Tumbles and Reading

Winters in Colorado can be mild or not so mild.  Snow and ice are normal, usually welcomed as part of this beautiful world.  However, along with this joy of white landscapes comes shoveling.  Until that big one shows up with heavy wet snow measured in feet, I kinda enjoy shoveling the snow.  It’s one of those little accomplishments that helps us feel productive.  But on an occasion there is an oops.  I had an oops.  Slipped on the ice and took a not so acrobatic tumble.  After some brief moments of “what just happen isms”, got up and managed to make it inside.  Falling on the ice comes so swiftly that there is no chance to anticipate or dread; one second you’re just fine; and the next, flat on your back with many areas of pain.  And, the worse part, there is no one to blame except yourself.

Net result, I broke my arm.  Writers do not need broken arms.  Good news is that my arm movements are only restricted– did not need a cast.  With a little office re-engineering and a lower table for my keyboard, I’m typing again; just a little slower. 

Obviously this causes some complications with this blog and my progress on current book projects.  I am able to write, just much slower and with many, many rest breaks.  This will have impact on the blog, newsletter and other writing for about a month (I hope no longer than that).  But none of that will stop completely.

This week’s blog (and probably next) will be reprints from past blogs.  After that, my plan is to get back to my normal pattern.  Thanks for your patience.


Fewer Readers Reading Less

I grew up in a household where reading was honored.  This was mostly based on my father’s love of books.  There wasn’t a lot of family discussion about books, but it was obvious they were important.  My father’s bookcase was held in high regard and given a prime location in the living space.  Both of my parents grew up in households that did not have a lot of possessions.  Books would have been a luxury.  My father in particular was raised in very humble conditions.  As his own new family became more prosperous in post WWII America he purchased books and they became his treasures, a luxury he had never experienced as a child.  Coming from this background reading became a habit and a source of great pleasure for me.  Reading books was something I just did, it was natural.

Taking an unscientific survey during Thanksgiving, it is apparent people are reading less and in many cases not at all.  I have read the stories about the decline in hours spent reading books and knew this was happening; but it is still kind of shocking to talk to relatives and realize the new normal is to not read; at all.  Not one book in years or maybe decades, I can’t imagine not reading.  Of course, I write books so I have lots of reasons to be shocked at this trend.

And it is a trend.  The decline in reading has been going on for a couple of decades.  Lots of factors but the most likely culprit is TV.  You would think the number of hours spent watching TV would have peeked somewhere in the past and leveled off, nope.  It is increasing.  People are watching more and more television.  Some of this, I’m sure, is due to the increased options being offered, streaming services and vast numbers of channels on cable.  With the average hours of daily TV watching increasing substantially in the last ten years; there is no time to read.

Reading, TV watching, smoking are all habits.  Once you stop some activity the habit goes away and usually something else fills that need.  TV apparently has filled the entertainment, information need of books.  Many people will think so what, entertainment and information from TV is just as good as books.  Maybe so; but most experts (whoever they are), say it is not the same.

In an article for The New Yorker, Caleb Crain observes: “In a culture of secondary orality, we may be less likely to spend time with ideas we disagree with,” (He) wrote. “I suspected that people might become less inclined to do fact checking on their own; forced to choose between conflicting stories, they would “fall back on hunches.”  Note– “secondary orality”—(is) a sociological term for a post-literate culture.

A post-literate culture–doesn’t that sound alarming?  To me it does.  Our brains function in certain ways and it matters how we get our information.  Reading seems to reinforce many good qualities about “thinking” that do not seem to transfer to such things as television watching.

I don’t have any answers to this trend of fewer readers reading less; but I do find it disturbing.  And not because of book sales.  I think it makes us less capable of deeper more complex thoughts.  I believe we lose the ability to digest nuances in all sorts of matters, from basic living circumstances, to politics to personal relationships.   I also believe we become more susceptible to misinformation; especially well-crafted propaganda.

