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Title: Blog by Novelist William S. Frankl, MD

Archive for July, 2009

Spin State: A Sci-Fi Thriller

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

Yesterday I finished reading a book called Spin State by Chris Moriarty, an extremely talented writer whose imagination has no boundaries. This is her first novel and was a finalist for the Philip K. Dick, John Campbell, Spectrum and Prometheus Awards. I urge you to read it if you, like me, are a Sci-Fi fan (or even if you’re not. Reading it might make you one).

However, it is tough reading. The story is convoluted. It requires the handling of simultaneous existence in real space, in spinstream (the flow of data used in quantum entanglement), the past, the future, and virtual reality. Moriarty’s management of these complexities is remarkable, and almost always understandable. But it does require careful reading and sometimes rereading. The platform for the story is based on some of the concepts of quantum mechanics––– for example Bose-Einstein condensates that allow instantaneous communication and teleportation. These ideas are difficult to understand even if one is acquainted with the present day scientific literature in this area. Nevertheless, Moriarty does a good job of allowing the reader to catch the drift of this arcane material.

The protagonists are Catherine Li, a UN officer who masquerades as 3/4 human but is really a genetic “construct,” and Cohen, a disembodied AI who communicates in either spinstream or by using “shunts,” (people who have had devices implanted that allow them to be operated by AI’s, or even other people). And there are plenty of villains, but I won’t go into them.

The story features an Earth in ecologic collapse and is essentially uninhabited; a humanity that has migrated to nearby star systems; and Space that is divided into two hostile groups: the Space occupied by the Syndicates who manufacture their members as genetic constructs (post humans), and human Space run by a the “UNSec,” a supposed descendant of the United Nations. Humans can be “augmented” by wetware interfaces so that they can interact with the spinstream.

The story is complicated, fast-moving, and well constructed. It concerns the death (presumably murder) of a brilliant scientist involved in the study of the mining of Bose-Einstein condensates. Catherine Li is sent to investigate the scientist’s death and is aided by Cohen. They are thrown into a page turning plot involving a struggle between the UN forces and the Syndicates.

As a science-fiction writer myself, I found Spin State is one of the top ten Sci-Fi books I’ve read. I’m ready to begin its sequel, called Spin Control, which I will someday review on this blog.

Unfortunate Attitudes

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009

I listened and watched President Obama last night as he made his health care “reform” pitch at an 8 p.m.news conference.  Once he was off the teleprompter, he failed to answer most of the questions; he rambled and was repetitious; and sometimes appeared to be speaking about insurance “reform,” rather than addressing major health care issues.  However, the most distressing aspect of the evening –– he accidentally opened up for all to hear his prejudices about doctors and police officers.  As regards doctors, he thinks they are interested primarily in money, and will do unnecessary procedures and operations to make money, rather than adhere to good medical practices.  In other words, doctors are venal.  As regards the police, when asked about a recent dust up involving an African American Harvard professor and the Cambridge Mass. Police, the president admitted he did not know the details of the case, but said that police were “stupid,” and that their actions were racist!
I wonder what other prejudices of the president harbors?

The Media in the Time of Obama

Sunday, July 19th, 2009

There is so much nonsense circulating in the world. None is more destructive than what emanates from our mainstream media about all the shenanigans of the Administration and Congress. Why don’t we hear all sides of the vexing problems facing us? Why of course ––– how stupid of me. The Media created Barack Obama, he’s their guy, and they want to make certain he succeeds, even if success for Obama means destruction of the financial, legislative, medical, judicial, and cultural structure of the United States. Thus, it would be foolish to hear all sides. My goodness! We might disagree with him!

Let us take health-care as an issue. He wants to “reform” it. No, he doesn’t. He wants to restructure it along the socialist patterns one finds in Canada, Western Europe, China and Russia. He wants to provide “access for all.” What nonsense that is. He really wants to provide “coverage” for all. But with universal coverage one gets reduced access––– you can’t suddenly shoe horn in 310 million people into a universal system and give everyone “access.” So, with decreased access we get long waiting lists followed by significant rationing. Oh, boy. I can hear the American public some day shouting, I love “reform.” But, the president doesn’t care who gets hurt ––– just so he can say, “Look what I did. I reformed the health care system. Clinton couldn’t do it. But I could!”

So what about the cost of this grand boondoggle? Oh, that’s easy, Obama says. First, tax the “wealthy” to help pay for it. Then, reduce Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements to doctors and hospitals, so those programs will be less expensive and therefore that will help pay for the “reform.”  And don’t you think cutting and rationing medical care for the elderly is a great idea? (why not? They don’t contribute anything to society any more, except they paid for Medicare with money taken from their paychecks all their lives). And don’t you think it’s a good idea to cut and ration medical care for the poor? (they don’t contribute anything to society, do they? Why, they don’t even pay taxes. But they’ll die happy since they’re “covered.”).

But, there is a segment of society that must have immediate access to the best and most complete medical care that modern medicine can provide, namely the Administration, Congress, and the wealthy who have contributed early and often to the Democrat Party( and possibly some media types who have been the most egregious liars). Wow! Sounds a lot like a big dose of fairness, don’t you think?

I could go on and on. We’re looking at disaster. However, I bet all those baby boomers who voted for Obama and who are tumbling, stumbling, and tottering into retirement are going to love the increased taxes and limited access to medical care. And with “global warming” we can’t even put them out on ice floes and wave goodbye.

And hey, if Obama gets a second term, by the end of that term, we’ll look a lot like Venezuela ––– and hey, Obama is a great admirer of Hugo Chavez––– so . . . hey, maybe we’ll be looking at another president for life.

Meditations On The 4th of July, 2009

Saturday, July 4th, 2009

As almost everyone knows, today is July 4th, Independence Day for the United States of America. We’re 233 years old. Independence Day had been celebrated during the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Mexican War, the Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam, Desert Storm, September 11th, repeated financial storms and much more. But when each of these passed, at the end of the day, the good old USA might have experienced changes in how it saw itself, but ultimately always looked and felt the same. Same old pick yourself up, brush yourself off, and try all over again, to paraphrase a well-known Sinatra song.
But now there’s a sense of gloom around. There’s a passivity that has infiltrated the public. There’s a mood that is terribly disturbing, a mood that collectively accepts any behavior as de rigueur, that the “old ways” are out of step with the modern world. A mood that says, ” If you take care of me, I don’t care if you take away my freedom.” The Administration and the Congress sees this,hears this, and is all too glad to comply.
Perhaps this is the last 4th of July for the USA. Perhaps next year we’ll instead be celebrating the first anniversary of the People’s Republic of North America.

William S. Frankl, MD, All Rights Reserved