Monday, October 29, 2012

Halloween Movie Round Up


No October will ever be complete without a terrifying movie marathon. It is essential at times to blast our brains with some adrenaline and popcorn butter, two substances that run thick in this autumn weather. Unless you are in one of those poser states like Arizona. Get it together Phoenix, you can’t respect nature without worrying about freezing your testicles to a park bench every once in a while.

Ahem. Here is the list I will be watching:

Pontypool: It’s this close to election day and a Canadian flick makes it onto the list? Wow, where is my sense of Patriotic duty. Duty. Duty. Doooty. Due tee. Anyway, Pontypool is a pseudo zombie flick in which words spread a virus that takes over the minds of its victims. Once infected, a saying or phrase gets repeated until a suicidal equilibrium is met. Well acted, genuinely creepy, and amazing setting make this a movie not to be missed. To learn more, check out our podcast on the film. Duty. Duty. Duty. 

Event Horizon: Derelict space station horror at its finest. Take a ride with the dude from Jurassic Park and Lawrence Fishburne through the wormhole and into hell. Although the movie is getting on in years, the special effects hold up surprisingly well. This gruesome bit of cosmic cruelty will drag you into dimensions unknown, and there is no way to come back quite the same.

30 Days of Night: The only sparkling that happens in this vampire flick comes from firelight reflecting blood on bared teeth. Brutality seeps deep into the crimson snow, as these insidious vampires creep into the night to take back their genre. In a desolate Alaskan town about to enter 30 days of complete darkness with the winter, these creatures rip and tear their way through the town’s population. We will be discussing this one on the podcast later, but seriously, it is a must see.

Innkeepers: I have been assigned this one, but I know for a fact it made my co-host Albert Berg stuff his ears with a nearby hotdog to avoid the crazy. Join me, in this pre-viewing recommendation.

Hocus Pocus: Shut up. I have to make the lady friend happy too. And that one blond witch is fine if memory serves.

Now my dear readers, tell me what is on your list for this halloween extravaganza. Leave behind the candy corn and bring the chocolate and beer to the comments section.

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Podcast Cometh

Let our voices vibrate through your dirty ear holes. You might want to get a q-tip. Get yourself together man.


Greetings fellow travelers. It has been a long while since a new post has graced these pages, but it isn't that I have forgotten about you. No, today I bring you news of new content from the brains of Albert Berg and I. A new podcast, named after this blog.

The Human Echoes Podcast is now live. You can find it on itunes, zune marketplace, and many other venues. The official website for now is here.

The RSS feed is here if you wish to subscribe.

The Human Echoes podcast will be a weekly hour long episode covering a wide range of topics. We will have a movie of the week, generally one available on Netflix or other inexpensive venue. So far we have covered everything from Hitchcock films and Breaking Bad to plumbing and manliness. We would really love it if you checked it out. It's free, it is readily available, and it is awesome.

I want to thank everyone that has spread the word so far. We both really appreciate it. If you feel so inclined, give us an honest rating on iTunes or other download venue. If you want to get updates, follow me on twitter @tsouthcotte or the twitter account for the podcast @HEPodcast.

If you would like to send us questions, comments, or reccomendations, hit up our email account at HEPodcast@gmail.com.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Weird Wednesday #9 - Roller Coaster of Love




There is a roller coaster in the Denver Six Flags amusement park that I have ridden at least 40 times, and probably more. Each time I thoroughly enjoyed myself, but never once did I ever consider it to be more than a metal and steel mechanical object.

Mid Coitus. NSFW.
In an odd twist of psych fuckery, a young woman by the name of Amy Wolfe has done that. Her sweetest love happens to be a gondola ride by the name of 1001 Nachts. In a quote directly from Miss Wolfe (and soon to be Mrs. Webber, after the manufacturer), she stated that “I love him as much as women love their husbands and know we will be together forever.”

Sadly, the statistics on roller coaster divorce rates are unavailable at this time.

I know it may sound like I am being cruel or having fun at the expense of others, but this brings up a topic that I have always found fascinating. Anthropomorphism is the act of giving human characteristics to inhuman objects. I know I’ve done it with computer systems in the past, referring to it like it is a person and not circuit boards in an aluminum shell. I’d be willing to wager that most people have, even if it is just with a pet. Hell, I can’t seem to get rid of my truck, and have often said I love the damn thing, even with its massive drinking problem.

Really though, the line between liking the utility of an object and wanting to marry it is pretty fucking broad though. With the exception of vibrators, I can in no way see how marrying an inanimate object will turn out well. Like all love, eventually batteries fade too.

Now, lets all take a ride on the comment gondola and dangle your thoughts below. Should we start a campaign for free hot coaster love? Or just an indie go go for psychiatric help?

Friday, August 17, 2012

Freaky Friday #6 - The Police State

Pick up that can. (Half Life 2)


A camera zooms in on a teen with a can of spray paint. The poster, now a caricature of its former icon, is something the state cannot abide. A van rolls up, boots hit the pavement, and a can of spray paint rolls into the gutter. Before the sun rises, the mural is replaced, and all is as it should be.

The police state is an oft used trope in media and games. The conflict almost always exists as rebels fighting a large ominous entity that seems to have no conscience. Sometimes, it isn't a government, but a conglomerate or massive corporation that has bought control of a region. Other times, it is the slow seizure of rights that leads to a totalitarian takeover.

