Lazlo Zalezac: Blog

A Major Error in Reset Manifesto

June 22, 2017
Posted at 12:08 am
 

It was pointed out to me by joecct that I made a major error in the Reset Manifesto. It is not a simple majority of votes in the electoral college that is required, but a majority of the whole votes which means that it does take 270 votes to win the election.

The Twelfth Amendment - The person having the greatest number of votes for President, shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed; and if no person have such majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers not exceeding three on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President.

Unfortunately, that does change things in the story line. Color me embarrassed. I guess I just earned an F in Civics.

Although to tell the truth, I would have loved to see a presidential vote come down to a decision in the House. One vote per state. Who gets to cast that vote? Could you imagine the carnage? That possibility is probably more entertaining than what I actually wrote.

Theft

March 15, 2017
Posted at 1:04 am
 

Well, you knew it had to happen at some point in time. I allow readers to read my stories for free. I like telling stories. I post them on SOL so others can read them.

Since, I'm not making money, you can imagine how upset it makes me when someone steals my work and sells it for a profit. Some piece of scum who is using the name, Hooriya Ahmed, is selling stories on Amazon.com which are stolen from SOL.

I'm not the only author who has had their work stolen by this piece of bottom dwelling filth. What some nice person is doing is going to his site and telling people that he's stolen the stories and giving full credit to the authors.

Jade Force

February 26, 2017
Posted at 3:48 pm
 

The ending of World War: Campaign for Eastland does not complete the Jade Force saga. There is still the continent of Besland to force to a surrender in World War: Campaign for Besland. Unfortunately, that story is not yet finished so there will be a slight break in uploading.I have three chapters to finish in the last story of Jade Force.

My Muse is easily distracted.

I have 40 chapters written of Dealing with the Devil. It is nearly done, I just have to sit down and write the last few chapters. Unfortunately, I sit down and another story demands my attention.

I have 14 chapters written for Boundaries. There's a long way to go on this story.

I wrote 40 chapters of Destroyers and then decided that it should be book II of a larger story. I've finished 9 chapters of the new book. Both of these stories is requiring a massive amount of research. My research notes are extensive.

Then there is the story my Muse is demanding that I work on. It is titled, The Reset Manifesto. I'm about to finish Chapter 25 on it. My Muse is telling me that there are quite a few chapters to finish on it yet.

What does this mean? It will be a little while before I resume posting.

Odd Posting

February 19, 2017
Posted at 6:17 pm
 

I uploaded a chapter of World War: Campaign for Eastland today. For some reason, what showed up is not the same as what I uploaded. It seems that paragraphs got copied and moved around. I'll try uploading the chapter again and hopefully that will fix the issue.

Miss Powers

November 15, 2016
Posted at 1:04 am
 

I have just finished posting a story, "The Future of Miss Powers." A lot of people were not pleased with the ending that I gave it. They felt that I had run out of material and just wanted to end it. That it was a rushed ending which just stopped. Unfortunately, either for my imagination or my ability to tell a story, the last two chapters were exactly what I had intended from the day that I started writing the story. Of course, it could be that the beginning was posted almost six months before the ending.

I envisioned this story as a cross between a passing of wisdom from an elder to a younger person and a coming of age story. I wrote it as a passing of wisdom through a coming of age story, not a biography. The audience of the story is not the reader, but Miss Powers.

In the prologue, we are introduced to Miss Powers as a young intern learning the news business, and that she is present to give her first interview as a reporter (We all remember our first experience in a job). She is watched over by a protector (who is immediately dismissed as irrelevant).

Put yourself in her place. She is young. She is brilliant. She is taking the first step on her chosen career path. She is daunted by his success despite his pleasant manner, success which she demonstrates that she has already researched. He subtly directs her to ask specific questions which are of interest to her, interspersed with questions given to her by her boss.

He dismisses her first question, one that was prepared for her, to answer a more personal question about why she was chosen to interview him. Danny Markem answers that he is interested in her because she is a prodigy. He lays out all he knows about her, "... you are a sophomore in college, majoring in business with a minor in communications. You are interning at the Gazette to learn how the news business works, so that you could start your own online press. You want to change the world."

She asks about his wealth (obviously a provided question). He answers just to satisfy her boss. Then she asks about who influenced him - that is the whole heart of the story. That is the question for which he had been waiting. It was the true purpose of the interview.

In chapter 1, we meet the immature Danny. He is a prodigy, but poorly developed socially. Yet Danny already has several important character traits, he is his own person and he will defend himself if attacked. He tells the coaches no to playing basketball because he wants to be true to himself. He clearly states that he will not accept being taught a watered down version of history regardless of the consequences. He shows that he knows how to handle a showdown against a more powerful figure by bringing in someone with equal authority. Finally, he protects himself from a physical assault by a student.

