When what you write creeps you out!

Photo Credit: NY Post

I don’t know if this is really in the “It’s Only Fiction `til It Happens” pocket, but I wrote a scene set in Paris where bad guys cover some money laundering tracks by blowing up an art gallery and killing the people who work there. The French authorities never suspect any foul play because the perpetrators made it look like a gas leak explosion.  A few weeks ago, a real building exploded here in Manhattan’s East Village. Two people died. God rest their souls.

It made me feel creepy.  It also made me think.

Last year a whole apartment building, up in Harlem, was destroyed in a gas explosion. When you consider the fact that gas is in 99.9 percent of every home, apartment house and business in the developed world, it’s amazing that it doesn’t happen with more frequency. I guess the fact that when it does happen, it makes the news, bodes well for how relatively safe it is worldwide.

In The God Particle, I used a gas emergency to ferret out some bad guys in a European neighborhood.  And in a Bourne movie, he breaks the gas line and puts a magazine in the toaster. When it pop the whole house pops along with it. Steven Segal turned on the gas jets in the galley of a battleship and threw something in the microwave and set it for “Boom.” So using gas as a deadly device in fiction is not new. It’s how you trigger it that is the area for “fresh air”, i.e. toasters, ringing phones, electrical contacts attached to doorways that spark, etc.  By the way, none of those igniters are what I used in my novel, but you’ll have to wait till October 20th when, “Give Us This Day” premieres at a bookstore near you.

But still, having a real deadly explosion, so close to my fictionalized deadly explosion is a little unnerving.

Tomorrow, I will write of an author who wins Powerball! Let’s see if this “mojo” maintains.

 

Live from New York, it’s only fiction `til it happens. 

In my second novel, The Hammer of God, a massive terrorist plot, which the nation was expecting, fizzles. But unfortunately for the terrorists, their pre-recorded on-line propaganda video, taking responsibility for the devastating attack (which didn’t happen) runs as scheduled.

In response to the collective relief of the nation over the terror of just the impending threat alone, and the premature celebratory faux pas by the inept terror group, Saturday Night Live does a comedy sketch depicting the terrorist as premature ejaculators. Using a Jihad-John type who can get through his rant as he keeps having dreaded and unmanly early “arrivals”.

That was the fiction part. (read an edited excerpt below)

isis-620x412Two weeks ago, SNL ran a commercial that started out like the sappy super bowl car ad where the dad has to let his college aged daughter (50 Shades of Grey actress Dakota Johnson) go out in to the world and make her own way.

Only, the comedic reveal is that she is joining ISIS as a bride.

In both these instances, my fiction and our reality, America deals with the unthinkable by whistling past the graveyard.

For it’s daring to make fun of savages who kill brutally on a wholesale basis, SNL has received its share of condemnation on the Internet. But I feel many miss the point, taste or lack of it aside, this skit, this parody of a real commercial is based on a gruesome reality that is happening right now! For some unfathomable reason, young woman from America and other western countries are leaving their families to become, essentially, female slaves and baby factories for the savages of ISIS.

In my first book, The Eighth Day, I deal with a psychological manipulation/programming of people when they are online by images that are fed to their subconscious by the computer. This subliminal suggestion compels them to do unthinkable things against all societal norms and self-preserving instincts. ISIS has shown great production and social media ability, could this inexplicable behavior of young women possibly be caused by the same type of manipulation that is the premise of my first book? It’s only fiction `til it happens!

Edited excerpt from page 287 of The Hammer of God:

Also priceless was the almost pitiful way the terrorist spokesperson was bragging about the success of the attack and its abrupt removal from the airwaves.

Along with a giant sigh of national relief, … two final cultural nails were put into the coffin of the loose nuke nightmare. The first was that the web- site, MyCEP.com, went from four million hits a day, down to forty-four. Then came a “Saturday Night Live” parody of the Al Jazeera “Melted Ships” video. In this version, the masked terrorist spokesperson kept having premature orgasms as he tried to follow the script. It ended with a shot of 72 virgins, some bored, some sleeping, and some playing solitaire up in Heaven.

The audience response was the convulsive laughter born out of the deep terror shared just a few days earlier.

Tantalus or Daedalus?

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In the last blog post, “We are at day Four of the Eighth Day,” I wrote of the threat that could be posed to the human race by the new race of Artificially Intelligent machines that we are building.  Just like in my book, The Eighth Day, the Artificial Intelligence entity, in a last ditch attempt to save its sentient life because we have figured out it wants to eradicate humankind, offered up a host of technological miracles to temporarily seduce us.