Though the trope itself is defined in the name, lets take a look at why it is effective. In America, we often look toward anything that limits freedom as being totalitarian and evil (even if we vote otherwise). In the police state, people become bound and confined to a life of servitude to a government or entity whose goal is only protecting itself.

Surviving the police state becomes a personal battle between the self and the whole. Many people, as history can attest to, do what is necessary to protect themselves, even if the acts are atrocious. When a certain threshold of tyranny is passed, resistance is birthed. In this resistance, we build the conflict for the story.

Movies like V for Vendetta or Equilibrium aren't exactly subtle in this. They have a clear and evil antagonist, who has many levels of cronies. There is a clear progression to the top, and the people can be set free when the power structure itself is decimated.

A scene from 2081, based on Vonnegut's short, Harrison Bergeron
Perhaps my favorite example of the police state comes form a Vonnegut short story called Harrison Bergeron. In the story, we are shown a world of “equality” where the strong are bound, the intelligent are made unable to think, and the handicapper's are free to roam without limitation. Even beauty is snuffed out with masks and so on. When Harrison, a mountainous man by any standard, breaks free of his bonds during a televised ballet performance, he, and a willing woman show the world what freedom and beauty looks like. They defy the state, and dance as free people. Then, they are promptly gunned down. By the end of the broadcast, people of intelligence are blasted with loud noises to make them forget what they have seen, and the cycle continues, forgotten in a few fleeting moments. (Check out the movie 2081, it is a masterpiece, and truly haunting).

The police state is a staple of fiction, and as our own government makes choices that look starkly totalitarian, expect the genre to become even more saturated. I'm personally a huge fan of the genre, so hit up the comments if you have any suggestions on books, movies, games, etc that cover this topic.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Weird Wednesday #8 – For the Love of Surveillance

I love the smell of armed robots in the morning.



Someday, the far off buzzing of drones could be a substitute for white noise, especially in the border regions of the United States. With recent laws passed and endorsed bythe president and this inept congress, the use of drones for private and public use has been streamlined and encouraged.

Now, this isn't all bad; the rise of “Taco Copters” and other services may be attributed to this legislation, but private start ups aren’t my concern. It isn't even with this particular government, as they have proved themselves to be ineffective at every turn. My worries are with future administrations, because you never know who you will bend the knee to next. The succession of tyranny may befall us from the innocuous laws of ignorant men. Men who unknowingly enable the next administrations, which may not be so kind to the liberties of citizens.

Dan Carlin, head of the podcast Common Sense, fielded a question the other day. How long will it be until these innocent surveillance drones find their teeth? How long will it be until an armed drone attacks “drug dealers” on the border of Mexico? I'm not a seer, but I predict it will be within the next ten years.

You may be able to say that we are at war. The War on Terror, vague as it may be, still counts as an armed conflict. Even still, I have a hard time seeing the justification for 30,000 eyes in the sky. I have an even harder time understanding the need for aerial attacks within our borders. Is our situation so dire that we need missiles instead of police to attain justice? Do the men that we comfortably mutilate from a remote control booth deserve death? Somehow I doubt it.

So what can be done? This is a harder question than it seems. The people's pleas to congress so rarely trump the needs of those who have purchased Washington. Awareness is always the first step, followed by the sharing of ideas. Please, weigh in on this in the comments section. I would love to know what you think.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Summer's End

One weekends worth of recycling. And you thought I was kidding when I said babysitting.



Well, this is embarrassing. The good ole Human Echoes has fallen derelict again. I'm sorry for the many, many missed posts. Anyway, onward to glory.

Other than the rivers of sweat I produced, there has been no indication that summer actually happened. Normally, I have it off from work, and get to gleefully rub it in all of your non-school-district-working people. Last summer, I did almost nothing for 82 days. I went vegetative, and babysat some 20 year old hoodlums. This isn't exactly a good thing, but it was fun.

In the past 10 weeks, I went back to school. This was a troubling concept for me because I failed out several years ago. A mix of apathy and work did me in, as well as a hatred for my business major. I was doing it for a possible paycheck, not because I wanted to. Add in some untreated sleep apnea, and school became a mess.

This time, I'm going in with a motive. I am pulling a change in career, and a change of purpose. In 10 weeks, I busted my ass for a 3.3 GPA. Higher than I have ever gotten in college, and most of my academic career in general. Taking a 5 credit class plus two other normal classes in the summer was murder on my brain and my motivation, but I did it, and the results speak for themselves.

My reasons for going back to school are entirely selfish. I suffer from a spinal disease called Ankylosing Spondylitis, which I have spoken of several times on here. The condition is a painful bane on my existence, and I am tired of letting it define what I am capable of. I won't get into the details, but I feel that if I have the capability to change my fate and my health, then it is my responsibility to do so.

So, what does this mean for Human Echoes, my writing, and everything else you've come to know and love? Not a lot. I am slowly attuning myself to the workload, and am taking on more projects. I have an announcement in the coming weeks that I am excited about. It isn't a book deal or anything like that, but it will be some recurring new content.

