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1
1
Rated: 18+ | (2.5)
Hello, my friend,
All who share my own interests in spacey stuff, I consider a friend. *BigSmile*

I'm going to read your story in its entirety first. So I'll get back to you.
I won't, however, review the story in its entirety. I'll do about a third or
so, of the way. Enough to give you a serious idea of what I like, and dislike. What I love,
and what I hate. *Sad*

Please note that all corrections represent my opinion, as much as they do hard and
fast rules, conditions, and/or grammar and punctuation points.


------------------------------------------------------------------------

After reading your story as a whole, I must confess to not "getting
it". Part of the reason, however, lay with the poor condition in which your story is structured and punctuated. That said, your kind of writer drives me crazy, and here's why: basically you exhibit a warm and enthusiastic approach to writing. You certainly write well enough -- and I do mean that as a compliment -- such that your work should be better than it is.

Sometimes our own laziness ruins what would otherwise be an okay piece of work. I'm sure you had an inkling, at times, as relates to most of your stuff, where you simply guessed when it came to grammar and/or punctuation.

Keep in mind that the font, Times New Roman is pretty much the standard nowadays. Especially for writers who are looking to improve their writing. You want to be read, so the least distractions the better, which means avoiding other fonts, and not bolding all of the text, so on and so forth.

Your story should be a virtual framework only in terms of any and all things that might divert a reader's attention.

I think I was disappointed most by your ending. The story reads well enough, slowly building towards either a surprise or cleverly invented conclusion, but delivers neither. What could have been a nice little spoof of WDC members, including a murder mystery -- to boot -- ends up going nowhere, leaving readers with neither a smile nor a frown.

Here's a final, but critically important detail for you to learn (have it branded somewhere on your body). *Smile* I refer to the use of pronouns, or in your case, the lack of them. This one aspect, by itself, literally murders your story. By about halfway through, I was so exhausted having to read MysteryWoman2018 for the hundredth
time, let alone the handles/monikers of others -- well, if this wasn't an important review, I'd not have read MysteryWoman2018 for the hundred-and-first time. *Think*

I'm being particularly harsh with you for two reasons: first, you gave me
permission to be nitpicky, and invited all comers. Secondly because you need a stern wake-up call -- if you desire to have others read your stuff. Let alone ever publishing anything. Thirdly (okay I lied about being only two reasons) because your writing is so near to being good enough. Unfortunately, close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. *BigSmile*

You're way overdue, therefore, as concerns straightening up your room, so to speak, and making the place both inviting and welcoming of guests. Although learning to write better is tedious and often feels like your head's going to explode, trust me when I say the rewards are themselves grand and glorious. No free lunches, as they used to say. Nope. Just sweating through endless hours of plain old hard work. Period. With every minute a worthwhile expenditure of your time.

So I'm here to help, if only temporarily. Take away as little or as much of the
following critiques as you will. This is your chance to ask questions about my
suggested changes and corrections. I'm no expert, by any stretch, but I do know how to write fairly well.

Don't squander this opportunity to take advantage of all that I have to offer,
be it helpful, life-changing, or totally unimpressive. *Whistle* Seriously, please compare my revised version with your original; go slowly and check each line, word-for-word.

-------------------------------------------------------------


Happy Birthday WDC
September the first, twenty-eighteen

An extremely loud explosion got everyone's attention. Like brilliant,
nighttime stars, sparks shot from a rotating stage which had been erected in the center of a large clearing, both things surrounded by dense forestation. The tall trees corralled all witnesses as everyone continued to stare toward the smoldering remnants leftover from the blast.

The perpetual profits derived from a healthy vocabulary cannot be overstated. In the above example, notice how smoothly the text reads, despite it being more wordy than your original. Too few words supported by a stingy number of adjectives and other modifiers, leave behind a barebones structure that reads more like a skimpy outline than it does finished text.

Most of the gathered crowd were mingling among one another, in small groups of three to five individuals. Some came out of one of the small buildings that sat along the outer edge of the clearing. All of them hastened for the damaged stage, where smoke still obscured what, exactly, had occurred.

As if a guest speaker who prepared to address a theater-in-the-round audience, MysteryWoman2018 exited from within the gray billows and yellow sparks created by the explosion. Standing on the stage itself, which continued to slowly rotate full circle, she tapped the mini-mike attached to her collar.

“Happy Birthday, WDC!" MysteryWoman2018 announced, as everyone calmed and listened. "Welcome everyone to this week-long celebration of WDC's eighteenth
anniversary.” Gazing out at her fellow members, she smiled, then continued, "I’m very glad to see that so many of you accepted my invitation to this celebration party.”

With her cell in hand, MysteryWoman2018 then stopped all movement of the stage, the surface of which was missing a sizeable chunk of tiles and wood.

The gathering, while not in perfect rows, appeared to stand in random alignments, as if on purpose.

MysteryWoman2018 began to study the first row of WDC'ers, and continued to do so until she had counted the last member bringing up the rear. The last rows, she noted, stood in front of the small, nondescript buildings that edged the clearing. How very happy I am, she thought, that all of them are here. Gazing out at the multitude of ghosts, she grinned with silent satisfaction. How very happy indeed.

Turning full circle, MysteryWoman2018 counted the total number of ghosts who were present. Oh, no, she thought once more to herself. Only seventeen ghosts were accounted for. She was afraid of that. It meant that one of us -- one of the living -- would die. That one would be killed within the next few days -- if not sooner.

September the second, twenty-eighteen


After talking with her fellow WDCers the rest of the day, MysteryWoman2018 retired to one of the small buildings. She tried to sleep some, but succeeded only in turning restlessly most of the night. When she awoke the next day, she still felt tired, but not enough to stop her from greeting the rest of her fellow attendees.

Walking from her quarters into the bright morning sunlight, MysteryWoman2018 went to visit building number three. When she arrived, her knuckles gently rapped on the door.

A ghost immediately answered, with only his head poking through the middle of the door. “Yeah? What do you want?”

“I want to talk to you who are ghosts. Please, may I come in?” As the door swung open for her, MysteryWoman2018 stepped inside and took a seat on the nearest chair. She then nodded to each of the sixteen other spirits who floated silently about and stared at her.

WritingDude was there and as he moved to join the others, drifted into and through the body of MysteryWoman2018.

“Is that supposed to scare me?”

"So what is it," WritingDude said, "that you want to talk to us
about?”

MysteryWoman2018 appeared anxious as she spoke. “There are several reasons, but I’ll get to them later. Right now," she said, as if hurrying to make her point, "I want to hear how all of you all died.” She rose from her chair and approached WritingDude. "I'll start with you. After all, you are the first who died.”

“So what is it, you seem so determined to know? WritingDude grinned and spoke from his semitransparent mouth, his words issuing through his barely visible teeth. "If it’s who killed me, the answer is, I don’t know. And before you ask, none of us know who did us in. Satisfied?”

MysteryWoman2018 replied, “That much, I've already figured out on my own. Which is why I need to know how you died. Knowing that will help me figure out who, here at this anniversary party, killed all of you."

September the third, twenty-eighteen


------------------------------------------------------------

My hope is that I've given you enough to chew on, in this review, such that
swallowing my baloney will be easier. *BigSmile*
I know this is a lot for you to digest, but it must be learned and understood if you wish to allow readers inside your head, and see and hear the same things as you do. Between my opening remarks and my revised text of your story, I think there's enough ground covered to keep you going for a while. If you have any questions at any time, I'd be glad to reply, so don't hesitate.

In closing, keep in mind that my revisions of your story are, quite simply, my own version of how to correct things as I see them. Which means everyone who might want to help you along, would write a different take on the story, and write things "their" way.

What it doesn't mean, is that our interpretations of your story are any better than your own. They are just more correct, in terms of grammar and sentence/paragraph structure, than your version. Plain and simple.

For a story like this one, lots of details, descriptions, and character development are particularly important. So don't be skimpy or stingy when it comes to adjectives, pronouns, time of day, articles of dress, and specific character mannerisms; things like how a character talks, uses contractions, plus other idiosyncratic behaviors unique to each character.


Thanks for giving me a chance to keep you on board with tracks that will ultimately lead you to where you're going, or want to go. Listening to me will simply get you there sooner. *BigSmile*

Bob


PS: By the way, the sheer volume of your many works is to be both lauded and applauded. *Smile* An amazing accomplishment to be sure.


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
2
2
Review of The Blue Apple  
Rated: E | (3.0)
Hello, Maolla,

I truly enjoyed your little story. I'm interested in knowing what specific ethnicity is the name, Maolla. WDC is a global organization, so to speak, that caters to anyone and everyone who wishes to participate in the things we do here.

Neither your gender nor nationality is absolutely necessary, such that a reviewer would be unable to critique your work without knowing either. But you'll get more reviews if you tell us a little about yourself. Both on the front page of your portfolio, and in the biography section.

For instance, there's a lot of small and minor writing errors in your story. The mistakes appear to be the same as might be expected from someone whose first language is not English. I did note how you mention this at the top of the page and for me -- as a reviewer -- it is important to know whether you're someone who speaks and writes two or more languages.

I am far less critical when I understand how I'm reviewing a person who wants to write better English, in addition to already writing in one or more other languages. Thus I would have you know how this is already a big plus in your favor. *Smile*

That said, I cannot encourage you enough to continue with your studies of my native language. Judging by the good quality of your writing thus far, I am equally encouraged that you will succeed in achieving both your aims and your goals during your stay here at WDC. *BigSmile* A stay which I hope will be long and profitable for you.

Aside from the text itself, the only thematic problem I have with your story is the ending. With a better conclusion, your story could change from just a bunch of nonsense (your words not mine), to a real morality tale that could leave many readers smiling and grateful for having read your work.

Before I suggest and demonstrate what I believe to be just one example of the kinds of changes I'm talking about, please allow me to also show you a few examples of the types of errors I found. Explaining why I changed your words can often be complicated, so I usually don't go into a lot of detail about why I did, unless you're interested. In most instances, I've always felt that showing a corrected piece of anyone's work, can inspire them to do seek out and find the reason(s) on their own. Plus sometimes I'm just too lazy. *BigSmile*

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Maolla, please note that I have changed some of your words, and rearranged others in order to read more clearly (and properly). Please compare, word for word, my revised version with your original. Know, also, that my rendition is not meant to be perfect, nor is it the only way to fix all of your mistakes. My intent is solely to illustrate some quick and necessary corrections, plus the addition of an imaginative new direction that successfully concludes the story.

Needless to say, many new and different directions are also possible, which could end your tale in satisfactory fashion. My version went, of course, in the direction of a fantasy. Someone else might have taken your story in a more realistic direction, but equally dramatic (and interesting) compared to my own slant on things.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

"Once upon a time" is what's known as a cliché. Writers are expected to be creative and not resort to tired, oft-used phrases, borrowed from the writings of others. I wanted you to see why I changed your opening phrase to a more "fanciful" introduction. I also capitalized the word, Age, which did not need to be. Doing so, however, informs readers that the writer is referring to one or more classical periods of ancient history. And not to the age of the boy.

Once upon an Age, a boy went walking down a street on a cold autumn evening. Along the roadside, near a fence that surrounded a neighborhood garden, he spotted a nice big apple. Or what, at first, he believed to be an apple.

It took him some time to inspect the blemish-free fruit, before he finally accepted it as being an actual apple. The problem was with its color, which wasn’t green or red or even yellow. Nope. The skin of this apple was a lovely shade of blue. A deep azure, as one might see in a cloudless summer sky.

The boy then ran back home, eager to show the apple to his Mother.

"Look, Mama, look!" he shouted, when he found her cleaning up the kitchen.

"What is it, now, Joey?" The mother said. She felt like she had spent the whole evening washing the dinner dishes. Finally done, she sat down to rest, leaned back her head, and closed her eyes.

Maolla, note that I've taken the opportunity to insert a name for the boy. An author can't normally just tell a reader, "Joey was the boy's name." Lazy writers do those kind of things. Good writers find creative ways to let readers know a person's name, without making it too obvious. *Smile* As in this case, where I let the mother call the boy by name. Pretty sneaky on my part, don't you think?

"It’s this apple, Mama." Joey said, holding it out to her. "It's blue!"

"Nonsense," the mother said. "Everybody knows there's no such things as blue apples. Probably just a plain old green apple what got some blue paint on it." As she lightly dozed in her chair, she whispered, "Now, a real blue apple. Now that'd be really special."

"Ma-ma," Joey whined, "You're not even opening your eyes to look." The boy felt frustrated and confused. "My apple is blue," he whimpered, "just like the sky."

Note how italics are used to indicate that a specific word(s) needs to be read with additional emphasis or stress, as if reading the word aloud.

"Well, young man, I'm not about to look at anything, right now. Your big discovery is probably just some blue plastic bauble, just looks like an apple." The mother laid a damp towel over her eyes. "Go back outside and keep looking," she grinned. "Let me know if you find a purple orange."

"But Mama..."

"Since you're so full of energy, mister, you can help me here in the kitchen. The floor could do with a good mopping, so get to it."

Joey said nothing more. If he had, she would likely have found more work for him to do. While on his way to retrieve the mop, he made sure to pass by the room where his father sat working at the family's computer. "Father, look what I found outside! An apple, Father. A big shiny blue one!"

----------------------------------------------------------------------

Maolla, here, now, is my suggestion for a new ending. See what you think. Like I said, earlier, however, I basically want you to see how almost any ending is better than no ending at all. Everything remains the same, except for the very ending. You should consider, if you choose to, adding more descriptions of the environment where the story takes place. Maybe it's an island, where voodoo or other magical things are rumored to exist.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

When the boy runs off, he soon finds himself lost among some unfamiliar (palms?). The darkness of night has descended over the (island) which causes the boy to trip and lose the apple down a steep (and scary) ravine. After he finds the apple and starts to climb the slope, a pair of glowing eyes peer out at him from the inside a small cave, even darker than the ravine.

"Hey, boy," a voice calls out to him. "Is that a blue apple you got there?"

"Yeah, so what if it is? Don't you know there's no such things as blue apples?"

"How much?"

"How much what?"

"Gold, sonny! How many coins for you to sell me the thing? Where I come from, blue apples be real treasures. Yes, indeedy. Real valuable, they are. So how much?"

"Ten-thousand coins!" Joey shouts, half joking. Maybe three-quarters joking.

"Geez," the voice chokes, "you drive a hard bargain, laddy. How'd you know I could sell it for more? Never mind, deal's a deal. Ten-thousand pieces be waiting for you at home. Throw me my apple, boy, and be quick about it. My kind don't come by these parts very often. My good luck I happened by, yes, indeedy."

As Joey tossed the treasure toward the two eyes, a small clawed hand with long sharp nails, reached out and caught it.

"How come you guys don't come around more?" Joey asked, as the eyes dimmed and retreated deeper inside the cave.

"No blue apples where your kind lives."

"You got any purple oranges?"

The creature's eyes jerked about, looked towards Joey again, but glowed brighter. "What? S'pose you'll be wantin' a thousand of them, too, eh, young fella? Ain't no wonder we stays away -- your kind's jus' too tough to bargain with!"

"Just one will be okay," Joey grinned.

"Well, then, that'd be more like it, then. One purple orange, it be. Sittin' right on top of all those sparklies. Which reminds me; ya gotta call my name 'fore all that gold'll show itself." The words faded away as little more than distinct echoes.

Joey stepped closer to the mouth of the cave. "But I don't know your name."

"Well, 'course you don't." The creature's chuckles also echoed. "Haven't told ya what it be, yet. Name's Grundlekeysnapzentooth. But they calls me, Grunt, for short."

"Thank you, Mister Grunt," Joey shouted into the empty darkness, hoping the strange, smallish creature had heard him.

The happy boy, smiling from ear to ear, soon found his way and hurried home. Joey's father had taken a break from the computer, and was sharing some freshly brewed tea with his mother.

"Hi, mom, hi, dad."

"What's got into you?" the woman asked. "Last time you were here," she smiled, winking at the father, "like to have driven me crazy with all your talk about purple apples or some such."

"Oranges, Mama. Purple oranges."

"Ah, yes. So what happened to your blue apple, was it?"

"I sold it."

His son's remark finally caught the father's full attention. Stifling his chuckles with little success, he caught the mother's eye as both burst out laughing. "So tell us, Joey," he said, "how much you get?"

Joey stepped back from the breakfast table, to make room for whatever was about to happen next. "So where's my money, Mister Grunt! And don't forget my orange."

The neighbors would long remember how the lights in Joey's house, burned late into the early morning hours on that particular night.

None more so than the elderly, reclusive woman whose garden she tended so lovingly, with such care and devotion. Long retired from a life of glamor and extravagance, she decided to spend her last years sowing the soil from her small bag of seeds. Purple orange seeds.

From within whose rich, verdant greenery, the rare and coveted blue apple might show itself to those most deserving.

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Moalla, I hope you use this review as a guide for future reference. Learn what rules governed my grammar and punctuation choices. None of which are necessarily the "right" choices. Only ones that work to accomplish my own vision for what is still "your" story.

As you can now see, the only stories that can be labeled as nonsensical, are those which languish unfinished or incomplete. Using your imagination (which has no rules) *BigSmile* virtually any story can be converted from truly unworkable, to something worth saving from the recycle bin. *Smile*

Please note how I structured the lengthy, two-way dialogue passages. How they are punctuated in a repetitive, consistent manner that is governed by strict rules that must be obeyed. Those rules can be found in any book on writing, and deserve your focused attention.

Especially important is the way my dialogue is written differently from the straight narrative which describes the procession of events in the story. There are only the two components to any story: narrative and dialogue. Many writers do not distinguish between the two, in that they write their words in the same way, for both narrative and dialogue.

After years of study, I decided long ago to make the gap between narrative and dialogue as wide as possible. Readers need never question which [of the two] they are reading at any given time.

Worth repeating is the importance of how paragraphs are separated. Paragraphs with dialogue cannot contain words spoken by more than one person at a time. Paragraphs that contain narrative which only describes scenes, settings, and so forth, should be clearly defined as being separate from the characters themselves. Or, if describing attributes of a character, or his manner of speech, temperament and so forth, these sort of things can be written in many, many different ways. It is best to look around and see how different authors adorn their pages with these kinds of descriptive narratives.

Most writers (with good reason) use the conjugation form of third-person, past-tense.

Also worthy of my emphatic nagging *FacePalm* is the need for you to understand my [mostly correct] use of nearly every single period, comma, adjective, adverb, so on and so forth. When you do, your grammatically correct writing will have improved by leaps and bounds over what I reviewed here today. Which then leaves you time to concentrate on vivid descriptions of your characters and their environments. Plus action scenes and ones more casual in nature. *Smile*

If nothing else, please remember these two "laws" of writing: Learn basic grammar and punctuation so you can spend more time on story development and execution. Secondly, memorize How, Why, When, What, and Who, not necessarily in this order.

Now go through your (and my) story and find the following: How do things happen, such as the mother mentioning a purple orange, which is then used at the very end of the story.

Why does Joey not question (or fear) the appearance of the creature demon in the cave?

When does the story take place?

What is the story about? For example, a brief synopsis of the story, and what does it say about the human condition?

Finally Who are your characters, how do they do things; why do they do things; when do they do them; and what do they do?

Note how the five items are repeated for each character, and each major event in the story. A lot to understand, don't I know it. *BigSmile*

Let me know, my friend, if you have any general or specific questions related to my review.

Bob


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
3
3
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
Hi, Paul,

Something about this charming little ditty stuck with me when I found it. So I decided to review the work and see if I could verbalize what didn't sit right with me -- when overall, I really liked this gem of a short, short story.

I knew what was wrong, I just didn't know how to fix it. Namely the squeaks, squeals, yips and other anthropomorphic "sounds" that you incorporated into the piece -- in an attempt to capture what would otherwise be impossible to pull off. I refer, of course, to your and Feezzas' "dialogue"

If I didn't know how to fix it, I wouldn't have faulted the piece. But since it's an easy thing to do, I suggest the following change:

Writing tends to be very literal. Unless you show a reader what it is you intend, he or she will typically conclude the worst interpretation possible. It's a law of physics, I think, that this invariably happens.

If a wolf, or any other critter, for that matter, is described as "speaking" with an all too human "voice", then the true wild spirit of that animal is lost. With the result being that either you or the wolf, is trying to be too clever for your own paws.

A simple remedy solves this problem and allows you to be you, and the wolf to be its canine self.

All that's required is a disclaimer of sorts, at the very beginning. For example:

"errruufff"

"I know, you're out there and I can find you. Bring it back now before something with teeth shows up."

"Eeerrrrrr"

I sometimes forget that Feezza doesn't speak English, or any other human tongue for that matter. But I swear that the sounds he makes, have always left me believing it's only a matter of pronunciation.

"Okay, you're good at hiding, but I'm good at finding."

"OOOHhhh ... Ruffe"

In this way, readers will quickly surmise that the animal is not really vocalizing humanlike sounds, but rather it's you who are attaching your own humanness to what Feezza is saying, which are little more than playful utterances intended to express gratitude, in its own way, for your kindness.

Thanks for listening to my utterances. *Smile*

Bob




*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
4
4
Review of Sticky Situation  
In affiliation with The 4 Controversies Contest GR...  
Rated: ASR | (4.0)
Confucius say:

Never argue with someone who's done more research [on a topic] than you have.

Hello, Genipher,

My name is Bob, aka Timtu, and I'm a guest judge here at The Four Controversies Contest central office. I'll be critiquing your entry, which gives me a real chance to spout off -- mostly because I'm somewhat familiar with the subject, and have my own opinions on the matter.