Or maybe it is more simple than brain functions declining; it is that the love of books is disappearing.  It makes me sad.

Thanks for being a reader!

Bit of This and That

Last week I spent a little time discussing business valuations for both private and public companies as a lead in to my new SuccessPaths series of business “how to” books; no doubt, super boring.  Sorry, here’s a little follow-up.  Had some input from people asking about companies that are worth billions that have never made a profit—how can that happen?

The quick, easy answer is that it’s all bullshit.  Hype on a huge scale.  The more detailed answer is that it is based on an assumption about the future, best described as wild-ass guesses.  Take Uber for example.  Imagine being involved in the first presentations regarding Uber.  They were going to take on a tired, stale basic service industry that did not offer much service, the taxi industry.  With tech innovation they will improve the service, solve the labor issue and will be able to scale up at a rapid and massive rate.  Going from one city to thousands almost overnight using a vast labor pool; the general public.  By-passing regulation authorities with a combination of technology hype and political clout.  This model could go from zero revenue to billions in revenue in the blink-of-an-eye.

If you were concerned about profitability you were just an old-school, out-of-touch worry-wort of the past.  It will become so big; profits will just fall out by magic.  The magic didn’t happen; or if you believe the company, has not happened yet.

The company has a market value of $70 billion, revenue of $3.1 billion.  The founders and initial investors have made billions for themselves; so where is the problem?  It loses money; lots of money.  Without investment capital Uber would be bankrupt.  Somewhere in the future, those chickens will come home to roost.

This is speculation on steroids.  The value has no meaning other than the off chance that it can figure a way to profit from the massive size of the enterprise.  Much of the speculation about profits now centers on something never mentioned at the beginning; monetizing the vast data base and self-driving cars.  Or, in other words: magic.

Uber is one of many examples of the power of free money.  If you can entice investments on a large enough scale you can achieve a burst of “success” while failing.  With enough money almost anything can look plausible for a certain amount of time.  Much of the hype around innovative, new companies is that their business model has not been proven.  That also means it has not been proven wrong!  So most of the invested capital will be spent to prove the business “idea” works.  But by “works”, we mean can it make a profit?

Let’s go back to Uber.  Until the company can show a path to profits and then demonstrate that path is working there may not be any value there at all.  So a company worth $70 billion might be worth zero?  In the common sense world that would be true; but in the speculative world of crap shooting investments the value could climb to $100 billion on nothing but promise and hope.  So if you invested at $70B and sold at $100B, you’re very happy.

Is that wrong?  Of course not.  As long as investors understand the risk and freely chose to invest based on some future out-come; that is not wrong and is at the heart of most high-return investments and the speculation that drives them. 

Businesses exist primarily to make money, so profits do matter.  But with enough “free money” the business can survive while searching for those profits and everything will be great (someday); unless it isn’t.

***

Back to books and writing.  Interesting reader review for Murder So Wrong.

Realistic read February 5, 2020

As a reader who grew up in Oklahoma City, the setting of the story, the detail is so realistic as to make one wonder if this is a lightly disguised report of true happenings. Either way, it seems real and reads well.

That was one of the best reviews I have read on any of my books.  Murder So Wrong is a story based on true events and to have a reader say it “seems real” is absolutely great.  While the basis of the books in this series is based on true events the stories are fictional; totally made up.  Writing non-fiction books about true events is much harder work; tons of research, fact checking, interviews etc.  My forte is just making stuff up; but still I want it to seem like it could have happened, even if it didn’t.  Thank you very much reader for your kind words.

***

A few weeks ago I had some thoughts about the controversy surrounding the new book American Dirt.  One comment I made was that even with the massive negative reaction, all of the hype would only promote more books sales; and sure enough, American Dirt is number one on Amazons most sold list.

Interesting side note, number one on the most read list (digital subscription services) is Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

Controversy and celebrity will still sell a lot of books; but if you just want to read a good book, go back to a well written and entertaining story.

Thanks for being a reader!