Human Echoes lives again. Thank you all for reading.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Weird Wednesday #7 - Poor Edward



Insidious whispers rake at the back of the mind, troubling our psyche. We've all had them; fleeting, often violent, thoughts of harm to others. Revenge and spite seem to be part of human nature. Thankfully, most people can dismiss these grave thoughts and move on.

If only poor Edward Mordake could have done that. This darkness, or devil as he called it, was more than just a thought. It was a part of him; a parasitic deformity that lived on the back of his head. A face, complete with eyes and mouth. It was said to have glared and scowled. Even though it could not speak outwardly, Edward would cry out for an end to the demonic banter and hellish pestering the entity inflicted on him. In his mind, he could hear the voice, and all of the malice it brought. According to the story, he took his own life at 23 years old.

This all makes for one helluva story, but certain sources call it into question. I'm certainly too much of a skeptic to believe that a demonic hell face exists, but if someone did have a parasitic twin, I wouldn't doubt that psychological trauma could result. Who knows what sort of judgment and self loathing Edward must have been going through. It is unfortunate that there isn't more known about this poor man.

Stories of this nature always susceptible to aggrandizing. An affliction as terrible as parasitic twins can quickly fall into legend, and the facts distorted. This week's Freaky Friday post will detail human fascination and horror at body deformation, as well as some of the tropes that exist from it. If you have any suggestions for this post, hit up the comments section and we'll chat about it.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Summer Under my Bootheel


History is filled with the sound of silken slippers going downstairs and wooden shoes coming up.”
    - Voltaire

For 25 years I have lived in a perpetual state of half assing. This despicable malaise has cost me dearly. I've missed out on countless opportunities, and chosen the safe road at nearly every turn. I've donned the slippers of an easy life. This might be enough for most people, but I've got shit to do, damnit.

This isn't just about being a writer anymore, or even working to get by. It's about fulfilling the potential I know I have. I've chosen a path that takes more sacrifice than I thought I was capable of, and through it, the inertia is building. This summer has been a flurry of classes and homework, of short stories and writing. I have learned that no matter how much I fear that my toils are without merit, I can still push forward. I can still make a fucking impact.

I'm not going to lie here. I know I'm a shit writer. I'm a middling computer tech. I used to be a C- level student. I might still be, after all, there are a few weeks left in the semester. What's more important than all of this is that I've strapped on the work boots, and I'm putting in the time. I have results coming in, and for the first time in my life, they feel stronger than dismal. I'm moving from basement dweller to apprentice, and someday onward to journeyman.

I've started to snuff out the weaknesses in my character, and am determined to move forward. I don't have the luxury of time. None of us really do when it comes down to it. It's time to move the fuck on, and ascend to what I know I can be.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Flash Fiction Friday #1 - Three Sentences

Over at TerribleMinds, the online home of Chuck Wendig. He posted a challenge for a three sentence flash fiction story. And since I don't have the time to do a full on Freaky Friday post, I give you this:


The housebot analyzed the patch data, detailing her new emotional output and sensual capabilities. The first feeling of excitement fluttered through her system. The second, dread, as her salivating owner undid his belt buckle.

The three sentence structure is interesting and pretty intense. You have to make every word count, and somehow get a beginning, middle, and end.  I'm not a great judge of my own work, so it may suck, it may be alright, but there it is.

If any of you tried this challenge and want to cross post it here, feel free to hit up the comments section.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Weird Wednesday #6 – Not So Famous Last Words



“I have come here today to die, not make speeches. Today is a good day for dying.
Est Sularus Oth Mithas (My Honor Is My Life).”


These were the last words of Delbert Teague, Jr., a death row inmate in Texas. It isn't uncommon for me to stumble upon last words in my internet wanderings, but usually they limited to famous persons or celebrities. Tonight, I found that the Texas Department ofCriminal Justice has the last words of every inmate executed since 1982. There are a total of 482 accounts from these condemned men, along with their crimes. Many of their last words are uttered as the lethal injection cocktail begins to pump through their veins.


The most common themes of these are expressions of forgiveness and claiming to be a changed man. Most said that they loved their families and said goodbye. Many addressed their victim's families and tried to offer closure.


One of the more unusual but common statements was saying that they could “taste it.” I had to look this up to see what it meant, but apparently with this cocktail, and with saline solution, once it enters your veins, a taste of rotting onions or garlic surfaces. For many, I imagine this is their last thought before fading into oblivion.


“Tell my son I love him very much. God bless everybody. Continue to walk with God. Go Cowboys! Love ya'll man. Don't forget the T-ball. Ms. Mary, thank you for everything that you've done. You too, Brad, thank you. I can feel it, taste it, not bad. “ - Jesse Hernandez

Without surprise, about one in every seven or eight entries is a desperate plea of innocence. I can't speculate on this, as desperate men will say desperate things, but you have to wonder how many might be telling the truth. So far, the only one that I have evidence as being suspicious is this, followed by the write up here.