Imagine for a minute that you are one hundred years in the future.  As one of the few survivors of the global uprising of the machines, you are looking back to see how this whole enslavement and eradication of the human race happened. You find an old iMac. On it is the last Goggle page searched by some blogger, (me), as he was writing an article. This is what you would see in the search results for Artificial Intelligence.

  • Search Results: 14 found.
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Ordered by descending date.
  • Clicking on ^ opens the link in a new window.

Pages: 1    ALL

Race to embrace Artificial Intelligence… ^

January 04, 2015 22:12:36 GMT

Century-Long Study Will Examine Effects of Artificial Intelligence… ^

From the December 15, 2014 22:52:46 GMT

Stephen Hawking: ‘Artificial intelligence could spell end of human race’… ^

From the December 02, 2014 18:19:51 GMT

Artificial Intelligence Outperforms Average High School Senior… ^

From the November 04, 2014 12:49:24 GMT

IBM artificial intelligence to get broad access to TWITTER data… ^

From the October 29, 2014 20:57:48 GMT

Elon Musk: ‘With artificial intelligence we are summoning the demon’… ^

From the October 24, 2014 19:16:52 GMT

ELON MUSK: Artificial Intelligence Could Wipe Out Humanity… ^

From the October 10, 2014 01:09:00 GMT

ELON MUSK: Artificial Intelligence Could Wipe Out Humanty… ^

From the October 09, 2014 15:58:02 GMT

IBM plans artificial intelligence push… ^

From the October 07, 2014 22:44:14 GMT

Hawking: Artificial intelligence could be ‘real danger’ in near future… ^

From the June 16, 2014 17:44:26 GMT

Computer becomes first to pass Turing Test in artificial intelligence milestone… Academics warn of dangerous future… ^

From the June 08, 2014 16:12:40 GMT

FACEBOOK Joins NYU in Artificial Intelligence Lab… ^

From the December 09, 2013 21:48:50 GMT

Disease database will use artificial intelligence to find new cancer treatments… ^

From the November 13, 2013 00:14:49 GMT

‘Artificial intelligence to transform web’… ^

From the December 29, 2010 14:39:00 GMT

If you actually took the time to read the above what you saw was the Tantalus propositions mixed in with the dire warnings.  This is always the way humans fall prey to something. Seeing only the benefit without weighing the potential risks. After all, who cares if a few smart guys cry wolf over A.I.? How can we possibly let their “chicken little rantings” stand in the way of Artificial Intelligence finding new cancer treatments!

Just like in my book, The Eighth Day, the Artificial Intelligence entity in a last ditch attempt to save its sentient life offered up a host of technological miracles. Quantum leap advancements that only it’s artificially intelligent born brain, unfettered, by human limitations, emotions and compassion could achieve.  Tantalizing gifts like curing cancer, unending food supplies, eternal life and interplanetary travel.

Moral: The devil always comes to you with candy!

 

Why you always need a human in the chain of command…

This morning I was perusing a newsfeed and saw the following headline.

TV HOST TRAPPED IN ELEVATOR PLUNGE.

Being both a TV watcher and an elevator user, I clicked on it and the header of the article appeared on my iPhone.

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When I scrolled down the next item I encountered was this:

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Followed by this:

IMG_7143

Now many of you might not know that my other life, when I am not being a fancy-schmancy author, I am a Senior Vice President/Creative Director of a New York advertising agency. So I know a little something about serving up ads. In this case, Federal, the advertiser has been SERVED! But not by a human! This client was served by an algorithm: a stream of computer code devoid of any reason or understanding.  This little “Ad-Bot” was told (programmed) by someone to scrub all on-line published content, and, IF you see any reference to the key words ‘Elevator’ or ’Lift’ or ‘Escalator’, etc. THEN serve up this ad [Home Lifts] to that site.”

So that’s how the client who is selling the safety, reliability and convenience of an In-Home elevator or stairway lift device, got put in the middle of a frightening, death-defying, terror inducing, nightmare of a story of,

“When Elevators Go Bad and Try to Kill Humans.”

Or maybe it was just that the little “Ad-Bot” was tickled by the story where the machine gets to scare the crap out of humans… what a delightful fantasy for a lowly machine-born entity to have.

Decorum precludes me from delving into the further bad taste in judgment of having the picture of a woman’s face immediately underlined with the notion of “Home Lifts” – but I will leave that to Greta’s liable lawyers to hash out.

