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Humanity Today Faces a Choice

Ideas have consequences. Humanity today faces a choice between two very different sets of ideas…On the one side stands the antihuman view, which…continues to postulate a world of limited supplies, whose fixed constraints demand ever-tighter controls upon human aspirations. On the other side stand those who believe in the power of unfettered creativity to invent unbounded resources and so, rather than regret human freedom, demand it as our birthright…

If [the antihuman] idea is accepted…then each new life is unwelcome, each unregulated act or thought is a menace, every person is fundamentally the enemy of every other person…The ultimate outcome of such a worldview can only be enforced stagnation, tyranny, war, and genocide…the central purpose of government must not be to restrict human freedom but to defend and enhance it at all costs.

And that is why we must take on the challenge of space. For in doing so, we make the most forceful statement possible that we are living not at the end of history but at the beginning of history; that we believe in freedom and not regimentation, in progress and not stasis…in life rather than death, and in hope rather than despair.” – Robert Zubrin writing in The Case for Space

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The Future of Humanity

“It takes more than developing and deploying human enhancement technology to alleviate pain and suffering…We need the wisdom to know how to properly implement these technologies so humanity truly benefits…the wisdom we need must emerge out of a robust ethical framework that provides motivation to spur on advances…[while guarding] against injustices and human exploitation.” – Fazale Rana and Kenneth Samples

Emerging biotech such as gene editing and stem cell therapies show a lot of promise to alleviate and eliminate many medical conditions. As with all technologies, there can be a dark side, particularly when people with power take control.

A movement known as transhumanism wants to go beyond simply helping humanity, and seeks to transform us into a new species entirely. The road to such a future is paved with potholes such as eugenics and countless ethical issues.

No longer is any of this science-fiction. Nor can we look on in passive agreement at endless futuristic films that fail to deeply examine what they portray as an inevitable future.

The new book Humans 2.0 is a needed deep, intellectual discussion on this emerging reality of bioengineering and transhumanism. You will get a crash course on state-of-the-art molecular biology, and then authors look at the various philosophical streams vying to be the foundation of our bioethics: Which lead to a world where the value of human life is upheld, and which can lead to a reemergence to eugenics?

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Apollo: 50 Years Later

“Now, 50 years later, looking back on Apollo, it’s clear how that was probably the single most significant historical event in modern times, and it really shows us and the world what you can do if you work together and you work hard, keep to the plan, and plan your mission out step by step all the way to the moon. I wish we could do that today.

“I know the difficulty of doing anything in this huge government bureaucracy…But we still do incredible things. [The International Space Station is] the most complicated thing we’ve ever done, probably more complicated than going to the moon…We can still achieve things if we work hard at it and don’t change the plan, but part of the problem is we change the plan every four years.” – Astronaut Scott Kelly

Indeed, the reason why the Apollo missions were cut short (spacecraft for three more missions had already been built), and spaceflight has been a series of fitful starts and stops ever since, is because the government runs the show. Not visionaries who look past the next election cycle. Perhaps the private sector, which has made leaps in accessing space in recent years, will finally open the final frontier. Fifty years late, but better late than never.

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Why Do We Settle?

In the documentary, Ultimate Mars Challenge, we learn of the cutting edge engineering that went into designing the Curiosity Mars rover. This shows us what we can accomplish, so why do we so often settle for less?

Why do we settle for archaic, inefficient combustion engines in our cars? Why do we accept claims that fusion energy is always fifty years away? I remember many years ago plans were made for humans to explore Mars in 2019, which seemed a long way in the future, and yet here we are. We brag about how much computing power we carry in our pockets, but what do we really use it for?

Why do we settle?

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Do You Trust Your Tech Too Much?

Computer technology has become so ubiquitous, millions of us pay little attention to what its creators — and those who would abuse it — are doing with that tech.

Gabriel Weinberg, founder of the DuckDuckGo search engine stated:

The American people are tired of being watched everywhere they go online. They are fed up with all the intended and unintended consequences this online tracking creates, including data breaches, invasive ads, identity theft, discrimination, and manipulation. Have you ever searched for something, only to see an ad for that very thing pop up in a mobile app, or on a different website? Our privacy policy is straightforward and doesn’t require a law degree to decipher: We simply do not collect or share any personal information at all.