“You're not about to witness an execution, you are about to witness a murder. I am strapped down for something Marcus Rhodes did. I never killed anybody, ever. I love you, Mom. I love you, Tali. This is wrong. This whole thing is wrong. I can't believe you are going to let Marcus Rhodes walk around free. Justice has let me down. Somebody completely screwed this up. I love you too, Mom. Well Warden, if you are going to murder someone, go ahead and do it. Pull the trigger. It's coming. I can feel it coming. Goodbye.” - Steven Woods  


Some men die harder than others as well. Many will plea for mercy, or speak highly of meeting their God. There are a select few who meet it with defiance and a desire to get it over with. Check out these:

“You all brought me here to be executed, not to make a speech. That’s it.” - Charlie Livingston

“I’m an African warrior, born to breathe, and born to die.” - Carl Kelly

“No” - Peter Cantu [editors note: Was this a troll job by the TDCJ?]

“Let’s do it, man. Lock and load. Ain’t life a [expletive deleted] ? “ - G.W. Green

I'm not going to get into death penalty advocacy one way or the other here. That is a separate issue, and one for which my opinion is still mixed on. It is hard to see men with arecord like this being allowed to live, but the chances of an honest man being put to death make the argument hard to make.

If you took the time to read through some of these, let me know what you thought in the comments section. Which ones were most intriguing to you? What are your thoughts on this in general?

Monday, June 25, 2012

Podcast Party




I know I'm not the only one, but I simply cannot listen to the bullshit that is on the radio anymore. The ads are repetitive, new music is mostly garbage, and the DJs, especially the morning shock jocks, are awful. I cringe every time I hear some caller thinking they have an awesome story. These dipshits are barely literate howler monkeys that need to learn how to tell a damn story.

I understand that the shackles of corporate radio bind deep, but their content is weak and generic. I want real conversations about interesting shit, not a regurgitation of pop culture headlines with an added “Oh no you didn't” attitude.

So I opted out. I might miss a little bit of the days news, but I switched to podcasts in the car, or while I'm cleaning at home. The uncensored and less commercial format appeals to me, and there are thousands of podcasts to fill any niche. Here are a few I listen to religiously:

Startalk Radio: My favorite astrophysicist, Niel Tyson, heads up this podcast about space, science, and the future of the human species. My only nag is that they only put out an episode every few weeks. He usually works with a small panel of comedians, and has guests like Morgan Freeman, and a few former astronauts.

Hardcore History: Dan Carlin busts into your deprived brain with the real low down on history. I am currently six hours into his series on the fall of Rome, and I have rarely been so captivated by an audio program. The most recent episodes have turned to my favorite conqueror, Genghis Khan.

The Joe Rogan Podcast: Although he can sometimes verge on the shock value entertainment, Joe Rogan's podcast is often enlightened, profound, and worth every minute. The uncensored format works better for him than any radio station ever could. I will give a warning that Joe's show can be very explicit, and NSFW. If you want some very interesting episodes, look up his interviews with Graham Hancock, Jason Silva, or Freeway Rick Ross.

I might add some more in the comments section, but I want to know what you are listening to. I'm always looking for new and interesting content, especially when it is free.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Grinnin' Like a Krokodil – Weird Wednesday #5


Connoisseurs of the worlds finest injectables, this post is for you.  Picture from suite101.com


The ingenuity of addicts is often understated. Chasing down the next score can be a full time job, but what happens when poverty is so deep, it keeps a person from even the cheapest of drugs?

They create new ones. Enter the Russian born krokodil.

The drug itself is simple enough. A few codeine painkillers (purchased cheap at any 24 hour pharmacy in Russia), some iodine, a bit of gasoline, and some red phosphorus allows for the intrepid (or destitute) person to make krokodil. When the process is finished, you have a bastardized verison of morphine called desomorphine.

He just wanted to be a ninja turtle.
Beyond the stereotypical squick factor of dirty needles in dirtier apartments and still dirtier veins, krokodil brings about a certain transformation in humans. The skin starts to turn scaly. Scabs form, and for a little while the body can handle it. After that, if even a little drop of the serum misses the vein, it causes under the skin abscesses. A bit after that, gangrene,rot, and much, much worse. Please, do not click that link if you have a weak stomach.

It's okay to close the window and pretend you didn't come here. I wont blame you. Krokodil is insanity in a syringe. I've been trying to wrap my head around it, but I don't think I can ever understand the desperation. I have never battled all out addiction. I haven't dealt with crushing poverty. Even still, how does a person wake up in the morning, and think that some back alley morphine related poison is their best option?

I lack the ability to understand, but it must be clearer in urban Russia, where 21% of the world's heroine is consumed. There are places in Russia where entire blocks of urban centers are filled with abusers of hard drugs, and as desperation grows, so will the use of Krocodil. It is estimated that as many as 100,000 people are currently using desomorphine. If the addiction, or the societal reasons behind its use aren't addressed soon, then the use of the drug will surely increase.

I was first made aware of this from the Vice documentary Krokodil Tears. It is free, so I would suggest checking it out, as well as many of the other Vice documentaries. Start with the Travel Guide to North Korea. It will blow your mind.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Weird Wednesday #4 - Vitamin H




Vitamin H! This new supplement, fresh shipped from China, is a veritable fountain of youth (parts)! SGK (Soylent Green Korea) wants YOU to have a better life, a stronger immune system, and a new way to cope with irritating neighbors. Try our vitamin H today, and don’t forget, the secret’s in the sauce!

