I’ve started watching Black Mirror on Netflix. It’s pretty disturbing stuff. Technology gone wrong. Terribly, terribly wrong. And it’s making me think about things I haven’t thought of in a long time.

Stepping back for a minute, here, you need to understand something about me. I’m the type of person who talks to my phone, and not in the “Hey Seri, call my brother” way. More like, “WTF, Seri, what do you mean you have to be connected to the internet?” or “Hey Seri, can you contact my mother in the afterlife?” and “Try again, Seri, that’s not the answer I’m looking for.”

I also talked to dogs as if they understand, oh and stuffed animals. The dogs at least respond.

So after watching an episode of Black Mirror where a synthetic human is imbued with the physical and mental characteristics of a dead person I started thinking about what makes something alive. Or sentient. What constitutes sentience? I haven’t pondered these questions for a really long time.

If being self-aware is the definition, then this silicone being from Black Mirror was sentient. But could it feel emotion? Attachment? Was it an it, or a he? Is it cruel to lock it in an attic because it’s not enough like your deceased loved one?

If a human thinks something is alive, or sentient (two separate issues, I know), does it make it so? Well obviously I can believe my stuffed minion is alive, but that won’t make it so. But what about an artificial intelligence? Can it develop sentience? If it’s sentient does that make it alive?

I mean, some part of me knows that just because I react to my phone as if it has intelligence, that doesn’t mean it actually has any. However, I do believe dogs are sentient. Actually, I think there is some scientific evidence behind that belief, so yay me.  My Jack Russell cross is more intelligent than some people – and that’s actually a bad thing. Do you have any idea how hard it is to catch a dog that knows it doesn’t have to come and doesn’t feel the need to please you? Ugh.

I don’t have any answers, just a creepy feeling between my shoulder blades from watching too many episodes. Feeling eyes on my back that aren’t there. Unanswered questions about where humanity is headed are floating just out of range. I know they are percolating somewhere in my brain ready to jump out and catch me when I least suspect them.  I’m really too old for this shit. By my age I should have all this stuff sorted.

Here – have a puppy. A sentient puppy.

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Because we’d really like to make this contest fly, we are extending the deadline another week.  Get your entry in before Midnight, March 15!

Good Luck!

Details are here: Betty to Belfast

Enter NOW.

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I was planning on releasing Bohemian Catastrophe today, right in time for a Valley News article that is supposed to come out tomorrow. But I blew it. I didn’t factor in enough time for some of the vital steps. Such as copy editing. So rather than put out a book I’m not 100% ready to put out, I’m waiting a few days.  If you are waiting too, you can join my newsletter list and I will send you a notification on release day.  And don’t worry, I only send out about two notifications a year, and I promise not more than one a month.

Meanwhile: cover art!!

Edited to Add.  It’s up now!!!  And paperback should be available in a day or two:   Kindle click here.  Or send me a note.  I can get you a signed copy or a pdf for your nook, or whatever.  Plus, the kindle book is free Wednesday and Thursday, 2/22 and 2/23/2017.

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So there is a contest and you could win a trip to Scotland and Ireland.

It’s easy.

Click here to find out more!

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I can’t think of a good title for this post, so you can make up your own. Really, have at it. Call it anyting you want.

I have stopped listening to the news. I get a tidbit here and there, but I only find it depressing and I can’t think of a good reason to torture myself. I get on the phone and call the people those I trust reccomend, but that’s about it. Clearly  competence is no longer a  requirement for high office, so why lament when people unsuited for the positions they’ve been nominated for get in?

To Hell in a handbasket comes to mind.

In other news, a dog ate two of my hens and has been terrorizing the remaining hen and rooster. The owner seems contrite and has stopped bringing her one dog to the stable across the road. But I’ve seen tracks and I do think her other dog has also gotten a taste for chicken. I’m kind of despondent. Those chickens would follow me around. They came when called.

This is why I should not have vulnerable creatures. They become my pets and then I’m upset when they die. Henrietta was small and plucky and laid the cutest little eggs. Lellow was hilarious. My rooster is traumatized and my last hen stopped laying for a while.

I can’t decide if I should just give the last two away. The dog broke into the barn, and couldn’t get into the hen house, but ripped up the screen and scared the chickens. The bottom of the door is glass and there were paw prints all over it. We’ve shored up the outer barn door, but still. If I knew someone who’d treat them like pets and not eat them, I think I’d give them away. But no one wants a rooster, especially on that’s gone a little off his rocker. Poor guy.

Okay. I must go write.

Tell me what you’ve titled this post. I’m interested.

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