My Creative Career

Most of my life has been as a businessman, not a writer.  My first love was art.  Even in college my desire was to be an artist.  I was a creative person who desired a career doing just that—being creative.  Like a lot of people, those first impulses didn’t work out.  I needed to make a living and someone said CPAs made a lot of money—so why not.  It’s only my life we’re talking about.  What could be wrong with being stuck at a desk the rest of your life crunching numbers?  The answer, of course, was a lot.

What does it mean to be creative?  When I was painting, it meant creating an image of something that was unique, or interesting, or appealing or something?  If my painting of a tree looked just like the tree, was that creative?  How about just taking a photo of the tree, was that creative.  I think my art career never happened because I struggled with images that were not unique.  I wanted to paint a tree that didn’t look like a tree, but was the essence of the tree.  Even I didn’t understand what that meant. 

Okay, forget the tree, I will become a creative accountant.  Of course the first unique image that popped into my head was a jail cell for being a too creative accountant —not a good image.  I dropped the creative part and spent a good deal of time just becoming a good accountant.  It’s not as bad as it sounds.  I enjoyed numbers and seemed to have a talent for crunching them.  I achieved a level of success that was rewarding, but not fulfilling.

Prior to becoming an accountant, I had been self-employed in several endeavors.  From food service to retail, I had owned my own businesses.  I had some success and also experienced failure, but during this time I realized I enjoyed business.  It was like a puzzle.  Lots of pieces to move around and try to figure out how they all fit together to generate sales and a profit.  Not every day, but on many it actually felt creative.

Next came my period of working for giant corporations which was not so creative.  Mostly what I learned from that experience was lots of nuts and bolts accounting and that most top executives were assholes.  Maybe that MBA stood for something else?  Most of the successful people I met had one thing in common, they were bullies.  There were, of course, exceptions but by far the most practiced management style was intimidation.  The age I’m talking about was total alpha male domination, so that might have been the reason; but being kind, considerate, thoughtful or even deceit were traits honored at home and abandoned at work.  The world is still full of those people; be very cautious.

After the big company nonsense, I found much greater joy and success working for myself and several smaller companies.  The biggest difference, other than the people seemed more human, was the appreciation of creativity.  Innovation is the life-blood of smaller businesses.  I’ve always been an idea-guy and eager to share opinions.  My biggest business successes were with companies that appreciated the innovation and my willingness to try new ideas.  At this point in my life I had the right combination of experience, knowledge and guts to try things others wouldn’t—it failed on occasion and succeeded every once in a while.  In many ways I had solved the business puzzle.

Now, I write fiction books.  Writing is obviously creative—I’m making stuff up; can’t get much more creative than that.  I enjoy the process of thinking about the story, the characters and devising the plot twists with subtle hints.  But what is not fun; is the business of writing.  As an indie author I have complete control over every aspect of what I do.  Or said another way, I have almost no help in doing what I do.  This is not the writing part, have lots of help with editors and designers; this is the business side.  Selling the books, planning marketing, making a profit. 

You would think with my business background this would be a snap.  It’s not.  The main reason is that it is very limited.  There are some variables, but mostly the decisions are; do you go exclusive with Amazon or more broadly with a few others?  Do you sell your books at x or 2x?  Do you have free books?  Do you advertise on Amazon, Bookbub, Facebook or others?

I’ve been doing this for years now; and I’ve tried most everything at least once.  None of it works really well.  Ads are expensive and the return is questionable.  Free books generate interest, but it is hard to make much money from free.  You can go wide and thumb your nose at Amazon, but probably it costs you sales; still tempting.  So-called experts, usually selling something, say develop your brand; establish your presence on social media—no doubt it helps, but only a little.  Most people advising indie authors are making a lot more money than the indie authors.  The real advice might be find a market niche full of desperate people and sell than advice like “try harder.”

It is a new year and time to stop whining and do something different.  Be creative.  Be innovative.  Okay, I’m willing; but not sure what that is?