In Chapter 2, Danny shows some rough sides of his personality. He is respectful of those who respect his intelligence. He is disrespectful to those who try to use his intelligence to their own advantage. He has no respect for people who are too lazy to use their own intelligence to understand the world around him. He is disrespectful of people who fall back upon 'literal rules' rather than understanding the basis for those rules. It concludes with a discussion about respect, not just his respect or the lack thereof for some people, but also about respect for him.

In Chapter 3, the story of Danny touches upon something that should be of great importance to a reporter and that is perspective. Is it a 6 or a 9? Did the US steal the land from Native Americans or did it purchase the land from the French? Is that kind of theft still occurring?

When I posted Chapter 3, I received a flood of email asking me to stop with all of the 'damned' quotes. The story was fully written by that time and I made no changes to it regardless of the requests. The readers found the quotes irritating, but one should note that everyone around him found the quotes irritating, too. (It's one of the rough edges to his character that is to be smoothed and polished.) By the end of the story, he is speaking his thoughts on subjects rather than the thoughts of others.

In Chapter 4, the subject of how a high school drop out was influenced by his last year in high school becomes the central theme of the story. While Mrs. Holmsteader was a major influence from the very beginning, his second major influence enters the story in this chapter - the basketball coach. He rises above his role as coach wanting a winning basketball season to a champion for education. "We're supposed to be educators. We're not teaching him anything!" Danny's circumstances are laid bare for those who are in a position to help him.

Chapter 5 is about communication - a subject that should be near and dear to a budding journalist. Yet this chapter isn't about conveying facts from one person to another. It is about establishing a deeper communication in terms of delivering 'feelings' from one person to another. The vehicle by which this knowledge is delivered is Mrs. Shapiro.

I have to say that my favorite character in the entire story is Mrs. Shapiro. She is as far from being a scientist or engineer that one can get. She is honest with him. Before introducing him to a 'bitch,' she tells him up front, "Yes, you are the brace against which I will hold her while I remove the rough edges that detract from her beauty. It may not be pleasant for you, but you will learn much in the process as well."

To tell the truth, Chapter 5 is one of my favorite chapters. I felt that the whole scene where he is introduced to dancing is one of the best and most subtle that I've ever written. That scene isn't about dancing. It is about connecting with people. It starts with the approach and the introduction which covers that whole 'first impression' deal that is so very important. It is about treating the other with respect, establishing connections, and paying attention to the other person. It also is a warning that approaching a new relationship with an expectation of getting something selfish out of it is going to fail.

Chapter 6 is about seeing the world as it really is, something which strikes at the heart of what it means to be a reporter. It starts with a discussion about not focusing on the superficial role in which one is functioning, but looking beyond it to the person inside. An example of a rock musician who displayed a much deeper appreciation for a part of the world which was being ignored is given. There are good people and bad people. It is about looking at the physical surroundings and trying to see what is really there. It is about revisiting one's past and trying to see it with clearer vision.

Chapter 7 is where we start to see real growth in Danny. He's experiencing new things. He's growing as a person. He's letting the side of himself that is a bit more human be seen by others - "Okay. It's the girls." Maybe his motives in learning the flute aren't the highest, but they are very human.

Chapter 8 is about how Danny is perceived. He's the creepy guy who is always quoting dead people. He's also brave, treading where others fear. He's also a good sportsman who doesn't take advantage of those who are unable to defend themselves. It's also where we begin to understand why Danny might be quoting dead people all of the time. An entire movie is summarized in a single line, "I love the smell of napalm in the morning." "There's no crying in baseball." "Go ahead. Make my day." It also shows how disconnected Danny is from his peers. He isn't quoting from popular culture, but from far more sophisticated sources. It is a lesson for Miss Powers, you should relate to others at their level.

Chapter 9 is about ethics and awkward situations. It is about standing by your friends. It is about taking a situation that is easily misunderstood and turning it into something that is more acceptable to all. "So what are you to do? What compromise can be made that will remove the torturous aspects of being here despite being trapped here? That is the question." In a way, it is a fundamental question of life.

Chapter 10 is about being critical of what a person accomplishes in a positive way. What is good about this picture? What is bad about it? What is beauty? What is ugly? How should we accept constructive criticism? In the end, all of the lessons which weren't understood crystallize into a moment of deep insight.

Chapter 11, the chapter about conformity and thinking outside the box. "You've been trying to get a good tone out of that flute for way too long. Now you might not be ready to quit, but I am. In desperation, I made some calls to some of the other music teachers that I know. One of them made a suggestion and I thought we would give it a try."

Chapter 12 is an appeal for help. "I don't know about you two, but I'm here to learn how to dance. I would appreciate it if one of you would get with the program and help me learn." At the end of the chapter, the lesson has been learned.

Chapter 13 is about the importance of public opinion. Why is it if one person does something it is viewed as weird while another person doing the same activity is viewed as exhibiting normal accepted behavior? In way, what is the job of a journalist? It is to sway public opinion by providing the explanation that distinguishes between the acceptable and the unacceptable.