DuckDuckGo was created in response to the invasive data gathering that many tech companies undertake on consumers. This is part of the premise behind the new documentary The Creepy Line, which digs deeper finding intentional manipulation. I wrote a few weeks ago:

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What were you Made for?

What were you made for? What is your Purpose? Your Story?

Even in your hobbies, has there not always been some secret attraction which the others are curiously ignorant of…? Are not all lifelong friendships born at the moment when at last you meet another human being who has some inkling…of that something which you were born desiring, and which, beneath the flux of other desires and in the momentary silences between the louder passions, night and day, year by year, from childhood to old age, you are looking for, watching for, listening for? …All the but hints of it — tantalizing glimpses, promises never quite fulfilled, echos that died away just as they caught your ear. But if it should really become manifest — if there ever came an echo that did not die away but swelled into the sound itself — you would know it. Beyond all possibility of doubt you would say “Here at last is the thing I was made for.” – C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain

 

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Beneath the Unclouded and Azure Sky

Readers were briefly introduced to Solana in Among the Shadows. In Book 2, Awakening, we will be seeing much more of Solana, the tamer of the tempest. What follows is a Lost Tale that takes place between the prologue and Chapter one of the first book…Anger burned in Solana’s eyes, the green light wild with fury.
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The Untamed Find Their Story

Jason Clark writes in his book Surrendered and Untamed:

When I was a kid it was possible for boys to kill evil giants and men to walk on water. When I was a kid it was possible to live inside a whale, a raging fire and a lions den. When I was a kid it was possible to pray for the sick and watch them recover. Shadows could heal, and the dead could be raised. When I was a kid I believed that with God, all impossibilities were possible.

But now Clark, as an adult, finds that this wonder has been turned into “tamed three point sermons.”

Even if one isn’t theistic in their beliefs, most will understand what Clark is writing about. No, it’s more than understanding. They feel it burning within them. We grow up searching for purpose, our story. Grand plans are made and lofty thoughts pondered. Nothing is impossible. The wonder of life and creation is still with us. Then, one day, we wake up in a land that looks nothing like what we imagined.

Reality, some people call it. Life.

These are excuses. And not very good ones.

Sometimes it takes time to find our part in the Story. Everything conspires to put a stop to uncovering what we were meant to be or do. Forces in the world want us to give up, throw in the towel. Every once in awhile there are glimpses of where we should be.

Memories. The sunset. The stars. Children who have yet been trained to give up, forget and not see.

Here’s to never giving up. Being revolutionary. Standing up to the status quo and those who say you cannot or should not, or won’t ever be.

Find your story. Don’t stop until you do. Not ever.

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Genre 101: Historical Fantasy

Among the Shadows is best described as historical fantasy. “What is that?” you ask. Check out Arielle Bailey’s post for the answer:

Intuitive Writing Guide

While I love many subgenres of fantasy, this one is my favorite, because it combines my first genre love (historical fiction) with my great genre love (fantasy).

#25 Historical Fantasy

Historical fantasy can take the form of implying that magic co-exists with us, or can imply that magic used to co-exist and now doesn’t because of some event the story portrays.

My favorite thing about writing this genre is that you can take the events and people that you love from history and re-imagine them without needing to stick to the boundaries necessary for historical fiction.  [It also has the advantage of not drawing the outrage of historians and history buffs–  a considerable advantage, as you might know if you’ve ever gone up against one or the other in a debate.]  By introducing fantasy elements, the reactions and choices of people would naturally be different, giving you an immense scope for story.

For…

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Are We Failing Students by Not Turning Them into Readers?

Thanks to Teacher of YA for reblogging this:

Pages Unbound | Book Reviews & Discussions

Discussion Post Stars

The Benefits of Reading

It’s commonly known among teachers that students who read more or who are read to at home are more successful at school and write more successfully than their non-reading peers.  This probably should not surprise us as, of course, not being able to read at grade level would make studying any subject more difficult.  Furthermore, reading extensively can help students gain a larger vocabulary and become more comfortable with more complex syntaxes.  It can also provide students with models for their own writing and provide them with evidence to support their own arguments when they write.  And, of course, we are now exploring the possibility that reading literary fiction can make a person more empathetic, and help socialize children.

The Depressing Statistics

However, despite the widely-known benefits of reading, all of us know plenty of individuals who do not read and do not like to…

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