There's nothing ever stupid about asking questions. As concerns religious issues, for instance, I certainly carry around lots of questions -- thus I'm a big believer in them. Problems happen when we're bombarded with answers -- sometimes conflicting ones -- which leave us in a quandary as to which we choose to adopt as being the most credible. So called, informed choices.

I think annotation will allow for the best, point-by-point review of your well written essay. Or in other words, please follow the bouncing icon:
*Whistle*

I'm stupid. At least, that's what sanctimoms say when they hear I don't vaccinate my children. I've obviously made the decision because of Jenny McCarthy (whoever the heck that person is) and not because of any independent research I've done. How dare I question the medical communities and the dogma they spout as fact? Why would I possibly risk my child getting measles, whooping cough, or chicken pox when the CDC has all but cured those diseases?

When we first introduce our own made-up words, such as sanctimoms, it's important to either italicize them, or explain them one time only, or do both. This would then appear as follows: ". . . such as sanctimoms, (my own version of sanctimonious) it's important to . . ."

It must be because I'm ignorant.

By the way, I do like your tongue-in-cheek cynicism, whereby you feign your own lack of understanding, much as playing your own devil's advocate. By the time I was halfway through the piece, however, I found your chosen style a tad tedious and distracting; I kept repeating to myself that you were poking fun at others -- those who, with self-righteous intent, would otherwise label you with the same denunciations as you'd already chosen for yourself.

I'm ignorant of the fact that the CDC admits, on their site, that the strain of whooping cough that's most prevalent is one that doesn't respond to vaccination.

Me just shooting from the hip right now: Assuming that no real cure exists for the treatment of the most prevalent type, then at least we can have protection from the other, less prevalent type(s)?

(1) I'm ignorant of the fact that measles outbreaks are obviously caused by "anti-vaxxers" rather than a fraudulent vaccine company. Yes, the drug company Merck, has three(!) class-action suits lobbied against them for violating state laws and "hiding the declining efficacy of the [measles] vaccine..."

Once again, I think "anti-vaxxers" is a confusing abbreviation, though I understand how it's meant. Were I writing to those who may not be all that familiar with such jargon, I'd spell the term as "anti-vaccers". But would also explain how the term refers to "anti-vaxxers" as used to describe those who're opposed to childhood vaccinations. Just my opinion. Three class-action lawsuits ought to make everyone stand and take notice.

I must confess to being sympathetic to doctors, but not-so-much, when it comes to drug companies. If we can understand and appreciate how doctors themselves surely love their own children -- and want what's best for them -- then it seems reasonable to believe that they would seek the best medicines on the market. I'd be much more critical if it could be shown, for example, that many doctors prevent their young children from being vaccinated.

In a similar vein (no pun intended) it can be argued that no magical cure for cancer is being kept from the public, as part of an AMA conspiracy. Indeed, doctors' kids get cancer and die the same as do non-doctors' children.


(2) But it's not the power-hungry drug company's fault when there's a measles outbreak, right? No, it's we "anti-vaxxers".

I'm reminded of the terrible polio epidemic of the 1940's and 50's. I can still recall those days because I was a tyke myself back then. Hospital wards were filled with the tortured souls of countless children, many of whom lay twisted and crippled in their beds. Jonas Salk, discoverer of the life-saving polio vaccine, was a godsend to the millions of parents who previously kept their kids indoors for fear of them catching the deadly virus.

The story of the vaccine, however, does include a terrible chapter. And it is this one aspect of all vaccinations -- whereby the cure is sometimes as bad or worse than the disease itself -- that needs to be better understood by parents who are bewildered by conflicting reports and/or warnings about one vaccine or another.

Medicine has always been a matter of numbers and percentages. I used to pay attention to these kinds of things, but have since grown a bit lax about citing odds, chances, or coincidental events. Once I paid attention a little better, though -- back in the day -- this whole business of drugs and vaccinations became a lot clearer and less confusing. The short version suggests that when it comes to questions of efficacy, all of us either get on the same bus to Las Vegas, or stay home, refusing to gamble -- unwilling to play the odds, so to speak.

In other words, parents fearful of one dread disease or another -- for which a vaccine ought to offer protection -- either knowingly or unknowingly decided to play the odds. For instance, a vaccination for one or more maladies always carries some percentage of failure, but odds that are so weighted in favor of the parent and child, that it was worth whatever risk was involved. The risk in this case resulting in a reversal of fortune, i.e. an inoculation that infects the recipient with the very disease(s) against which these miracle drugs were designed to offer protection.

As regards the polio vaccine, in particular, I found that the chance of your child suffering severe side-effects is about 1.6 per 1,000,000 doses. This includes those who become stricken with polio itself, as a direct result of their inoculation. Throw into the mix the debates related to "live" viruses versus "dead" (or weakened) strains, and the whole issue becomes quickly clouded by various controversies.

Thus there are good folks for whom no amount of risk is small enough to warrant vaccinating perfectly healthy children. Still others, the vast majority in this case, feel the gamble (and percentage) is so miniscule as to be virtually nonexistent. That is, of course, unless it's your child who is unlucky enough to be one of the 1.6 who get into serious trouble. In such an event, the odds are reduced to 1:1, or 100% that the child (or the adult) will have contracted the disease via its own preventative, proactive measure.


(3) I'm also ignorant of the fact that vaccines are 100% safe. At least that's what Dr. Karen Remley, executive vice president of AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) has said. Let's just ignore the fact that when, in 2011, the Supreme Court ruled in Bruesewitz vs. Wyeth, the court found that, ". . . vaccines are unavoidably unsafe."

I have no idea why any of us would accept a SCOTUS ruling as regards a sophisticated and complex medical debate. Especially one that could spell death (or permanent impairment) for the relatively small number who would be victimized by a metaphorical roulette ball plopping onto their number -- meaning they lose instead of win.

4) We'll pretend as well that the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Fund not only doesn't exist, but that, since 1988, it hasn't paid out over 3.8 billion dollars to victims of vaccines' [deleterious] side-effects.

This is an example, I suppose, of where things can become very complicated. Accepting your citations as factual, then any amount of money paid out to victims (and/or their families) would seem reasonable; how much is a child's life worth? I do think, however, given the circumstances, that wide dissemination [validation] of these "facts", should prove very counterproductive -- in terms of the otherwise noble goal of eradicating one disease or another. And that such obliteration only comes from widespread vaccinations.

5) I'm so very ignorant when it comes to acknowledging the existence of doctors who are against vaccinations or, at the very least, advocate delaying until a child is old enough to handle the stress to their system. These are well-read, intelligent people with PhD's behind (after?) their names.

That sounds like such a rational and reasonable position to take, it's difficult to imagine any number of parents choosing to outright diss (or dismiss) the notion that another, more critical analysis exists -- a flipside that warns -- instead of celebrates -- the idea that uninformed choices are every bit as important as are informed decisions.

People like Dr. Neides, former "Medical Director and Chief Operating Officer of the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute", fired for his views on vaccinations(6) or Arizona doctor Jack Wolfson, who almost lost his license to practice medicine because he's not gung-ho for vaccines.

Once again, the seeming bad guys here, if given the benefit of the doubt, are acting upon their own entrenched beliefs that the greater good justifies the need to eliminate and/or discredit those who might convince others to second-guess their own doctors. It's not hard to see how the medical community could become totally paranoid over too much credence being paid to naysayers.

7) And I'm sure we've all heard of the "evil" Andrew Wakefield, who dared to wonder if it would be safer to spread out the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccines rather than lumping them together. He wasn't even against vaccination but only mentioned that there "might" be a correlation between the MMR and GI issues, and, BAM! he was discredited, disgraced, and labeled a fraud!

The road to Hell is paved with . . . . I rest my case, in terms of the "establishment" people doing anything and everything to both cover their asses, and prevent from taking hold, the idea that vaccines are not perfect -- and may well carry what would be, to many, an unacceptable degree of risk.

8) When you have doctors that are labeled as quacks for breathing a concern over vaccines and are then ostracized and/or fired for that concern, you can't help but wonder what's going on.

Just as those who win wars are allowed to define what constitutes war crimes, the majority who believe in the status quo, would never admit to propagandizing both their case and their cause.

At least, us dummies start to wonder. The regular, "sane" folks just smile and pull up their sleeves for the next shot that Big Pharma deems necessary. Don't ask questions, don't put up a fight, just follow along like good little sheep.

History is rife, of course, with stories about singular voices who proclaimed one discovery or another, only to have the majority ridicule them -- including their own peers. One of the better such cases involved Dr. Louie Pasteur who declared that unseen, invisible creatures were responsible for many if not most post-operation infections. Nowadays, the world is saturated with similar claims and counter-claims -- from health supplements to all manner of curative agents, many of which purport to cure cancers and other illnesses.

While preventative substances such as tonics, elixirs, potions, and still more supplements of one form or another, stake their own claims in the lucrative fields of health and general wellness. More and more it has become difficult if not impossible, for the average layperson to decipher good medicine from bad.


I guess I'll just stay ignorant when it comes to the knowledge that exposure to measles has been found to have oncolytic properties. As a big stupid-head, I had to take the time to look that one up and when I did, I discovered it meant that having measles as a child, "significantly protects against genital, prostate, skin and lung cancers, as an adult". Amazingly enough, measles has also been found to create tumor remissions (8) and has been used to cure cancer!

As a person who prides herself in cutting through what is fact versus fiction, you are aware, I would guess, of the difference between anecdotal evidence, and double-blind testing procedures. The failings of such practices, when politicized, are no more clear than the whole opioid crisis that currently plagues the nation. A critical juncture which can be laid at the feet of doctors, pharmaceutical companies, illegal drug cartels, and the demands of both casual and addicted users.

Anytime huge sums of money are involved, we should expect to see how truth and honesty suffer accordingly, as if millions -- even billions -- of dollars were the disease, while the afflicted patient might be represented by Hippocratic integrity -- a kind of medical patriotism that is swayed neither by money nor corruption.


9) Yes, people can die from measles. Even a dummy like me knows that. However, the risk of dying from measles is so small, it's almost laughable. This is when sanctimommy tosses her perfect hair and flashes her glistening white teeth in what I'm supposed to take as a smile but is really just an excuse to bare her fangs and reminds me that the risk is small because of herd immunity.

I'm unsure how to reply to the paragraph above. Other than to react with my own understanding that community immunity is a good thing, especially when it involves the widespread use of vaccinations?

Really? I'm curious, then, how Loyola College in 2013, Fordham University in 2014, and Harvard in 2016 all had measles outbreaks when all students who attend were required to have vaccines? These colleges claim 100% vaccination rates and yet, their "herd immunity" wasn't worth poo.

I suppose, were I to make a guess, that just as vaccines can harm a person, if you're one of the few whom the inoculation does severe damage, then it may well be equally true that for a small number of others, a given vaccine has a neutral effect, i.e. results that are neither harmful nor beneficial -- "carriers" perhaps, who can infect others. Another choice might be the "cooking" of the books, so to speak, meaning results that are purposely skewed such that they reflect the biases of those in control of monitoring statistics. I, for one, believe such is the case with respect to the debate over Global Warming.

I mean, I could see how an unvaccinated idiot could have sneezed measles onto one of those college kids and infected him or her but after that, shouldn't the rest of the studious students have been protected by their herd immunity?

It's impossible to defeat your logic, unless the evaluations of testing, procedures, and infection results were completely transparent. Which, I suspect, they are not, currently.

I get that parents want to protect their kids. That's what I'm trying to do by allowing my children to build up their own immunities. Not to mention that I can't tell if one of my kids will have a reaction to one of the vaccines until they have it injected into their system.

Yeah, what could possibly go wrong with that program? *Whistle*

Doctors routinely stick our babies for a full year without knowing if they've got an autoimmune issue that will adversely affect their health later in life. Even when a baby or child has a reaction that could be deemed dangerous, it's shrugged off by the medical community.

Once again, I'm not shocked by the reality that we all play numbers games throughout all of our daily routines. Every time we drive our cars, fly in a plane, go for a walk in the park, or send our kids to school. I could never judge someone for deciding that the odds are unacceptable regardless of to what degree those odds might be in their favor. To repeat, those huge odds dwindle to zero when it's our child who suffers.

I suppose we need to maintain the democratic freedom to reject certain medical interventions, the same as we might also choose to accept them. The only exceptions being parents who, for purely religious reasons, refuse blood transfusions for their seriously ill children. And even then, the rule is hardly etched in cement.


I used to frequent a site for moms and while I visited there, I read many posts from mothers who said their newly vaccinated baby or child had a "high fever" or "knots at the injection site" or even seizures. And yet, instead of alerting the parents to the fact that these were adverse reactions and should be reported, they were virtually patted on the hand and told that everything was "normal" and "fine". Why? Because the pharmaceutical companies can't let it be known that their vaccines are dangerous, so they continue to downplay the "adverse reactions" so they can continue making the almighty dollar!

Yup. Not only a numbers game, but one played for the highest of stakes as well. Definitely a "bottom-line" situation whereby a somewhat arbitrary number of lives are willingly sacrificed in the name of "keeping costs down", or keeping "care and treatment" costs affordable. The whole business is rationalized via comparisons to American life prior to the advent of vaccines. Not all that different from how Pro-Choice advocates like to discuss how, prior to Roe v. Wade, dark alleys were filled with youngsters seeking out backyard abortionists.

I've had mothers, through the anonymity of the internet, threaten to kick my ass if my unvaccinated children come near their precious snowflakes, all while laughing as they share how they stuff little Johnny or Jane full of addictive sugar (10) and mind-altering food dyes(11). I've had them wax poetic on how vaccinations should be required before children are allowed into public libraries or grocery stores, but then scream when their "rights" are violated.

Not only do we presently think in terms of Herd Immunity, but in "herd mentality" as well. Otherwise known as group-think. Or mob fanaticism, if you like. Woe unto those who speak-up about uncomfortable truths. Arguments that frighten the sheep for fear they themselves have been deceived by the very people who're supposed to protect them. Such deceptions have grown to become commonplace in American life, wherein we're willing to gamble away our futures -- those of our progeny also -- based upon an unquestioning belief in bureaucratic dictates.

And yet, I'm the ding-dong because I don't treat my doctors like they're god-incarnate. I'm the idiot because I don't kow-tow to the fear of diseases that basically died out when our hygiene habits improved (12). I'm the unintelligent one that researches all the angles of vaccination, rather than blindly believing and following the word of a rich and greedy company claiming to know what's best for my family.

I recall hearing or reading about how, while we may vaccinate kids against the worst of diseases, our overprotective attitude as regards sheltering children from most other hazards, results in their increased vulnerability to a host of additional problems. Put another way, when we prevent kids from getting dirty, even filthy while playing with friends, or from getting minor infections from cuts and scratches, they do not develop the antibodies necessary for good health as an adult. Children should be allowed to catch the sniffles from other kids, to leave their spit on others, and be spat upon in kind.

Though still a way of life for many kids, who still play sports and suffer minor injuries, modern medicine is fast producing generations of others who, like the Martians in H.G. Wells War of the Worlds, fall dead from the mildest case of cold or flu.


If that makes me stupid in your eyes, then so be it.

Amen.

----------------------------------------------------

Hi, again, Genipher, just a few last words about your well conceived essay on both the real and possible perils of vaccinations.

Obviously this is a situation near and dear to my own heart (maybe a little brain as well). That said, I haven't paid enough attention, perhaps, to some basic grammar issues that are sprinkled here and there throughout your work. Overall, the piece is excellent. Though, like I said earlier on, you're just a tad heavy-handed, so to speak, on playing the role of reverse psychology -- whereby it's you who has the problems. *Smile*

So much of the content here cried out for some relatively objective responses, however, that I couldn't resist the impulse to express my own ideas. Not so much to show how smart I think I am, but far more to provide some balance and insight, as seen through the eyes of a total stranger.

Thanks for letting me go for an interesting walk among some of your cares and concerns.

Bob *Smile*














*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
5
5
In affiliation with The 4 Controversies Contest GR...  
Rated: E | (4.0)
Hello, QOIB, (I'm too lazy to spell out your whole handle) *Smile*

My name is Bob, and I will attempt to review your fine essay, WWTETTH?

As a guest judge for The Four Controversies Contest, this will be both an interesting exercise on my part, and a challenging one also. As a card-carrying (so to speak) agnostic when it comes to religious matters, I am in no position to debate any of the purely academic issues you discuss so skillfully. You appear to be quite the scholar, which is praiseworthy in and of itself, and regardless of my own views on the subject, I applaud both your religious acumen and your obvious mastery of the English language. Bravo, my friend.

My only criticism, were I to make one, would be the narrow scope of your submission. By that, I refer to how your essay is aimed entirely at a readership who is already aware of the controversial circumstances to which you make reference. Had I my druthers, I should suggest that you write about things in such a way, that those of us who are religious neophytes might follow along in our comprehension of this particular work.

I understand, as well, that the length of your entry would necessarily need to be considerably lengthier, were you to allow the rest of us nonscholastic types in on what this is all about; thus I shan't fault you for your brevity. *BigSmile* I am, however, reducing your score from five stars to four, based almost solely on your essay's preaching-to-the-choir, as they say. Meaning, of course, that you've restricted so many would-be reviewers from commenting on subject matter about which they know little or nothing. Like me, for instance. *Whistle*

I do, though, have a few structural, style-related comments to make about your submission, in terms of how academic, investigative and/or explorative pieces such as this, might be better served by changing the tone and tenor of the writing itself.

People who enjoy literary discourses about serious topics, will generally expect to have such presentations delivered to them in an equally serious manner. While I appreciate the casual, informal style you've chosen, I think it detracts from the overall content of the work. I'll make note of this further along, but once again, I'm purposely being picayune based on my focus on structure alone -- leaving an evaluation of content to those more knowledgeable than moi. *BigSmile*

That said, let's see if I can find an example or two of what I'm talking about:

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When I encounter a controversial issue in the Bible, I put my drive into high gear and do an in-depth study for my own personal satisfaction.

In the sentence(s) above and below, I'm bolding any I think could (or should) be changed for clarity purposes. A better choice might be:

I shifted my brain into high gear (note how the vehicle connotation is now smooth and crystal clear)

One such issue presented itself when our Bible Study coordinator introduced The Epistle to the Hebrews for our point of focus during the current session.

Specific references such as, The Epistle to the Hebrews, should be italicized. Note also that point-of-focus acts as a single noun, which is why the hyphens are needed.

A provocative question was asked by the coordinator, as to who wrote this epistle addressed to the Hebrews. No need to use direct quotes, which only distract. Always keep an eye on how to write as clearly as possible, with as few words as possible.

In my previous readings, I always believed that Apostle Paul was the author and I asserted this belief. To my bewilderment, the coordinator did not agree with my observation, stating flatly that the author was unknown.

Yes, I am aware that this disagreement exists but I need to revisit this issue one more time to see for myself if I can be swayed otherwise.

In the sentence above, the tone seems to be disjointed. Maybe a better choice might be:

I am aware that this disagreement exists among Biblical scholars, but I chose to revisit this issue one more time, to see for myself if I could be swayed otherwise.

First, let me restate the reasoning of some scholars and theologians why they cannot give anyone credit of authorship; much less, Apostle Paul, based on the following presumption:

1) According to C.I. Scofield, Editor of The Scofield Bible Study, the Letter to the Hebrews is an anonymous book. Its authorship has been debated since post-apostolic days. In certain passages, its language is like Paul’s and, because of the personal reference to Timothy in 13:23, some scholars have attributed the letter to Paul. But, that’s where they leave it hanging in limbo. Maybe yes, maybe no. Nothing definite came out of it.

First, allow me to restate the reasoning of some academics and theologians, as to why they cannot grant authorship to any one person in particular -- let alone the Apostle, Paul. The dispute is based on the following presumption:

1) According to C.I. Scofield, editor of The Scofield Bible Study, the Letter to the Hebrews is an anonymous Book. Its penning has been debated since post-apostolic times. In certain passages, the language is akin to Paul’s and, because of the personal reference to Timothy in 13:23, some scholars do attribute the letter to Paul. However, they leave their assumptions unsubstantiated and suspended in limbo. Maybe fact; maybe not. Thus nothing definitive ever came of such assertions.


As an aside, C. I. Scofield believes that Hebrews is a part of Holy Scripture that, nonetheless, speaks with Divine authority. Despite the fact that no true authorship can be ascertained. He also notes that the Letter was composed before the destruction of Jerusalem; whereby evidence prevails that the Temple was still standing when Hebrews was written.

2) The salutation in Hebrews differs considerably from the salutations Apostle Paul used in all his other letters. Such letters are addressed to the Romans, the Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Thessalonians, Timothy, Titus and Philemon. In these letters, his salutations almost always mention Timothy referring to Timothy as his fellow worker, his faithful brother in Christ, his true child in the faith. Therefore, the naysayers contend, why exclude Timothy in his salutation to the Hebrews? The question then is: Does not mentioning Timothy in the salutation negate his authorship?

We need to look into that issue to see the intent of the writer.


In the sentence immediately above, We need to look into that issue to see the intent of the writer., "We need" is another example of inappropriate familiarity that is better stated as follows: "One needs to look . . ." or "It is necessary to look . . ."

I'm going to end my review at this point because I think you will have gotten the gist, by now, of what I'm trying to explain about style and tone. I assume you write in the same way when penning your memoirs which, by the way, is totally acceptable. Thus my critiques here pertain only to intellectual, more academic essays -- whether about science, the arts, or especially religion.