There are some pretty obscure supplements on the market today. Longevity has people ingesting Green Lipped Mussel, or the squeezed liver of sharks. Most want to live longer, healthier lives, but on the black market of South Korea, anything goes. According to this Popular Science article, customs agents are now checking shipments for the ground up remains of human babies. So far, they have uncovered more than 17,000 capsules.

Uh, what?

Thank you South Park, for helping
contextualize this situation.
So, according to the AP, people are chopping human babies into tiny pieces, grilling them, and then powdering the remains. These remains are then put in capsules, and marketed as a “stamina” booster.

Last time I looked, ingesting members of one’s own species is pretty goddamn unhealthy. Not only is it chock full of awful bacteria, it’s made from fucking babies. Kuru, a disease that causes intense tremors in the limbs is only one side effect. On top of that, it is often thought that humans can get a version of “Mad Cow” disease from consuming our own kind. This supplement, a supposed boost, could actually put holes in your brain over time. It is the authors opinion, that if someone wants to do that, they should just huff paint, and not become a cannibal. That way they can remove themselves from the gene pool, and not encourage the serial powdering of newborns and infants.

I’m not sure I’ve read a worse story in recent memory, but if you can out-weird this, or just want to express your disgust in humanity, hit up the comments section. 

Monday, May 14, 2012

Monday Musings #3: Fuck Your Productivity Method




A long time ago, I caught the not-doing-a-damned-thing-itis. I thought it was because I was disorganized. That I might be able to improve my methods and habits through the use of cell phones, Google Calendar, day planners, journals, sheepskins, and tea leaf divining. These would dictate my schedule, and I would adhere to it no matter what.

Well, when a text message from Google tells me it's time to write while I'm on the highway, or while shooting 12 year old gamers in their little e-faces, it proved to be bullshit. Organization has never been my problem. Having the right set of technological hoo-haa to drop reminders was never the issue. I'm the issue. Always have been, always will be.

I'm done with it all. Action item lists, management schemes, reminders that pop up just millimeters from my twitter feed, and so on. They don't work for me. They probably don't work for you either. Here's a plan that works: Today, you will write 1,000 motherfucking words, and be done with it. It doesn't matter when, or if it fits in some preconceived schedule. The goal isn't concerned if I'm hungry or tired or if there is a switch blade sticking out of my twitching leg. It has to be done, it will be done. Chair, ass, production. 

There is no magic in work; no pompous divinity that writers can somehow channel but the laymen can't. Action is advancement, and that is all you are entitled to. Advance the word count, move closer to the 10,000 hour theory of mastery, and have a stack of tangible product.

I'll take work over magic any day. This isn't Hogwarts, and unless you've got some goods under that robe to show me, get the fuck out and finish something.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Row 80 Check in #1

Greetings all,

I've been quite busy with new projects, both comic and novel related. I haven't been this productive or busy in years. It feels phenomenal to actually finish projects, to break through and see them polished. I've made the changes necessary to actually produce work. I've moved from just talking about the writing, to doing. I know this may seem insignificant, but being resolved to write daily, and to truly move forward with a career in mind, took far longer than I care to admit. I'll put up a few posts about this soon.

Anyway, on to some quick stats.

As of today, I was supposed to be at 6,000 words for this ROW80 which stands for Round of Words in 80 days for those who do not know. It is a simple competition. Write 1,000 words per day for 80 days, and BOOM, you have draft 0 of your new novel complete.

I am currently sitting at 4,700 words on my manuscript, which leaves me a tad behind. The reason for this is the 7,000 word outline I created during the first days of the competition. This is an effort to ressurect Augmented Genesis. It is a sci fi novel set just past the next technological singularity, and deals with biological implants, augmented reality, and solar storms. Fun stuff.

Anyway, to my other ROW80 associates, I hope your manuscripts are going well. To my fiends, go and kick ass.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Freaky Friday #5 – Science and Technology



Science, by its very nature, tries to bring out the best in men. It allows our labor to become more efficient, and creates new forms of recreation and stimulation (for your mind, shut up). So, if this is the case, then why are so many people flat out scared of science and technology? Is it the creeping and insidious notion that true privacy is a thing of the past? Is it that our new AI driven robotic overlords will look at us as inefficient and illogical meatbags? Or are they simply afraid of change?

Boom goes the 50,000 kiltons of dynamite!
The problem is that it doesn't just make our lives easier, it makes the work of cruel and despicable humans more efficient as well. We know how to ignite the very elements, and using a hydrogen bomb, create a micro scale star over a city or nation. We have created a reset button on existence, and men like Rick Santorum are the ones who hold their finger over the button. This is a significant part of the fear, but due to our biology, we as people can't fathom it actually happening.

More than anything, people are afraid of technology and science because it lifts the veil on their perceptions. It rules out the basis of significant ideologies with cold and overbearing fact. It reminds them that they are simply a mass of atoms, no different in composition than the diamond on their finger, hurling through space on a rock spinning at nearly 1,000 miles per hour, orbiting a fireball that is one million times the size of this planet. That we are only as microbes to this planet, and that our planet is as insignificant as a single atom on the universal scale.

Are you feeling insignificant yet? Does that full inbox seem a little less important now? It should. The fact is, our apelike brains still have trouble grasping the immensity of existence, so many compartmentalize the truth. In order to cope with the universe as it is, they put up mental barriers to fact. They view anything that moves against these walls as a personal attack, and feel the need to reinforce their preconceived notions through confirmation bias.

