Monday, December 29, 2014

What We Have In Common

(This posting is United States centric, but it should apply to all humanity.)
One of the nicknames of the United States is THE MELTING POT. People would come from all parts of the world – the vast majority of the time because they wanted to become part of America, and have America be part of them (I suspect it already was – they were just coming home.) They wouldn’t totally abandon the culture they came from, but they would embrace OUR culture, too – melt into and become part of the American family, while adding their own ingredients to the mix at the same time - everyone blended into the melting pot.
Lately, this feature of America has been corrupted by multi-culturism. Now, even suggesting that there is ONE COMMON AMERICAN CULTURE, or that this should be DESIRABLE brings accusations of racism and bigotry. How dare anyone think that the American Culture is superior to any other? THAT IS NOT WHAT THIS IS ABOUT (although there must be something good about American culture – the success of our nation has had didn’t happen despite it.)
A common culture unifies us, and the more that culture is diluted and denigrated, the less unified we are as a nation. This isn’t just a problem with the lack of assimilation of new immigrants (legal or otherwise) – it’s particularly damaging that it’s happened with ACTUAL AMERICANS who have forgotten that that’s what they are. We’ve become hyphenated Americans, which wouldn’t be a bad thing if the emphasis was on the suffix (the AMERICAN part), but instead we stress the prefix (the part that SEPARATES them from being Americans.)
This is why we have Mexican-Americans who think it’s okay for people to come into our country illegally. It’s why we have African-Americans who will protest the self-defense shooting death of a thug in Ferguson SIMPLY because of his skin color. We can’t function as a society if any one group thinks the law shouldn’t apply to them.
I’m an Italian-American (among other things); I identify most strongly with being American. I’m also a white American, but I refuse to have my ethnic background, or the color of my skin, be the most important thing to define me. And I won’t allow my allegiances to be blindly determined by the same. Why should I scream “Foul!” if another Italian American is arrested for stealing? Or if a white person is tasered or shot while assaulting a police officer? Really?
It’s sort of like wanting to belong to a club or a church, but not being willing to follow the rules that are a condition of membership. Why did you join? Why are you staying? (answering that question might help you see the benefits of membership, and help you realize that MAYBE this isn’t the heartless, oppressive place that some people have told you...)
We live in a nation of laws, created by WE THE PEOPLE, and a big part of being a functioning member of our culture is understanding the importance those laws have in maintaining a civil society. The law applies to everyone, regardless of their skin tone, ethnic origin, or any other subset you want to use.
I feel sorry for anyone who lives in what I believe is the greatest country on earth but who can’t be anything beyond their prefix. They’ve bought into a bill of goods, sold to them by power-seekers who continue to get what they want as long as WE allow them to divide us.
Why can’t we all just look at what we have in common, instead of allowing ourselves to be distracted and manipulated by our differences?
Just saying…
William Mangieri’s writing (including his latest ePublication “The Final Ending?”) can be found in many places, such as:

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Monday, December 15, 2014

Torture and War

Last week we had to watch Democrats, having been kicked in the pants and out of control of the U.S. Senate, put their vindictive selves on display again by making “news” with a last parting shot at George W. Bush (and the United States): a “torture” report that had less to do with torture and more to do with politics.
Exactly what is torture? I always thought torture was something that left irreparable physical or psychological damage. Pulling fingernails. Ripping tendons. Breaking bones. The kinds of things that were done to John McCain in Vietnam.
How many people would volunteer to be tortured? Yet how many have volunteered to be waterboarded, just to prove how BAD it is? Some have even volunteered twice. Waterboarding is uncomfortable, coercive, and effective – but it isn’t torture.
Let’s get real. The people we’re fighting RAPE women, BEHEAD people, BURY children ALIVE. I’m supposed to be outraged that we’re making some of them listen to loud music? Reading them Harry Potter? Or make them stay awake past their bedtime? REALLY?
This is an extension of the misguided notion that if we just show the terrorists that we’re nice, then they’ll be nice, too - sort of a COOKIES AND NAPTIME with terrorists. Well, we’ve done our mea culpa, ISIS – your turn (hear that sound? Didn’t know they had crickets in the Middle East, did you?)
Might doesn’t make right – but you want might so you when you’re right you can defend it. Right doesn’t make might. Being right doesn’t make the bad guys stop trying to kill you.
For those who believe we should treat our enemies in the WAR ON TERROR by the GENEVA CONVENTION: do you realize that that would dictate that we line them up and shoot them for violating that same convention? We are dealing with people who indiscriminately (and often intentionally) kill or put innocents in harm’s way. There are other parts of the Geneva Convention that they also violate, such as being in uniform.
WAR IS HELL, but sometimes you have to fight or die. When did having superiority in technological weapons become a crime? Why do we handicap ourselves and increase the risk to our own people? We’re at war whether we like it or not; don’t engage in the arrogance of underestimating our opponents. There is NO RATIONAL REASON to even up the odds. Are we afraid that we might make our enemies feel bad? Hurt their precious self-esteem? These are people who are trying to kill us – best to treat them that way.
Just saying…
William Mangieri’s writing (including his latest ePublication “New Antiques”) can be found in many places, such as:

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Monday, December 8, 2014

Wishing Isn’t Doing

Less than a month to go before the traditional NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS. Is there something you have been saying that you WISH you could do, but you just can’t seem to get to it? Time to GET SERIOUS examine why not.
If I had pulled out my trumpet for just 5 minutes every week, I would be a better player now than I was when I stopped 36 years ago. The more concentrated the time, the better – if all those 5 minute sessions were put together, I could put in four full-time weeks (40 hours/week) and would be even better then.
When I write, I need an hour to get a decent amount of words on paper. I can’t hit my stride on less than 5 days writing each week – less degrades my speed. There is an almost exponential increase in output – the longer I write in one sitting, the more words per minute I get. The same applies the more often I write per week. There is degradation of performance with any hiatus – small or large.
There are still three weeks before the end of this year, but I know I’m not going to make my goals. Things happen to derail us from reaching our objectives sometimes, and it’s hard not to get discouraged, but no amount of complaining about a lack of time will change the situation. Only practice makes (closer to) perfect. Just do it -  practice what you preach.
If wishes were horses then beggars would ride. If wishes were fishes we’d all cast nets. Wishing “If only I had more time” is about as effective, and should be stricken from my vocabulary. 
Nothing that’s worth doing happens on its own. That novel won’t write itself. The mountain really WON’T come to Mohammed. Good things may come to those who wait, but they don’t just sit on their hands while they’re “waiting” – they’re working toward their goal. Pick up YOUR dreams and get to work.
Just saying…
William Mangieri’s writing (including his latest ePublication “New Antiques”) can be found in many places, such as:

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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Some Words About THE TRUTH