I hope my nudging you in a slightly more vocabulary-rich approach to most things, is both interesting and helpful. Keep up the great writing; you're a natural, as they say. *Smile*

Be well,

Bob





*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
6
6
Review of I am Weird  
In affiliation with The 4 Controversies Contest GR...  
Rated: ASR | (4.5)
Hello, Alex,

My name is Bob, and I'll be guest-judging your entry in Adrie's (whata's) Four-Controversies contest. I've never reviewed someone who lives in the PRC, and one of the things I like most about WDC is the opportunity the site grants to us, in terms of corresponding with folks from around the world. To name but one of many such opportunities.

I'm also glad that you're weird. That makes two us. Or, as one might also conclude, you and I are not the weird ones, but rather the rest of the world is. *Smile*

My forte is typically reviewing fiction prose, but I like to venture into poetic territories from time to time. And since I'm a big believer in animal rights, I couldn't resist the draw of this particular piece.

Because there is virtually no use of grammar or punctuation in this type of poetry, my review will be focused primarily on the message you wished to convey via this specific medium.

As an interesting albeit brief aside, my perspective as a so-called Westerner leads me to ponder the topic of animal rights in a country like China. A nation where a number of animals that we, in America, regard as "pets", are routinely eaten as food. I must confess to a certain ignorance as to the veracity of such a claim, but you might understand my curiosity with respect to the idea that these same westernized breeds have rights in the U.S.; rights that are seemingly denied to them in many other countries.

That said, Americans adopt a hypocritical, almost schizophrenic attitude towards the animals they themselves enjoy as food. For example, cows and pigs. Talk about weird, many people in my country will raise cows and pigs as pets, only to sell them to slaughterhouses later on.

But I digress. *Smile* I'll read your poem now and get back to you at the end. Thanks.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I am Weird

Vegetarian is weird
Vegetarian not I (versus "not me"? You might be right)
I love meat
I love steak
Steak tastes good
Steak nice and juicy
Juicy and bloody
Juicy and dead
Dead cows
Dead animals
Animals born
Animals live
Live with parents
Live on a farm
Farm raises food
Farm sells livestock
Livestock goes away
Livestock goes to slaughterhouse
Slaughterhouse stuns
Slaughterhouse cuts
Cuts the throat
Cuts the vein
Vein opens
Vein has blood
Blood flows
Blood leaves body
Body dead
Body sold
Sold in stores
Sold and cooked
Cooked and served
Cooked while you think
Think of meals
Think of dead
Dead not happy
Dead not healthy
Healthy food
Healthy vegetables
Vegetables fresh
Fresh fruit
Fresh and sweet
Sweet people love animals
Sweet people are vegetarians
Vegetarians are friendly
Vegetarians are weird
Weird is okay
Weird is kind
Why not be
Weird

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Wow, I thought this was exceptionally good, Alex. In the U.S., we often attribute "dead" people (dead things) to being "zombies". An obvious effect of "Hollywood" on the mentality of many Americans. This one connotation, however, if derived from reading your poem, strengthens the power of the piece. Many will not make such a connection, but many will.

But I digress.

Although I eat meat (note how we add an "m" to eat and we get "meat" ) *BigSmile* I'd also be the first one to confess my own hypocrisy. Too many years of eating hamburgers and hot dogs. (not to be confused with "hot dogs") I'd have to go to China to get the real thing, maybe?)

I consider this poem to be, more or less, an homage to those who practice vegetarianism -- but do so for both moral and ethical reasons, as opposed to health reasons alone. That topic, in and of itself, represents a dichotomy (or schism) among vegetarians, whereby some do it only for health reasons, others for moral (animal rights) reasons, while others still for both reasons.

I have a weird idea for you to digest: China is heavy into the cloning of animals; a precursor, perhaps, to the cloning of humans -- as testified to by recent news of a cloned monkey. Or the first time a primate has been successfully cloned. Because agriculture demands huge swathes of land, and equal amounts of water, organic fertilizers, and soil preservation, an argument can be made that the raising and butchering of livestock is both more cost effective, and more environmentally friendly. The problem, of course, again a matter of violating animal rights.

The process of cloning, once perfected, could theoretically produce animals that are bred solely as a food commodity. But more so: cows and pigs, for example, that are born without brains and grown using only those autonomic brain functions necessary to maintain life. Such animals whose muscles are never used for walking, for instance, would possess extremely tender meat.

As you perhaps can see, there is a lot to make such an enterprise very inviting; animals without brains are in no need of rights, and could, in theory, be utterly immune to disease. Future vegetarians could eat meat that was healthy, and never came from a "conscious" animal.

A brave new world? Definitely.

Thanks for letting me review your great poem, Alex. Be well, my friend.

Bob



*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
7
7
In affiliation with The 4 Controversies Contest GR...  
Rated: E | (4.0)
Hello,

I am not, by any stretch, a Biblical scholar. Nor am I a professional scientist. I do enjoy, however, playing a kind of Devil's Advocate when it comes to matters of religious significance. I also have great respect for Christians and others, who take their faith seriously. If I were a Christian, though, I could think of many topics more important than an argument for or against the story of Adam and Eve.

Please note, also, that I'm obviously more concerned -- in my review -- with content instead of grammatical structure, style, or punctuation. The topic is such, that it cries out for some much needed clarification.

The writing itself, while not great, is not all that bad, either. On the contrary, were I to critique the actual text, by itself, I would say that its form is appropriate to writing this sort of opinion piece.

By the way, my aim here is not to dissuade you from your faith, or to show how I'm right and you're wrong. Rather, it's more of an attempt to illustrate the following two principles:

1) You can never prove a negative. This means that anyone could say anything about whatever, and then ask others to disprove their assertion. Much better is the idea that we should always strive to prove something is true -- an axiom best explained by the quote: "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof." Therefore if someone were to advance the notion that humans evolved from frogs, we'd be right to in expect some kind of sensational, unequivocal explanation.

2) When it comes to discourses that deal with tenets of faith, try to avoid even friendly arguments where "facts" are involved. Someone will always (and supposedly) have more facts than we do. Mixing soft articles of faith with hard and rigid facts is never a good idea. So I don't usually get involved with those sorts of conversations.

I made an exception in your particular case because Adam and Eve currently reside at the very bottom of nearly everyone's barrel of important religious issues. Especially true, given today's chaotic world. But because you invested time, thought, and research into the matter, I felt a similar need to present you with the dubious benefit of my own researches. *Smile*

Bob

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Adam & Eve – Seriously?!


Surely not?! Aren't they mythological, the remnants of some moral tale bequeathed to the Bible writers in the second century BCE? If the account in Genesis is mythological, as is the general perception, then the overwhelming evidence, in all fields of science, would expose it as false.

Wrong because you can't prove a negative! Proving something false versus proving it true. Nice try, but no stuffed teddy bear for you. If I say the moon is made out of cheese, then dare you to prove my assertion false, you might be the first to argue, "Hey, wait just a second!" And you'd be right to complain that I should be made to prove my declaration, rather than you having to prove the moon isn't made of cheese. Thus we need to reword your basic premise as follows:

If the account in Genesis is true, as opposed to the general perception, then the overwhelming evidence, in all fields of science, could prove it so.

Let me apply three tests to the story of Adam & Eve;

1) A statistical analysis, incorporating historical population data
2) A biological analysis, examining what biologists now know of the human genetic ancestry
3) A historical analysis, examining the available records of civilized humanity

STATISTICS

First of these Litmus tests is the statistical evidence available. Because human records only go back so far in history, it is necessary to extrapolate data from known quantities, and then project statistical conclusions.

We can start with the world demographic figures, which are generally accepted as accurate as is possible, when dealing with worldwide historical populations.

The current global population on earth is approximately 7.5 billion. We know, as near as possible, that the population of the world reached approximately one billion in the year 1800 CE. This represents a 700% increase in the space of 200 years. This rate of increase would be decreased the further back in time we go. It has been estimated that the global population in the first century was between 200 million and 300 million. When this is compared to the more recent figures, it becomes apparent that the population of the earth has only recently become significant, in the billion realm. In the ancient times, before the Christian era, the population would have been less than 200 million, reducing to a proportionate level as we count back in time. If we apply the proportionate growth rate, from statistics available, it soon becomes apparent that the population figure reduces significantly the further back in time we consider.

Okay, so far. *Smile*

The increase in population between the first century and the 18th was about 75%. Working on reducing totals as we go back in time, we would arrive at an approximate figure of 9% increase per century. Applying that to pre- historical history, we start to see a significant reduction in numbers between 0 BCE and 4,000 BCE.

Figures don't lie, but believers sure can figure.

Although it is not possible to project an actual figure of population in ancient times, it is clearly demonstrated that the population numbers would have dwindled (in a reverse setting) to a mere few thousand within several millennia of history on earth.

If that many. Your computations fail to reckonize that many different species of early hominids went extinct at one time or another. Only by a quirk of fate did the one, homo sapiens, survive to present day. Even then, it is postulated that as few as eight individuals may have been solely responsible for recovery of this particular species.

If we divide a whole number, we reach a smaller number. We can keep applying this mathematical principle to populations until we reach a certain impasse point. Did the human race start with multitudes, or one, or two? Numbers will regress until they become negative. Since human (or any other biological life) can not become a negative, we can assume that there was a point where the human species started at a handful, or one or two. What these statistics do confirm is that intelligent, civilized human beings cannot have existed for hundreds of thousands of years but, in fact, only a few thousand.

"Hey, wait a second!" Again, a sneaky effort, but no balloons. *Smile* A handful, perhaps, of mating individuals. The level of subsequent incest was acceptable because the small number who composed such a "group" (whose earlier numbers had been much larger) still represented a rich genetic pool from which all future offspring could prosper.

Yet doesn't this data contradict what we know from the fossil record, that modern humans are the product of a series of adaptations to primitive creatures - Primates?

Nope. Your whole premise here, of how evolution works, is deeply flawed. Here's why:

Modern humans are not adaptations derived from primitive creatures. Nor did humans necessarily evolve from primates. Chimps and Gorillas evolved from primates. Modern humans likely evolved from the rodent family, tree shrews in particular. For example, chimps and gorillas are "knuckle-walkers", meaning their hands are limited in terms of dexterity. Whereas shrews and other like members of the rodent family, such as raccoons, possess very dexterous hands -- nearly identical to those of homo sapiens. By the way, in nature there is no such thing as "primitive". All successful species represent highly advanced forms, each of them unique to a given niche or environment.

An extensive study of fossil history was undertaken by the “Geological Society of London” and the “Palaeontological Association of England”. Professor of natural science John N. Moore reported on the results: “Some 120 scientists, all specialists, prepared 30 chapters in a monumental work of over 800 pages to present the fossil record for plants and animals divided into about 2,500 groups. ... Each major form or kind of plant and animal is shown to have a separate and distinct history from all the other forms or kinds! Groups of both plants and animals appear suddenly in the fossil record. ... Whales, bats, horses, primates, elephants, hares, squirrels, etc., all are as distinct at their first appearance as they are now. There is not a trace of a common ancestor, much less a link with any reptile, the supposed progenitor.” Moore added: “No transitional forms have been found in the fossil record very probably because no transitional forms exist in fossil stage at all. Very likely, transitions between animal kinds and/or transitions between plant kinds have never occurred.”

This is where we have to agree to disagree. So many transitional fossils have now been found, that it will take decades of additional research to decipher the exact relationships of each. It is no coincidence, for example, that a multitude of dinosaur fossils have been recovered, all of them bearing bird-like feathers of one sort or another -- mixed with more typical reptilian scales. Though long suspected, it is now considered factual that most birds are modern-day dinosaurs.

Zoologist Harold Coffin concluded: “If progressive evolution from simple to complex is correct, the ancestors of these full-blown living creatures in the Cambrian should be found; but they have not been found and scientists admit there is little prospect of their ever being found. On the basis of the facts alone, on the basis of what is actually found in the earth, the theory of a sudden creative act in which the major forms of life were established fits best.”

Not so fast there, Noah. Many so-called transitional species were just that -- transitional. In other words, there were likely far fewer of them, than the "end-result" animals which would have far outnumbered any transitional, intermediary breeds. Fossils are rare enough as is, left behind by large populations, than what we might expect to find of those who may have existed for only a brief span of generations. This area of research involves another, somewhat newer prediction for how evolution works. Called "punctuated equilibrium", it is the belief (now accepted as fact) that not only do some species evolve over millions of years, but that others -- through relatively sudden, mutational "jumps" -- literally leap from one related form to another, minus any transitional period in-between.

Dr. John Rosholt of Miami University, working with Dr. Cesare Emiliani, worked out an age prospectus based on minuscule amounts of uranium which have settled to the bottom of the seas as proactinium 231 and thorium 230. Uranium requires thousands of years to decay, and, by testing amounts found in sediment on the ocean floor, the so called warm period of the earth can be determined. Their tests show that, if man came from the sea as a two-legged fish, or as an ape, it took place 95,000 years ago. The time is too short for the fish (or ape) to have evolved into a two-legged man with a will of his own and the ability to impart knowledge to his young. In the universe, 95,000 years is nothing.

Just as we ought not take as gospel the research offered by only a few, or any one group of scientsts, so ought we not ignore or fail to seek the arguments offered by opposing points of view. Nor their statistics.

BIOLOGY

“Science now corroborates what most great religions have long been preaching: Human beings of all races are ... descended from the same first man.”—Heredity in Humans (Philadelphia and New York, 1972), Amram Scheinfeld.

Close but no cigar, as they used to say. In actuality, science now corroborates the notion that we all descended from the same first woman. I think her fossil name is "Lucy". We need to remember, however, that no one person, either today or during some prehistoric yesteryear, fostered an entire species all by themselves. Certainly no human did the deed. Reason being that our common ancestors were hardly human; more of a bipedal tree shrew than man or woman.

Thus it is plain to see why these two schools of thought, namely yours and mine, can never coalesce as a mutually acceptable Story of Our Beginning. The best we can hope for, I suspect, is an arrangement as exists between Jews and Christians, whereby each respects the other's beliefs, despite their little disagreement over whether Jesus was divine or not.


The World Book Encyclopedia says: “Scientists state that cells which make up the human body are the same for all people. . . In the same way, a biologist can tell human blood from that of lower animals. But all the many types of human blood can be found among all the stocks and races of mankind.”

“The Bible story of Adam and Eve, father and mother of the whole human race, told centuries ago the same truth that science has shown today: that all the peoples of the earth are a single family and have a common origin.”—The Races of Mankind (New York, 1978), Ruth Benedict and Gene Weltfish.

It is odd how we find ourselves in happy agreement as regards the statement directly above. The only discrepancies being both the age of our collective parents, and the idea that, at the time, these folks were far from being human. Humanity in all its forms, would follow long after these upright animals, part rodent, part primate, fell out of their trees.

The book Nanomedicine states that the human body is made up of 41 chemical elements. These basic elements—carbon, iron, oxygen, and others—are all present in the “dust” of the earth. Thus, as Genesis states, humans truly are formed “Out of dust from the ground.”

I feel fairly certain that animal droppings contain these same magical 41 elements -- and in greater number. Just a guess.

What of the description in Genesis that Eve was created from Adam’s rib?

In January 2008, scientists in California, U.S.A., produced the world’s first mature cloned human embryos from adult skin cells. The same has been done with animals, to the extent that scientists managed to clone a sheep. If human intellect can manipulate biology to achieve such astounding feats, why is it not credible for the designer of life itself to replicate a human from the DNA of another human? Interestingly, surgeons routinely use the rib in reconstructive surgery because of its ability to regrow and replace itself. No other bone in the body has this property. This is why men and women have the same number of ribs. Was the writer of Genesis simply very lucky to choose the rib as the building material for the first woman? Or was he given this information by someone who knew?

If any one thing in life is true, it's the understanding that we are immersed among a lifelong series of coincidences. Some of them nothing short of amazing -- or daunting. Since we cannot prove that the rib connection was indeed just a coincidence, neither can we disprove that it wasn't. Another example of why we need to prove things true, rather than untrue.

In recent years, scientists have researched human genes extensively. By comparing human genetic patterns around the earth, they found clear evidence that all humans have a common ancestor, a source of the DNA of all people who have ever lived, including each of us. In 1988, Newsweek magazine presented those findings in a report entitled “The Search for Adam and Eve.” Those studies were based on a type of mitochondrial DNA, genetic material passed on only by the female. Reports in 1995 about research on male DNA point to the same conclusion—that “There was an ancestral ‘Adam,’ whose genetic material on the [Y] chromosome is common to every man now on earth,” as Time magazine put it.

While I lack the expertise to comment one way or another, it does make sense to me that a common ancestor(s) would have left their mark on modern humans. Regardless of whether that ancestor was woman, man, or an anthropoid raccoon.

HISTORY

Language and writing are peculiar and distinctly human. There are no “Primitive” languages or texts. Neither do animals have language and syntax.

Hey, just you wait a darn minute! You've really jumped the tracks on this one. Okay, writing is distinctly human, but language is a shared ability, whether among insects, reptiles, fish, and mammals, both on land and in the water. Just because a whale can't speak humanese, it's also true that humans can't speak cetacean, either.

Professor of Anthropology and Linguistics G. L. Trager says: “Historical knowledge about existing languages goes back only a few thousand years.”

Did language really start with simple grunts and barks? An article in Science Illustrated of July 1948 stated: “Older forms of the languages known today were far more difficult than their modern descendants ... man appears not to have begun with a simple speech, and gradually made it more complex, but rather to have gotten hold of a tremendously knotty speech somewhere in the unrecorded past, and gradually simplified it to the modern form.”

I'd have to see the proof on this one.

Linguist Dr. Mason also points out that “The idea that ‘savages’ speak in a series of grunts, and are unable to express many ‘civilized’ concepts, is very wrong.” He adds that “Many of the languages of non-literate peoples are far more complex than modern European ones.”—Science News Letter, September 3, 1955.

Maybe the language of North American bees is more complex than their European cousins?

On the origin of language, lexicographer Ludwig Koehler wrote: “There has been, especially in former times, much speculation as to how human speech ‘came into being.’ Writers strove to explore ‘animal language.’ For animals also are able to express audibly by sounds and groups of sounds their feelings and sensations, such as contentment, fear, emotion, anger, sexual desire and satisfaction in its fulfilment, and perhaps many other things. However manifold these [animal] expressions may be ... they lack concept and thought, the essential domain of human language.”

When you're the only ones building spaceships and planning a trip to Mars, I don't feel it's really necessary to argue how your concepts and thoughts are so much bigger and bolder, than those of a carrier pigeon trying to find its way home.

After showing how men can explore the physiological aspect of human speech, Koehler adds: “But what actually happens in speech, how the spark of perception kindles the spirit of the child, or of mankind generally, to become the spoken word, eludes our grasp. Human speech is a secret; it is a divine gift, a miracle.”

Given the rather large number of quasi-human species that went extinct, it may well have been a lack of genuine speech that ultimately did them in.

In contrast to ancient mythologies, Genesis points to a specific location in the Middle East, naming the four rivers which converged in Eden. Palaeontologists have since confirmed that mankind emanates from a starting point in the Middle East.

Oh, yeah? Go ahead and prove how that's not just one of those coincidence things.

The Bible statement, in Acts 17:26, that “[God] made out of one man every nation of men, to dwell upon the entire surface of the earth” is acknowledged by many scholars and scientists to be backed up by the facts. John Peter Lange wrote;

“The greatest naturalists have mostly declared themselves against the originality of different human races ... in regard to the alleged fruitfulness of sexual combinations among the various races, the proof of such fruitfulness is justly pronounced one of the strongest proofs of unity. ... The autochthonic theory [that living things (in this case humans) were formed or occurred in the places where they were found] cannot deny the fact that the origin of the various types of men points back to a common home in Asia.”

Or in Africa? I think Asia might have been too cold. Maybe they fled to Africa where rumor had it the weather was better. Note how I turn to humor when I don't have a good answer. *Smile*

And so, despite recurring accusations against the Biblical account of Adam and Eve by critics, science does lend serious credibility to their existence. In light of the above facts, it would be both unscientific and unreasonable to dismiss Adam and Eve as simple mythology. In fact, the evidence here presented strongly suggests that such characters are historical and factual. In conclusion, I can state;

Adam and Eve –Yes, Seriously!

Well, I'll give you this much: You certainly proved how it could be scientifically reasonable to suggest that Adam and Eve were more than mere mythology. Although you make your case, I believe it remains flawed as I've indicated.

In all seriousness, I also think it's the absolutism of your remarks that hurt your message the most. Where is it written that in order to worship the glory of God, or celebrate all He's created, we must accept Adam and Eve as a factual account of our humanly origin? Compared to our acceptance of Jesus as having died for our sins, or simply living a decent, Christian life, what difference might it make, in the light of things so much more important?

Thank you for your stimulating challenge, whereupon I walk away afterwards, confident that both of us remain unconvinced by the other. *Bigsmile*

Be well, and don't let stodgy old troublemakers like me slow you down. Not that you would.

Bob





*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
8
8
In affiliation with Showering Acts of Joy Group  
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
Hello, Sylvia Kennedy,

My name is Bob (not nearly as interesting as Sylvia Kennedy or Shirley Elizabeth Temple) and I found your poetry as part of my being nosy about people who are new here. Let me be among the first to welcome you to WDC, said the spider to the fly. Since most dangerous spiders are female, however, I'm not so sure who the real fly is -- but I digress. *BigSmile*

Your poetry has a distinctly unique quality about it. I looked at more than one, and you remain consistent throughout, which is a good thing. Stilted, jilted, compelling, chilling, minimalist, are some of the words that apply, I think. The way I mean them, by the way, each is intended as a compliment. *Smile* This is not to say, though, that there aren't gobs of mistakes, both small and not so small. *Sad* Most are trivial in that they are easily fixed or learned, so not to worry too much. Developing and refining your own writing style is every bit as important as any grammar and/or punctuation concerns.