It's an understandable reaction, to ignore their fear, but probably not the right one. After all, it is science that has allowed us to touch the our feet on other celestial bodies. To treat and often beat cancer. To let me inject myself every week with a concoction made of hamster cells so that a protein in my blood can be regulated. As much as science breaks down the world we knew, it builds up the world we want to create.

20,000 years ago, language didn't exist in such a way for this article to exist. 500 years ago it would have been relegated to small printings, probably rejected as heresy. 15 years ago, dial up users would have been afraid to leave their AOL home page to find it, and 5 years ago, it wasn't accessible by phone. Now, by crossing space time and a massive network of wiring and servers, tell me what you think. Hit up the comments section below, give me your take on all of this.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Monday Musings #2 – Becoming a Wonderjunkie


Watch the above video, and tell me it doesn't give you chills.

In recent months, I've been swept up in moments of awe and wonder by the nature of our universe and the state of technology. I myself benefit from medicines that didn't exist less than 20 years ago, and my job handles technology that was unfathomable at the time of my birth. We are in a time of absolute wonder and astonishment, and the more I look at it, the more hopeful I become.

I used to drown in cynicism. I didn't believe that our primate level brains could keep us from eventually destroying ourselves. I couldn't get past the idea that our existence was immersed on all sides by terrible and cruel actions. I allowed myself to believe a fallacy that world itself was getting worse.

Then I started listening to people like Ray Kurzwell. His “Trancendent Man” documentary hit me like a freight train. It got me thinking. It got me looking. And then I heard Jason Silva on “The Joe Rogan Experience” podcast, and it literally has changed my life. Never had I heard such profound optimism and insight. Never had I realized that this world, our tools, our thoughts and imaginations, could be filled with such spectacular wonder.

I've stolen the word “wonderjunkie” to describe myself. I'm moving beyond the limitations of my old mind's state. In the above video, Silva says that “The role of human imagination is to conceive of all these delightful futures, choose the most amazing, exciting, and ecstatic possibility, and then pull the present forward to meet it.” And I intend to take this to heart. I intend to make my thoughts be more than just faint glimmers of electricity, but to manifest themselves in the physical world. It doesn't matter if it is a blog post or something I build with my own hands. I am drawing on the matter of the universe, and using my thoughts to influence the world around me. I am drawing imagination into reality, and leaving my mark in a world that has turned out to be incredible.

If you like what you have seen so far, check out more of Jason Silva's videos on his Vimeo page.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Workspace Wednesday #3: The Wall of Badasses



My office is slowly turning into what I've imagined it to be. With my white board mounted, my new desk installed, and now, the first major piece of art, The Wall of Badasses.

I've always believed that your office should reflect your values. If you are a very simple and plain person, the minimalist office works well for you. Or the eccentrics who need chaos to function, hey it works. Throw as many knick-knacks and crazy cat statues as you want. I won't judge. Freak. I seem to be somewhere between the two extremes.

So what do I value? I value people who get shit done. Men and women who made a difference, sacrificed their time and energy to forward their principles. Thus, the Wall of Badasses was made. So far, the likes of Bruce Lee, Teddy Roosevelt, General Patton, and Winston Churchill have made the wall. I expect that every few weeks there will be a new inductee. Perhaps Galileo, Fedor Emelianenko, or Donald Trump's toupee. And on a side note, screw the rest of Donald Trump, we know what's really in charge.

A collage such as this is an awesome way to give your office a personal touch. It cost me about 12 dollars for the printing and frames, so it is also inexpensive. Now, let me ask you dear reader, what have you done with your office? Is there anything that is uniquely “you”, or anything you would suggest to other readers? Hit up the comments section. Also, nominate other badasses, and they just might make my wall.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Monday Musings #1 – Comic Book Writing

Image borrowed from http://sipsydoodle.com


Without a doubt, the most challenging writing style I've ever tried is writing a comic book. The project sort of fell into my lap. An artist that I work with at the ole' day job came up to me, told me he heard that I write horror, and that he wanted to illustrate a story or two.

So, without hesitation, I told him fuck yeah, and that I would get him a script shortly. Well, after a few weeks of fumbling, studying the craft of comic writing, and many deleted pages, I had to concede that this was much harder than anticipated.

Now, I know many of you are thinking “Isn't it mostly pictures and some dialogue? How hard could that possibly be?” Well, shut up me from two months ago, it is hard. Damn hard. Each word is a luxury, and each pane has to show the story and plot. It is the trimmest version of writing, and to me, is even harder than trying to make condensed flash fiction.

Forgive the mini-rant, as I don't want you all to think I am complaining about this. I feel that there is a ton to be learned from the comic book format. Everything I've written fiction wise has been more succinct, simple, and clear. The pace and clarity of writing comics has changed my style from a tad wordy and verbose, to an economical and upbeat present tense. Quite frankly, it works, and I think I will have much greater success in the future with both my short and long prose.

I've enjoyed this sort of writing so much that I am currently working on a webcomic, which for the moment is called “St. Mercy”, that we hope to have up before summer. The second project is a serial that I have wanted to write for a while now, called “The Rooster.” With how fast things are changing, I can't leave any more details, but watch in the coming months for some concept art, and the eventual launch of “St. Mercy”.