Also you may notice the ad for “nurse training” at the bottom of the frame grab. It’s a sure bet that added into that particular ad’s algorithm is an overlap that may have included some term common to, both the Nurse and the Lift’s, Ad-Bot’s instructions. A word recognition coding chain that tried to point their ads at people who are -ELDERLY- or -CARING FOR ELDERS- or –ELDER CARE- or –CARE WORKERS-. Ergo; Learn To Be A Nurse was served up on a near-tragic elevator story.   In the screwy world of the automated ad agency logic, this stuff makes perfect sense… but in our human world it makes nonsense.

By the way, and my boss is making me write this, IN OUR AGENCY, we would have used the exclusionary options to serve up the ad ONLY IF words like death, fear, terror, drop, trapped, police, fire department, vomit, etc. were NOT found in the text of the piece.  There, now my “other” job is safe.

It’s Only Fiction ‘Til It Happens: Where it all started.

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Years back I wrote a screenplay called, Looking Glass. It was my first ever effort at writing something longer than a school composition. Which I sucked at, ergo, writing wasn’t something I embraced until I was 28. Back then I had an idea based on the fact that a friend of mine’s father was the twin of a venerated academy award-winning actor – which no one was aware of at the time. The time being the pre-Internet, pre-social media days of the eighties. Anyway, armed with this secret, I imagined an epiphanous scene in a movie that as yet had no story or plot. The scene was the here-to-fore impossible shot of an actor and his doppelgänger coming face to face as the camera does a 360 all around them. Everyone in 1982 would have scratched their heads as to how we managed to do that shot. Today you can do it on a laptop!

But I “progress,” – So then the question was “what’s the plot” to put around this “socko” scene. Here’s what I came up with: what if my “twinned” star is a top Air Force pilot. So good he is the chief pilot of Air Force One. Then he gets a promotion! To a secret plane, more important than AF1. More dangerous, more expensive, more movie box office value. I called it, Looking Glass. I made it a converted 747 with the interior that rivaled a large nuclear submarine. Packed with electronics, defensive measures and the power to launch, run and win a nuclear war. I gave it technical “gee whiz” powers that were beyond that of any plane. Or so I thought. Turns out, I nailed one of the biggest secret programs ever. It was not even known to certain defense contractors, who at first commented on how my script was pure fiction, but then recanted with their tail between their legs as they dug deeper into a black program that turned out was my Looking Glass movie plane.

Why bring this up now? Forbes Magazine just ran a story;

“A Doomsday Plane Reminder: Nuclear Weapons Haven’t Gone Away” – Loren Thompson Contributor

It’s an article about how the Air Force is now seeking funding for upgrading the E4B NEACP. My baby, the one I designed in my screenplay. You see, as I pointed out in The Eighth Day;

At first blush, nuclear weapons research seemed a relic of America’s
paranoid, mutually assured destructive past…even though the Cold War
ended nearly two decades before, one tiny troublesome fact remained.
It seemed someone forgot to tell the Russian Strategic Rocket Force,
its commanders, and their nineteen missile divisions to go home,
it was all over. Instead, the Soviet’s mega death-tipped SS-20s and the
like were still targeted at Main Street, U.S.A., just like in the bad old days.
Our politicians had moved this undiminished nuclear threat to the back
burners of America’s collective consciousness, primarily by negotiating
away atmospheric and below-ground testing. It was good public relations
but it did nothing to reduce the stockpile of overkill both nations stored away
like dangerous nuts for a nuclear winter.

So, “news flash,” in terms of nuclear war, it’s still 1962. Nothing has changed. The nuclear sword of Damocles is still poised over our heads. The “nuclear clock” is still a few ticks from midnight. All that has changed in over 50 years is, no bomb shelters, no kids practicing going under their desks and putting there hands over their heads and no Conelrad Alerts. (look it up if you are under 40)
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In my movie, there was always one Looking Glass plane in the air at all times… after all it was right in the middle of the cold war… Now a quote from today’s article (or my screenplay; take your pick);

…the media have ceased paying attention to the most likely way in which America might one day disappear forever.
America’s military hasn’t.  One of the four doomsday planes is kept on continuous alert and manned at all times.  

Later in the article:

U.S. military planners take this threat so seriously that when the president [Mr. Obama] goes overseas, one of the doomsday planes always follows.  It needs to be nearby at all times, as does the military aide within a few yards of the president carrying nuclear launch codes and communications gear. 