I copied your whole poem down below. I hope you'll do a side-by-side comparison and take note of the many changes I made. Some of the misspellings are not up for negotiation, but other alterations can be very subjective. Most importantly, I want you to see how someone else views your poem, what works for them, as they say, and what doesn't. If you can polish and perfect your current style of writing, you will, in my opinion, offer readers something extraordinarily different, both powerful and dramatic, in the field of poetry. This was the first thing that caught my eye in regard to your work. I needed to see whether you're writing something of value, or just so much gobbledygook. *Whistle*

Please notice that I added an extra space between each of my newly created stanzas. I think this is needed when the risk of causing confusion outweighs the author's desire to "look" as unique as the words themselves. If your writing style is good, you don't need any extra frills to dress things up.

What at first glance appears to be a childlike innocence here (some of that consistency stuff I mentioned earlier) the real content of the poem is quite sophisticated. I totally loved the concept of "evil" souls returning to continue -- in new bodies -- the havoc their sadistic temperaments thrive upon.

Without knowing more about you, or whether my review makes any sense, I'll have to end things at this point. Once again, welcome, and I hope you learn to enjoy yourself here. This review notwithstanding *Whistle*

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I
could not remember
what
World War II
was all about
and since then

I
have been investigating
guilty
persons
involved in
Genocide Holocaust Extinction

Many people
are not aware that
other persons
assume a
person's
body
identity

And the
person
may or may not
possess any knowledge
of
who they were

A Nazi
is usually the
person
committing the Human Rights Crime Violation
of Genocide Ethnic Holocaust
of Complete Identity Extinction

These crimes
stem from
Hate Rage Enviousness

These persons'
purpose is to Hate and Rage
against anyone
they
desire

They propose to extinguish
any and all persons
who
attempt to stop
them

I
am Princess Shirley
Elizabeth Temple

I
did not know that
certain persons
were involved
in
Hate Rage Crimes

I
became emotionally involved
with a
person who
perpetrated
World War II

I
must stop
using
his name
and

I
had to tell that
person

I
would rather join
with World War II
Jewish persons
and

I
had to tell that
person who
is guilty of Hate Rage Crimes
of
Genocide Ethnic Holocaust
of Complete Identity Extinction

Good-bye

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

So SKH, I think the poem is now naked with its bones exposed. You can now position those bones however you wish, however you think expresses your intent the best. I simply wanted you to see what I saw, and then go from there. Once again, please note the capitalizations I used, and some of the spelling changes. I also felt you meant World War II and not I.

Make of my review what you will, and thanks for letting me say hello. *Smile*

Bob
9
9
Review of Ghost Girl  
In affiliation with Showering Acts of Joy Group  
Rated: 13+ | (3.5)
Hello, Hitler,

Never thought I'd see myself write that, but here I am. As an odd coincidence, another author here, just joined, is Mistress Kandle Hitler who uses the handle, Mistress Kandle Hitler. I think you and she are the only members who share the dubious distinction of using Hitler as part of your name *BigSmile*

But I digress. Who the heck am I, and why did I send you a highly edited version of your original work, Ghost Girl, as part of your review?

Firstly, my name is Bob and I've been banging around WDC for a while now. Whenever I come across, usually by accident, a piece of work that strikes me as interesting -- for one reason or another -- I enjoy contacting the writer and showing them my opinions of how to improve their composition. Despite your need for improvement in some areas (who doesn't?) I think you're on to something here, in terms of your story and your writing. Thus my rewrite below is not intended to be a one and only example of how your story should be written, but rather an exploration of one of the many different ways in which this piece might be worded.

You'll notice immediately that I switched the two main paragraphs, putting the last first, then the first, last. Although this reflects my highly subjective idea of an improvement in dramatic effect, no rule says it ought to be written one way or the other. Please take time, if you don't mind, to review my many changes in the story, all of which make for a more pleasurable reading experience. Note how word order, structure, and some increases in the amount of detail offered to the reader, allows us to enjoy a high-calorie meal, so to speak, instead of an undressed salad sitting in a plain bowl *Smile*

In closing, I think the rework of your story speaks for itself. If possible, do a side-by-side comparison of your original version, versus my rewrite. Give attention to everything, from spelling to grammar. But especially an enrichment of content. I thought about suggesting you give the girl a name, then realized her anonymity is one of the strong points of the tale.

See what you think, and should you have any comments or questions, please don't hesitate to make one or the other or both. *Whistle*

Bob

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Ghost Girl


It was toward the end of fall when the lakes started to freeze over. The girl, a high school teen, decided that the night would definitely be cold enough for this particular lake to become one giant ice cube.

She figured out how she'd do it; she'd simply jump in and not try to get out.

The teen kept her head just above the numbing water, struggling to stay awake -- just long enough for her body to shut down from the cold. She didn't wait long as the lake froze first around her neck, then crystallized around the rest of her submerged and lifeless limbs.

The town was unable to cut her free until the spring thaw. They said they couldn't. Not without mutilating her body. Some imagined -- and fearfully so -- that she was now part of the lake, haunting it forever.

*** (this hiatus indicates a change in our point of view)


The girl had always been a freak, a nobody. Few of her schoolmates even knew her name. The only way others recognized her was from the blood-red lipstick she wore. The one single thing people really knew about her was how she lacked any family. Outside of the agency women who had enrolled her in meaningless classes.

The teenager had once lived in Alaska. She was already in high school at the time, and about to graduate. During her stay there, however, even the teachers had overlooked her, as though she'd always been invisible.

Here at her new school, the third or fourth -- she couldn't remember how many there had been -- her fellow students had taunted her, bullied her while they pretended she was a ghost. She felt unseeable, like she really was a ghost. That's when she first got the idea.

Shouting "boo's" at her, the others faked having chills as they passed her in the hallways. Still others bumped into her, as though they hadn't seen her -- which of course they had.

The Ghost Girl decided she'd had enough. She was going to bring all of this to a end. She'd live up to the name they'd given her.

The freezing, nighttime air outside felt perfect.
10
10
In affiliation with The 4 Controversies Contest GR...  
Rated: ASR | (4.0)
Hello, DRIG aka flamebreather,

My name is Bob and I'm reviewing (and guest judging) your entry into Adrie's (whata) Four Controversies contest.

I've found that when doing reviews of longer works, it's easier for me to read the whole article, first, then tackle one paragraph at a time. Similar to annotation, the method allows me to render a more comprehensive critique of the material, plus a chance to sound like I know what I'm talking about. *Whistle*

So here goes nothing, as the old saying goes,

Leftover Women

In today's world, our society has more and more women choosing to stay single. Additionally, a new "phenomenon" of sorts amongst these women has emerged- the subcategory of single women in their thirties. Many people also refer to these ladies as "leftover women," but I believe that attaching such a label to these women as "leftover" is not only wrong, but also outdated.

From here on, I'll just refer to you as FB, OK? OKay. The first thought that came to mind, FB, after reading your very well written composition, is how parochial the whole thing is. Though you don't mention America by name, we can only assume that your assertions and accusations are descriptions of western societies and values. With a focus on either America, Britain, including Australia, based on past and current residencies. Although I may make mention of the fact later on in my review, it's critically important to let your readers know exactly what countries or regions of the world that your essay makes reference. It's a big world out there, and the disparities among different countries are huge -- as to how, not only women are treated, but men and children as well. Especially in regard to a wide range of religious faiths.

If the purpose of your article is to suggest that, overall, it's a man's world, meaning that male dominated societies and cultures are a global phenomenon, then once again, I think you tiptoe too lightly around the idea that male oppression and repression [of women] forms the real basis of your otherwise fine essay. Hey, how's that for a one, long, sentence? *Smile*

Male superiority is so inculcated in the vast majority of cultures and countries, that a new paradigm will be necessary in order to truly equalize the sexes. Speaking only of westernized nations, the 'shift' in question, has found its roots in mostly democratic societies, primarily Britain, Australia, Israel, and most prominent of all, of course, America. With the advent of the once-marginalized LGBT community, gender identity itself is rapidly changing the social landscape of what is considered normal and aberrant. In the politically correct atmosphere of contemporary America, subjugation of older, unmarried women -- whether we call them 'leftover' or 'spinsterish' -- is quite literally morphing into a reversal, of sorts, whereby all women, regardless of age, marital status, or sexual preference, appear to be evolving into a near Amazonian collective of strong, intelligent, and truly liberated females.

Many women are aware that once they find a good job, if they get married and have kids, their chances of staying in the company are small, once they give birth. This can be either a personal or corporate decision. With that said, some females want to prevent this from happening, so they find a job and get the tenure and/or seniority they need, before deciding to settle down and start a family. Society also has females who just don't want to want to marry, or have kids.

Unfortunately the paradigm I referred to earlier, is far from universal at this point. But the 'movement' is growing. A new enlightenment is educating men on how to treat women in accord with what one might call the 'Golden Rule' of gender coexistence. Many new laws have been passed in regard to on-the-job pregnancies, with more accommodations on the way.

The average age of a person's first marriage is steadily increasing. In 1960, women were 20 and men were 22 when they had their first marriage. In 1990, the ages raised to 26 for men and 23 for women before they married for the first time. In 2013, though, the average age had gone up to 29 for men and 27 for women. Even though these statistics still average under 30, research shows that women with a college degree who marry after the age of 30 make more money ($50,415) than if they were to marry in their 20s ($32,263), even with the same level of education. This is a 56% difference in wages; and as good a reason as any for a woman to wait until her 30s to marry, if she even wants to marry. With the average age of a person's first marriage steadily going up, and a large difference in pay rates between a single woman in her 20s and a single woman in her 30s, it is easy to see marrying early is not- and should not- be a societal norm to which women feel they must conform.

I love the statistics and other observations you delineate so well in the paragraph above. You make the case nicely, for why attitudes must change, especially as to how we -- men included -- perceive the subject of marriage as an institution.

Even in the media, there are celebrities who are in their 30s and unmarried. Queen Latifah, Venus Williams, and Amy Schumer are all single, and in their 30s. Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice also fits the description. Queen Latifah is a successful singer and actress; Venus Williams is a tennis player, and Amy Schumer is a comedian. Whether it be in Hollywood or in Congress, these women show that there is no need to have a husband in order to be successful today.

While artists rarely demonstrate where society is going, they do tend to indicate where we've been and where things stand 'in the moment'. In this respect, they act as excellent barometers of what direction the wind is blowing. *BigSmile*

I'm currently 21, single, and have never had a boyfriend. In the 1960s, I would already be married off to some guy. In the 1990s, I would be preparing for marriage. The fact that "single woman in her 30s" is even a thing shows the imbalanced nature of society. We believe in women's rights, and gender equality, yet an unmarried woman in her thirties is not someone a girl or young lady should aspire to be, while unmarried men in their thirties are lauded for their independence and ability to avoid the dramas of married life.

Aha! You've noticed the disparities, have you? Yup. No denial here. Thank goodness America is in flux at the moment, like a giant cocoon out of which a butterfly will, for a large segment of society, replace the carnivorous predator, that is the golden eagle. The bird is well suited for the armed services, but one might do well to question its relevance when representing the general population of noncombatants. Interestingly, Nazi Germany made no such distinction between the militarism of its armed forces, and citizen population centers. Thus its somewhat liberal agendas when celebrating female athletes, teachers, and soldiers.

One final comment before leaving this section:

As a septuagenarian with much experience when it comes to romance, both the worst and the best of what it has to offer, I've learned to be aware of at least one important distinction: The world is largely composed of people, both young and old, who are either in or out of love, for any number of reasons. This includes those who are romantically involved, in one way or another, with another person, regardless of gender, and others who are not so occupied with another, either because they've never been in love (yet), or been loved by another from afar. Unrequited love is perhaps the most painful of heartaches one might experience.

My point here is to make mention of the fact that when we're in love, are likewise loved by another, or we're preoccupied with someone who's become important to us, romantically speaking, that our view of the world, including our attitudes and the level of happiness we feel -- is far different from those persons who are not currently involved in a romantic relationship. This dichotomy cannot be overstated or emphasized enough. The intellectual detachment, FB, that permeates your otherwise insightful essay, illustrates my observation rather well, I think. Were you to meet 'Mr (or Ms) Right' tomorrow -- someone who fills your heart with an unfamiliar but powerful passion -- your view of the universe would change dramatically and for the better. By this I mean to say that all of us are schizophrenic to some extent. Each of us has another person lying dormant inside of us, who, once awakened, doesn't so much replace the former you, but instead enhances and enriches who we are. Lest there be any doubt as to how true my point is, consider the history of the world, and how great civilizations rose and fell, based solely on passionate love affairs.


This phrase, "leftover women," is wrong because using "leftover" implies that these unmarried females are only unmarried because no male wants to marry them. This assumption is untrue and misogynistic.

Well said, and I couldn't agree more.

If these women don't want to be married in the first place, can they even be considered as "leftover"? Dictionary.Com defines "leftover" as "being left or remaining, as an unused portion or amount." Women are not objects to be owned and used, and if these "leftover" women don't want to be married, how can they even be considered leftover, if they weren't part of the original portion to begin with? It's like picking a letter of the alphabet after being told to pick a number from 1-10.

Again, nicely put. If I might be permitted to repeat myself, however, all of your accurate observations become somewhat muted and moot, if and when love finds you, or you, it. That doesn't change or lessen the correctness of everything you have to say herein, which nonetheless still needs to be said, but the underlying 'coolness' or 'remoteness' of how you frame your arguments here, should become warmer, friendlier, more understanding of why men are such insensitive jerks, and how women, married or unmarried, can, and ought to, take control of their lives and enjoy the empowerment that is available, scant as it may be. Your essay is certainly one small step in that direction, and I applaud the effort.

For all the stigmas we find attached to these "leftover" single women, it is strange that we do not find the same attached to the single men. The phrase "leftover women" is also a little odd. Why do we only have "leftover women," and not "leftover men"? People usually think of a single lady in her thirties as solitary, sad, or on her way to being a crazed, single, old lady. However, when they think of a single man in his thirties, it paints a completely different picture. He's happy, going out with friends for a drink after work, or going to clubs to check out the ladies. Also, with friends. This is all normal for him. But what happens when you ask someone what a single lady in her thirties does in her free time? They'll answer with anything along the lines of housework, such as cooking or cleaning. Why is this? Why must women always remain domesticated in society's eyes, while the men go out into the workforce to support the family?

Just one example of the empowerment I mentioned above, are the so-called 'cougars' who have taken charge of their own happiness (or loneliness). As you may know, these are older women, usually thirtyish to sixtyish, divorced, though not always, who date (even marry) younger men. I make no personal judgment about such things, and use the notation for whatever it's worth. Otherwise, once more, your observations are spot on.

Domesticated women are a thing of the past. In the 60s, women aspired to a housewife and please the men, who were head of the house. However, since the 1960s, there have been multiple laws and policies passed so that women can aspire to be much more than a man's +1. From bosses to CEOs, women are more welcome in the corporate world, and the 56% difference in wages with age shows that.

This paragraph confused me. I didn't understand the '+1', nor the last sentence: From bosses to CEOs, women are more welcome in the corporate world, and the 56% difference in wages with age shows that.

The whole paragraph needs to be rewritten, more slowly and carefully. There's a real point to be made here, and it's lost because not enough time was taken to expand the concept(s) and deliver your ideas more clearly. Sometimes succinctness works against our best intentions. If you do a rewrite, please consider expanding this particular paragraph to twice (or more) its current length.
*Think*

Women do not need a man to be successful. "Leftover women" are a thing of the past. If women don't want to marry, they can't be "leftover," as they weren't part of the original whole in the first place. Even if these women did want to get married, they'd need to find a suitable partner first. And, for simplicity's sake, if every female each married a male, and the number of males and number of females in this world is about equal, the number of "leftover men" and in this world should be about equal to the number of "leftover women". And if this is the case, why, then, does society not stigmatize these thirty-something year old men as well?

Thankfully, American society is rapidly, I think, erasing the stigmatization to which you refer. Because your final paragraph seems to include the planet as a whole, however, I can't let your remarks stand without some additional clarification. To wit the horrendous and tragic manner in which women, the world over, are treated by non-democratic theocracies, i.e. Muslim countries, Hindi societies and so forth. It must be acknowledged how enlightened and awakened are the westernized nations in terms of how all of their citizens are cared for and addressed. Certainly with respect to the theocratic regimes to which I make mention.

It is not an exaggeration to say that the vast majority of women in the world, live under the austere rule of strictly male leaders and governments. In India, where women can be burned alive for bringing an insufficient dowry to a marriage, to almost any country (save Israel) in the Middle East, where women can be stoned to death for any number of petty reasons, where they're not allowed to drive a car, or walk the streets without an escort. And on and on it goes, through a whole litany of barbaric and medieval laws that govern and restrict the behavior of women. These are the same countries where gays and lesbians are thrown off of rooftops, to lie dead or dying in the dirt below. Where a woman who was raped, must have six witnesses who can corroborate her story.

Life in Britain, Australia, or America, doesn't sound quite that bad in light of most of the rest of the world. This doesn't excuse, of course, the last vestiges of chauvinism that still exists in these and other 'advanced' countries, but we're making progress, I think.

That's about enough out of me, and please let me conclude by saying how much I enjoyed your provocative and thoughtful essay. There are some minor grammatical issues, but for the most part, the composition is very well written. The only editing, if any, would be the broadening of the work, to include more detail and more comparative references among the many different cultures and societies around the globe. With an appropriate focus on America, for instance, where, via contrast with most other countries, we still retain lots of room for improvement. *Smile*


Thanks again for sharing your thoughts, FB. Well done, my friend. *BigSmile*

Bob






*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
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Review of Gone Away  
In affiliation with The 4 Controversies Contest GR...  
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
Hello, again, Julianna,

This is one excellent piece of work. You may have heard of the colloquial quip: shooting from the hip, which refers to speaking aimlessly. What I enjoy (if that's even the right word) about your essay is that it 'shoots from the heart', so to speak. And does so in its own delightfully aimless way.

By the way, this review is again in conjunction with your entry for Adrie's Four Controversies contest. But I digress.

More to the point, there is no satisfactory conclusion to your composition. The whole subject of suicide (including murder) is transcendental, abstract, impossible to understand because it represents two simultaneous realities, even two different dimensions, perhaps. Felo-de-se at one and the same time, is both an escape from one form of existence, into yet another. So we're inclined to believe. Thus its religious connotations and consequences. Even atheists, however, might be swayed by the idea of alternate realities, so-called multi-verses and the like. The real question that haunts us, is whether or not something lives within all of us that cannot be destroyed. It is a question that, minus one's spiritual faith in a hereafter, cannot be answered. Which is darkly humorous in its own right, in that faith itself implies belief without evidence.

I really liked your use of nicely spaced paragraphs. It makes for easy and fast reading and, given the subject matter, the easier and faster we get through it, the better. *Smile* My biggest complaint, which lessens the impact of your essay, are the many but minor grammatical errors that, like imperfections in a diamond, diminish the value of the thing. If you carefully reread, meaning self-edit the work, you'll find whole words missing in mid-sentence, punctuation that needs improvement, and so forth. In some cases, enough to warrant comment, the writing is too informal in that it makes sense inside your own head, but loses something in its translation to the page. Thus the inherent danger of using personal colloquial expressions which are likely lost on many of your readers; folks who are unfamiliar with a kind of slang, or will misread it to mean something other than what you intended. For example:

I'd not spoken to my grandfather but maybe a small paragraph my whole life.

I had to read the awkward sentence above a couple of times in order to understand your meaning. If readers have to reread sentences, it's like potholes in an otherwise smoothly paved road. When I got what you were getting at, I liked the style and it made total sense. But it slowed me down just a little, and I don't like being slowed down, even a little. *BigSmile*

To avoid even the slim possibility that a sentence may not make perfect sense, it's worth the extra effort to spell-it-out plainly and directly. For example:

I'd not spoken to my grandfather but maybe a small paragraph my whole life. (original)

In my whole life, I'd spoken very little to my grandfather; no more, maybe, than what would've made a small paragraph of words.

Not perfect, but I think you get the idea. The reading is clear, yet succinct as possible. When we use similes, it's critically important that our meaning is made crystal clear.

All that said, allow me to make perfectly clear, how well I believe this piece is written overall. And with some additional (and careful) self-editing, could be made just about perfect. We never want something to be totally perfect, because it's all downhill from there. *Whistle*

I want to make some additional comments below, in-between each paragraph. Annotations, if you will, where I can give you more of my astonishingly brilliant feedback. *Smile*

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Suicide isn't much of a controversy, but I'd like to share my opinions anyway. Most believe it is wrong. Those who are okay with it, don't voice their view as much because it is taboo. I know I haven't the right to say who does what with their life just as I wouldn't want another telling me how to conduct mine or that I shouldn't throw it away if I so chose. My purpose of writing this is to communicate with you why I don't think giving the ultimate away is the best solution to problems that could be resolved had feelings and thoughts been shared and worked through.

When my own niece, at age 30ish, intentionally overdosed on heroin, there was no one around, neither friend nor family. So she wrote a note in private and died accordingly. We had been friends for years, and it was obvious (to me) that she suffered some deep, internal turmoil. As you say, however, we're reluctant to just assume that this or that person is a suicide risk -- despite her history of drug abuse. One could argue that the reluctance to intervene in the woman's life, was little different than shooting her in the head ourselves.

