The Last of the Spirits, from Charles Dickens:...

The Last of the Spirits, from Charles Dickens: A Christmas Carol. In Prose. Being a Ghost Story of Christmas. With Illustrations by John Leech. London: Chapman & Hall, 1843. First edition. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you’ve read our first book: Tiānmìng – Mandate of Heaven, and who hasn’t ;-), you’ll know we at Mandated Memoranda Publishing do research and lots of it. Currently, we’re working on what we affectionately call Book Three. Its working title is: A Digital Carol.

We are reimagining the old Dickens’ favorite for a future generation. The gist of the old story revolves around the Victorian era’s fascination with ghosts and spirits. The new one, obviously, has to feature AI. But not just any AI, we feature Artificial General Intelligence, or AGI.

We’re all familiar with Big Dog, Cheetah, and Atlas. If not, we should be. These are specialized robotic machines that adapt to their environments in order to accomplish limited scope missions. However, these do not possess the ability to generalize their missions to encompass any goal, even self set goals. Others would like to make what may turn out to be a limited aspect of AGI available widely. We are nowhere near true AGI. Some think this is a very good thing.

There is a philosophic difference between what AI we currently have available and what may come about in the future. We deal with this theme in A Digital Carol. We also deal with the temptation to “kick away the ladder” when opportunity for our aggrandizement presents itself. Of course, we needn’t repeat the admonition that many attribute to mere superstition, do we?

Red City Review for Tianming – Mandate of Heaven

Tiānmìng – Mandate of Heaven by Adolphus Writer and Nomi Smith

Four Stars

Tianming CoverIn the not too distant future, the world is falling apart at the seams, which is depicted in the political thriller, ‘Tiānmìng – Mandate of Heaven’ by Adolphus Writer and Nomi T. Smith. This fast paced novel tells the story of Michael Babbage, a freelance reporter who is hired to document and analyze what is happening to the civilization of man. Between the political conflicts that have arisen and the natural disasters that are destroying the balance of society, there is not much to hope for besides an alternative to the failing situation at hand. The United States is a nation at unrest, but due to the strong will of President Moses Orestes, he refuses to let his people give up on the nation that he cares about so dearly. When Yellowstone erupts, half of the United States population has to move to Canada, while elsewhere in the world weak governments are taking advantage of the fact that other formerly powerful states are falling apart. Nuclear explosions are also reshaping the Asian continent, as Michael strives on to find answers on how to stop the ongoing calamity from continuing.

It is clear due to the complexities of this book that a lot of work was put into the creation of this story. Not only is it thought-provoking, but the characters and the situations that they are thrust into are a joy to read. The descriptions of the United States falling apart alone are very chilling, but to think of our entire world failing so helplessly during such an unmanageable point in time is rather frightening. The characters are all well-developed and by the end of the narrative things start to weave together in a pleasing and surprising manner. Although the natural disasters that occur seem a little bit farfetched, the reactions to them and the other manmade fiascos are plausible, given the other conditions that are occurring. Michael is a very likeable character, someone who the reader will be rooting for as he tries to figure out what is going on in this very unstable predicament that Earth has found itself in. (Reviewed September 19, 2013 by Red City Review, used by permission.)

To purchase a copy of Tiānmìng – Mandate of Heaven, click here to find it on Amazon.

Another Mass Shooting

Aerial view of the Washington Navy Yard. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What’s wrong with us? What’s it going to take? We’ve had another mass shooting. This time it was on a military base, the Washington Navy Yard. A base I once visited for business purposes. The security was lax then as it must have been now. To be fair, the level of security was equal to that necessary to protect national security information, not people.

I heard a doctor, who was treating some of the victims of this latest mass shooting, speak on television. She said that we have to get control of evil and eradicate it from our nation. I’m sure she meant well but I was perplexed as to how our society would go about implementing her desire.

I wondered how we would get control of evil and eradicate it. How would we go about doing that? Evil is perpetrated by men and women. It is found in the hearts and minds of those that do wrong. A building that collapses or a sinkhole that opens up suddenly may lead to a tragedy but these ‘perpetrate no evil.’

Did she mean we needed to seize control of the populace, declare martial law, or institute a totalitarian state? That’s what it would take to eradicate it from all our people. However, that would not, obviously, by the nature of the ‘solution,’ eradicate it from the nation. I would hope she didn’t mean that.

Barring a mass solution to this problem, we would have to identify individuals. But who would determine who was potentially evil. I say potentially because we can’t wait until someone proves they are evil by their actions, can we? It would be too late. But the laws of our nation preclude this pre-crime recourse. And, it’s no recourse, really, except in the movies; and we know how that turned out.

So, perhaps we should turn to the medical profession to identify those who might offend. What criteria would they use? Psychiatry’s handbook, the DSM-V, has objective descriptions of maladies that affect individuals. And those individuals may perpetrate offenses.