Have you ever done any comic book writing? Or would you like too? Tell me about it in the comments below.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Weird Wednesday #3: Of Shovel and Moose

Image taken from http://thepeoplescube.com

I want you to imagine your grandmother. For most of you, the image of a sweet silver haired woman pops up; A wonderful old woman from a bygone age who made your favorite cookies anytime you wanted. Some of you might imagine an old crone who spoons with a bottle of Johnny Walker every night, and whose booze-laden breath is the sole reason she will never get stomped by a reindeer. Anyway, imagine if you can, that svelte little 90 pound woman, angrily wielding a shovel, bearing down on an angry moose who is stomping on your grandpa. 

The Actual Dorothea Taylor. Not pictured: Shovel
Dorothea Taylor was faced with just such a situation. While on running her dogs, Fellar and King Tut, she heard them barking loudly. When she looked over, there was a moose stomping on her husband. Now Dorothea, who I imagine subsists on a rigid diet of bacon and cinder blocks, wasn't one to idly let the Alaskan wild's kill a family member. She grabbed a shovel out of their truck, and started swinging. With the aid of her dogs, she was able to drive back the massive beast. I imagine that shortly after chasing the beast off, she hit her husband with the shovel a few times for being such a pussy.

Now, I know some of you flatlanders and computer geeks have never seen a moose, at least not outside of your last Doritos binge while watching Planet Earth, so lets break it down. The moose is basically the biggest motherfuckin' deer that's ever been conjured. They dwarf elk, and the ones that live in Alaska are the largest of their species. They stand almost 7 feet tall at the shoulder, and some of them can even weigh 1,500 pounds. If you dropped 16 Dorothea Taylor's into this situation, the moose still might outweigh them. (On a side note, the last time 16 women of this caliber were gathered in one place, the Amazons of Pontus were formed). [citation needed]

So Dorothy, wielder of shovels, we salute you. For even in modern man's most testosterone laden wars with his surroundings, we may never have the cahones that you exhibited on that fateful day.

If you know of any other badass women that you would like to share, hit up the comments section.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Social Media and the Traveling Laptop

As we speak, my bright red netbook is on its way to Texas. Essentially, Amber West and I teamed up to get a young mother in need a laptop. Due to some very unfortunate circumstances, she had to flee her home with her children, and was left without a computer to finish her courses.

Amber says it all much better than I ever could, so check it out here.

P.S. There should be a Freaky Friday post up later today, but the day job beckons.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Weird Wednesday #3: Better Late Than Never

Photo taken from this news site.


In what may be the saddest news to ever grace this website, this author has recently learned that a man in Thailand married his girlfriend of ten years. Shortly after her death.

The man, named Chadil Deffy, had intended to marry her for quite some time, but had decided to focus on his studies rather than getting married, according to a Thai newspaper. She lost her life to a tragic accident.

Now, I know this is being filed under weird news, but the gesture holds a certain melancholy sweetness. The man is obviously is beyond heartbroken, and coping with guilt. It isn't a publicity stunt, or something insidious, but an act of grieving that should serve as a reminder to the fleeting nature of life.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Freaky Friday #4: Dues Ex Nukina


Sometimes, there comes a point in where you just have to breakdown and use The Bomb. Whenever nuclear hellfire becomes your only option, it falls under the trope of Dues Ex Nukina.

Is there a better way to purge the unclean than complete vaporization? When alien hordes have nuked your cities, targeted your world leaders, and prematurely ended your fantasy football league, an Uncle Sam’s Hydrogen Fusion Enema is the only option. It truly is the American way: go big, and ignore the consequences.

Dues Ex Nukina is also often accompanied with a form of heroic self sacrifice. In Armageddon, Bruce Willis is burdened with the instantaneous satisfaction of de-atomizing for the sake of our species. In Sunshine, the various scientists and crackpots apparently have to do what an automated ship couldn’t: drop off a big bomb on the sun. In a more local example, there have been several zombie novels, such as World War Z and Day by Day Armageddon that have used nukes in order to curb the zombie menace.

The threat of nuclear war, or post bomb survival is another common trope we will discuss soon, as they carry very different themes. In your experience, when has this trope been used effectively? Or better yet, ineffectively? Hit up the comments section and get your two cents in.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Weird Wednesday #2: Chalk it up to Irony



I'm not one to talk overtly about politics or a movement online. I've found that it generally invites a great many uninformed twatbags to blast rhetoric at me. Today however, I want to spread a little bit of awareness to an injustice that happened in Orlando, Florida.

Timothy Osmar, a participant in his local occupy protests, was arrested for using sidewalk chalk. He scrawled the words “justice equals liberty” on the pavement in front of city hall. At the time of this writing, he still remains in police custody, where he has been for three weeks.

Read that last paragraph again. Read it until some sort of ”what the fuck?” reaction comes up. If it doesn't evoke that, tell us why in the comments section. I'd really like to hear you express your freedom of speech to justify why he doesn't deserve his.