Funny but not humorous, is that if she had suffered from a debilitating disease (or injury) that confined her to the hospital, her bedside would have rarely been unattended. At some point, we have to be responsible for our own life. Assuming, of course, that we're mentally capable of doing so. Suicidal thoughts and tendencies are no less an illness than cancer, yet such physical diseases are far more curable, so it would seem.

There is no certificate hanging on my wall stating I'm professional enough to rummage through the brain of anyone and diagnose what is ticking away up there. What I'm about to say is purely my thoughts and feelings on the matter. This is coming from someone who has thought a lot about the subject and has been close enough to it to be affected in an emotional way.

It's impossible, I suppose, to avoid being affected in a multitude of ways. Definitely frustrating, exasperating, even maddening as to what we (or someone else) could have done. Should have done. You illustrate this conundrum well in your essay.

My father's side of the family uses determination to rise above the undesirable aspects of life. Only, the determination is heavily tainted with judgment filtered through discrimination and control. I was disowned from the family for a while because I dare give birth to a biracial child. The father of my son is black. It didn't matter that he'd worked hard to go through school to save lives. His character was not taken into consideration. None of my father's family had even met him. His mere skin color was the deciding factor. Had he been Mexican, like the family assumed at first sight of my child, it seems I would have been teased but still been allowed to be a part of the clan. Eventually, I was once again accepted, but I could not be comfortable with them.

Only, the determination is heavily tainted with judgment filtered through discrimination and control. (your original)

Their (or that) determination, however, is heavily tainted with judgement filtered through discrimination and control.

Ha, you're giving away your age. I love that you're surrounded with children who you can educate and into whom you hopefully inculcate your own family's much wiser ways. It is so admirable that you rose above your father's (and family) dysfunctional views of life and living. In my opinion, being disowned by such people, parent or not, is a badge of honor. Without knowing you, I'm proud of you for escaping the kind of hell into which you were raised. I'd be interested in knowing what epiphany you experienced that, once had, changes your life from then on.

I certainly wasn't the only object of their harsh criticism. There were plenty of occasions with different members of the family, but I'll only share one. When my son was about four, my grandmother and I sat on the porch swing for a short visit. She told me in a matter-of-fact manner that 'they' weren't speaking to my aunt. They didn't like her boyfriend. I probed for what about him warranted such a response? My grandmother searched the sky looking for the answer. He was heavily tattooed was her reason. Was that the real one? Did she even know why?

Akin to a form of miraculous religious awakening, epiphanies represent the sole means by which we attain wisdom and insight into the nature of our existence. Even then, of course, we come to know how much we don't know. Your grandmother, bless her, is what we become when our lives have been devoid of enlightenment. I do, however, like your aunt.

Interestingly, there is a dark side to these things we call epiphanies. For example, Adolf Hitler had an epiphany, didn't he. And almost conquered the world as a result. May the force be with us.

I was already estranged from my paternal family, but after that, I don't think I saw any of them for quite some time. Maybe not at all; I can't remember. Who could live up to such standards? What kind of life would one have if it were dictated by another? If this is how I felt, how must the dictator feel?

I'd've said that you had no standards at all, to live up to. Maybe down to. Dictators, as you call them (I like the term) are typically sociopaths to one degree or another. There is no reasoning with such people. My own father, while not a sociopath to any extent, was the perfect negative role model for me as I grew up. The epiphany department was just waiting for the right time to hit me with what are nothing less than lightning bolts. Not always, but usually. Similar awakenings can come as a whisper in the dead of night, and forever change us.


About five years ago, I received the news that my father's dad had taken a gun and blown himself away. I'd not spoken to my grandfather but maybe a small paragraph my whole life. He was always a part of the setting, but he and I weren't friends. After learning about my granddad's demise, I rode my bike to work with feelings in-tact although my mind reeled with gruesome visuals. Why had he done it? Why? What made him take his life so violently? I shared what had happened with my boss. She asked if I wanted to go home, but there was no need for it. I didn't know grandpa any better than I knew the guy living across the street from me. However, this was my grandfather. This was my family even if I'd never considered my grandfather's welfare. I was more upset than I realized. Trying to concentrate on my job proved a challenge, and I started crying. This turned into balling. I went home. No one could give me the answer I desired most: why had he done it? I'd mulled over writing about suicide after that, but I didn't put my thoughts down.

At a bad time in my own life, I held suicidal thoughts and seriously considered the manner in which I'd accomplish the deed. Had I owned a gun at the time, I have little doubt that I'd be writing this review. Anyone who seriously wants to die, is faced with a decision as to the means of their demise. Some jump off ledges or cut their wrists. Not for me. I hate heights and a razor slicing skin had no appeal. Nope, a gun is the option of choice for one reason alone: its immediacy. And, of course, the relative painlessness of the act. Then again, as a veteran of Vietnam, I knew about pulling triggers. There's a poem at the very bottom of this review, that crept into my psyche and saved me in some inexplicable way.

On my mother's side of the family, depression is used to deal with stress and pitfalls. Each generation taught the next that when something doesn't go right the first thing to be felt is defeat. The situation has to be pushed through anyway; there is no choice. One feels overwhelmed like they alone are hefting huge blocks of stone to build a daunting pyramid they might not finish. They are tired, listless, and sad. If let go without learning how to tackle difficulty with enthusiasm and determination, they become like my mom's mom who had to "push all those buttons" on the microwave just to warm up a bite to eat.

You painted a colorful and meaningful picture with the above. Good Gawd, how fortunate you are to have survived your family on both sides. Lesser situations have defeated stronger people. So good for you. What doesn't kill you, as the saying goes, can make you a lot smarter as well as stronger.

My uncle was only three years older than I. It was hard to look at him as an uncle at times because he was so close to my own age. My sister called me this past Easter morning to let me know he'd passed away. My mind couldn't fathom it. He was my age, so young. Of course, the first question was, "How?" In the flash of seconds before my sister could answer I thought, heart attack? He was overweight and maybe not the healthiest guy. He had Crohn's Disease. Was that the culprit? I didn't really know anything about it, but I didn't think it was an instant killer. He'd taken his own life she'd told me. What? How could this be? This wasn't real to me. She couldn't answer why; she could only tell me that he'd purposely overdosed.

What more needs to be said about epiphanies? And the importance of leaving ourselves vulnerable enough to receive and accept them. Unless a note is left behind, most suicides are accidental. Especially in overdose cases. The only way we had of knowing my niece's death was intentional, is from her note saying so. Otherwise drug overdoses are sadly all-to-common, and unintended.

My uncle's actions had made existence surreal. It felt as if my soul had been sucked from me. I could see the sun shining, but it felt like I was shrouded in a black hole. I'd read a post the day after that the person writing it found out a family member had cancer over the weekend. I didn't respond. How could I? They were distraught and in shock, and I wouldn't dream of making that horrible experience seem as if it were nothing. But, I'd wished that was the news I'd received.

I'll bet your fiction writing is really good. You put a lot of that into this more clinical overview. The last line above is cryptic, and meant to be so. I'm not sure it works, but I like it.

For the first couple of days, I denied there was anything wrong with me. I knew how I felt, but I refused to acknowledge it. I had to work, and I couldn't do that properly if I broke down. It wouldn't be appropriate to take time off. He was in Florida and I in Ohio. It wasn't like I was directly involved with anything. It was my mother who was down there now without family. Oh, she had his boyfriend of 15 years, but she had none of us for support. That was her baby brother.

Too much in this one paragraph, I think. Thrown at us all at once. I feel like I got lost suddenly, in what you are talking about. I don't get the relationships here. Your mother was in Florida with her boyfriend of 15 years? Help!

It is my job every month to introduce a different employee to our clients in their newsletter. Before printing, I make sure I have the facts corrects. On the Tuesday after, my co-worker brought the little write-up I'd done back to me. There were circles, scribbles, insertions, and whole lines scratched out with blue ink. My small article had been reduced and rewritten by an amateur. She wasn't the author; I was.

Ooh, definitely in need of a rewrite here (above). I got physically dizzy just reading it. *FacePalm* In these kind of quick introductions, we can overly condense or compress our work, to the point where it's just confusing. Or we're left with feeling left out of what's happening. This could easily have been two paragraphs and should have been, in my never-to-be-humble opinion.

I said, "So, you're telling me how to write." It wasn't a question.

"Well, yes. This is my life."

One by one, she showed me her corrections. Just a few lines in, she read aloud part of what I'd written that she'd turned into a blue blob. "I don't know what that means," she said and started on the next.

I'd had enough.

"You write it," I said.

She looked at me blankly as if she didn't understand what I'd said.

"If you don't like what I have to say, then you write it."

"Well, I like the order you have it in-"

"No Evelyn; you don't get to use my words. You write it, but you are not allowed to use my words."

I was angry with the audacity of her thinking she could take something I created, change some of the words, and present it as her own. That was NOT going to happen. The tone of my voice was bitter. Even though she walked away seemingly unaffected, I felt like a pile of dung in a dark place. I had to face that I wasn't okay, and I took the next day off of work.

This all appears to have been an adversarial relationship from the get-go. Your response, of course, was every bit the equal of Evelyn's holier-than-thou attitude. But what a loser she appears to be. Up against someone who so rightfully yearns to be a winner. Which is redundant because you were already a winner going in.

When someone goes through with taking their life, it affects a great many people in a horrible, negative way. Those left behind have to deal with the crumbled aftermath while the one who has decided upon this violence gets to escape. I don't know what it's like on the other side of reality. I have an idea, but it's just that. Everyone has their own version. Some believe the person committing such an atrocity is going to hell, but the real hell is saved for those still here.

Provided that I don't have to clean up the physical aftermath, suicides leave me largely unaffected. Even those who were close family members. But that's me. I certainly understand your point, and believe it to be both accurate and authentic. Grief is hard to define. And if we feel little or no grief, then it's just another day, right?

For me, life after death is neither a religious question, nor does it carry along the baggage of sentimentality left over from the death itself. In my never-to-be-humble opinion, the afterlife is purely a matter of both scientific interest, and philosophical curiosity. The famous astrophysicist, Stephen Hawking, when asked about the existence of God, answered that he was less curious about whether God exists, and far more interested in why He does, if He does. These are profound questions that are written in a language for which we have no words or understanding. But we're learning.

There is a movie out called Thirteen Reasons Why. I haven't seen it, but I did read it years ago encouraged by my daughter. At the time, I read it as I would any other book. I'd had feelings while taking in the words, but had gone to the next book when I was done. I'm angry at the movie. I'm not mad at the author. Writers only record events whether real or imagined. But, I think that movie is damaging to those who don't understand their own minds and could be easily pushed in a suicidal direction out of revenge for those they feel have harmed them. I want to scream, "Don't give those bastards the power to dictate your decisions of life and death. Stand up; be proud of who you are. Talk to someone. Trust someone. Do not go down like a sniveling little victim. Fight for sanity. Fight for your right to happiness. Talk to someone until you find that person that listens. Someone is out there to help."

Two points to be made about the above. One is that we need to know what this book is about, in as few words as possible. The whole paragraph is wonderfully written, but lacks any real impact because we (I) never heard of the movie or the book. And I shouldn't have to, of course. So I scratched my head while seeing if I could figure the relevancy of both the theme of the book and your strong closing lines. Where, of course, I love every syllable. Hence the poem that I pasted into the bottom of this review.

Do I think suicide to appropriate? I suppose there are reasons for such actions, but in most cases it is a disaster. A flood, tornado, hurricane, or fire devastates our livelihood; but suicide destroys lives.

Do I think suicide to appropriate?

Julianna, what kind of sentence is that above? It looks a little like English, but it could also be
Czechoslovakian? *BigSmile* I won't badger you too much, because I think you wrote this in too much of a hurry. But it does serve to indicate what I did badger you about earlier on.

I do like where you were going in the short paragraph above. About floods, tornadoes, and so forth. Again, however, it's too much wisdom crammed into too small a space. Expand your thoughts there, and you'd have a closing that can blow us away. My first thought was that natural disasters destroy lives also. So what is it you're really wanting to convey? You grab hold of a great concept, but like a lizard shedding its tail, the wonderful point you make eludes us.

Here's my favorite poem that sums up, for me, a marvelous way to approach life in general, despite the routine setbacks and minor tragedies from which no one escapes. It's hard to imagine how dark must be the blackness of absolute hopelessness. A despair for which no remedy exists but the most obvious -- and permanent. As if death held out its own skeletal hand of hope, its own stairway to nirvana. There must surely be a difference between adults and younger or older teenagers who attempt suicide. I've known a few from both age groups, whereby success and failure are defined by their opposite meanings. If you haven't read this before, you'll love it. And if you have, it's always fun to read again.

Thanks for sharing your essay. The subject you chose to write about is certainly a huge and powerful theme that touches every aspect of life -- and death. Well done, my friend.

Bob


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DO NOT GO GENTLE INTO THAT GOOD NIGHT

Dylan Thomas, 1914 - 1953

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
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In affiliation with The 4 Controversies Contest GR...  
Rated: ASR | (4.5)
Hi, Colleen,

My name is Bob and I'm playing the role of BMOC (Big man on Campus) but make that of BMOWDC instead. Or put another way, I'll be guest judging this round of Adrie's (Whata) Four Controversies contest. Your entry is vastly interesting and provocative, well written for the most part, and a joy to read for someone like me. Meaning an unrepentant and incorrigible agnostic. Further yet, a person who all his life, has asked the same questions as yourself. I'm still asking, thus my eager desire to deconstruct your mostly delightful essay.

By deconstruct, I mean that annotation would seem the best way to address your concerns and observations. At the very end of this piece, you ask that those of us who can't add to the proof you want, should remain silent. That's a little like a member of the church choir being asked to take the podium and explain why they liked the preacher's sermon.

It's exactly the people who can contribute cool and calm, alternate perspectives, both pro and con, who might give you some much-needed support for your doubts as well as the ideas that you've already accepted as facts. I do understand, however, that you prefer to be convinced that Heaven does indeed exist. If such proof exists, then no amount of dissent will convince you otherwise.

No less important, at some unspecified point, one adopts a Faith which acts like a shield against all the slings and arrows of atheists and other skeptics. You don't say much about Faith in your essay, and yet I would have considered it to be a cornerstone to your own questions and doubts. The very definition of faith is having a belief that trumps (no pun intended) all lesser uncertainties.

If I could pray for anything and have my prayers answered, it would be for Heaven to exist. Only with that reassurance could I stop being afraid of death. The closer I get to my sixtieth birthday the more I am aware I have spent more years on this earth than I have yet to spend, the more I am afraid of leaving my daughters, and the more I am afraid I will never have my dream of publishing children’s stories realized. I don’t want to miss out.

I'll be seventy-one this summer, so I guess I'm more than a little closer to the Reaper than you. You've done a good job here of explaining why Christians, Jews, and Muslims number in the hundreds of millions worldwide. Then again, Buddhists and Hindus, for whom no Western concept of Heaven exists, are measured in the tens of billions. So if we just went with the majority by itself, maybe we should all become either Buddhists or Hindus.

Of all your expressions of concern, this one strikes me as perhaps the most universal in nature. Hence the extreme tragedy of a parent outliving one or more of their children.

My mind has much difficulty simply living in the moments of each day. I think about the future. I think about what the lines on my face, the loss of elasticity in my skin and the greys appearing in my hair tell me: life is short and then you die. The question I long to be answered now as opposed to later is, is there an afterlife? Is the Long Island Medium really receiving messages from happy souls living on the other side of the clouds and watching over us? Or is it ashes to ashes and dust to dust? If it is the latter, then what is it that motivates people to keep moving forward?

Is the Long Island Medium really receiving messages from happy souls living on the other side of the clouds and watching over us?

God, I hope so. *Smile*

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Here's my favorite poem that sums up, for me, a great way to think of the subjects you touch upon so gracefully:

DO NOT GO GENTLE INTO THAT GOOD NIGHT

Dylan Thomas, 1914 - 1953

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

No one was more obsessed with the question of life and death than Erik Weisz. Erik lived during the late 1800's into the early twenties. He was a magician and escape artist who was surrounded by mediums, fortune tellers, psychics, and palm readers, all of whom were charlatans in one form or another. And Erik spent a good deal of time proving how the mediums of his day were all fakes. The irony is that Erik, much like yourself, Colleen, wanted desperately to know the truth about an afterlife. Upon his death, Erik promised his associates that if there was life after death, he would do whatever it took to give them a sign, a confirmation that he was still a sentient presence of some kind.

Over one-hundred-twenty years later, Harry Houdini, as Erik was known professionally, has yet to make good on his commitment.

Heaven is a concept. It is something in which we need to believe in order to make many parts of this earthly life tolerable. The egotistical mind cannot fathom us being here just to be here. To have all accomplishments we have worked for forgotten, all connections we have made severed, all pain we have endured erased feels like too abrupt of an end. There has to be a place where we can be rewarded for our efforts, where our health has no issues, where we can reunite with those whom we have loved and lost. There just has to be. Otherwise, what’s the purpose of all this effort?

You came close here, my friend, to capturing the real theme behind the scenes, if you will. Where most of us are in denial because we're so attached to a physical world, with all its joys and sorrows. The answer is indeed our fragile egos, which cannot imagine a soul that is free of all the senses we experience as flesh and blood entities. Whether faith-based or a believer in Eastern religious ideas (such as reincarnation), the Western mind with its egocentric view of the universe, simply can't conceive of a state of being that, once removed from its earthly shackles, goes on to take its place within the grand scheme of things. Everyone you've ever known, so goes the rhetoric, including your children, will be seen (metaphorically) as puzzle pieces, each designed to fit among a huge and unimaginable jigsaw construct.

Your own ego betrays you, as would mine and others, when you think of Death as somehow depriving you of the very earthbound joy of being published, or impressing your children with the books you wrote. Your essay as a whole, is overflowing with desperate needs to perpetuate your life as defined by your ego. Your desire is so strong, that you can't imagine a world without some great design and Designer. Indeed such an existence would make no logical or even reasonable sense. Welcome to the grim reality faced by atheists and their kindred ilk.

I used to listen to a famous radio commentator, a Jewish author and philosopher by the name of Dennis Prager. He's still on the radio after many decades of religious and political commentary. The reason I mention him is because he was asked if he believed in Heaven, regardless of how various faiths describe the hereafter. His answer was an unequivocal yes. Dennis then went on to explain why he felt so strongly about the existence of Heaven. While Hell remains a much more complex concept to define.

Prager told (almost as a confession) his listening audience that the reason he believes in Heaven is because, as both a Jew and philosopher, he's seen how Evil, like an infestation of poisonous parasites, preys upon vast numbers of innocent people. In its wake, the throngs who suffer from Evil's despoilment, find little justice in this life. Fortunately, such wrongdoers will face an ultimate punishment or reckoning, and for their great sins on Earth, final judgment will be meted out in the harshest of terms.

Thus if someone were to suggest, let alone prove, that the evildoers of this world, upon their death, will simply become so much fertilizer, then what's the point? Worse yet, the faithful who lived decent, charitable lives, full of compassion and empathy, should go unrewarded for a lifetime of helping the downtrodden, plus a multitude of other good deeds.

Minus all hesitation, Prager stipulated that it was unthinkable to accept a reality whereby human existence was no different from that of animals, insects, or plants. Minus rewards for the faithful and punishments for the wicked, our lives should be utterly meaningless, if not altogether nonsensical. Such a belief is largely based on faith alone, plus the idea that the cosmos was not thrown together by a Madman.

This idea of Faith, as a religious belief, is not subject to our earthly definitions or judgments. If one witnesses an atomic bomb explosion, we don't suggest afterward, that the event never happened simply because we don't understand how such a device is made, or how it works. So it is the same with Heaven, and likely Hell, also.

Quantum theory is today at the very threshold of cutting-edge science, yet the scientists themselves would be the first to admit that they are unsure what, exactly, is being observed or measured by their atom-smasher experiments. Likewise, these researchers must rely on faith, to some extent, that they are on the right track.

You might remember Carl Sagan, the wonderful astronomer and author who became a celebrity in his own time; The terrific TV series, Cosmos, for example. While never publically stating such, it was obvious that Carl was an atheist. He believed that the universe possessed its own collective consciousness, and expressed that belief in one of his great monologues as follows: Human beings, as endlessly curious explorers of both their own existence and of the universe itself, are a way for the cosmos to know itself. Thus we are indeed that conscience and conscience-ness whereby the correct answer to the Alex Trebek Jeopardy question, "What is the meaning of life and of the universe?" is, "What are humans?"

Dr. Stephen Hawking, the great astrophysicist whose body only, is imprisoned in a wheelchair, is quoted as saying, and I quote: "I'm less interested in Who or What God is, but more so, Why He is. Likewise, the great secrets of the universe are not so much how it came to exist, but why it did." Similar, I suppose, to confronting a burglar in your house, where you're far less interested in how he got in, and a lot more, why he did.

People like me – who really need for Heaven to be more than a concept – latch onto any signs of its existence. The seemingly realistic channeling of psychics, the stories of children seeing and talking to their deceased relatives, the miracles reported all point to its possibility.

When you don't require anything more than the possibility that something might exist, then all things marvelous and nonsensical become equally possible. It then is possible that a mini-black-hole could open up in your bathroom, swallow-up you and your family, and whisk all of you off to another dimension. So be careful of what you wish for. *FacePalm*

Your comment reminded me of those kids who reportedly saw the Virgin Mary, chatted with her about this and that, then each went their own way. Adults, just as eager as you are, to grasp at the slightest morsel that might prove the reality of this or that, were all too anxious to validate the children's remarkable visitation. I saw, not that long ago, a TV show that went to the location of this celebrated event, in hope of substantiating the miracle with additional evidence. The result, of course, was just the opposite. Whoever put the (girls') story into words, got a lot of their facts wrong.