Chapter 14 might seem like a filler. He goes off and reads a book and plays his flute. It is about stepping back and remembering who you are before tackling an unpleasant task. It is also the first time in the story where he addresses bad behaviors in others without being nasty back. "If I were to apologize for taking those pictures, it would be the same as stating that I was wrong in thinking that you are a special group of people. So, if you don't mind, Denise, I shall not cheapen everyone's contribution by apologizing." He told them off while allowing them to maintain some sense of dignity.

The first half of Chapter 15 returns to the dance lessons of Chapter 5 through the discussion with the Vice-President of University Relations. There's the approach - a real appointment. There's the introduction, the exchange of how they are to address each other. There is the trip to the dance floor where Danny presents himself. There's the dance where the two work together to solve mutual problems. The second half of the chapter is a return to Chapter 7. It is about being human.

Chapter 16 is about transparency. It is about allowing others to see for themselves what is going on. The lesson for Danny was accidental. He worked on his homework in a public location where people could see what he was doing. It is about presenting one's passion in a way that allows others to respect it. It is about allowing people to understand it from the inside rather than as an outsider.

The first half of Chapter 17 continues on the theme of selling one's passion to the rest of the world, but this time in a more inclusive manner. It isn't so much about him, but about the passion. Engineering needs people, but you need engineering ever more. It also touches upon the price that one pays when pursuing a passion. It is about trying and failing until one day you get trying and succeeding. It's about potential for loneliness unless one finds an understanding soul. In a way, this is a warning for Miss Powers. If she pursues her passion, she will have to deal with the consequences of her focus on it.

Chapter 18 illustrates that he remains immature and will speak without considering all of the ramifications. He unleashes on Denise and ultimately finds himself in a very uncomfortable situation. A good reporter has to take care about what one writes. Even after unpleasantness, the need to pursue a passion remains. Again his immaturity is brought to light in his blindness about an upcoming date.

Chapter 19 is about the importance of knowing how to protect yourself and those around you. Miss Powers is going into a profession that can become dangerous. It's a lesson on multiple levels. There's the physical level against a big brute. There's also the legal level where he knows his rights. And sometimes, it is just a matter of keeping one's mouth shut.

Chapter 20 is about being in the limelight. He's a hero which is a role with which he is uncomfortable. Turn praise around to make it inclusive of those lavishing praise upon you. The best in their field will gain recognition. The great in the field are those who can keep recognition from dominating their lives. Once the initial reaction is over, it is time to return to work.

Being human is the subject of Chapter 21. It is about connecting with people. It was about allowing the people around him take over the limelight. It is about learning the interests of complete strangers who just might surprise you with what they know and can do.

Chapter 22 is about not letting failures stop him and when the obstacles are too much for him - the answer is to get help. It is about knowing his limitations. It is about letting others carry him when the challenge is too great. It's also about being honest with those who work with him. It is about being honest with oneself.

Chapter 23 is a reminder that humans need compassion and understanding when dealing with others. "I do love my mother. I think this is a circumstance where understanding is a better option than misunderstanding."

Chapter 24 is about succeeding. In a way, it's about how success comes in little increments. Rome wasn't built in a day. There's a lot of hard work that goes into it. Others might not see it, but it is there. A computer model leads to a simple build model, and then to the challenge of scaling it up for real use. "Once it is built, they aren't going to immediately go out and start building houses for sale. We still have to deal with..." A wonderful case study is Watergate - a small story about a break in, then a story about the men around the President, then a story about the President, and so on it went.

Chapter 25 is about dealing with completion. Most revel in the moment while a few turn their attention to the next challenge. The play ends and he stands there thinking, 'Now what?' His schooling has come to an end. It's time to move on to the next challenge.

The story ends with questions about those who influenced him. Did Miss Powers truly understand the story? Yes, she did. She returned to the only measure that he had given himself for success - did he help create the future? Yes, he did. Then he turned it around on her and put the burden on her to create the future. He's given her the lessons he learned and now it is up to her to go forth.

Think of all of the things he told a brilliant ambitious young woman. He not only identified those who influenced him, but how they influenced him. As far as the ending of this story, there is a telling exchange in the middle of the story --

"You want to have a voice in what the future holds. How will you do that?"
"I will work."

He explains further with the example of the cell phone.
"We went from a cell phone that was carried in a car, to one the size of a brick, to one that could fit in a pocket, to one that can play games, tell us the weather, and do all kinds of things. Each generation of cell phone was a result of people going into work and doing their job. By doing their job, those people determined our present by what they did. Much of what we have today is a result of people working on their jobs making the things we buy. The stuff they created with all their work in the past is now our present."
I seriously doubt that the story of any of the engineers involved is full of adventure that would keep anyone riveted to his or her seat.

Should I have continued on with his life? I don't think so. Once he had the tools for success, then it was time for him to get to work. To be quite honest, writing about work is not a good story. In fact, it is quite boring.