I’m afraid the indie author phenomena powered by e-books and Amazon has created a creative glut of decent books that nobody knows about.  Maybe even great books that go unread; because there are literally tons of books available and not enough time to read a small fraction of that quantity.   

Maybe it’s time to pull out the paint and brushes and create a tree that looks just like a tree but isn’t and suffer in silence.

Plan B-Billionaire Special

This original art is for sell for $7,500,000.  I’m going with the concept of only needing one really rich dumb ass and life will be great.  It’s a very creative concept!

Thanks for being a reader!

Auld Lang Syne (Old Long Since?)

The new year is about beginnings; and maybe endings.  Who hasn’t said “okay, this next year is going to be different (or better, or happier, or more successful, or thinner, or……..).  As most of us can attest that usually doesn’t work out.  But still, it is a symbolic new beginning.  So what’s new this year?

My writing has slowed to a crawl.  This is not uncommon for me as the old year ends.  Usually starting around Thanksgiving, it seems my focus goes astray and my writing stops.  That was not my plan this year.  I was chugging along on Durango Two Step but some mystic force turned my brain to mush and everything stopped.  So even though I was trying not to; my old habits kicked in.

I’m sure in January I will get back to pounding the keys and moving the story along.  DTS is going to tie up a lot of loose ends for Vincent; and I’m sure he is anxious to get that done.  Plans after DTS are a little vague.

Many of you are probably familiar with a project I started and stopped; Doctor Hightower.  This was going to be a mystery but also a little Sci-fi tacked on.  I know, not exactly my thing but the concept has great appeal to me.  Got about a third into the book and hit one of my on-going mental blocks.  I’m sure that says something important I should pay attention to; but I just ignore these hang-ups and move on to the next project (or take more naps).

My current plan for 2020 involves finishing DTS (which is the 4th Vincent Malone book), finish the first Doctor Hightower book, and begin the 5th Vincent Malone book.  Of course, like most long-term plans all is subject to change, or stated more correctly; this will change.

If you are a reader of my books you know that I more or less ended the Pacheco and Chino series.  I’ve been pleased that several of you are not happy with that situation.  I still think the story line had reached kind of a natural end for Ray Pacheco.  Not going to revive that series (at least I don’t think so); but have been thinking about a new series with only Tyee Chino and a new partner.  I will keep you informed as this starts to take shape.

Should have the Santa Fe Mojo audio book available in the first part of 2020.  This has been an unusual odyssey.  Lots of starts and stops that have caused this to extend beyond anything anyone imagined.  If I knew all of the details, it probably would make for an interesting story—but most of this has been out of my hands.  The people working on this have had a lot of other complications that have caused significant delays.  I still believe the end product will be a quality production.  I’m looking forward to a completed book and evaluating whether or not there will be more audio books in the future.

My blog and newsletter are important ways for me to communicate with interested readers.  I really do appreciate everyone who has signed up.  The timing and schedule for these will be the same in 2020.  The blog will be weekly on Friday, Saturday or Sunday.  The varied days just has to do with my schedule and giving me some flexibility.  I think last year it was mostly Saturday but will stick with one of those days each week.  The newsletter is monthly and goes out on or about the 15th of each month.

The newsletter has a fairly established format.  Usually with two articles written by me.  One of those covering writing, or my books or something related to indie authors in general.   Also I usually cover a location that is featured in the books or will be featured.  This includes food, restaurants, points of interest or specifics related to my writing.  Most months will have an artist or author article highlighting someone I recommend or admire.  And, of course, an update on my projects and often a favorite recipe.  When you sign up, this newsletter is emailed to you each month.  You can also access old newsletters going back several years.

This weekly blog is a little different animal in that it can be about anything.  My focus will still be writing, my books, indie authors, characters and all things related to writing and marketing fiction books.  However, from time to time this blog will take off in new directions in ways that I can’t predict; but hopefully are interesting. 