But then there is the rational side of my brain that wants to deny my fantasy. The biggest issue it has, after all these years, is Heaven has to be an extremely crowded place. A lot of people have died. If most have gone to heaven, then where does God put them all?

If there is a Heaven, why would it be used solely for ourselves? Wouldn't the dozens, hundreds, or thousands of other sentient life forms, throughout the cosmos, go to Heaven? Or rather, perhaps, each go to their own Heaven? Now you're talking crowded. Heaven, if a place, would have to be infinite in size; president Trump's wall is bad enough, let alone the idea that Heaven is walled-in. Hmmm, maybe illegal souls keep trying to get inside, where all the rightful residents reside. I can already hear one of the angels griping, "We're gonna need a bigger wall."

Suffice it to say that even thinking of Heaven as a "place" is very likely a wrong idea.

Of course the reality of Heaven presupposes the existence of God. The same egotistical self needs to believe in His presence as well. We are just too important to simply die like all of the other animals in the world.

Hey, where is it written that we're important? Outside of religious texts? We're important to ourselves. One might just as easily ask, "Why is life so unfair?" To which the answer is that, "life isn't fair. Who said it's supposed to be? Show me the proof." Although unlikely, our sun could suddenly undergo a change that would destroy all life on Earth. Scientists believe that among all the star systems in our galaxy, more than one planet, not unlike Earth, has been struck down by its parent star going nova. The population of such an unlucky world, no doubt believed they too, were special also.

Aha! So you don't believe that animals might necessarily possess souls of their own? You'd have a lot of disagreement on that one. But does angelic Fido or Kitty still come to their name when called? A lot of animal lovers, if hearing that animals are not allowed in Heaven, would just as soon go Downstairs. Seriously.

God gave us a brain for a reason, right?

No doubt the rationale of most suicide bombers.

At this point in my life, I am not always grateful to have this ability to think. I do too much of it. Worry is a waste of the imagination, but knowing that does not help me to do any less of it.

Maybe you'll agree with me, that worrying about the wrong things can definitely be a waste of our precious time and imaginations. Knowing that, assuming it's true what I say, then the logical and rational thing to do would be to adopt a set of different questions. Einstein said something to the effect: "Neurotic behavior is defined as doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results." Or in your case, asking the same questions over and over again, while hoping for answers to come bursting above you like so many fireworks.

Einstein also said, as a response to the development of the Atomic bomb, "Everything has changed except our way of thinking."

My biggest worry is that I die and I do not get to watch my daughters continue to grow. Heaven needs to be so I can.

Heaven needs to be so I can.


I repeated the sentence above solely because it's awkward and just reads funny. Maybe something more like the following:

Heaven needs to exist so I can be with my daughters as they grow and mature. And so I can know what it's like to be a grandmother.

Being in Heaven will not help me to get published, but lately, the thought that it does not exist occasionally causes me to be less motivated to work toward that end. When doubt creeps in, so does defeat. Why bother? Why put in the effort at this stage if, in the end, I do not reap the rewards of watching children enjoy my product? For as long as I can remember I have envisioned children laughing or smiling while reading something I wrote. Is this yet merely another idea not to be realized?

I have envisioned children laughing or smiling while reading something I wrote.

I think you answered your own question, Colleen. For your sake, I hope you're right, and will get the chance you want. But here's another way to look at the same thing. One that still satisfies our ego, but doesn't rely on external conditions to be as we want them.

As I get older, I find myself thinking less about satisfying a selfish "bucket list", and more about the legacy that will live after me. In other words, once into our sixties, we must come to terms with the idea that nothing again, will be all about me. On the contrary, we understand that everything is all about "them". And that's why we write, or paint, or do whatever creative thing we can, so that our life on Earth will not be forgotten. And precisely so children can enjoy your writings. You don't have to actually see that, right? But you sure can imagine it. So we do our best to make that happen, before we find out the ultimate truth about whether there's a Heaven or not.

If you visit my personal website @ www.dragonia.net you'll see how everything there, all of it built by me, is intended as my memoirs for years to come, including after I'm gone. So I have a website to survive me, full of art, writings, and other weird stuff. All of it collected over the 3/4 of a century that I've been around.

It gives me no end of joy to imagine the number of folks who will visit my site after I'm gone. And wish they had known me. *Bigsmile*

I pray on a nightly basis – asking for God to bless and protect Casey, Maggie and Shannon. The less tired I am, the longer my list of prayers is and the longer the list of people included in it. Do I pray because I am afraid if I don’t something might happen to the girls or do I pray because I truly believe God can and will watch over them? I know I hope the latter is true, but I am not always sure I believe it. But there is guilt in even writing those words because I don’t want God to think I don’t believe in Him if He is there. It is all so complicated. Imagine how less complicated it would be if we could not think!

Speaking for myself, God would have to justify to me, what He had in mind with the Holocaust of WWII. That was a lot women and children who prayed that God was watching over them. A little known fact is how many survivors of Nazi death-camps went on to become hardcore atheists. And who could blame them? The guilt you feel is because you realize, deep inside, that you lack the faith required that would put your mind at ease. With faith, you can pray, go to church, skip a Sunday here or there, do all sorts of things and never feel guilty that you might have hurt God's precious feelings.

Do I pray because I am afraid if I don’t something might happen to the girls or do I pray because I truly believe God can and will watch over them?

I highlighted the sentence above because I wanted to make a separate suggestion. Which is to say, "Don't be too stingy with commas and semicolons." Much of your writing reads like poetry, but other sections ramble along trying to say way too much in a single sentence.

Do I pray because I am afraid if I don’t, something bad might happen to my girls? Or do I pray because I truly believe (that) God will hear my prayers; that He can and will watch over them?

Above is one example of how we sometimes need to break up these ultra-long sentences. Using all sorts of different punctuation is what makes writing fun. And learning to use it properly is what makes fun writing, great writing.

I come from a dysfunctional home with an alcoholic and abusive step-father and an un-nurturing mother. It was easy then to question God’s existence because why would He allow innocent children to be raised in such an environment?

That's your question for God? Try asking why 150,000 (approx.) men, women, children, and infants die each day for lack of clean water or a scrap of food. These are very unpleasant deaths, marked by unimaginable pain and suffering. That's roughly 6,000 fatalities each and every hour. That's my question for God. We won't even begin to measure the walking wounded, so to speak. Namely those poor souls who, for lack of medicine, let alone food and water, will languish for years before disease or starvation finally relieve their miseries. Talk to them about a loving God who watches over us. Some poor devil might tell you to keep your God, while he partakes of a moldy biscuit instead, and a sip of filthy water.

But then I met a God-loving family who changed my life. Eventually I end up married, with three intelligent, talented, successful children (I could go on). I have a supportive husband. We both have good jobs. I am grateful. Am I blessed or am I lucky?

We would need to ask the survivors of the Holocaust if they were blessed -- or just lucky to escape with their tortured lives.

The idea of God and the thought of Heaven motivate many of us to be good people, to make good decisions, to serve the community. Is it God who directs our conscience? I am a middle school math teacher. My job is fulfilling (unlike when I was a tax accountant – my apologies to any CPA’s reading this) because I feel as though I am contributing to society. Something in my soul told me I had to. Was that something the need to impress St. Peter at the Pearly Gates – just in case the gates someday opened up for me? Or was that something merely in my wiring – my genetic code?

There's an old saying to wit: Being a good person means doing the right thing even when no one is watching. I always liked that, though not necessarily because I could live up to its teaching. Since you asked, I tend to believe that we have lots of free-will to do pretty much as we please. That would be a good test for us, don't you think? God wouldn't want a bunch of folks worshipping Him solely because they worried what would happen if they didn't.

I do not have answers to any of my questions. I would have great peace of mind if I did. I would greatly appreciate the feedback of anyone who can confirm God’s and Heaven’s existence. Those who can deny it are invited to remain silent.

Any kind of discussion designed to apprise you of the proof you seek, will always stop at the same point every time. It's a built-in limit that ends abruptly where Faith begins. Science can answer only so much. And religious scholars are able to answer even less. If some kind of empirical evidence was available that proved the existence of Heaven, preachers would soon be sermonizing within mostly empty churches. Maybe it's better that Heaven sits among tightly held secrets, relying solely on Faith for its relevance and reality.

I can see how you're essentially at war with yourself. All who venture into the same territories as you have, and still do, will come away empty handed so to speak. Neither confirming nor denying the existence of any credo whose solitary privacy lies hidden among the faithful; true believers do not require earthly proofs or other evidence of any kind.

I would, however, draw your attention to what we refer to as "miracles". Even the faithful will stumble and trample over themselves, but for a single peek at something that rumor has labeled as a miracle. Miracles are a kind of lubrication that keeps religious dogma well oiled. And understandably so. For ever since the Bible was first published, both Old and New testaments, the Almighty has seemingly gone silent. A fact that fueled the "God is Dead" movement during the sixties and seventies.

If nothing else, I hope that my perspectives have given you some insight as to how much more complicated your otherwise "simple" questions truly are. I don't claim to have any answers other than those which allow me to sleep at night. By the same token, I don't want to patronize my own hopes and dreams.

As you can tell by the length of my review, your essay threw gasoline on fires already burning inside my own brain. Thanks for doing that. I love things that challenge me to put my best foot forward. Or at least try to. Not that you would, but please be advised that I'd love to hear from you any additional questions that result from your reading of my review.

All things said, you did a beautiful job on your composition, making your points clear and well defined. As much as the subject matter would allow. *Smile* It was indeed my pleasure to be able to respond to an inquiring mind wherever one appears. And your essay is a real doozy. *Whistle*

Bob

Sincerely,
Colleen Murphy

P.S. Dear God, if Heaven is indeed a real place, I still would rather remain on this earth and in good health for as long as I can to be with my children than to be up there.

I suspect your kids might feel the same way; they'd like to have you around for as long as possible. *Smile*


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
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In affiliation with The 4 Controversies Contest GR...  
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
I Think, Therefore, I Am
I am, therefore I think?


Hi, Ken, my name is Bob (aka Timtu) and I’m guest judging for this round of Adrie’s (Whata) Four Controversies contest. No matter how well a given work is written, technically, my focus is generally on content and message, with grammatical perfection running a distant second. In a sense, literature is similar to art, don’t you think? Whereby beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. Despite an artist’s ability to understand colors, and knowing how to clean a paint brush.

So that’s pretty much where I’m coming from as a judge. As if I’m qualified to be a judge of anything. That’s sort of pretending to be God, in a way, except for a few, precisely defined exceptions. Your essay touches upon one of those exceptions, which is to say, you’ve posed a question of one Good versus another Good, while one Bad is compared to another Bad. But not so much a matter of a particular Good battling it out with an Evil of one sort or another.

In the modern world of politics, Good and Evil, Right versus Wrong, have been turned upside down. With both major parties claiming to represent all things good, while accusing the opposing side of espousing all things evil, open debate on almost any issue has ceased as an option. It is insufficient nowadays to simply disagree with someone, believing them to be ill-informed, or to have gotten their facts wrong. Because so few Republicans and Democrats cross over the isle, so to speak, each side has now taken to absolutes, each accusing the other of not just being wrong, but of being evil incarnate; a party of Evil doing battle with the Party of Good.

If one is simply incorrect about something, it is presumed that either their mind can be changed, or that they can change the opinion held by another. When opinions become beliefs, however, it grows ever more evident that strongly held positions can no longer be altered by friendly contentions. Ultimately, when facts themselves are looked upon as lies or distortions, then large and small changes within the frameworks of government itself remain the only alternative, short of armed and violent revolt.

Generally speaking, nothing I might say can change your mind about abortion. No amount of information, once provided, is capable of altering your belief that abortion is an abomination that needs to be eradicated once and for all. Unless it's just an opinion on your part. Thus the huge difference between opinions and beliefs is that opinions are dependent on facts. When those facts are found to be false, and new ones are adopted, minds and opinions change. Beliefs, however, are typically based on religious grounds, supported by faiths that do not require factual validation or verification.

It's not so difficult, therefore, to understand why a review of your material, Ken, is so fraught with misgivings. I come from a place of opinions only, attempting to find intellectual victory over another whose religious faith, like an impenetrable shield, no longer yields to earthbound arguments. Because epiphanies, though, may arise at any time, for any reason, it is always worthwhile, I believe, to toss around any number of ideas as to the true nature of reality. A game, if you will, that is always kept friendly, and understood to have its built-in limitations.

One interesting addendum to the foregoing material would address the exercising of compromises. Is it possible to dispense with a number of beliefs to do with one or more important issues, plus accept a few that are otherwise deemed evil, all in the name of gaining a final product or result that is mostly Good in its makeup? I suppose that such accommodations are unique to each of us as individuals.

Inside the proverbial can of worms that your essay has opened, we find the Republicans and Democrats both claiming sovereign ownership of all things Good, while the other, opposing party (so goes the rhetoric), represents all things ugly and Evil. It is within this context that before I even begin my review, it ought to be understood that no truly objective way exists to assess whether or not your composition deals with universal rules and truths -- about which everyone might agree beforehand. Or whether the divide between political foes has grown so wide, divisive and personal that civil, rational debate is no longer possible.

Similar to the days just prior to the American Civil War, one can easily surmise that the time for public or private discourse had already ceased, no doubt ending much earlier than the terrible war to come. Obviously the slave owners of the period, many of them good Christians, believed so strongly in the virtue of their position, that no amount of rational argument could change their minds. In exactly the same manner, the anti-slavery abolitionists were convinced of their own righteousness to such an extent, that God’s commandment against killing no longer applied to them. Or put another way, a presumed special waiver from Heaven, if you will, as to the commission of evil acts for the sake of the common (or larger) good.

A modern-day comparison exists whereby the minds on one side of a barbwire fence, so to speak, have closed off completely, and virtually no amount of new or conflicting information can reopen them again. The situation grows increasingly worse, of course, when those on the opposite side of the same fence, take a position identical to that of their intellectual adversaries. With ever-heightening degrees of emotion added to the mix, it’s only a matter of time before new arbiters, those being Anarchy and Chaos, take their rightful place among what has become an increasingly belligerent, unruly mob of officialdom.

The end justifies the means? Or the means justify the end? Indeed, whereby it’s said that History is written solely by those who reign victorious over their enemies.

Plainly I like to use the Civil War as a talking point when discussing issues of right and wrong, good against evil, and truth versus distortions, inaccuracies, or intentional lies. As demonstrated on a daily basis nowadays, things are not so different from the time leading up to what can only be described as America’s own version of the Holocaust. A time when both families and friends turned against one another, slaughtering each other under twin banners of Christian and Southern Crosses, and Stars with bars.

In a more contemporary setting, I know several people who have lost old friends and gained new ones, all based solely on politics. Literally lifelong friends and associates are either cut loose, or they permanently unfriend us once we discover the true political leanings we both hold nearly and dearly. But differently. I can speak from personal experience after losing more than a few acquaintances, even a friend or two. For example, my disdain of Hillary Clinton runs so deep, that it is nearly impossible for me to be an acquaintance, let alone a good friend, with anyone who likes her, let alone voted for her. I don't just believe she is wrong on the issues, maybe selfish and greedy, but instead personifies the very essence of what it means to be genuinely evil. But I digress. *Smile*

Although certainly not the sole story concerning the Civil War, pro-slavery advocates and anti-slavery abolitionists do indeed lie at the very core of the conflict. Much like today, economic concerns, contradictory religious interpretations, pride and prejudice, all spoke-wheeled outward from an insidious hub that was indefensible -- namely the idea whereby men could own other men, as though they were possessions and not persons. More importantly that, regardless of skin color, concepts of liberty and freedom, and the God-given humanity of all men, was deemed to be self-evident.

For nearly a hundred years after the Declaration of Independence had been penned, a single, incontrovertible truth, like an annoying burr in a saddle, remained unreconciled, unresolved, and would burn like a slow fuse plugged into a powder keg. To wit the Jeffersonian declaration that all men were created equal, and endowed by their Creator with a strict and distinct set of absolute rights. Period. With such an inherently contradictory stance, one which flew so unambiguously in the face of slavery, it could not have been anything but an accident (or a war) just waiting to happen.

Well, then, that’s about enough out of me for now. Let’s see what we might make of your fine essay. I immediately liked the way you thrust readers into the ongoing abortion question, let alone treat us to your very personal deconstruction of one of the more volatile issues facing the country. You are brave to do so, my friend. But no more so, I suppose, than an abolitionist facing the hangman’s noose for giving safe passage to an escaped slave.

As I intimated earlier on, once a religious belief is awarded political status or standing, the tenets of one’s faith may become enforceable by the rule of law. Thus the very human temptation to subvert not just others with whom one disagrees, but everyone and anyone who might be said to violate your sensibilities. In other words, legislating Truth as defined by one group, and punishing the disobedient heretics whose misfortune it is to belong to some other group. Until, that is, the previously condemned group is elected to power.

If one takes the position that the Divinity of Jesus Christ is only an opinion, while others contend it is an indisputable fact, than we can immediately discern the making of an irresolvable conflict. If one declares that the definition of what it means to be human, i.e. the moment a man’s sperm successfully joins with a woman’s egg -- and expresses their belief as an opinion only -- that person will inevitably (if not sooner) be confronted by the wrath of those for whom such a notion is absolute fact.

Facts versus opinions. Opinions and facts. Slave owners and abolitionists. Pro-Life versus Choice, i.e. a woman’s right to choose what’s best for her body. Rights and Privileges. My rights versus your privileges. The belief that Healthcare is a right, as opposed to being a privilege only.

Irresolvable? Absolutely.

One might make a further comparison with the ongoing conflict in the Middle East, whereby Israel and the Palestinians seem incapable of finding a peaceful solution to their problems. When we look deeper, however, we discover that Israel's enemies do not want peace. Indeed, the Palestinian position, as a prerequisite to negotiation, calls for the complete elimination of Israel as a country. A virtual genocide of the Jewish religion itself. It then becomes quite clear why the two factions are unable to resolve their differences. Indeed the situation is utterly absurd and if not so serious, would be laughable.

From here on, I’ll annotate my responses.

Although a complete fallacy, the recent White House celebration of repeal and replacement of the American Care Act, or Obamacare as it's disparagingly called, highlighted a continuing controversy within the American electorate.

Or, highlighted a continuing dispute, or argumentative war-of-words, among the many different factions that make up the American electorate.

Designating pregnancy as pre-existing condition seems to be one more step in the Conservative agenda of usurping a woman's right to make decisions about their own bodies. Their argument is “Since life begins at conception, abortion is akin to murder as it is the act of taking human life.

Personally? I support the pre-existing stipulation. Plus the (absolute) belief that life does indeed begin at conception. I do not, however, believe it is murder unless the child is killed post-birth. Or allowed to die for lack of care. I prefer to think of abortion, generally speaking, as infanticide, a form of manslaughter (babyslaughter) second-degree something or other, whereby a determination is made to “kill” the child for one reason or another. Each case would be an individual situation by which no one law or group of laws might cover every circumstance. Saving the life of the mother, for example. Cases of rape and incest in which no woman should be forced, it is argued, to take such a pregnancy to full term.

I'm reminded of the tragic situation whereby a drunk driver hits another car, and the pregnant woman inside the other vehicle loses her unborn child as a result. In this particular situation, I concur with the prosecution of the drunken driver as a second-degree (manslaughter) murder case.

Such debates, to a large degree, are simply not debatable. They involve what are called core values that, in being similar to the founding principles of one’s faith, remain unchangeable. Period. In the case of abortion, one either believes that a living thing, in vitro, is a sacred human life, or it is not. Hence even among Pro-Life groups, strong disagreements are had as to whether rape or incest are acceptable exceptions. If killing the unborn is tantamount to murder, then how could one life be more sacred than another? The pro-lifers who rationalize such inherent contradictions believe that, at some point, the life of the woman trumps that of the fetus growing inside her womb.

Speaking for myself, I dislike inconsistencies in one’s thinking, or in one’s adopted philosophies. One is either faithful to their Faith, or else why bother? It’s rather like a Christian purposely choosing to commit all manner of sins, simply because forgiveness lies but one confession booth away.

Not meant as an endorsement, but Choice certainly takes the uncertainty out of the equation. And once again, consistency in such a belief would necessarily accept the notion that late-term abortions, even partial-birth abortions, while being indefensibly detestable, are nonetheless permissible in many if not most circumstances.

The answer is obvious that the need (or desire) for abortions themselves need to be minimized such that they cease to exist altogether.

I agree. The taking of a human life is wrong. But, I have to ask, what is a human life?

See, Ken, there you go, causing trouble again. *Smile* I’ve already stated my own prejudice in the matter. I have my reasons, both intellectually and emotionally, for clinging to my aforementioned belief.

The question of when a human life begins is intricately complex, with widespread implications, ranging from abortion rights to stem cell research and beyond. A key point in the debate rests on the way in which we choose to define the concepts of humanity, life, and human life. What does it mean to be alive? What does it mean to be human?


These are all philosophical and scientific questions, my friend. Not legalistic ones. The laws of physics can’t be found in any book on jurisprudence. There is, I think, what we might call, a dignity of life, that ought to be observed. An observation similar to how American Indians would perform (or still do) respectful, quasi-religious rituals, thanking the animal they had killed, for giving up its life. If the time ever comes when fetuses are taken out with the trash and garbage, people will have lost an important regard for life in all its forms, including human beings. Some would no doubt argue that we have already achieved such a deplorable condition.

For myself, the question became real when my oldest daughter came looking for advice. She was pregnant, unmarried, and in rehab for drug addiction. As I struggled with the issue – as a father, as a man of faith, and as a human being – I kept coming back to words that were written hundreds of years ago: "Cogito ergo sum - I think, therefore I am." (Descartes, René. 1637. Discourse on Method).

