Bipartisanship Leads in Alaska   Leave a comment

Bill Walker Vote Third Party/Independent

I have been a supporter of Bill Walker for governor for a long time. When he lost the GOP primary in 2010, I wrote to urge him to run as an independent in 2014, which he did. I am not a big supporter of the “unity” ticket with Byron Mallott, the former Democratic candidate. I suspect backroom deals that will see the Democratic Party in more control of the Walker administration than I would like, but I am still voting for Walker because Parnell, combined with SB 21, is raping our state.

Hays Research Group, an Alaska-based polling firm, released a poll that shows a head-to-head match up between Bill Walker and Gov. Sean Parnell has an eight points advantage to Walker.  It’s important to note that 31% of voters are still undecided, so Walker’s win is not a slam dunk. The poll didn’t include the names of each candidate’s lieutenant governors, and it described Walker as an “Independent.” On the ballot, he will be described as “unaffiliated.” The Alaska AFL-CIO paid for the poll. The umbrella union organization supports the “Unity” ticket and was instrumental in bringing Bill Walker, a Republican running as unaffiliated, and Democrat Byron Mallott together on one ticket. The poll, conducted between Sep. 13-14, surveyed 500 registered voters in the state of Alaska who had voted in at least two of the last three statewide general elections. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.38 percent.

I believe I was one of those who participated in this poll as a gentleman with those specifics actually came to my door looking for “super voter” Lela Markham.

Parnell walker poll

 

Read the full Hays poll here.

Character Versus Comfort   Leave a comment

We live in a sex-mad culture that indulges itself in every conceivable sexual activity and when it gets bored, it branches out from there. Sexual sin is tolerated in any form by large segments of the population. It’s promoted and marketed through every form of media available. We know this! Christians are not supposed to be of this world, but it’s hard be in this world and not know that we’re a sex-mad culture.

And the church isn’t doing a whole lot different from the world. A pastor friend says that 75% of the Christian young people who come to him for premarital counseling have already been sexually active. Many of them live together prior to marriage. The numbers are higher for older adults.

The secular world will tell us that sex is an animal function, an itch you just must scratch for your own physical and mental health. If you don’t satisfy that physical demand, you’re going to end up on a counselor’s office with repression issues. Anyone who says other wise is a prude and a tyrant.

But there are some interesting statistics that go against this. Studies have shown that couples who engage in premarital sex or who live together prior to marriage are more likely to divorce than couples who were virgins at the time of marriage or at least had not lived together prior to marriage. There’s a great deal of controversy about the meaning of these findings, but several studies have noted the correlation.

It might come as a surprise to some to realize that Paul was writing to a culture very much like ours. Hugh Hefner would have been a popular guy in Greco-Roman culture circa First Century. At the time Paul was writing the world he lived in had experienced a sexual revolution that included homosexuality, pedophilia, transvestism, and every form of fornication and sexual perversion you can imagine today. Koinin Greek had many words to describe sex with a partner who was not your spouse because it was an extremely sexualized society.

Along came Christianity and introduced a new way of thinking into the culture. When the apostles brought the gospel to Gentiles, they were bringing it to pagans who had been deeply steeped in the culture, who were involved in religious sexual practices in the temple, concubinage, mistresses, harlots and homosexuality and pedophilia. When they came to the knowledge of Jesus Christ, they did not suddenly forget their past practices. Paul wrote his letters to the church at Thessalonica because he’d only been there a few weeks before he had to leave and he understood the pressure exerted by the wicked culture that was going to affect the church.

Paul spent the early part of the first letter defending his ministry and the integrity of the church and reminding the Thessalonians of what he had previously taught them. Then he turned to a list of issues he wanted to address. First on the list … sexual sin.

Paul’s message was clear. Despite their cultural habits and old personal patterns, Jesus does not tolerate sexual sin. It doesn’t matter how the world lives; the church cannot live like the world.  Just because the world is wallowing in muck doesn’t mean Christians can dive right in. There is no New Testament clause for relative morality. The Bible sets an absolute standard on the subject and it doesn’t fluctuate in comparison to the surrounding society. All forms of sexual gratification may be indulged by a society, but not by the church … not by Christians.

