concept of Soul often also have no concrete definition of happiness.  To convince such readers to enjoy suspending disbelief, the writer has to supply both, or risk the novel being labeled balderdash.

The same mystical source that defines the Soul as structured into 5 levels, also solves the problem of why, in our everyday existence, we can't nail down a definition of happiness.

We know it when we feel it, but it is always an emotion that just evaporates on impact with the next life challenge.

Romance is an interval (a Neptune transit to your natal chart) when Neptune casts a glamour over the world, blurs the rough edges, and softens the impact of events.  People remember it as the happiest time of life, but it is a defined interval, not "ever after."

The honeymoon will inevitably end, and reality come crashing in.

OK, so when building your world to exemplify a theme having to do with the HEA, how do you define happiness?

Does happiness exist?

What happens to people when they are happy?

Neuroscience is pursuing this, taking interesting photos of the brain's circuitry.  But is "happiness" just the stimulation of the pleasure centers?

Many reject the HEA simply because "ever after" implies unchanging, and thus, as noted above, boring.

Humans crave change.  We play videogames and keep score because we need to do better each time, we need to count how many times, and change things.

The mental condition dictated by brain development during the college years is the unstoppable urge to "change the world" because it's all wrong, it's not new and modern, and we have to make those old people change.

To that developmental stage, all change is good, whether it is an improvement or not.

You can't have human happiness unless there's change, which means happiness can't be "ever after."  Eternal happiness would be hell.

So what exactly is happiness?  

It is obviously not a property of the physical, human (primate) body which has a pleasure center in the brain, but gets addicted, or goes stark-raving-nuts if that pleasure center is CONSTANTLY STIMULATED.

So happiness is not necessarily pleasurable, at least not to the body.

Note again the linkage between Soul Mates and the HEA is what this series of posts explores.  And we have come to a nexus where the two must connect.

That connecting nexus is the definition of happiness.

Perhaps "happiness" is not a phenomenon of the physical body, but rather a phenomenon of the Soul?

Because Soul is eternal, and only part of the complex structure of the Soul is subject to Time, true happiness, once achieved, is by definition eternal, or "ever after."

Once you've got it, you can't not-have-it.

The definition of happiness may contain the notion of eternity.

Now consider the bifurcate structure of the Soul discussed in the article quoted above,
https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/3194/jewish/What-is-a-Soul-Neshamah.htm

--------quote--------
Two Souls

The Chassidic masters speak of two distinct souls that vitalize the human being: an "Animal Soul" and a "G‑dly Soul." The Animal Soul is driven by the quest for self-preservation and self-enhancement; in this, it resembles the soul and self of all other creations. But we also possess a G‑dly Soul"--a soul driven by the desire to reconnect with its Source. Our lives are the story of the contest and interplay between these two souls, as we struggle to balance and reconcile our physical needs and desires with our spiritual aspirations, our self-focused drives with our altruistic yearnings. These two souls, however, do not reside "side-by-side" within the body; rather, the G‑dly Soul is enclothed within the Animal Soul—just as the Animal Soul is enclothed within the body. This means that the Animal Soul, too, is vitalized by the "part of G‑d above" at its core. Ostensibly, the two souls are in conflict with each other, but in essence they are compatible.4

--------end quote-------

Suppose we can't figure out "what" happiness is because happiness is a state, or experience, or property of the "G-dly Soul."  Experiencing happiness, the G-dly Soul within the Animal Soul induces a vibrational response in the Animal Soul.  And that response is all we have to examine.

We are trying to figure out what happiness is, when all we have to examine is the effect of happiness.

The G-dly Soul fused to the Animal Soul is the source, and it is the G-dly Soul's experience that causes the Animal Soul to feel happiness.

-----quote-----
A soul is not just the engine of life; it also embodies the why of a thing's existence, its meaning and purpose.

------end quote------

Maybe happiness is the achieving the G-dly Soul's meaning and purpose, the reason that unique individual was crested.