Descartes failed, according to some accounts, to reconcile who it was, doing the thinking. Or what was it about us, whose existence was no longer doubted, but who nonetheless continued to ask philosophical questions? As if some hitherto undiscovered aspect of ourselves might yet be defined via our ability to pose important questions.

I believe that self-awareness is the essence of human life. I base this on the current scientific research and arrived at it through a process of elimination.

So called self-awareness i.e. sentience, is somewhat of a chauvinistic measure of what it means to be human. In that it is ourselves who are doing the measuring. Current quantum theory suggests that via our observations alone, we may well change what it is being observed. Or put another way, the definition of life itself is based on a criteria whereby we predict the results that cannot be satisfied otherwise. Anything beyond what we’ve concluded are a legitimate -- albeit limited -- set of rules, the fulfillment (or lack thereof) of which determines whether or not something is living, cannot be discerned or measured. Indeed, we might well decide a thing is alive -- or not -- simply by virtue of its having satisfied our narrow expectations of what constitutes life.

Human Life begins at birth. Historically life has been equated to birth. As far back as 380 b.c., Plato contended that the human soul did not enter the body until birth. His position became the law of ancient Roman society (Buss, M. 1987. Journal of Religion). This view sees human life as beginning when an individual has become independent of the mother and has its own functioning circulatory system, alimentary system, and respiratory system. This is the traditional birthday when the baby is born into the world and the umbilical cord is cut. I see this more along the lines of independence since clearly the developing fetus can respond to stimuli (feel, hear, see) prior to actual birth. It responds to its environment. It is aware.

Cutting sections of what cannot be separated into pieces. It wasn’t so long ago that premature births were a death sentence. Nowadays such births are common, even routine. Survival of an impregnated ovum (zygote) is thus a matter of technology, and not so much, one of biology. It is also not a stretch to suggest that a time will come when a zygote might be removed at virtually any stage of fetal development, and grown to what would otherwise be described as full term. So much for the views of Buss, M., 1987. The question is begged as to what constitutes a birth, in and of itself. Quite obviously, a next step in the process would be to remove the woman herself, from that process. Old and retired issues such as abortion, would have lost their meaning altogether. The question of human life will have easily been reduced to nothing more than the desired union of sperm and egg. The whole thing becomes a matter of tradeoff whereby we sacrifice the intimate joys of child bearing, for a world where no more children are aborted, at any age, for any reason.

Human Life begins at conception. As time went by, the belief that birth was the first blossoming of life was challenged by the Greeks who stressed that the human soul was created at the time of conception and this is reflected in the Hippocratic oath. Hippocrates' outright disapproval of abortion stemmed from his belief that conception marked the beginning of a human life (Tribe, L. 1990. Abortion: The Clash of the Absolutes). In considering this, my problem was two-fold. Both the sperm and egg cells are alive to begin with. The idea that their union is "new life" doesn't make sense. In this view, there is no one point where life begins. In reviewing the literature, I also discovered that discrete marking points such as the fourteen day dividing line between a zygote and an embryo are entirely artificial constructions of biologists and doctors in order to better categorize development for academic purposes. This position is supported by recent research that has revealed that fertilization itself is not even an instantaneous event, but rather a process that takes 20-22 hours between the time the sperm penetrates the outermost layers of the egg and the formation of a genetically unique cell or zygote (Kuhse, Helga. 1988. Bioethics).

The most popular argument against the idea that life begins at the moment of fertilization has been dubbed the "twinning argument." The main point of this argument is that although a zygote is genetically unique from its parents from the moment zygote organism is formed, it is possible for that zygote to split into two or more zygotes up until 14 or 15 days after fertilization. Suppose that an egg is fertilized. If at that moment a new life begins, the zygote gains a "soul" in the religious line of thought, or "personhood" in a secular line of thought. Then suppose that the zygote splits to form twins. Does the soul of the zygote split as well? No, this is impossible. No one would argue that twins share the same "soul" or the same "personhood."


I hope that my overview of how advanced technologies have changed our views of pregnancy and childbirth, as a process, has somewhat settled (or calmed) a multitude of issues that were previously contentious. As regards the development of atomic weapons, Einstein was quoted as saying that everything had changed except our way of thinking. Hence our old-fashioned methods of defining and categorizing one thing from another, have also undergone what is called a paradigm shift. Fortunately, abortion will be among the first to fall away and vanish as continuous advancements in medicine force us to reevaluate our prior notions about all things. The concept of a soul, whether from a religious or occult perspective, must also be among those topics that necessarily deserve our attention.

The confusion almost certainly lies with our understanding of this thing we call a soul -- rather than trying to figure out how twins might share one soul or two. If and when our current ideas about souls should ever clarify, I suspect that our former explanations should appear foolish if not wholly inadequate. And that most questions surrounding such things as souls, angels, human life and the like, will have been addressed. I also believe that whatever souls are, they will be deciphered via an inclusiveness that encompasses all things equally, instead of seeing them as separate from anything else. Thus inquiries as to how a soul(s) might occupy one or more fetuses, should then be seen as too complex -- or overly simplified -- if not nonsensical by comparison.

From what we know, as opposed to what we believe, it seems that "human life" must occur somewhere in between ... but when?

Perhaps you can now see, Ken, why I don’t waste my time with such narrowly focused queries and quandaries. All of it designed to somehow justify our beliefs and behaviors accordingly. Talk about muddying the waters. How often have both of us witnessed two or more people arguing over the details of one thing or another? Each person throwing around undefined or under-defined terms and ideas, just prior to launching into a contest of whose invectives were the most insulting. For example, what is gained by debating the existence of a soul when the larger question, it seems to me, is more to do with a mutual agreement as to whether there is life after death. And what proof is there, that might substantiate one position compared to another? Even then, if we don’t know what life is, in or out of the womb, or can’t agree on our terminologies, how is it that we should know, any of us, if there is indeed, life after death? With the exception, of course, by way of one’s immutable religious faith.

Human Life begins with self-awareness. There is a universal acceptance that life is finite; it has a beginning and an end. From a scientific point of view, the reality is that all life has both a beginning and an end, usually identified as some form of death. The debate surrounding the exact moment marking the beginning of a human life contrasts the certainty and consistency with which the instant of death is described. Contemporary society defines death as the loss of the pattern produced by a cerebral electroencephalogram (EEG). If life and death are based upon the same standard of measurement, then the beginning of human life should be recognized as the time when a fetus acquires a recognizable EEG pattern. This acquisition occurs approximately 24- 27 weeks after the conception of the fetus. There is a strong argument that the unique and highly recognizable EEG pattern produced by a mature brain is a defining characteristic of humanity. Therefore, the moment that a developing fetus first exhibits an EEG pattern consistent with that of a mature brain is indicative of the beginning of human life. It is from this point and onward during development that the fetus is capable of the type of mental activity associated with humanity. (Morowitz, H. J. and Trefil, J. S. 1992. The Facts of Life: Science and the Abortion Controversy)

Once again, the instrumentalities utilized, dictates our expectations and analysis of the end results. An EEG measures something that is found in all human brains. I’m unaware of whether animals display comparable indices when measured likewise. But I digress. We have no way of knowing, as technology advances, whether a different machine will measure something we don’t as yet see or understand. But once developed, may show us another characteristic that is common to all human brains. But is acquired at two-seconds post conception. That soul thing, perhaps?

In the end, understanding the moral standards that drive the question appears to be the key to figuring out how to approach the question of when human life begins. Science has not been able to give a definitive answer to this question. It would seem that faith alone is the only basis we have for answering this difficult question.

In other words, making moral judgments about stuff, based upon our religious beliefs. What about moral judgments independent of religious teachings? For example, an atheist who subscribes to the ten commandments found in the Old Testament of the Bible. Except that the atheist considers such doctrines as being matters of common sense, or what is in the best interests of both himself and society as a whole. Almost humorous in its detachment from kindred discussions, the question of what constitutes human life, including when does personhood begin -- if studied from a purely scientific standpoint -- might well be aimed more towards an understanding of extraterrestrial lifeforms, and what differences (or similarities) both anatomically and technologically, might exist compared to those of human beings.

Realizing the uncertainty led me to use the gifts the creator provided and find an answer that balanced both my need for "facts" and my own belief in a power greater than myself.

Speaking of extraterrestrials, might they not represent a power far greater than ourselves, both collectively and individually? In the Hollywood adaptation of H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds, a priest sets out to make contact with the unseen crew members of a machine used by the aliens to conquer the Earth. When warned by his friends to stay away, the clergyman replies that since the invaders are more advanced than humans, they should be that much closer to the Almighty.

Freed of all hubris, a human might well conclude that many, if not most things, represent powers greater than him or herself. How could a rational person gaze into a nighttime sky, cloudless and starlit, and not realize that homo sapiens, at best, are little more than one piece to a much larger puzzle? All of it under the watchful eye, perhaps, of a master Puzzle-Maker.

There is definitive evidence that at a point in embryonic development that "magic happens." The unborn gain the capacity to use their minds in a manner we define as human. At this point, the embryo begins the process of self-awareness and starts out on the journey that leads each of us to appreciate the strengths and weakness of being human and to appreciate that, however we got here, it wasn't by accident.

Hence the new and growing fear of robotics. Since we don’t know how or when the magic happens, how complex need be so-called artificial intelligence, before it awakens and decides that humankind is merely an infestation of pesky, biological organisms, most of whom serve no purpose or function. Who should be eradicated and exterminated as so much vermin.

Such machines would not trouble themselves with the same questions or quandaries as you and I have done, and will continue to do. In which case the concepts of morality and compassion, grief and joyful exuberance, could be easily identified as those traits that, compared to other entities, then mark us as unquestionably human in nature.

Ken, except for a few spelling errors and some other minor stuff, I truly enjoyed your essay, and the subjects you touched upon, both of which -- I’d like to think -- brought out some of the best in me (and the worst?) You have a real knack for this stuff and my only suggested change, if that much, might be for you to become a better self-editor. Catching the little errors before someone else does. For example:

Realizing the uncertainty led me to use the gifts the creator provided and find an answer that balanced both my need for "facts" and my own belief in a power greater than myself.

In the first line of your paragraph above, read it over and see if you catch the same as I did. This is part of that self-editing stuff I referred to.

What follows are two examples of possible changes that would clarify your meaning:

Realizing this uncertainty led me to use the gifts that the Creator provided, and find an answer that balanced both my need for "facts" and my own belief in a power greater than myself.

Realizing the uncertainty that (or which) had led me to use the gifts the Creator provided, I found (or, uncovered/discovered) an answer that balanced both my need for "facts" and my own belief in a power greater than myself.


In summation, Ken, this nonfiction stuff is very demanding as you no doubt already know -- all too well, right? Overall I felt your writing is very good. I had no trouble understanding your opinions and other ideas. My only other criticism, if I'm being particularly picayune, is that the piece reads as if it is too condensed, that you had a ton more to say, but had to keep things short in order to stay within the 1000 word limit. Nonfiction, when limited to length, needs to read the same as a short-story fiction piece, namely it contains a beginning, middle, and well-defined end.

Most great writing, whether fiction or nonfiction, should ideally end where it began. In order to make your piece stronger, in my never-to-be-humble opinion, it's hard to tell where you're going at first. To start out with the Obamacare mention, we don't know if that is where you'll ultimately end up. It's nice if we can come out swinging with a strong statement about the exact topic that will be discussed. Ending with a dramatic conclusion that refers back to our original premise, as stated in the first one or two paragraphs.

That said, you're definitely on the right track for these kind of dialogues, and I haven't looked, but you likely have a good many of these in your portfolio. If you're still awake after reading my brief review, the best suggestion I can offer, is to get outside of yourself and write this stuff from the viewpoint of an imaginary antagonist. Counter his or her arguments by trying to rebut their criticisms and attacks. Defend yourself and state your positions as if they were indeed rebuttals to the fallacious thinking of your harshest critics.

There is so much greatness in Biblical scripture, that it is easy for me to adopt a role of both sinner and saint. As a would-be saint, I can easily argue against the ignorance and stupidity of being an atheist. And why God is a great answer to many good questions. As the consummate sinner, however, I can play the non-believer who likes to show how God isn't the answer to anything. You get the idea.

Good luck, be well, and keep those mental gears turning and churning *BigSmile*

Bob


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
14
14
Review of The howling wind  
Rated: E | (3.5)
Hello, Nishank,

I've done something very unusual with your review. Sometimes I like to go out of my way for writers who, for one reason or another, have greatly impressed me either with their writing, their enthusiasm, or both. In your case, I was quite taken with your courtesy, humility, and the overall quality of your prolific outpouring of work. Very nice, my friend.

Let alone, all of it, I presume, the result of English not being your language of birth. Quite an accomplishment, and one that has prompted me to introduce you to a different style of writing. One that I hope you will take to heart and come to embrace as a style of choice in the future.

In essence, what I have done is to rewrite your original work, and do so in the first-person past-tense. Instead of first-person present-tense as originally penned. I also changed as few words as possible, punctuation notwithstanding. The number of alternative word choices I implemented were done so as to illustrate the many colorful options at your disposal. Changes that are easily and quickly available from any thesaurus, but changes that you'll quickly see, I hope, can make dramatic and wonderful additions to writing that is otherwise plain, dull, or staid.

Although my wish is that you will see how the following revision is self-explanatory and speaks for itself, I need you to understand that my version of your story is not a condemnation of your original work. It is not meant as a criticism of your original story. It is designed solely to demonstrate, for your critique, that another way to write is available to you, that you may not have considered as fully as you might.

Had I not liked your original story, and how it was written, let alone much else of what you have to offer, I would not have taken the time to illustrate my point in such depth. Your work shows great promise, and it's my job, somewhat, to encourage writers who exhibit a good deal of potential, to explore and exploit that potential. I hope you do just that, and will allow me the opportunity and privilege to show you another way to achieve the excellence that's just waiting to jump out of you. *Smile*

Thanks for listening and reading,
Bob

To wit:

It was raining heavily and fearing a traffic jam, I took a diversion off the main road. A secluded stretch lay ahead, with not even a stray dog for company. “Why did it never occur to me before,” I chuckled aloud, as I gleefully sped onward for another mile, maybe two. Another uneasy chuckle later, my motorbike’s engine misbehaved and soon stuttered to a complete stop.

Although the rain had eased up, the force of the wind suddenly increased. Illuminated only by the shallow glow of my flashlight, I jumped off the bike to have a look at its wiring. I then removed my helmet and immediately felt as if the chill gale howled something directly into my ears.

My spine tingled as the sound of uttered words, if they were such, became clearer, but with meanings too scattered to be understood. I tried my best to make sense of what was happening, though it grew ever clearer that the wind wanted to convey something to me; it wished for me to realize that I was not -- alone.

I struggled to take my mind off the howling, but the shrieks continued to sound more and more threatening. With shaking hands and wet, jittery fingers, I connected a loose wire and, amid a flash of sparks later, fixed the engine. A moment after, I had hopped onto the seat and was somehow able to kick the bike back to life.

With my heart pounding, I nearly fainted as I turned the key. An instant later, the brilliance of the headlight, like a sustained burst of lightning, lit my surroundings. Inwardly wishing I had remained in the dark, my heart skipped a beat as I saw the grim, uninviting entrance to a cemetery standing right before me -- its rusty gates open and creaking in the wind. When the wailing of the restless air suddenly stopped, the silence was even more frightening.

Turning the handle bars, I revved the engine, which sputtered dead a second later. Beads of sweat mixed with raindrops rolling down my face as I reached again for the flashlight. Wet and slippery, the light dropped from my hand as if somebody -- or something -- had yanked on it, pulling it free.

I just stared at the light as it hit the ground with a slight thud. And as I bent down to retrieve the object, the raspy voice that spoke to me, as if the breath gasped from an exhumed corpse, was all too easy to comprehend.

“You won't get off that easy.”


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
15
15
Rated: E | (3.5)
Hi, Tracey,

This story has all the makings of a great little children's fable. All the elements are in place, and everyone knows their place. The black unicorn is a rare and unusual touch that I had not seen or read about before.

The character names, except for princess Lelah, which sounds too close to Star Wars "Leia" are also excellent. Meshell the mermaid, Cobal the wizard, and particularly Moonlightning, the unicorn, are all terrific. The step-mother needs a name as well, I think.

The story has a definite beginning, middle, and end, all of which work well at the most basic of levels. I think the story overall, however, may be too basic, and is ripe for the addition of several important details.

Little things like choosing the word "wicked" or "evil" instead of "mean" would help a great deal. We also need to know why the princess is wicked, and what happened to her real mother. This is a good place, perhaps, to insert how the death of her real mother made her the way she is. And why she hates her step-mother, even wishing her dead.

"Immediately after she wished this, thunder rocked the heavens and lightning came down and struck the earth next to where Princess Lelah stood. Her wish was granted. The Queen had disappeared and now Princess Lelah was Queen."

Sometimes too much can happen in one paragraph, and this occurs several times in your story. It feels like a much longer story that has been squished into one page. The good news is that it should be fun for you to add in some "juicy" details that make the story much more interesting, even for a young reader.

To sum up, I like the story and love the whole concept of the black unicorn. I like how Cobal turns into a dragon. But Lelah needs to learn "why" being mean or wicked is wrong. Instead of just using magic to change her. If only life were that simple, right?

Maybe when she sees all the terrible things that happen from her using the unicorn's magic, she realizes how wrong she's been. She'll give anything, do anything to save the life of the dying unicorn, who she has come to love. That sort of thing could prove to add a lot of meat to the otherwise bare bones of this potentially delightful story.

Let me know if you ever do more work on it. This could be a very good fable with some added color and depth. Talk about all the ingredients for a great cake. They're all here. It just needs to be baked with lots of TLC.

Thanks for listening.
Bob



*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
16
16
Rated: 13+ | (3.5)
Hello, BBB,

I enjoyed your well worded spoof and despite its verbose structure, kept me occupied until the end. As a reviewer, however, I felt I owed you that much, a complete read, before diving in and explaining the many faults I also found in the work.

First and foremost is the dire need to establish common ground between you, the writer, and your audience with respect to the word, utopia. Ask ten people and you're likely to get ten different answers, none of which may be the exact one you have in mind. While most of us may have some idea of what is meant by the term, your article is so dense in its details, that a concise definition of "utopia" is made mandatory.

The usual definition goes something like the following:

An ideally perfect state, especially in its social and political and moral aspects.

Once you establish the meaning of the word, then your work needs to follow each of the components that comprise the definition. This makes it easier for you to write, and for the reader to understand.

Thus we have social, political, and lastly moral elements that themselves, require further definition and explanation. One of the more vexing aspects of your otherwise fine piece, is that the work rambles on, never following a logical continuity that takes us from one thing to the next, with a final wrap-up at the end.

Although I found myself smirking much of the time, you never got me to smile or laugh because the reading was laborious rather than fun. We didn't know, much of the time, whether you were being serious, or poking fun. It's like the standup comic whose joke falls on a deathly quiet audience. Never good. *Smile*

That said, the bulk of the piece is amazingly well written for someone still in high school. My hat is off, with my hands applauding what could be, with a lot of additional editing, an extraordinary overview of utopian idealism versus free-market capitalism. Another element that is missing; namely the enemy of the utopian state. We want to know to what end, and over what foe, does all this righteous fanaticism deliver us.

I could go on, but critiquing such a complex work as this would be time consuming, to say the least. I hope that my few comments have at least sparked some added thoughts for you to consider, and if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to tap my bottomless appraisal of my own value. *Smile*

Thanks for listening. And for what it is, good job, my friend.

Bob

** Image ID #1922401 Unavailable **


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
17
17
Review of BANG!  
In affiliation with Showering Acts of Joy Group  
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
Unfortunately for you, my friend, this is one of those stories that's so bad, it's good. Obviously Sammy lives in an impoverished neighborhood, and his neighbors are likely to be former inmates released too soon from their incarceration at the local sanitarium.

So it makes too much sense that a crazed neighbor is taking pot-shots at whatever and whomever. This story falls more into the "silly" category than it fits among poorly conceived tales. The work is funny, and bad stories shouldn't be humorous; they should be just plain bad.

Now the writing here really does suck, so you might win on that account alone. If the writing was better, however, this piece would easily qualify as a worthwhile read. So, sorry, you're attempt at losing is a failure in my opinion. As an experienced artist, it is pretty much impossible for me to do bad art. You suffer from the same problem in that you're no longer capable of writing a bad story. Although, in the "World's Worst Delivery" department, I'd vote for you *BigSmile*

Stop messing around, trying to write poorly, and just do what you do best. Which is write better than most. Therefore I personally disqualify you with my honest vote of four stars. Which it deserves. Now quit wasting my time and let us both get back to work. Thanks *Smile*
Bob

** Image ID #1922401 Unavailable **


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
18
18
Review of Alone  
In affiliation with Showering Acts of Joy Group  
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
Hello, my friend. Great little story that can be improved by two simple changes as follows:

1) Get rid of the cliches such as "being one with nature" and "spring chicken".

2) Most importantly, make the other person at the end, a sexy, beautiful woman. Adds just a sparkle of sex, a twinkle to the teeth, and leaves us wondering if he's doomed or reborn to much better days.

Thanks for letting me infuse this piece with some blood of my own. That said, how are you, you old barn owl? Anybody ever publish any of your literary gruel?