1 Thessalonians 4:3-8.

“This is the will of God, your sanctification, that you abstain from sexual immorality.” That’s not an unclear statement. It references “the will of God”. If you want to please God, do His will. To do His will, Spirit-controlled Christians are (among other things) to abstain from sexual immorality. Later in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, Paul encourages his readers to be satisfied in the will of God. It’s important to look in verse 3 again at that word translated “sanctification”. It means “separate, apart, set apart, holy” … in a sentence “set apart from sin to God’s use.” God’s will is that you be set apart from sin for His use.  Then Paul sets out the first step in that process of being Spirit-controlled – abstain from sexual sin.

But … but … I really enjoy … and … but … but ….

NO BUTS!

God is an absolute sort of deity. He doesn’t change with our personal concept of Him or our society’s view of Him. He is who He is at all times.

As Jesus explained in the Sermon on the Mount, you have to stop short of the impure thought and lustful passion. The question isn’t “How far can I go and not quite violate God’s will?” The question should be “How can I be holy, separated from sin, pleasing to God?”

And, no, it’s not easy to live like that in today’s world. It wasn’t easy to live that way in 1st century Thessalonia. It doesn’t matter. God cares more about your character than your comfort.

Do you?

The Cost of ObamaCare   Leave a comment

Things are not as bad as they could be in Alaska insurance rates, according to the Bradner Economic Report, an Alaska publication by long-time instate observers and reporters Tim and Mike Bradner, who are/were vocal supporters of the uh-Affordable Care Act. Group insurance rates are only expected to go up around 10% in 2014. Whew, what a relief! That’s still a 50% increase over rates from five years ago, but the precipitous climb seems to have slowed.

Of course, the ACA was designed to insure the uninsured by controlling premiums in the individual market. Those rates have more than doubled in the last five years (in Alaska). Now, for 2015, they’re only going to increase 37%. The brothers Bradner explain that the rise is due to all the people with health problems who were in the state high risk pool (ACHIA) jumped into the exchanges to get lower-cost coverage which has resulted in big losses for Premera and Moda Health, the two insurers offering polices in the exchanges.

Wow, where would we have been without the ACA?

Maybe if instead of this insanity Congress had opened medical insurance up across state lines, we’d be looking at lower rates. That’s right. There are 37 medical insurance companies in the nation. Only three are licensed to over policies in Alaska. Some of them have been caught in the past coordinating premiums. That’s what happens in a monopoly/duopoly/oligopoly. While I’m sure that Premera and Moda have suffered losses from the chronically ill jumping onto their polices, I’m also equally sure that they are making good profits and keeping those profits healthy by raising their rates to health people. The question is, why should healthy people who use medical care (and therefore medical insurance) much less have to pay higher rates for insurance they don’t use so that unhealthy people who use medical insurance more get low-cost rates?

With 37 companies all competing, it would be much harder for them to coordinate with one another. Someone would want to get a larger market share by offering lower cost policies and that competition would force the other companies to lower their rates.

Basic economics, but apparently lost on our government. Just words in the wind.

Help Promote The Willow Branch   Leave a comment

Front Cover UpdateA book’s destiny is to be read. Support my Thunderclap for The Willow Branch.

What is Thunderclap? It’s a new website that allows people to pledge to Tweet or Facebook Share all on the same day and time in order to achieve maximum effect. Consider this an online cheer for The Willow Branch.

Click on this link and choose either Support with Facebook or Support with Twitter (or BOTH!) and add your name to the Thunderclap. On November 24, all those who signed up will automatically post on Twitter and Facebook a recommendation for a great fantasy novel.

With your help, on November 24, thousands of people will hear about The Willow Branch.

Lela Markham

DSC01494

Interview with Thom Stark, Part 2   1 comment

Thom StarkWe’re returning with Thom Stark, the author of American Sulla. Thom has been gracious enough to lend his wit and intellect to my blog both to promote his book and to talk about some further ranging topics. This is the second part of the author interview, but I plan to run our conservation on Thursdays for a while. I have Writing Wednesdays. These are Thom Thursdays, I suppose. Lela

Part 1 of the Author Interview is here.