But who would apply the criteria? Doctors all over the nation would have to perform screenings. We’d have to indemnify and pay these doctors. They would be unavailable to treat those with other illnesses and we’d have to accept the losses that would result.

We’d need a large body of bureaucrats to administer this workforce of doctors. They’d be paid from our taxes. These administrators would assure fairness, justice, equity, and freedom from error of all those doctors’ decisions. They’d be responsible for adjudicating lapses in the system. Kind of like the IRS…

So, instead, maybe we could target minor offenses and incarcerate potential offenders at that point? Oh, wait, we’re doing that all ready. How’s that working out for us? Not real well, huh?

Maybe zero tolerance for gun ownership? But then only the criminals and terrorists would have guns. Law breakers, by definition, aren’t thwarted by zero tolerance laws. But, enough of this foolishness.


Maybe, we could show real compassion. We’d identify those who might act out (like we do all ready), but go one step further, and intervene. We’d stop hiding behind political correctness; put our reputations on the line; and save some of these folks and their potential victims from the crimes that might otherwise occur.

We’d educate the nation to reduce the stigma of dependency and mental illness. We’d do this so both the ill and their victims would seek help. We’d strengthen families, which are our first line of defense for the nation, so they could nurture those who might otherwise follow their bent into crime. Only when the family had done all it could do, would we intervene.

We’d target those who abuse alcohol, drugs, and little animals. We’d confront those who exhibit mental disorders and get them help. We’d provide them with counseling, medical treatment, and follow-up; not institutionalization. We’d hold the patients and caregivers to account for failures. And we’d recognize the toll caregiving takes on the caregivers themselves and provide support.

It will be hard and take self–sacrifice.

And, maybe, we could acknowledge that we all are bent and capable of snapping. That we ourselves are responsible for our actions and that these actions are not always good. And realize that we need to thoroughly change our life’s direction; an impossible task for us to do. And because of that, realize we need a Savior from the punishment we surely do deserve.

Patriot Day

As an expat New Yorker, I have to say something to commemorate this day. I no longer have family ties to the city; but I just learned that a faithful friend has taken a job with the City in emergency communications. His role is vital and he’s doing something for the City that was lacking in 2001.

September 11, 2001 attacks in New York City: V...

September 11, 2001 attacks in New York City: View of the World Trade Center and the Statue of Liberty. (Image: US National Park Service ) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I can still hear the firemen’s communications that day (we’ve all heard the tapes). How heroic they all were. Because of those firemen’s efforts, relatively few people perished in the Tower collapses. However, as with all the crises ongoing around the world today, a few is too many.

Will we let this tragedy fade into our collective memory of wars past (and this was war)? I’m afraid the answer is yes. Our country is too good at letting its memories fade. Distracted by the latest gadget or game, movie or spectacle, we neglect the important things.

What important things do we neglect? Things like judging each other by the content of our characters and not by the color of our skin (or any other wrong distinctions). Or is our country saying that Malcolm, Martin, and Medgar died in vain? Character takes the right stuff. Stuff we don’t seem to have any more.

We are all broken in some way. Some count just seven: lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy and pride. Some cite the Ten Commandments. However, God said: “…Whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.”

If everything we do is suspect, then we need a Savior that is greater than we are to save us from our neglectfulness, lack of character, and brokenness. We need Him to build in us heroic character or else we perish.

Is 99 Cents the New Free?

Tianming CoverI can definitely assert that using ‘free days’ in the KDP Select program to boost book sales or visibility doesn’t work after the debut offering. I’ve tried using free days prior to the July 4th and Labor Day holidays only to realize a decrease in sales rank when the sale days were over.

I have 150 free copies out there all over the world and I know three of my four book reviewers (I have a good guess on the fourth). Each of them, likely, paid full freight.

I’ve tried other things to boost sales, too. I’ve put out a press release. Don’t be fooled by so-called ‘impressions’; only sales count. I did an author interview. It was very nicely presented but the site draws a limited audience. I have a Goodreads page. This site rejected me as an author for some reason.

I contacted Amazon Vine and Top reviewers in my book’s genre (spying & intrigue). Of the eight I contacted, one put me on his to read pile. He has a policy of not slamming books he doesn’t like; I greatly appreciate that attitude.

However, whining gets you nowhere.

I’ve got a second book in the works and I’m trying even harder than at first. Better writing. Better editing. Better marketing. Pricing based on page count. I’m sticking with KDP Select when it makes sense (70% royalty and the Lending Library program). And I’ll try to release a third book this year.

I’m going to have Red City review the first book, Tiānmìng – Mandate of Heaven, to find out what they think about it. We’ll have to see. There’ll be no welfare payments for this author.