Or maybe it isn't having achieved that creates true happiness, but the score, the tally, we rack up along the way, like in a video game or any other engrossing, immersive, enthralling endeavor.

This image of the Soul's Quest being an "ever after" dynamic, ever-changing yet perpetual happy experience is presented in an article here:

https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/1303062/jewish/Help-from-the-Past.htm

The article provides a useful notion for plotters:

--------quote--------
All the souls of these generations have been here before. And they come with their baggage—both good and not so good.

But there is a distinction:

The good the soul has collected is eternal. It can never be uprooted, it can never fade away, for it is G‑dly, and G‑d does not change.

But the bad is not a thing of substance. It is an emptiness, a vacancy of light. As the soul makes its journey, through trials and travails, through growth and renewal, that darkness falls away, never to return.

Know yourself only as you are here in this life, and the challenges of our times are beyond perseverance.

Tap into the reservoir of your soul from the past, and find there the unimaginable powers of millennia.

---------end quote ------

Think about that.  GOOD is eternal.  BAD is dispatched, never to return.

That is score-keeping, that is measurable progress, that is what humans are designed to become engrossed within.

We wash one dish, set it in the drainer, and wash another, and keep score by how full the drainer is.

Or today we load the dishwasher, wait for it to cycle, take the dry dishes out and put in the rest of the pots and pans waiting on the counter.  Little by little, the kitchen comes into order, ready for the next meal.

The futility of all that stems from the lack of a COUNTER on the wall, to count the number of meals served vs the number that must be served, so we can see progress toward a goal.

We do it in stitching quilts, each stitch permanent vanquishing of scattered bits of cloth, and the progress toward a coherent pattern.

Happiness for humans is scoring progress toward the G-dly Soul's objective, a score kept by the Animal Soul, and a celebration, a high-five, between the two.

Every good deed, every bit of goodness our Souls have brought into the world over many lifetimes is progress, measurable progress toward the goal because Goodness is permanent while the bad is ephemeral.

So all the good you did in previous incarnations is part of your score in this incarnation.  And what you do now, will be part of your score next time.

Racking up that score, continuing to increase it, to do good deeds every day, is happiness.  You can increase your score by teaming with your Soul Mate, raising kids, working toward good causes, helping the helpless, or serving the meals every day, keeping bodies alive.

That is one usable theory that generates whole bundles of themes.  The HEA is not about achieving a static state, but rather is about achieving the dynamic state of increasing the good in the world.

See if you can come up with a system of axioms and postulates - say for your Aliens to live by - that has the ring of verisimilitude this one does.

By using different definitions of "good" you can generate lots of themes, and many Characters in conflict with each other -- none of whom are villains!  Everyone is increasing what they consider good in the world -- they just disagree on what is good!

But before you launch that conflict, be sure you have a resolution of it in mind.  "Good" may be as difficult to define for the modern reader as "happiness" is -- and Soul, and ever-after.

Both plotters and pantsers ...
https://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2019/08/targeting-readership-part-16-plotters.html

...can use the method of knowing the resolution to the conflict before starting to write the novel.  As you write, using either crafting style, you will find that the resolution point itself may shift, change, and morph, requiring lots of rewriting.  Both styles require you to stop writing when the conflict has been resolved.

Consider that if happiness is, by definition, a property of the G-dly  Soul, then "mate" is likely also a property of the G-dly Soul.

Possibly, the Animal Soul's experience of cementing the Soul Mate bond is by sharing the G-dly Soul's happiness.

Now, if the reader's axiom is that there is no Soul, and thus no bifurcation into G-dly Soul and Animal Soul, and no structure of G-dly and Animal souls which could mate with another such bifurcate soul, then all of this is balderdash.

Your job, as a writer, is to make these notions real, tangible and immanent.  The best way to do that in fiction is to use symbolism.

https://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2018/02/index-to-theme-symbolism-integration.html

Jacqueline Lichtenberg
http://jacquelinelichtenberg.com