Tell us about American Sulla. The series is a political thriller that postulates a nuclear attack on New York City and the action takes place in aftermath, examining the consequences and coping strategies of the country and particularly the US government. How did you come to write on that topic?

In 2011, once I regained the ability to type, I began work on a science fiction novel called The Deluge. It’s set in 2053, so one of the things I had to do as a setting-up exercise was to create a timeline of important historical events between then and now that would give shape and substance to the kind of world my characters would be inhabiting 40 years in the future. That, in turn, led me to the events of William Orwell Steele’s presidency. As I began to explore them, I realized that they deserved a novel of their own. Since, according to my future history, the act of nuclear terrorism that triggered the cascade of changes that followed took place in 2020, I decided that I needed to write that novel first, because I might not get around to it before the real calendar caught up with my fictional one, otherwise.

So part of my reason for writing American Sulla is sheer serendipity. I was just building a future history for one story, and discovered a whole other novel in the process. The other part, however, is what happened to America in the wake of 9/11.

 

American Sulla

 

I love it when a character asserts himself and becomes so interesting that I must tell his story. That’s the best kind of writing. What was going on in 2011 and going forward that encouraged your writing of this trilogy?

I really hated what my country became after Al Queda’s attack. Yes, it was a horrific event, but the way my fellow Americans and our elected representatives reacted to it was what truly appalled me. We were living in Mariposa County in the Sierra Nevada foothills at the time. The eponymous county seat is an unincorporated Gold Rush town with fewer than 2,200 residents as of the 2010 census – and still fewer back then. And yet, the people there were almost literally pissing themselves in fear that Al Queda was going to attack that flyspeck burg with nukes! The utter panic and craven cowardice of those people was just sickening to me. And we’re talking about a very, very rural area, where the population is, at least theoretically, somewhat self-reliant and unpampered.

What happened with our national legislature was even worse. Congress fell all over itself to flush the Constitution down the toilet in pursuit of “security”. And two years later – by which time you’d think they might have regained at least a modicum of sense – they endorsed the invasion of Iraq by an enormous majority. This was a country that had had nothing to do with 9/11, that had abandoned its program of developing weapons of mass destruction, and that, moreover, was the only meaningful bulwark against the expansion of Iran’s influence in the region. And the Cheney government insisted on invading with an army that was easily capable of defeating Saddam’s Republican Guard, but profoundly inadequate for the task of occupying and pacifying Iraq afterward.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve heard a lot of people say that things would have been different if Al Gore was president, rather than George W. Bush.

I’ve heard that. I don’t believe it! I think neither of them was equal to the task they faced, just as President Obama is inadequate to the task of dealing with ISIS, and particularly ISIL, now. I wish we had some truly great presidents during this era, but it hasn’t happened.

So, part of the thought experiment that led to American Sulla was exploring the notion of how things might, indeed, be different if a classic liberal Democrat were in office when an terrorist event infinitely worse than 9/11 occured. Given the economic crash and the physical and financial damage this country sustained thanks to 9/11, it seemed clear to me that a nuclear terrorist attack would create far greater havoc, and whoever was unfortunate enough to be President at the time would be faced with some really ugly problems, and a critical shortage of clear solutions to them.

Given that reality, the next obvious question – at least, it seemed obvious to me – was “What happens next?”

Where does the title American Sulla come from?

Lucius Cornelius Sulla was a Roman general and member of the patrician class. He’s best known as the first man to be elected Dictator of Rome for an unlimited term. Prior to Sulla, the Dictatorship was never awarded for longer than a single, six-month term, and then only in times of national emergency. The emergency, in Sulla’s case, was the capture of Rome by Gaius Marius. He agreed to save the city from the Marian army on condition that he be made dictator for an indefinite period. Once Sulla defeated the Marian army, he set about eliminating the “enemies of Rome” and undoing the populist reforms that Marius (and the Gracchi brothers before him) had instituted. He also made changes to the Roman political system that he believed would ensure the Republic’s return to its former glory. Once he had accomplished those things, after only slightly more than a year in office, he resigned as Dictator and restored control of Rome to the Senate.