2020 stands to be an intriguing year.  The US Presidential election should dominate much of our news.  Hopefully we don’t split ourselves apart any further as we pick a President.  I’m a sports fan so there will be lots of new and fascinating sports stories; full of drama and intrigue with little if any consequences to our real world (drama without consequences—what could be better).  We will all get older—if you’re very young that is usually good; for the rest of us, not so good.  Hopefully mankind does not make the world a worse place, and we can all feel better about our planet and ourselves at the end of 2020. 

Happy New Year Everyone!

I want to encourage all of you to continue being readers—not just my stuff; but all things.  Books are not our only source of insights but they often convey a depth that is missing in much of the other forms of entertainment.

  Thanks again for being a reader!

An Incomplete Journey in Writing

I wrote my first book in 2009.  This may be a surprise to some of you, because the first book you can buy was published in 2015—The Bootlegger’s Legacy.  I actually refer to the TBL as my first book.  That should be corrected to the first book I actually wanted anyone to read was the TBL.  The actual first book was The Originals.  It is not available any more (thank goodness). 

First “real” book

I still think the story line of The Originals was good.  It was about a son finding a mysterious past about his father after his father’s death and the world shattering consequences of that discovery.  The story was good, but the storyteller had a lot to learn.  I sort of got burned out three fourths of the way through the book.  I wanted the whole experience to be over; so I ended it abruptly.  What I had not thought about much when I began to write; was how hard it is to write a full-length novel.  Towards the end I just wanted it to be finished and rather than doing the hard work of writing when I didn’t want to; I just stopped.  Created a false ending and declared the whole experience done.

That was ten years ago.  The world has changed a lot and my world has also changed—but not that much.  For about half of that time I wrote very little; licking my wounds from the first experience.  But after that huge pause, I have turned out ten books which are available today.  I have experienced a level of success that was not expected based on my 2009 experience.  And that is completely thanks to you, my readers. 

Writing may come easy for some, like a good athlete with natural gifts becoming a great third baseman.  If you have great talent, a lot of things are easy.  My talent for most of my life was numbers (yep, I was good with numbers) and painting.  Not writing.  My connection to writing was reading.   I loved books.  Being an avid reader might make you a good reviewer, but it does not mean you can write a book.  I know.

Even with that love of books I had never thought about being a writer.  For one, the prospect of actually being published seemed remote.  For most of my life the book publishing industry was controlled by a handful of large publishing companies.  But the world changed.  The on-line retailers and e-books created a whole new environment for books.  Suddenly being an indie author was a solid path for a writer.

Writing that first book opened my eyes to the difficulty of producing an acceptable book.  Sure you need a story and some reasonable ability to write complete sentences; but that is just the beginning.  Like so much in life I learned that it was actually very hard work.  Now I’m not suggesting this is on the same level as ditch digging all day, but it is hard work.  Physically hard, mentally challenging and emotionally draining.  That is hard work.  I had anticipated that I would sit-down at my computer and within weeks have a rough draft.  After several weeks all I had was a rough outline and many discarded pages of failed attempts at telling a simple story.  At that time, I was still fully employed and was writing very early in the morning or very late at night.  Anyone who writes a book while working full time at something else is to be admired.  It was a struggle and led to my abrupt declaration that the damn thing was done; when in reality it was not.

The next book which I began in 2014, five years later, was much different.  I had learned a lot, but most importantly, I was no longer working long hours at another job.  For the Bootlegger’s Legacy I spent almost full time just writing the book.  That was much better.  We may think otherwise in our multi-tasking world, but being able to concentrate on one thing with full energy is the best path to creative success.  Writing is hard enough without a zillion distractions.

Today I have a process to writing which allows me to handle my life and writing better than when I began.  At first it felt like I should be alone and undisturbed to focus on writing—ah, yes; the great artist is at work– do not disturb.  Good way to alienate anyone and all most everyone you care about.  Being an asshole may have some historical basis for creative people, but it sure doesn’t make for a happy household.