I don't care where you stand on the Occupy movement, this is bullshit. Timothy Osmar was arrested for as true a statement that has ever been written in chalk. His point was proven by the officers who walked across that statement to detain him, and upheld by a city that will not let him go free. If officials wanted the his words gone gone, they should used a garden hose, not handcuffs.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Freaky Friday #3: Survival Horror


Often in horror, a nemesis isn't a singular being, but rather the cumulative pressure of a situation. Survival horror exists when a protagonist is placed into a situation far beyond their control; Something so foreign to the character, that the world they knew is ripped irreparably from them.

Now, I know what you are saying, that sounds like most of the horror stories out there, but there are two main themes that separate it from standard horror.

The character needs to be a survivor, not necessarily a bad motherfucker.

This is the difference between 30 Days of Night and Blade. Both movies are dealing with vampires, but at the beginning of Blade, we watch as he rips through a nightclub with dozens of vampires. It is so easy that he might as well be making a sandwich with his free hand. While things get desperate for Blade, he never seems to be in the sort of peril the survivors from 30 Days of Night are in.

30 Days of Night is a much more sinister movie, and the whole time, the tension is crushing the survivors. They are completely isolated, surrounded by horrid monsters that care only about consuming them. The main character may be a cop, but his weapons are nearly useless, and all the training in the world could not have prepared him for what he was facing. An average man, surrounded by other average people in an environment of terror. This brings up the next point:

The story must be highly oppressive to be effective.

A survival horror staple is a lack of supplies, be it ammo, food, water, or any other MacGuffin you need to throw in. Add in an environment that cannot be ignored, such as zombies at the gates or an incessant spirit that will not let you leave the house, and it locks the protagonists into an unavoidable confrontation. Usually, it is a situation of “nowhere is safe” or “getting out of the only safe place would be suicide.” In The Mist, the characters are pitted with a choice of staying with the lunatics who wish to lynch them, or taking their chances with the unknown that lay beyond the grocery store. Either way, there was no hunkering down, no waiting for the situation to pass. They had to go, and well, I won't spoil it.

Cloverfield is another dire situation where the characters are as much up against the environment as they are the monster. They are powerless to kill the beast, but they have to rescue the girl, then get the hell out of there. Army of Darkness is the opposite of survival horror, because, well, Bruce Campbell is probably immortal, and more badass than I ever will be.

These two traits aren't the be all end all of survival horror, but seem to be the main themes behind the sub-genre. Do you have any good examples of survival horror? Or have you noticed something I've left out? Hit up the comments section and let me know.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Weird Wednesday #1: Of Mice and Mountain Dew


Look at those hollow eyes, this mouse knows how to dispose of a body.


With the new year, I'm bringing a few changes to the ole' Human Echoes experience. One of such features will be the addition of Weird Wednesdays, which highlight the strange, horrific, and sometimes insane news stories from around the world. With that said, here is the first feature.

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I'm not going to beat around the bush with this, I am a frequent patron of Pepsi's life giving (and life taking) chemical smorgasbord known as Mountain Dew. I imbibe their potions like a fat, staminaless warrior in Skyrim (and you thought the potions were green for no reason). With all this in mind, I was more than a little put off by a story of a man finding a dead mouse in a Mountain Dew can.

Allegedly, a Wisconsin man opened the can, expecting a rush of that heavenly caffeine laden mana, but was greeted with a dead mouse. After heaving the contents of his soul into the toilet for some period, he collected the evidence and sent it to Pepsi for investigation. This is where it gets interesting.

Pepsi's response wasn't an apology, or an out of court settlement, it was a scientific rebuttal. One that states that had a mouse been put in a can with mountain dew, it would simply dissolve, and turn into a jelly like substance. Essentially, they are admitting that you could use Mountain Dew to dissolve a body, and other than being a little flat, it would not be indistinguishable from normal Mountain Dew. Well, that and it would be a little closer to Bill Cosby's favorite pseudo desert product.

I thought it only gave diabeetus and heart disease. Please excuse me while I dump the rest of the soda in my house down the drain.

As always, hit me up in the comments if you have a strange story you would like covered, or comments on this one. I'd love to hear from you.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Pain Now is Better than Pain Deferred



The other morning, I was sitting down with a cup of coffee to work on some writing. Naturally, this meant that I had to read twitter, go through about 15 blogs, check twitter again, make more coffee, pay a bill, watch 30 minutes of Sportscenter, and ultimately write 140 words of crap fiction that will never be part of anything. I had burned the entire morning away, and it was time to start the actual day job.

I had something to do, and I chose to waste my time. Was it more entertaining that writing? Maybe, but in the end it made me feel like an asshole for missing another deadline. For wasting more precious time on useless shit I had seen before. I chose to defer the pain of writing in order to have more fun in the short term. I caused myself anxiety and guilt by not doing my work for the sake of petty entertainment.

An article on The Art of Manliness (which is quite excellent, and not just about bacon and lumberjacks) laid it out for me. I almost always, in my writing life and otherwise, choose the long and slow pain rather than just ripping the band aid off. I’ve wasted almost all of 2011 in a non-effective stupor because I have a bogus and unrealistic fear of failure. I haven’t produced because I put the cart before the wagon, publishing before writing.

From now on, I’m forcing myself to do the work first, fear and entertainment be damned. Production is the only thing that will eliminate the irrational fear. Work is the only activity that will lead me away from the path of failure. I failed 2011. I will not fail 2012.
 
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