It seemed clear to me that any President would immediately declare martial law – effectively making himself dictator of the USA – in the wake of a nuclear attack, so the parallel between William Orwell Steele and Sulla was inescapable.

 

May DayMay Day is the first in a three-part series.  It came out in 2013. When is War – Book Two of American Sulla scheduled for publication?

Well, since May Day took around 18 months to write and edit, I’m aiming to publish War sometime in summer of 2015, but the only honest answer is, “It’ll be done when it’s done.” I’m not going to let it escape into the wild until I’m certain it’s fully baked, regardless of how long that takes. This novel is going to be my legacy, and I need to make sure I get it as close to perfect as humanly possible.

It’s a really complex tale, requiring three installments to tell. You’ve intimated on Facebook that there will be some surprises in the subsequent books as the character and the events continue forward.

By now, anyone who’s paying attention has probably figured out some of what will happen over the course of the novel … but, believe me when I say that there are plenty of twists in the tale that you will definitely not see coming. I can tell you that some of the characters I introduced in May Day will not make it to the end of the story. Some very unpleasant substances will definitely hit the fan in War – and still more ugly things will splatter in Revolution, the third and final volume of the novel. One thing I can promise my readers is that I will do everything in my power to make sure the time they invest in American Sulla is time extremely well-spent.

Where can we find May Day? Do you have a website?

The American Sulla home page (which includes a downloadable 38,000-word preview edition of May Day in a variety of ebook formats) is:

http://www.starkrealities.com/Sulla.html

There’s also an American Sulla Facebook group:

More importantly, you can buy May Day in Kindle format here:

May Day - Book One of American Sulla

May Day – Book One of American Sulla

Buy from Amazon

or, for British readers, here:

May Day - Book One of American Sulla

May Day – Book One of American Sulla

Buy from Amazon

It’s also available in a handsome, durable, 596-page 7”x10” trade paperback here:

May Day - Book One of American Sulla (Volume 1)

May Day – Book One of American Sulla (Volume 1)

Buy from Amazon

(Okay. I lied about the “durable” part. It’s a paperback. Don’t read it in the rain.)

You can buy American Sulla swag here:

http://www.zazzle.com/american_sulla

My Amazon.com Author page is:

http://amazon.com/author/thom_stark

My LinkedIn profile is:

https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=886867

I’m on Twitter as:

@Thom_Stark

And, if you’re interested, you can check out the CD I released in 2003 here:

http://www.starkrealities.com/hero.html

and listen to a song I recorded fairly recently here:

 

Help Promote The Willow Branch   2 comments

Front Cover UpdateA book’s destiny is to be read. Support my Thunderclap for The Willow Branch.

What is Thunderclap? It’s a new website that allows people to pledge to Tweet or Facebook Share all on the same day and time in order to achieve maximum effect. Consider this an online cheer for The Willow Branch.

Click on this link and choose either Support with Facebook or Support with Twitter (or BOTH!) and add your name to the Thunderclap. On November 24, all those who signed up will automatically post on Twitter and Facebook a recommendation for a great fantasy novel.

With your help, on November 24, thousands of people will hear about The Willow Branch.

Lela Markham

Stay Tuned for Thom Thursday   Leave a comment

Thom Stark

Thom and I will be continuing our conversation with the second half of his author interview.

Vergielyn Cubol, Freelance Writer

I am a five foot 7 inches walking ink who loves nature, beer, music and literature.

MULIEBRAL STUDIES

marriage, home and family

Anyone's Ghost

I stole the title from a song

William Lloyd (Author)

The only way to be noticed is to be talked about...

The Honking Goose

something to honk about

Sacred Struggler

Just trying to ask myself the hard questions and be honest about my answers.

Joshua M Swenson

short stories, flash fiction, and other fun stuff

My train of thoughts on...

Smile! Don't look back in anger.

Words. On the Internet.

And perhaps some punctuation?

Hagiographic

Cultural Critique, Art and The Musings of a Moral Mad Scientist

Intelligent Concept

Research for Life.

Rudy u Martinka

What the world needs now in addition to love is wisdom

Il mio giornale di bordo

Il Vincitore è l'uomo che non ha rinunciato ai propri sogni.

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