Now, I know there will be spells when I am not writing, usually because I’m stuck on some plot point and don’t know how to resolve the conflict; but rather than screaming and throwing things (I’m sure I never did that), I relax and enjoy the break as my brain works on the problem.  I pick my writing times (early morning, late evening) when it’s the least disruptive. 

So over the years I have become a smarter writer, I have more help (which I welcome—with exceptions) and I no longer think my books have to be perfect—but they do have to be good.  That distinction has meaning to me—don’t obsess over every little thing—do your best and move on.  My goal is to write an interesting story that entertains and in some way informs the reader about flawed people and the complications of life—and yes, a little humor along the way.  Some days I get there and some days I don’t.  But I will keep trying.  Maybe even get around to rewriting that first book and call it the Un-originals, or something equally stupid.

Thanks for being a reader!

Lifetime supply of books?

Books have been an important part of my life for as long as I can remember.  They have inspired, entertained and taught me many things about the world and myself.  In my youth, books competed with movies and the very limited television as entertainment; but had no equal when it came to education and self-fulfillment.  Today is an entirely different world.

Yesterday my internet was out for hours, some kind of Comcast problem that was eventually, mysteriously resolved.  That disruption created a sense of being disconnected from the mother ship.  How do we access the thousands of movies and TV shows streaming away as we sit idle?  There are literally more entertainment and educational options available than anyone could possibly watch.  If that is the case, will there be a point in the future when there is no need for anything new.  Of course new will always be alluring, but the reality is, without additional time, the need for new might just go away.

So we have a lifetime supply of books, movies, and TV shows to keep us entertained; why try the new author who may or may not be entertaining, or educational, or even good.  Why risk that time on something that is not known?  I don’t know the answer to that question.

Even now it is hard to break through the clutter.  I read there are something like 2,000 to 4,000 new books published on Amazon every day.  Many of those books are indie books that sell very few copies.  Currently there are almost 50 million books on amazon available for purchase and the number is growing.  Only a very small percentage of these books sell 500 copies.  But that glut of books creates a maze of confusion that complicates the ability to reach readers—so many books so little time.

Due to this problem the free book marketing web sites came into existence.  Bookbub, Freebooksy, Fussy Librarian and many, many more.  These sites advertise to their members/followers for a fee from the authors the availability of free books or heavily discounted books.   They exist because of the thousands and thousands of independent authors who are the majority of their customers who are looking for new readers.  I use these sites to give away free e-books because it works, sort of.  A newly released book gets a lot of attention and will result in follow up sales of the free book and other books by the author—but it is short lived.  So you spend money to advertise your book to an audience that mostly wants free books in hope of what exactly?  That you give away tons of books?  That those free book seekers will actually spend real money and buy your other books?  Yeah, I’m not sure of the reasoning either; but I do it.

Should a reader not accept free books because that does not provide support to the author?  Of course not.  If the author is stupid enough (or wise enough?) to offer free books, the reader should lap them up.  But what is the commitment to a free book?  Nothing?  If you read the first ten pages of the free book and it doesn’t hit you right, would you continue or just move on to the next free book on your device?  If you had paid $25 for a hardback book, you’re going to give that book every chance, not just a glance.

What this comes down to, is I have no idea how to reach readers who might enjoy my books; other than free books or very expensive Amazon advertising.  But even that approach has limited success in the overcrowded book aisle at Amazon. 

Another approach that works great, but I have no control over, is reader recommendation.  This can be on-line reviews or word-of-mouth.  Readers trust other readers not to steer them wrong, and that boosts sales.  But that is about the first reader liking the book; and that hinges on writing.

Okay, everyone knows this; the best way to have success writing books is to write good books.  Amazing revelation! 

I recently revised the Muckraker books; Murder So Wrong, Murder So Strange and Murder So Final.  Why?  To make them better and to make them more readable.  This can be a painful process for a writer to be critical of one of your masterpieces.  My co-author, Stanley Nelson, was helpful in that regard, occasionally a little too helpful.  We did accomplish our goal—I think the books are better and, hopefully, the reader will agree. 