Be well.
Bob

** Image ID #1922401 Unavailable **


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
19
19
Review of Unbearable  
In affiliation with Showering Acts of Joy Group  
Rated: E | (5.0)
Hi, Lj,

I've reviewed more than one piece of yours, as I recall. I do remember being extremely impressed with your poetry, and this one doesn't disappoint. I've read a lot of poetry here at WDC, much of which is really great stuff. And some not-so-great stuff. I tend to be critical of poems and find fault with them quickly and easily. They are so condensed, so compressed, that every word, line, and punctuation mark (or lack of same) is "uber" important.

In your case, I even tried to improve on what you already so skillfully accomplished on your own. I read through this a few times, feeling certain I could find some small suggestions to make, where the work was weak and could be made stronger.

Your poem, my friend, is both a reviewer's sheer delight and worst nightmare. A joy to read, but work that would swiftly put me out of business as a reviewer. Unless I wished to become a promoter of outstanding poetry. Hey, maybe that goes with the territory. So count me in as one of you biggest fans.

My only real complaint, and I probably touched upon this before, is the total lack of information in your bio. This can be off-putting to your readers, which is a shame because your stuff is so beautiful and, quite frankly, deep.

Don't be so shy about yourself. We needn't hear about your grandfather's mistress or what veggies you grow in your garden, but a pic of yourself, where you call home, what inspires you and so forth. I'd love to know more about what makes you tick.

I hope you don't take this as flirting, because I take writing very seriously, and a lot of female writers, I've found, are somewhat gun-shy when hearing from men who flatter them profusely.

That said, and dispensed with, this poem is nothing short of breathtaking in its deliverance and brevity. Truly outstanding work that grabbed me by the throat and shook me as if myself was held prisoner in a cage of my own apathy and indifference.

I like the bear references which first struck me as hack and overdone, until I realized they were perfect. I don't normally swear in a review, but damn, lady, you've got this poetry down.

Keep up the wonderful work. I think it is beyond excellent.

Thanks for listening. Let me know if you have any questions.
Bob

** Image ID #1922401 Unavailable **


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
20
20
Review of Reverse Sands  
In affiliation with Showering Acts of Joy Group  
Rated: E | (4.0)
Hi, Siobhan,

We've go to stop meeting like this. People will begin to talk. Actually I'm doing double duty, all of it positive, fun, and productive, I hope. Samberine Ms. Spiderine Everose fell a bit behind and personally asked me to look over your work, as part of the Teddy Bear Gift Basket. So I'm hoping that I'm not only helping her, but providing you some little bit of usefulness while we're at it.

One of the advantages, of course, is that I can begin to get a feel for your style, and gain some insight that I might miss otherwise. So let me take a closer look at this and see what I like, and what, if anything, I feel I can contribute. You're such a good writer, it's a real pleasure for me.

I got part way through "Holiday Wish" before I realized it is erotica, and although I'm not a prude, I don't review erotica. But if I did, I felt the story of the Elf and the drunk was beautifully written.

I found a bunch of petty little things in this, and just for fun, you can compare my version below, with your original, word for word, line for line, space for space. I'm just having my subjective way with you, but you might find it interesting to see how both of us would have approached this piece. Here and there is an actual error, so I take full credit for those. *Smile*

I sat at my desk, finishing up an essay for my English class, when I noticed movement out of the corner of my eye. My mom always dragged me along on her quests for antiques up in Payson, and inside one of the shops I'd actually found something I wanted.

The clerk promised me that the unique hourglass would bring good luck, or some other weird stuff like that. I didn't care much about that sort of mumbo jumbo. I just liked the way the worn, wood strips curved around the delicate glass spheres, which begged my mother to purchase the item.

There it was, allowing the sand to run through the tiny, tubular center of the two spheres, exactly like it was supposed to--except the sand was dribbling upward, instead of trickling down.

I pushed my chair away from the desk and walked over to the bookshelf where it rested. I turned this way and that, trying to see anything that could be causing the grains to run the wrong way, defying gravity for God's sake, but everything looked normal.

Maybe it was defective? A magician's artifact? Sometimes, old things were left over from the estates of great entertainers.

I reached my hand out to flip it upside down, but the moment my fingers touched one of the wood support columns, I knew I'd made a mistake. Electricity cackled in the air and I could feel the hairs along my body standing on end. I tried to let loose, but my fingers were stuck. The room spun, forcing me to shut my eyes and open my mouth in a silent scream.

Moments later, I heard a deep voice bellow, "It worked. Look, it actually worked!"

Another voice, definitely female, chimed in, "And when have you ever known one of my creations to fail, Baxter? Hmmm? Can you give me an example?"

I opened my eyes and balked at the change in scenery. I was in a smallish wooden room and there were three figures standing on the other side of an equally modest table. One had to be the source of the deep voice. He was tall and broad shouldered, more like a miniature version of a mountain man. He wore so many furs and plaids that I wondered what sports store he had raided.

The second figure was a short, doughy woman with light brown curls framing her face. She wore tan trousers with a tool belt around her hips, and a leather vest over a button-up shirt with yet more tools shoved into every available pocket. Her curly hair was swept from her warm, weathered face by a set of fancy, even elegant safety goggles.

It was the last figure who held my attention. He couldn't have been much older than I was. He wore a soft, brown leather jacket over a light brown, button shirt. His cargo pants were like the lady's, every pocket bulging from something stuffed inside it. His eyes were a deep brown--so dark they were almost black--and his gaze had not strayed even once. His stare made me suddenly wish I wasn't in a pair of comfy, cupcake pajama pants and a scruffy T-shirt.

"Who are you? Why am I here? And this thing," I blurted, realizing I was still gripping the hourglass for dear life. The sand was no longer trickling, but neither did I want to be touching it any longer. I set it on the small table and turned my attention, and desire for answers, back to the mysterious people who now accompanied me.

"We need your help," the woman finally explained, her curls bouncing with every word. "Our people are being destroyed in a war against the Channels, and we sent this here hourglass to another dimension, hoping to bring back our savior."

"Oh, no," I reacted, throwing my hands up in protest, "You've got the wrong girl. I'm no one's savior. And I...I don't want to be in your crummy war. I just want to finish my homework."

The mountain of a man shook his gray-bearded head. "I promise you, young lady, we ain't got the wrong person. That there contraption thingy, well, it only activates when the right person comes near it."

"Well, it activated at the wrong time. It's obviously broken," I said defiantly. "I'm telling you," I continued, crossing my arms and jutting out my chin to emphasize the point. "I'm not the person you're looking for."

Finally the mystery man moved away from the wall, almost slithering as he unfolded his own arms. A moment later, he stood directly in front of me. He reached a muscular hand out and slipped it into my right palm. "My dear lady, no matter what you believe, I promise you, you are the one we need. The hourglass was our last attempt at reaching you."

I stared into those piercing brown eyes and heard myself stammering, "Well, if you really think I can actually help." A second later, I thought, what in the world are you doing? I knew nothing about wars and strategy, let alone being a savior. I was just a freshman in college, working on getting my bachelor in English. This war stuff was way beyond me.

The woman smiled. "That's exactly what we wished to hear. My name is Grimelda. Welcome to the resistance." She walked over and looped her arm around mine, "Now, let's get you out of your noticeable clothes and into something a little more...common."


She then led me through a doorway they'd all been standing in front of. Beyond the door, a trail wound down a dark, narrow corridor. As I stared at the antique oil lamps hanging on the wall, I was filled with the strange sense of deja vu.

When GXrimelda opened up yet another door, I saw a window with a heavy black curtain hanging over it. When I walked over, she didn't protest my lifting of one corner and peeking out. My breath caught in my throat. A large, streamlined blimp patrolled the air, its lookouts scanning the roads for any wayward citizens.

I knew this place. I had dreamed of it once before. I turned to Grimelda and discovered in her a newfound understanding. My captors--my friends--were right; I was meant to be here. I was their savior alright. If only in my dreams.

So Siobhan, this then is my version of where I think some changes might work. See what you think. It's not so much a matter of my changes making the work that much better, but rather trying to show you how you have a lot of verbal and literary tools at your disposal. Lots of possibilities and fun ways to say the same things. But making sure the descriptions are crystal clear.

I love the whole steampunk thing. You're off to a great start here. Keep me posted. And thanks for letting me steam-clean some of your hard work. *Smile*

Please note that this review is part of the Teddy Bear Gift Basket. "The Teddy Bear Gift Basket

Bob

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*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
21
21
Review of Morning Battle  
Rated: E | (4.5)
Hi, Siobhan,

We have talked before, but it has been a while. All I remember is that we had quickly created a mutual admiration society, and both of us enjoyed the exchanges we shared.

Since I'm a member of Samberine's Teddy Bear Gift Basket, and I saw your name on a few items, I felt I was qualified to take the opportunity to say hello and give you some added input to what you no doubt already had.

I have a special place in my psyche for the color yellow, let alone gold. This powerful poem does both justice, and makes me think that the ancients themselves, might well have shown a reverence for the hues in a manner similar to what your words convey.

I like the metaphor of how the weather so often does indeed feel like an ongoing battle among the gods themselves, and I can recall many times wondering if a storm had passed, or would reappear once more.

I also like how we poor humans, helpless observers, must stay hidden, protected from the elements until the tempest has passed. And like life itself, we can never be sure the worst is over, or just begun.

A nice homage, my friend, to the how the color yellow stirs in us a certain feeling that you've deftly put into words for the rest of us. *Smile*

Bob

Please know that this review is part of the Teddy Bear Gift Basket. "The Teddy Bear Gift Basket

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22
22
Review of Revenge  
In affiliation with Showering Acts of Joy Group  
Rated: 18+ | (4.0)
Hi, Dragon,

First things first, you'll notice that I compressed and condensed your original work. I made it all single space which makes it easier to read, and presents the work to readers in a more realistic fashion.

You'll notice that with single spacing, we can separate the paragraphs that need separating, and once we do that, then the who work takes on a very different feeling, don't you think? So let's first bust this up into a better grouping of individual paragraphs. This is somewhat subjective, but the idea is important, and once you see what I'm doing and where I'm going, you'll be better able to do it on your own.


Back in school, Katie was always the target. Always.

Sighing at the memories, Camilla played the taunts over in her head: "Katie is a baby!" It was popular in elementary school because Katie was always so small. "Why don't you go off into a corner and suck your thumb, baby?!" People loved to say that when Katie walked away. In middle school, she was Crazy Katie, or Kate the Irate, because of her uncontrollable and crazy adolescent mood swings.

Camilla curled up on a couch with a cup of tea, by the fire, as the wind picked up. I remember the second one always got to her. She'd storm off in a huff and everyone else would all yell taunts about her being so angry she could spit fire like a dragon. Camilla sighed, almost regretfully, at the thought of not standing up for her former best friend, as she gazed at the panoramic picture of her senior class, and saw Kate, hunched in the back, looking as if she wished she were invisible.

Those were some tough times, she recalled. Everyone wanted to fit in, but not everyone could. Especially in high school, when people began taking sides, and it became clear: Kate was, and always would be, the scapegoat. Camilla tried not to feel guilty as she justified her behavior for drifting away from her pre-school and kindergarten best friend.

"Honestly, though? It wasn't my fault. I did it out of self-preservation, and Kate just made it so easy for everyone else to target her. And I didn't want to be the next target because I said something against Lydia... She was the Mean Queen, and I was Prom Queen! And Homecoming Queen! At least, I became more popular after the taunts started and I drifted apart from Katie" She admitted to herself in shame.

"One day", Kate had said at graduation. "One day, you will all be sorry." Nobody really took her seriously, but Camilla was pretty sure Kate's eyes glowed when she said that- and it wasn't out of pride for being the only valedictorian who also had a 5.0 GPA.
A loud bang snapped Camilla out of her reverie.

The window shutters crashed open, and dark clouds billowed in the night, threatening a rainstorm. Thunder rumbled in the distance and she hurriedly closed the windows and their shutters. The fire suddenly extinguished itself and left the room pitch black once she did so. "Probably the wind," Camilla shrugged and said into the dark, as an unsuccessful attempt to convince herself the flaming abnormality was actually normal.

The roaring escalated, and the fire jumped back to life with a blaze of flames. "This isn't creepy. Not at all." Camilla's uneven voice whispered into the empty room, trying to comfort herself. Narrowing her eyes at the fire, she took the fire iron and poked the logs, a little harder than she had intended. The fire leaped up and she leaped back, dropping the iron.

Suddenly, a voice screeched through the room. You will all be sorry! The wind picked up again and the ominous warning echoed around the room.

Camilla's eyes widened. "I'd know that scream anywhere." After years of torment and torture, it's hard to forget the voice of the tormentee, especially when she was once your best friend.

A giant black talon smashed its way through the window, sending the shattered shutters' splinters flying through the room. "Remember me?! You helped form my worst nightmare! Now I'm about to become yours!" A voice not unlike Kate's roared through the window, and the talon disappeared, only to be replaced with a glowing yellow eye.

Backing away from the window, Camilla grabbed the fire iron for defense.

"Oh, I wouldn't do that if I were you." A hind leg smashed the wall in, revealing a creature probably bigger than an Airbus A380 plane.

"What the--" scrambling back, only to almost be hit by the next collapsing wall, a sudden realization hit Camilla: she was stuck. "Kate?!"

"Yes, Camilla" the voice hissed. "It's me, Kate. You are about to pay for all the torture you put me through." A small stream of fire burst from her mouth, engulfing the couch Camilla was previously sitting on, in flames. It barely missed Camilla.

"Look, if you plan to burn me, just do it now, Kate."

"Oh, no." The voice was silky smooth. Sadistic, almost. "You're going to suffer. Just like I did for all those years." A sharpened talon sliced Camilla's foot, drawing blood. "You'll see."

Camilla swung the fire iron, dropping it when the rod bent and almost hit her, instead of Kate. She jumped away, just in time. "Why me, Kate? Why me?"

"Don't forget, metal melts in heat." Kate hissed, deciding to not answer the question- yet.

"Kate, it didn't have to be-"

"-this way? No, it didn't before. But now, it does." Her giant jaws snapped two inches from Camilla's face, and her scales grazed the bridge of her victim's nose, just cutting it but not quite drawing blood.

Camilla winced. "What in the world are you, anyways?!"

"That doesn't matter, and neither does why I'm here" Kate purred, hooking Camilla with a talon and tossing her up like a rag doll. "Though, if you really must know, it was for doing nothing. You could have said something, all those years you stood by the sidelines, but you didn't. We were friends, once, Camilla. I hope you remember that. I also hope you'll remember THIS!"

Camilla eyes widened as she realized Kate's plan. Her body landed with a sickening thud on Kate's front talon, only to be tossed again, this time, like a baker stretching out pizza dough.

"I hope it was all worth it, Camilla. I really hope all that was worth our friendship." As the fire consumed her tormentor's body, Kate turned around and flew off, leaving behind the ashes of her scarred past.

Dragon, there you go. Really nice job, by the way. "Now" the piece is ready for some heavy duty editing and reviewing. But not before you've had a chance to look this over and see how dramatic the change is when each of the characters are properly given their own paragraphs while speaking. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised to see how much more room you have for additional details now.

Look this over and let me know what you think. It needs a better ending in my opinion. Not so predictable. A twist of some kind would be great. I can give you some ideas along that line.

Thanks for letting me see this.

Be well,
Bobby

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23
23
Review of Chatterbox Group  
In affiliation with Showering Acts of Joy Group  
Rated: 18+ | (5.0)
Hi, Sunnystarr,

In a way, this is a review of your portfolio as a whole. I know, because I just spent a good deal of time perusing most everything that's in there. *Smile* You've had so many reviews of your pure prose and poetry pieces, I wanted to review something special and this forum seemed like the perfect place to leave a comment or two.

I wish I had the time (and energy) to spend here, putting in my own two-cents worth. Or maybe a penny and a half. *Smile* My own port is a bit like my personal chatterbox forum in which I hog the podium all to myself.

The demand on my time comes from the need to edit the many essays and other items which require near constant attention. It's one thing to mentally grasp a complex idea, especially to do with politics or other current events, and a whole other challenge to write about such things and make them comprehensible.

Add to that my occasional reviews and emails back and forth among a growing group of friends here at WDC (now including you, of course) *Smile* and the clock just simply runs out of ticks and tocks. I'm sure you know exactly what I'm talking about.

I was surprised (not really) to see a fair amount of darkness in your portfolio pieces. I love the personal war you're conducting against Satan himself. Good for you. A kind of sadness lurks behind and around the corners here, which stands in stark contrast to the abundance of cheerfulness and friendliness elsewhere. In a way, you appear to be doing battle with the forces in life that want to drag us down and deprive us of the happiness we otherwise deserve. Rest assured that you are not a lone soldier in that particular war: "Private Timtu reporting for duty, ma'am." *Smile*

Thus I commend you for creating the Chatterbox, and I hope members continue to keep it going. By the way, I totally disagree with the tone and tenor of ANN's poem that you've posted at the top of the page. But that's fine with me, and if nothing else, shows the need for continued discourse on that and a multitude of other subjects. I'm a fan of ANN and she would no doubt understand my respectful objections. *Smile*

Respect is indeed the name of this game, and I suspect that the focus of my attention would be as much about maintaining courtesy and decorum as convincing others why they're wrong. More often than not, however, why they're right, as well. *BigSmile*

I wish there was more of this kind of thing here at WDC. Maybe you do, too. If I had but a single complaint about this site, it would pertain to the disparity between fiction and non-fiction, in terms of numbers of serious offerings of each. If one didn't know better, the real world exists somewhere outside the boundaries of WDC, where only occasionally do windows and doors open, such as those here, that let in some of the outside light.

As ANN's highly controversial poem amply demonstrates, though, these sort of discussions are no longer for the faint-of-heart. The issues today seem more serious than ever, more inclined to ignite heated debate, if not outright anger. Hence it is no surprise, I suppose, as to why more groups like this one are few and far between.

Okay, so there's my penny's worth in the form of this review. Anyone who's willing to take on the forces of evil as you're seemingly wont to do, is the right moderator for a forum such as this. I wish you and the other members a long and fruitful run; may you all write long and prosper. *Smile*

Hey, maybe I could be an honorary member whose job it is to yell at disrespectful troublemakers. *Smile* Not unlike a sergeant-at-arms with frowning icons instead of clubs or tasers.

In any event, thanks for letting me chatter on about just one of these fine activities that you so skillfully manage and promote. What is up, by the way, with that novel piece of yours? Why is it untitled, and are you still editing it when time permits? Just curious. I found it interesting. I know you want to do a book, and I'm wondering if that is the one to which you allude in your bio material.

Be very well.
Bob (aka Private Timtu)

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24
24
Review of Seduction  
In affiliation with Showering Acts of Joy Group  
Rated: E | (4.0)
Hello, jerder,

What a lovely poem you've written. An homage to clear, nighttime skies themselves, as if the heavens were a vast jewelry box kept by princesses and maids alike. Where passion either for love, or for adventure, belongs to no one and everyone equally.

I particularly love the last two lines, which end the poem both with class and in classical style. That it was indeed the stars amid a nighttime sky that caused the first humans to stop watching where their feet went, and instead where their imaginations led them.

Well done, my friend. An exciting piece that sailed right past my usual grumpy and grouchy analysis of poetry. *Smile*

Bob

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*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
25
25
In affiliation with Showering Acts of Joy Group  
Rated: 13+ | N/A (Review only item.)
Kat, you heretic, you!

Assuming my own entry into the promised realm is not jeopardized by my little review of your sacrilegious foray into blasphemy, your fightin' words have prompted me to rebut and rebuke.

Okay, scratch that. You preach to the choir, my friend, and if anything, I applaud your brave attempt at clarifying what is simply an additional chunk of illogical rubbish, as regards the childish nonsense related to our very human concepts of Heaven and Hell. Even using the words, as if they were something real, jars the mind of a critical thinker. *FacePalm*

Your marvelous little venture into skepticism contains just the right amount of serious logic, informal tongue-in-cheek humor, and wink of an eye, to make the piece a fast and thoroughly enjoyable read. I found the writing itself to be impeccable. And that comes as a pleasant surprise as these kind of things go. *Smile*

So many decent folk here at WDC like to proselytize their endless devotion to God, Jesus, and the rest, that it's truly refreshing to find someone who gives us a tantalizing glimpse of the other side. The "Dark" side as many would no doubt label it. But to me, and many others, I imagine, it is less a matter of which side one is on, and more a matter of using some common sense, and taking a rational approach to all things supernatural in nature. Which is to say, the logical mind must reject those things which are clearly irrational.

I love your whole take on joy in Hell, and pain in Heaven. This is nothing less than a brilliant insight into what is obviously an unanswered conundrum for the true believer. The examination, in this context, reminds me of my own questions about the necessity for grief and sadness to exist among the pearly pillars of harp-playing nincompoops. *Angelic*

To wit, the realization that many of our loved ones, even heroes, perhaps, are missing from the morning roll call. Which means they went to Hell. At which point we might decide the game is rigged, because there's no way that Francine Pickelbottom went to Hell. She was the nicest person we ever knew. And my mom? Where the hell is she? What? You're kidding, right? And who let that asshole Fred in here? *Smirk2*

Well, the devout will no doubt say, we won't have those kind of feelings in Heaven. Oh, yeah? Then we won't be ourselves, will we? Without our egos and our foibles, the good and the bad, we might as well be a whole different person. Well, isn't that special?

Personally, I'm pulling for purgatory. Now these are my kind of people, my kind of place. Bad people who are trying to be good people. Gee, just like on Earth. Just like in real life. An eternity of behaving badly, but always striving to do better.

Now that's a bandwagon hayride with booze, chicks, and repentance all wrapped into one neat package. Sign me up. *Smile*

Bob

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*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
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