We are living in a world that is becoming more and more fragmented; at times it feels like a never-ending twilight episode. Whole sections of society become blind to the meaning of facts, especially when those facts conflict with their worldview. People go into rants because they have a particular point of view that they want to push, and when the known facts don’t back this up, they ignore those facts, sometimes making up others to replace them.
I believe a lot of that is caused by relativism – the notion that facts or truth are a personal thing. We have been cowed into a politically correct framework that says when you are wrong; it isn’t nice to tell you. In this new world order, there is no right or wrong – no one has the right to judge anyone else (UNLESS the judge holds the right, politically correct views.) Two prominent examples come to mind:
Man-made Global Warming is a religion masquerading as science. Statistics were twisted, climate models with no true foundation were presented as fact. The name had to be changed to Man-made Climate Change because we haven’t been warming for at least a decade. Proponents have been caught red-handed, throwing out or suppressing data that conflicted with the theory they wanted to push.
As John Adams said in defending the British soldiers on trial for the Boston Massacre, “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”
Ignoring facts and evidence is not science; science is based on examining and accounting for ALL the facts, especially the ones that disprove your theory. Despite a profound lack of proof, there are still people pressing to fix a problem that has existed - forever? – and is mostly caused by variations in solar activity.
The killing Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri has become a rallying cry against racial injustice and police brutality (and a convenient excuse for lawless rioting and looting), with no evidence to support either charge. All physical evidence and verifiable eye-witness accounts validate the officer’s account, and a Grand Jury has refused to indict the officer for defending his own life. Yet people with a particular political axe to grind refuse to pay attention to these stubborn facts, and continue to act as though we’re talking about an angel killed by white devils. Regardless of the facts, they insisted on an indictment – and then a conviction – or they would protest/riot. And if there was an indictment? They would still riot anyway. Neither the evidence nor the decision really mattered.
In relation to this story, it would be nice if we could see some honesty in reporting. Using the phrase “unarmed teenager” to describe Michael Brown may be factually correct, but it is a way of using the connotation behind those facts to lie about what happened, and I still see it used today. Here’s a test: close your eyes and visualize an unarmed teenager, then open them and watch the video of Mr. Brown stealing cigars. Does that description really match the person?
A thug regardless of his color is still a thug. If he performs a strong-arm robbery, refuses to respond properly to authorities, then assaults a police officer, and when pursued charges that officer to assault him again, tell me why he shouldn’t be shot?
There also seems to be confusion over the use of the words PROTESTOR and RIOTER, as though they are one in the same. That needs to be cleaned up, too. People exercising their freedom of speech by expressing their opinion in the public square are PROTESTORS, and have a CIVIL RIGHT to do this whether I agree with them or not. People breaking into and burning buildings they don’t own, or stealing the property of others, are violating our laws and the CIVIL RIGHTS of others, and should be behind bars, no matter what color they are.
You can have your own opinions, because there are plenty to go around. Why are there second opinions? Because opinions can be wrong, and they can also change. You can’t have your own facts. The truth is fixed – not malleable. Facts don’t lie; they can be manipulated, misinterpreted, or misrepresented, but they don’t change just because you want them to.
Can’t we all just deal with reality? REALLY.
Just saying…
William Mangieri’s writing (including his latest ePublication “Dead End Jobs”) can be found in many places, such as:

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Monday, November 24, 2014

Life Happens

Why can’t life be more organized? I make plans, try to account for things that could go wrong, build in contingencies and “fudge factors” for all the things that could happen that I didn’t know, and that I didn’t know I didn’t know, and yet at the end of the day/month/year/life it still turns out as Robert Burns wrote (supposedly after unintentionally ploughing up a nest of mice in his field):
The best laid schemes o' Mice an' Men,
Gang aft agley,
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
For promis'd joy!

Loosely, the best laid plans of mice and men often go astray. The second part about getting pain when you’re hoping for joy may sound a bit pessimistic, but we don’t generally plan for – as in WANT to achieve – grief and pain, so when our plans are thwarted, where else would we be? Sometimes things work out the way we plan it, but, by and large, we are left scrambling to turn things around to where we think they should be.
Let’s face it, life isn’t an efficiency program. How often have you thought that it would run more smoothly if things worked differently? Life isn’t fair (how many times do we have to listen to that complaint?) – no matter how hard you try, you can’t force fairness, any more than you can change the weather.
Life is what it is – it’s not what you want it to be.
I believe life is a never-ending class in which tests are thrown at you (mostly unscheduled pop-tests), and our task is to make the best of the situation and learn from it. We’re supposed to GROW and EVOLVE.
How do we learn best? Total emersion works for languages. The Marines and other military organizations have their own forms of total emersion. That’s what LIFE is – most of the time, YOU REALLY DON’T GET TO TAKE A BREAK FROM LIVING (and what would that be called, exactly?)
Despite what you’ve heard, life isn’t the game where HE WHO HAS THE MOST TOYS WINS. The material goods are a sideshow; what happens inside of you by the end is what truly matters. It’s up to each of us to make the best of our days before we move on.
Just saying…
William Mangieri’s writing (including his latest ePublication “Dead End Jobs”) can be found in many places, such as:

Connect with him on Facebook at:

Monday, November 17, 2014

What To Do With All This Holiday Convenience

Here we are entering the HOLIDAY SEASON.
No, strike that – it’s already here. I’ve gotten behind the times (not unusual) – the Holiday Season used to start with Thanksgiving, but it looks like it now starts right after Halloween, in the beginning of November. First Sunday night of the month, I was out driving with my wife, trying to figure why there was so much traffic on road. It looked like the CHRISTMAS SHOPPERS were already out in force.
Like I said, I haven’t been keeping up; fact is, I don’t intend to.
The Holidays have become a time to take advantage of the year end bargains as stores try to close out their books in the black. I haven’t participated in BLACK FRIDAY, nor have I ever tried out CYBER MONDAY. These events are an affliction to me – I have no desire to be rushing from store to store (even if it’s online) looking for stuff at a time when I want to sit back, relax and recharge, and reflect on the year.
Technology has changed our world. I remember when Thanksgiving was an all-day event, because it took that long just to cook everything. The family would SPEND TIME TOGETHER visiting and catching up. Even if you weren’t part of the kitchen crew, the pace slowed.
There are still people who opt for doing some real, time-intensive cooking, but now you can pretty much settle for an abbreviated version where everything’s out of the microwave in an hour.
With all that time saved, you would think we could spend more time relaxing, but without the enforcement of “you have to be in the kitchen first thing to prep the turkey and then put it in the oven and watch it for hours to make sure it and the rest of the fixings are ready,” we don’t tend to stay put. Instead, we look at the time ahead of us and think of everything we can do in those three hours. Or thirty minutes. Or thirty seconds.
Nowadays, there is almost no measure of time that is so small that we might as well just relax, because we can’t get anything done. Technology has removed the freedom that existed in the gaps between our activities, and given us the shackle of productivity.
I’m not talking about work, although that’s been impacted too. I worry about the generations who’ve been growing up with instant-on, always connected, who can’t stay in a conversation for a minute without cutting out to answer a text (I wonder: how much depth can your relationships develop in 140 character bursts? I know texts can be longer that, but it’s generally a short, rapid-fire conversation.) With all this enabled multitasking, can’t we just focus on one conversation anymore?
What have we gained? Convenience. We can do so many things so quickly now, we’ve forgotten how to wait.
What have we lost? Relaxation - the ability to stop and do nothing. Or more importantly, to take time with our thoughts, to get to know those around us, AND OURSELVES.
Technology should be making our lives better – augmenting them, not taking away.
Just saying…
William Mangieri’s writing (including his latest ePublication “Dead End Jobs”) can be found in many places, such as:

Connect with him on Facebook at:

Monday, November 10, 2014

What Inspires You?

On November 1st Brittany Maynard ended her life. The 29-year old woman, afflicted with terminal brain cancer, had deliberately moved to Oregon to take advantage of their Death with Dignity Act. She spent weeks posting her thoughts and reasons, gained a large following, and then took her own life, pretty much on schedule.
I have to wonder - is this part of the slippery slope we entered when we stopped valuing life itself in favor of QUALITY of life? Once we’ve decided it’s okay to end one’s own life, how long will I take us to slide into having someone else decide it’s our time?
As these things seem to happen only too coincidentally, the story of Lauren Hill came to prominence as a counterpoint. Lauren is 19 and has an inoperable brain tumor. She loves basketball, and chose to pursue her dream on the court for Mount Saint Joseph University, making the most of the time she has left and inspiring others.
There you have two different approaches to handling a frightening brain cancer, but this posting isn’t just about the choices of the terminally ill. 
None of us exist in a bubble – we all have an impact on others. Even those of us who prefer not to be involved with our fellow man still set our own examples, whether we want to or not (much like the belly-aching sports stars who claim not to be role models, but are still modeling behaviors and standards.) Our fellow humans, especially our young, see what we do and emulate it.
If a positive attitude is supposed to help in the fight (against illness, or some other struggle), what does it do when you make a virtue out of giving up? Life – even without having to deal with a fatal illness – isn’t easy. The going is harder under any negative circumstances when what you see around you is a culture of surrender. How many of you think it’s a good idea to tell your friend to give up when they come to you and say “I’m having a hard time”? How does telling them to quit make things better?
Each of us has a responsibility to make the world a better, more positive place. No, it will never be perfect – there will always be pain and suffering. And NO, we can’t make life fair – unless we want to lower the experience equally for everyone. It can be wonderful to IMAGINE some bright UTOPIA where everything is perfect, but you can get lost in that dream and lose track of REALITY. We need to deal with life as it is, to find ways to inspire others and be inspired.
Me? I’m not inspired by stories about people giving up. The stories that stick with me and help drive me usually involve impossible odds and underdogs who see how the deck is stacked against them, but push forward anyway. Sometimes they beat the odds, but even when they don’t, they leave an example for others to strive for (and build on.)
You can’t win against the odds if you don’t finish the game. Never give up! Never surrender!
Just saying…
William Mangieri’s writing (including his latest collection of short stories titled: “Still Even More Things I Could Get OUT OF MY MIND”) can be found in many places, such as:

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Tuesday, November 4, 2014


You can only do so much with chicken, and yet there are a countless number (at least it seems like it) of fast food franchises specializing in it. How can you tell them apart? There must be something unique about each for so many of them to survive.
There is nothing new under the sun, and yet we have whole industries (music, entertainment, publishing) built around the idea that we can create something new, with millions of lifetimes spent trying to prove that point every day. Before the written word, the printing press, computers and other media, these things only existed in people’s memories, so creations could be lost and rediscovered. Nowadays nothing goes away (even if you wish it would.)
What distinguishes one story from another? Ultimately, the story must find its way into the reader’s heart. More properly READERS’ HEARTS. Writing is a one-to-many street. An author pours his lone heart out in a story, and hopes the story connects with readers, so they take it into their own.
How do you connect with an infinite number of hearts? You can’t target any individual reader if you want a broad appeal. You have to do the best you can getting into the single heart at the other end of this connection. As a writer, that means YOUR OWN HEART.
What makes you different? How do you stand out? (Don’t even try to tell me you don’t want to. Everyone wants to be noticed, to be acknowledged as an individual in some way. Sure, you may not want fame, but we all get to the end of our lives in this world and look back to see whether our being here made any difference at all – whether we were noticed. What we specifically place value on varies from person, but everyone wants to feel they accomplished something over a lifetime.)
What is your heart’s desire? To be remembered and missed by friends and family? To be immortalized by your own chicken recipe? To write a story that connects with readers, maybe even generations later? To make people laugh? Whatever it is you’re seeking, it’s not going to happen on its own, so get on out there and make your difference happen.
Just saying…
William Mangieri’s writing (including his latest ePublication, a collection of short stories titled: “Still Even More Things I Could Get OUT OF MY MIND”) can be found in many places, such as:

Connect with him on Facebook at:

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Origins of Still Even More Things I Could Get OUT OF MY MIND