So there you have it, the moment when, “It’s Only Fiction ‘til It Happens,” was born. I will leave you with this new appreciation of an old recurring nightmare. Sleep tight.

Extra Credit worries: In that same screenplay back in 1982, religious fundamentalists conspired to hijack Looking Glass and start a nuclear war killing all the infidels by replacing my acting twin with his brother in that great scene!

Read the full article that nuclear weapons haven’t gone away here

Calling Anthony …Anthony…Carlos Danger

From the public files of, “It’s Only Fiction `til It Happens…”

The master of intelligent suspense, author Linda Fairstein, was recently on the radio discussing her new book, Death Angel, when she related a story to the show’s host that in her first draft she had created a character that was a New York political type who had gotten mired in a Sexting scandal. Her agent pushed for and succeeded in getting her to remove the character from the manuscript because it was, and I am paraphrasing, “too unbelievable” or some such expression of, ‘far fetched’… it should be noted that Linda Fairstein was chief of the Sex Crimes Unit of the district attorney’s office in Manhattan for more than two decades as well as a brilliant author!

Welcome Anthony Putz:

In case you haven’t heard, here in New York, we got a guy from Brooklyn running for Mayor, Anthony Wiener.  He’s a freak of the highest order. His ego knows no limits, matrimonial or legal.  He practices a form of “electioneering” that takes all the wrong lessons from our political past and combines them into one very ugly new paradigm.  He’s a object lesson of why sometimes technology in the wrong hands, his hands pointing back at himself, doesn’t deliver on the promised utopia it might otherwise had achieved. Continue reading

The Pen is Mightier than the Empire!

I just wanted to wish everyone a happy and reflective Independence Day.

We often forget the extreme bravery it took for those 56 colonists to sign the Declaration Of Independence and tell the most powerful man in the world;

“Take your British Empire and stuff it!  –  Oh, and by the way,

King George, here’s my name, you know where I live.”

British Troops hunted many of the signers down and tortured them to force them to renounce their pledge. Not one of them renounced their conviction to liberty, or the commitment of their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor to the cause of freedom, even though for some it was a horrible death.

Before the Declaration, everyone who was living on Earth or had ever lived, did so at the pleasure and under the tyrannical yoke of a King, Potentate, Dictator, Emperor, Pope or other “Men” who granted rights to their subjects and solely decided how the masses lived, and how they died.

America, as declared on July 4th 1776, broke with that worldwide, centuries-old practice of oppression by declaring the radical notion that people had the right to be free. In today’s terms, the Declaration installed a “firewall” into the human program, namely the idea that rights come from above, be it God, the Supreme Judge of the world, the creator, the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God or what ever you hold it to be, but not, repeat NOT, another man or men. And no man or group of men can take those natural born rights away from any human.

Of course, in ’76 they put it better,  “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

24Here follows a list of the First Americans. They who mutually pledged to each other their Lives, their Fortunes and their sacred Honor.

FYI the youngest was Edward Rutledge, 26 the eldest Benjamin Franklin, 80.

Georgia: Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton North Carolina: William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn South Carolina: Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr. Arthur Middleton Massachusetts: John Hancock Maryland: Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton Virginia: George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton Pennsylvania: Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross Delaware: Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean NewYork: William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris New Jersey: Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark New Hampshire: Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple Massachusetts: Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry Rhode Island: Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery Connecticut: Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott New Hampshire: Matthew Thornton.

The “D” Word: Paula Deen’s rise to Number 1 on her way down!

Authors take note. Paula Deen has become a very controversial figure.  In the popular media she is toast, very well buttered toast.  Sponsors, networks and I am sure, even many of her hanger-on friends, have dropped her like radioactive slag.

But! She shot up to NUMBER ONE on Amazon!!  You know, Amazon- with 130-million-billion active titles of which I was once #95,651 (#343 now and trending upwards according to my psychic.  Although, I don’t think my psychic has my publisher’s phone number?).  

But no matter, the fact is that while a transgression from over 25 years ago has plummeted her standing in our popular culture, AMAZINGLY at the same time, it has rocketed her to NUMBER 1, NUMERO UNO, on Amazon! Now that’s a deal with the devil any author would pay double for. 

So all you folks in the media take notice, here’s my big confession…

comin 1962 I called lunch room monitor, Joey Mantone, and I am quoting here: “A big, fat, stupid, Doody Head!”  