The promotion for the re-introduction of these books will include, of course, free book days on Amazon.  The Murder So Wrong e-book will be free for download on December 10th, 17th, 21st and January 24th.  If you haven’t read these books give them a try—after all the first one is free.

Thanks for being a reader!

Is there objective truth?

“The very concept of objective truth is fading out of the world. Lies will pass into history.”

We seem to be living in a time when truth itself is subject to interpretation.  My truth is truer than yours.  Just the idea of that deserves a Wow! 

“The idea that all truth is subjective, that there is no objective truth, is a myth. Everything either has an absolute truth value (even if we can’t know it) or is an opinion or belief.”

“This doesn’t mean we can know every truth, this doesn’t mean that what is true for the observer isn’t unique to the observer. It just means that ultimately, underling that, “that which is the case, is the case, independent of our ability to confirm it” and “statements phrased correctly have an absolute truth value.”  From an article by Thomas DeMichele.

My older brother had an outsized influence on my early years.  One day we were discussing something and he asked me if I had empirical evidence for my statement.  Of course as an ignorant kid I had no idea what empirical meant.  This is pre-Google, so I found a dictionary and looked it up.

“based on, concerned with, or verifiable by observation or experience rather than theory or pure logic.”

That made sense to me, the truth is something that you can demonstrate as true because you have verified or observed the evidence of its truth.  “I saw it with my own eyes!”

Fast forward to today and our almost unlimited sources of “information,” “facts,” “eye witness accounts;” and we find ourselves in a world where truth itself is subject to interpretation.  Even though I believe I can see with my own eyes (under the right circumstances) that the world is curved; someone else observes the same thing and says its flat.  We both believe we have observable facts (empirical evidence) of the opposite conclusions. 

Everyone has bias.  Old verses young is a bias.  White people view the world differently than black people.  Republicans live in a different environment than Democrats.  Rich have no idea how the real world looks to the poor.  Religious people see one thing, secularist another.  Everyone has a bias.  Can any of us view empirical evidence without our bias determining the “truth.”  Probably not.

Through much of our history we have relied upon other people to guide us toward the truth; to help us overcome our natural bias.  Priests and preachers have often been our truth tellers; even when we knew much of their truth was not true.  Politicians, leaders have on occasion provided a guide towards the right answer, not so much today.  Scientists have always guided us towards their truth; but today we are suspicious about science because much of it contradicts things we want to believe.  Judges once held a lofty position in our society, but they too are under a dark cloud.  Where do we go to find “real” truth?

Your answer to that question will be based on your bias.  That is a problem.  How do we reach a consensus to what is true if there is not an authority that can establish truth from myth or propaganda?

That search can lead to trusting charlatans because they are very good at scamming people.  Honest people often say they don’t know; the con-man always knows.  The people with absolute assurance that they have the answers are almost always wrong.  So here we are needing a truth teller who is willing to admit that they don’t know the truth all of the time; sounds like a hard sell.

There have been times in my lifetime when we trusted journalist to tell us the truth.  In many ways, that is still the answer.  Our founding fathers thought so and built it into the constitution; with the protected rights of a free press.  But technology and the vastness of communication has worked to create confusion on how the free press does its job; and has gotten entertainment all mixed up with actual fact finding.  Now our bias dictates what press is correct and what is incorrect.  No objective truth, just choices.

I have a real bias toward books as a source of truth; but of course I write fiction (nice word for lies).  But there are authors who have been able to convey truth while telling a story.  Maybe we should read some of those wise men again. 

Technology may be the ultimate solution.  Our national truth computer one day may be able to take all of the facts and sort through the noise and spit out the truth.  Of course many people will not believe the machine, which obviously was built and programed by people with bias.  Even with a truth machine, it will be easier just to live in our own bubble and believe what we want to believe; after all, I am right.

Long live the King!

This is a special Thanksgiving week post replacing the usual weekend timing.  Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Thanks for being a reader!