This weekend it will be time to indie publish my 4th short story collection, titled Still Even More Things I Could Get OUT OF MY MIND (yes, the titles will just keep getting longer.) Here is the “Origins” section (a sort of afterword.)
Building an inventory of stories and a “collection” of readers is a very slow process. I haven’t been at writing for long, and indie-publishing even less time than that, but it’s obvious that I’m not going to get rich doing this. So why do I continue?
Money isn’t everything (people tend to say this when it’s not rolling in, don’t they?), and it certainly isn’t the only reason I write. Part of this is a challenge to myself (to create a plan and make myself stick to it), part is psychotherapeutic exploration (I often wonder what would come pouring out of me if I had some variation of Turret’s Syndrome), and part is creative release (something that has been sorely missing from my life until recently.)
Regardless of the motivation, all these things did come OUT OF MY MIND, and it might be interesting for me to recollect how.
In “Bugging Out” I was exploring a couple of disturbing observations about impermanence – the way that buildings seem to instantly appear (yes, I know they were probably being built for weeks and I just wasn’t paying attention) and also how common objects that I know I just saw simply vanish (where did I put those keys?). What if these things involved some sort of extra dimensional space or creatures? Maybe some strange, blue beetles? (Coincidentally, soon after I struggled to find a photo of a beetle that I could use for the eBook’s cover, I encountered dozens of these beetles flying in my backyard – this was the first time they had ever appeared in the twenty-plus years that we have lived in this house. I’m still waiting to see if something comes of them.) 
“The Unreliability of the Mature Mind” is an ongoing concern for me as I watch my memory slip further from being reliable. I wondered – if you had an advanced brain-washing technique that involved creating false memories by building new neural connections, would it work with people whose neural pathways aren’t holding together? Could dementia be a defense against manipulation?
Mental invasion and control keeps cropping up in my work. “My Brother’s Keeper” took the medieval notion of demon possession, which some “science” now tries to explain away as probable psychological disorders – I’m not sure I buy into that. What if there is such a thing as possession, but it’s a little more commonplace – at least for a visiting alien culture?
Alien thoughts, paranoia, and infectious disease gave birth to “The Black Spot”. It’s the kind of story that makes me wonder what else I have lurking around in my mind and how it got there (just ‘cause you’re paranoid doesn’t mean there isn’t something in there, you know.)
I wrote “Flee Markets” just to play around with the unoriginal notion of a transitory shop, but it became a story about escapes. Samantha wants to escape from a humdrum summer - she’s mostly thinking in terms of escaping into fantasy literature, but encounters Phineas - a renegade shop-owner who has more to offer than she could have imagined. In the end, Phineas escapes from the authorities, and Samantha has material to help write escapes for others.
“Canabis alienus ‘alien dope’” originated from something that really happened to me (no, not the alien slug.) My family moved out of state before my junior year of high school, and two years later (after graduation) I made a trip back to what used to be home to try reconnecting with people I knew. Aside from learning that it only took two years for things to change so much that I couldn’t really “go back”, I also had an encounter with a former band mate who had taken a wrong turn, and took me on a journey through woods and corn fields to see where he had stashed his marijuana plant.
No matter what generation we are talking about, we humans never seem to learn from the past experiences of others – we are destined to make mistakes and screw up our own lives before we understand why we shouldn’t have done what we did. Live and learn is the only way that really works.
Just saying…
William Mangieri’s writing (including his latest ePublication: “Dempsey’s Debut”) can be found in many places, such as:

Connect with him on Facebook at:

Monday, October 20, 2014

Don’t Panic?

So here we are in Dallas with more Ebola cases showing up, and the radius of potential exposures widening from ground zero. We are counting on AUTHORITIES, advised by EXPERTS, to keep us safe and informed. They say “DON’T PANIC – TRUST US.”
 And yet an uneasiness has descended on us. People are nervous of strangers on planes. School attendance is down because parents are keeping their children home even though there’s NOTHING TO WORRY ABOUT. We worry about sitting in a restaurant, or shopping in a store. Or riding on a bus. Why is that?
Part of it may be a perception that the AUTHORITIES are more interested in economics than in stopping the spread of a 70% fatal disease. We won’t put a travel ban on people from West Africa because that would damage the economies of those countries, so instead a man came to Dallas from Liberia – ONE MAN – and now we have at least two more people with Ebola and HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE being told to self monitor. We don’t want to declare an emergency in Dallas, because then the conventions we have planned won’t come, and that will hurt the economy here. It reminds me of the Mayor in Jaws, who ignored his experts because he didn’t want to close the beaches at the start of TOURIST SEASON; the shark got another meal, so see how well that went.
We don’t trust our AUTHORITIES because their motivations are conflicted (and that distrust isn’t improved by the dodginess of the current administration.) But what about the EXPERTS? With each new day it becomes more apparent that they really aren’t EXPERT where it counts:
·         When the first nurse was diagnosed, we were told it was a failure in following protocols and training, but nurses are complaining (across the country) that there is either no or inadequate training and protective gear.
·         Did you know that the magic 21 days spent waiting to see if an exposed person has Ebola is a fallacy? 5% of people can still take as long as 42 days to show symptoms. That means that out of the initial 45 people who just finished being watched, 2-3 of them might still have it. Do all those 45 people (plus the 70 or so hospital workers) know this, or they going to assume it’s JUST THE FLU if it manifests later?
·         A symptomatic nurse flew from Dallas to Ohio and back with a low-grade fever – she was told by the CDC (the REAL EXPERTS?) that it was okay if she was below 100.4 F. Turned out they were wrong.
·         We watched one of the sick nurses being loaded onto a plane to go to Atlanta for treatment. Some of the people assisting her wore hazmat gear, while others had NO PROTECTION AT ALL.
·         A local judge (Clay Jenkins) insisted on visiting exposed people and parading around the fact that he had no protection. Why isn’t he in quarantine?
·         An EXPERT is asked if you can catch Ebola from someone who has it if they sneeze; the EXPERT claims that people with Ebola don’t sneeze (I guess that means that Ebola prevents allergies?)
Now we have a POLITICAL OPERATIVE WITH NO MEDICAL BACKGROUND running the Federal response to Ebola. Based on his background, what is the likelihood that he would advise travel bans? Or REAL quarantines?
We need some common sense here. Allow no more travel from blighted countries (if you can’t tell if someone’s infected for 42 days, what difference does taking their temperature at the airport make?). No more voluntary quarantines (we’ve seen how well that worked.)
Don’t panic? That would be a lot easier if the whole operation didn’t look like a house of cards continuing to fall. If we could TRUST these people to REALLY KNOW WHAT THEY’RE DOING.
Just saying…
William Mangieri’s writing (including his latest ePublication: “Dempsey’s Debut”) can be found in many places, such as:

Connect with him on Facebook at:

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

A Certain Kind of Evil

When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary… to interact with other humans. Sometimes these interactions are impossible, with no compromise position that will satisfy both sides. When this happens, we have war – sometimes literal, sometimes legal, sometimes just verbal – and the chips fall where they may.
But for the most part, we deal with each other with a win-win mentality – you have something I need, I have something you need, and we figure out how to perform an exchange that makes us both happy, or the exchange doesn’t occur.
Human beings are able to look backward and forward in time – we plan for the future, and use our past experiences to help us to determine the most likely path to get us where we want to go.
For the path to work out, for our hopes for the future to be realized, we count on a certain amount of stability in our world. Gravity will work. The sun will come out tomorrow. The earth won’t dissolve. People will keep their word.
I believe the majority of people function under enlightened self-interest. We work towards improving our own individual lot, but we understand that the best way to do that is to do cooperate with others and do them no harm. We enter into mutually beneficial contracts of all sorts - formal or otherwise - with others as we move forward pursuing our hopes for the future.
The stealing of hope is a certain kind of EVIL. It doesn’t just stay in the moment – it affects a person’s ability to continue on toward a better future. It’s hard to plan when the ground under you keeps moving. It’s hard to look ahead when you’re not sure of anything. People who flail around grabbing what they want - not caring who they hurt in the process - destroy the faith of good people in each other, and make it that much harder to hope for a better future.
There are selfish, totally self-involved people in this world, who are unable to function on any level other than what’s in it for them. Their ability to feel anything for others is non-existent. Sometimes it takes a while to spot them – you have to watch for the wake of destruction they leave behind them. In our modern day society, we refer to these people as socio-paths, or we ascribe some other mental-illness condition to them. They may be, but what they also are is EVIL.
We have been dealing with the effects of one of these recently. Sometimes it looks like the bad guys are winning, but I believe that - if not in the here and now - these people will get their comeuppance. Eventually we all get what we deserve.
Just saying…
William Mangieri’s writing (including his latest ePublication: “Dempsey’s Debut”) can be found in many places, such as:

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Monday, October 6, 2014

Systems In Place

Back in the day, I used to rent a lot of videos (the actual DVD’s) from Blockbuster. One time they claimed that I hadn't returned a DVD and they tried to charge me for it as though I’d purchased it. I knew exactly when I had dropped the DVD off, but it wasn’t showing in their inventory. I asked if it could have wound up back on the shelf, and the manager insisted that this was impossible -they had rules and SYSTEMS IN PLACE to prevent this. Until the customer at the next register tried to rent the movie I had returned.
Human beings are predictably unpredictable. No matter what rules you set up, there are going to be failures. Let’s play an adventure game:
You are exposed to a disease that’s 90% fatal. But that’s in the country where you live, where it’s an epidemic, and where the medical infrastructure isn’t up to dealing with it. You have family living in a different country, with the best medical infrastructure IN THE WORLD, and where no one who has been there with the disease has died. You have a week or so before you’re condition is obvious, and you can fly to the other country if you just lie to your country about your exposure,  and you know the other country will let you in no matter what, and once you’re in you will just be part of twelve million so undocumented people who are staying there because no one will make them leave. What would you do?
1.     Be honest, banned from flying out of a hot zone, and probably die either from the exposure you’ve already had or a new one.
2.    Lie so you can fly out of the hot zone, hoping that either your exposure was insufficient, or the medical care in the other country could save you.
Why are we surprised that someone would do this? It’s because so many EXPERTS forget something very basic: in the end, they’re not dealing with automatonic widgets – they’re dealing with HUMAN BEINGS.
So, we have SYSTEMS IN PLACE, but still we have Ebola in Dallas.
It would be really helpful if we had a test that detected ebola before someone was contagious, but it seems we have to wait 3 days after the onset of symptoms and contagion to get a useful result (that’s 24 days after exposure.) I hope someone’s working on a test that gives us an earlier warning.
But back to those pesky humans…
You can put any system in place that you want, but you have to realize that with the human element, you can’t count on all those processes to be followed. So don’t just assume that they are – build in extra safeguards.
Maybe you don’t just count on people to be honest about whether they’ve been exposed. Maybe you create 21-day isolation centers for people coming in from high risk countries. Or maybe you don’t let them come in at all.
Free will is the bane of perfection – as tempting as it is to have all that supposed (but impossible) safety, we have to make the best out of the imperfect people we are.
Remain calm and carry on (but try not to carry on so much…)
Just saying…

William Mangieri’s writing (including his latest ePublication: “Close Enough”) can be found in many places, such as:

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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Writing or Selling?

I think I can write, but I know I can’t sell – it’s just not in my DNA, but all jobs require it.
There are people who can sell you any garbage they want to (an especially prevalent skill set in politics) but I can’t sell anything, even if I know you’re looking for it. This can be a problem, because all jobs require selling. It starts at the very beginning when you apply for a job – you’re trying to sell your services to an employer, and the more adept you are at selling, the more likely the sale will happen (you’ll be hired) and the more likely it is that the pay will increase with each negotiation.
I guess that’s why I also hate job-searching – the process doesn’t play to my strengths.
In addition, throughout your tenure, opportunities will come up to convince (sell) your employer, co-workers, and customers on ideas and decisions. This is why salesmen are always in demand.
We sell throughout life – securing a spouse, negotiating what game we’re playing with friends, what kind of pizza (there is no other type of food, right?) we’re going to order, what house, what town, what …
After 2-1/2 years of indie publishing without generating a lot of sales volume, I’ve decided to give Kindle Select a test drive on a couple of my stories (“Anti-Social” and “Reconcilable Differences”.) I resisted doing this before, because it means that the stories I put in the Kindle Select program can’t be sold ANYWHERE ELSE. As Dean Wesley Smith says, it makes no sense to limit your sales to ONLY Amazon.
However, Amazon puts a huge pool of money out there to distribute among the eBooks that are borrowed through the Kindle Lending Library or other Amazon programs – even if someone only reads 10% of one, the author gets a share of that money. This may work into a more profitable use of “free” giveaways than my ill-fated attempts at free earlier this year.
We’ll see whether it works – the eBooks need to stay in the program for 90 days. Who knows – it might bring in a little more money, maybe even generate a little more traffic to my other publications. Obviously, just writing isn’t enough – I have to find ways to sell.
Now, I’m not blind to the possibility that I don’t know how to write anything interesting enough to buy. But as POOR A SALESMAN as I am, the fact that anyone has bought stories from me… well, I MUST be writing something worth reading.
Just saying…

William Mangieri’s writing (including his latest ePublication: “Close Enough”) can be found in many places, such as:

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