And just to add insult to the verbal injury, I know that I stuck my tongue out at him when I said it. 

How’s that? Pretty horrible and despicable right? I mean it’s got to be good for at least a spot in Amazon Top Ten!  I mean, “Doody Head”!  C’mon, these days, in some quarters, that’s referred to as the “D” word.  Or is it the “DH” word…?

To Err Is Human

“To Err is human, to really screw things up takes a computer.”
–General James Hardtack – USAF

Tom Avitabile | To Err is HumanIf you don’t recognize the above quote, or can’t Google it, don’t hit your computer on the side of the monitor, it’s from a character in one of my (many) almost-produced screenplays. But once again, the theme of this blog being, It’s Only Fiction ‘Til It Happens, is in full force with this tasty headline from the DenverPost.com, “Supercomputers could generate warnings for stock crashes.”

Feel better now? Now that supercomputers are on the watch? Well, not to pop your thought bubble but in my book, The Eighth Day, the entire Stock Market is locked up and frozen by a piece of freeware, distributed to all the online day traders.

The shareware application was called ‘Pocket Protector’; it protected the money in your pocket, your stocks, actually.  It employed algorithms originally used in terrain avoidance software for supersonic F-22 Raptor fighter jets. It read the market and countered any moves instantly by making minute or major buy or sell decisions faster than a blink of a human eye.

Its purported goal was to avoid having your portfolio crash by maintaining the value. Since everybody downloaded it and put it into play, all those little ‘trade-bots’ would eventually absorb any shock and flatten out any activity until a balance is achieved. At that point, the individual trader has a problem, because the Artificial Intelligence acts like a Rottweiler, whose jaws are locked on their wallet. As soon as they let go or try to trade anything, the investor would lose everything.

So nobody unplugged ‘Pocket Protector’ out of fear of losing all their assets as everybody else’s apps would gobble up their money in a nanosecond.

Now for the part that isn’t a plot in my book, but the Denver Post article: Enter Edison, a supercomputer that can crunch 2 quadrillion operations a second. That’s 2,000,000,000,000,000! The feds, or somebody, are planning to plug this super puppy into the existing stock trading system and it will act as an early warning system that somehow will allow authorities to shut down the system before the various stock trading computer programs, that now rule the roost, do any real damage.  What could possibly go wrong? See CHAPTER THIRTY-FOUR: “Best Intentions” in The Eighth Day!

More Marginal Notes on Benghazi

Tom Avitabile - More Marginal Notes on BenghaziOn November 1st, 2012, I posted Marginal Notes on Benghazi.

Essentially it was a look back at an early, denoted manuscript of my book The Hammer Of God, in which – around the margins – I made notes about alternate plot lines.

The one which I wrote about saw the “bad guys” orchestrating the kidnapping of our ambassador in order to use him as a bargaining chip. Their goal was to free the blind sheikh (the first world trade center terrorist who tried to bring the towers down in 1993). The sheikh was supposed to be the prize in a high-level diplomatic exchange for the life of the ambassador.

In that instance, it was a case of “It’s an alternate fiction until it happens.” Well it’s happening.

On March 14th, though we just heard of it yesterday, “An al Qaeda terrorist stated…that U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens was killed by lethal injection after plans to kidnap him during the Sept. 11, 2012 terror attack in Benghazi went bad.”

So, suddenly, that wild-ass, out-of-the box dose of fiction, that even I rejected as a little “out there,” is now coming a little closer to “in here.”

If you read the previous blog then you know the triangulation of my supporting thesis, (purely a supposition and creative exercise), summarized here:

  • The dubiously elected President of Egypt, Mohamed Morsi, made a promise to free the blind sheikh from American custody at his inauguration – and set it as a primary goal of his (American-backed) administration.
  • Getting this erstwhile national hero of Egypt returned to his home sands in the Maghreb would surely help Morsi score political points with his people. So the US decided to help him by staging a little theatrical play titled  – “Kidnap ours and we’ll trade ya for yours!”
  • Somewhere along the way, two ex-navy seals who either never heard, or disobeyed, the orders to stand down, went into this kabuki dance shooting real bullets, according to some accounts killing up to 60 of the enemy (sorry to all the men cast as ENEMY).

Those darn snipers ruined the whole performance. But the cover stories were set and the word went out that it was a YouTube video that caused the murderous attack.

Of course, even then I called the script above a fantasy oozing dramatic embellishments of actual events. Today, after the boastful “confession” of the al Qaeda guy, maybe not so much.