Monthly Archives: October 2015

Read an excerpt of Five Days on Ballyboy Beach…

I’m being hosted on Romance Readers Club today, with an excerpt of my second novel, Five Days on Ballyboy Beach.

you can leave comments on the excerpt at the website.

Here’s the link…

http://romancereadersclub.com/2015/10/30/coffee-break-read-five-days-on-ballyboy-beach-by-david-j-obrien/#comment-683

Human Kind and Baboons – The Death of the Alpha Male

Baboon baby

(photo copyright: babies-dangerous-wild-animals.blogspot.com)

I watched this video a while ago. ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eYG0ZuTv5rs)  It’s very interesting. It’s about stress and how it can kill you. If you don’t have time to watch the whole thing, don’t worry. That’s not really the point of this post.

This article summarises the most interesting part for now…. (http://www.upworthy.com/something-fascinating-happened-after-these-male-baboons-died-men-should-keep-this-in-mind?c=ufb1)

Basically, the dominant baboons in a troop, which was being studied to investigate stress, died of TB. Half of all males died from the disease, which they’d contracted from infected meat in a dump they’d taken to foraging from – the head honchos took more meat than their subordinates.

When they died, the surviving males down the totem pole didn’t become the bastards their predecessors were. They remained chilled, and were nice to the females (who now outnumbered them two to one) and young. And everything was rosy for them from then on.

Seems only a few baboons are assholes (though the guy researching them does describe them as backstabbing Machiavellian bastards that hurt each other) but they control the situation in most troops. This sends their shittiness down the pipeline. As the narrator says in Snow White and the Huntsman said, the queen’s “reign was so poisonous…. that people turned on each other.”

But new males joining this troop learn that being a wanker is not allowed. They chill out and groom instead of harassing others.

I was reminded of the baboons when I read George Monbiot’s recent article about Human Kindness. He points out that we are in general, good folk, who are nice than we assume when we glance about us on the train home from that shit job where your boss sucks the life out of you. In fact, we’re innately good.

But it’s something we usually aren’t aware of, this fellow kindness. All those videos of people ignoring homeless people etc. you see on the Internet doesn’t help with our own image, either (nor the videos of kids beating up one another).

And this other recent article about Twitter becoming just a forum for abuse indicates that we’re all participating in being assholes, or at least letting them rule our conversations.

It points the blame at the fact that our lives are an abuse, where we are put to work by the those holding the reins:

“We have created an abusive society. We have normalized, regularized, and routinized abuse. We are abused at work, by the very rules, norms, and expectations of our jobs, at which we are merely “human resources”, to be utilized, allocated, depleted. We are abused at play, by industries that seek to prey on our innocence and literally “target” our human weaknessses.” (https://medium.com/bad-words/why-twitter-s-dying-and-what-you-can-learn-from-it-9ed233e37974#.68hxb243u)

We are acting like assholes because the assholes are creating the rules. Just like most baboons farther down the hierarchy get abused by those above just because those just above have gotten shit from their own superiors. And they have highly stressed lives, which lead to illness, obesity and earlier deaths.

So how do we get rid of the asshole baboons who are ruining life for the rest of us?

This is the problem. They’re not going to die of a disease we all avoid – they eat and drink only the best of food, taste wise and health wise. They also can afford access to healthcare that most can only dream of. Even their excesses can be solved by buying a heart or a liver when their own break down.

We might need to rely on the old adage – “they got the guns but we got the numbers.”

When I wrote a blog post about us humans allowing our own extinction in the imminent ecological collapse, I had thought to include those instances when people stand around and “let” people get attacked without either trying to stop it, or even calling the cops. They’re not bad folk – they just assume someone else is going to do it. Our current situation is more akin to allowing the assailants to beat us up without raising our hands to protect our face.

For ourselves, our fellow non-assholes, and for the planet, we have to start fighting back. I’m not saying we become as violent as these Alpha males who would continue their abuse.  As Russell Brand suggests in his book Revolution, we just band together, walk up to them and take their weapons away (their weapon is money, by the way). Because those asshole baboons have to go.

Describing the Future? Keep the Suits.

Today is that day when Back to the Future II would have supposedly taken place and everyone’s talking about what things it predicted actually came true.
Apart from the fact that I’m sure nobody really expected hoverboards to be around (and I don’t consider what has been tested so far to be anything like the images in the movie) I know nobody really believed anyone would dress up like Griff and his buddies.

back-to-the-future-ii-scene-fashion-story-top
If there is one thing we can predict about the future, it’s that folks will be as conservative as we are, as our parents were, when it comes to clothing. At least in some spheres.


In fact, I suggest that science fiction writers stop wasting brain power on inventing new clothes. We’ll be strangled by shirts and ties for another century I’m sure.


I hate suits and ties  – anyone who knows you can testify – and would love us all to wear the gear they have on Star Trek. But there doesn’t seem to be any getting away from them – even I have had to don a suit for work, just to “look good.”  And I can’t see us getting away from it any time soon.

While many things are different now from the past, our clothes are remarkably similar.


When horses were used instead of tanks, never mind drones, the folks telling us we are at war are wearing the same suits.


When Alexander Graham Bell (that’s him in the photo) sat down to make the first telephone call, he was wearing a shirt and tie pretty much the same as that worn today by the dude on his smart phone,selling your pension fund to make himself another million.

alexandergrahambell210


The wright brothers, apart from the caps, are wearing the same shit as the Apollo 11 crew.

Wright Brothers1969_Apollo11Crew

And they’re still wearing that getup.

apollo11-obama-02

So while we might one day have hoverboards, or actually fly to mars and set up house there, you can bet your ass the martian pilots will have packed a shirt and tie.

Teaching Fail, a poem

This was inspired by a conversation I had a few days ago with a former student…

Teaching Failure

We try to teach, but the TV has got ahead of us,

The advertisers are two steps in front,

And the screens seem indeed brighter than the sunshine.

Paving paradise might be permitted after all;

Not for a parking lot, but yes for a shopping mall.

Out Tomorrow: The Soul of Adam Short.

Adam Pre-order

Ever wonder what it would be like to have your soul ripped from your body? Adam Short knows.

Does anyone else know, though?

We might have an idea.

I still clearly remember when I got the idea for The Soul of Adam Short. It was almost exactly fifteen years ago – I typed up the first note on October second, year Two-Thousand. I was standing at a junction much like the Mosley Road of the book, having paused my bike. I stopped because I was sure a car was coming down the street, but when I looked more carefully there was nothing. It was a very strange feeling.

I cycled on, wondering what had happened, and wondering what would happen if a ghost car “knocked you down.” Could the spirit of the vehicle and its driver interact with your own sprit, your soul?

Once that situation of a character losing his or her soul occurred to me, the rest of the story took rough shape and I knew it was a tale for Young Adults, even though until then I’d written “adult.” books. The characters had to be teens. Lots of adults cycle – I still do, every day – but the symptoms of such an event would be more likely accepted as just a brain malfunction in a middle-aged person. (Yes, I consider myself middle-aged – doesn’t mean I am old, just I’m halfway through what I expect to attain, barring accidents… everyone older than me is OLD.)

And only teens would have the tenacity to go against the grain of what’s considered okay, the accepted wisdom, the proper thing to do. Some of us adults still have a little of that left, but not enough. Most of us are afraid of what “others might think” A look at the world today can show that fairly clearly. Unfortunately many teens think they’re not capable of acting on their own. They’ve been told they were toddlers that they’re too small to do things, it’s too dangerous to climb the tree, to walk home alone from school half the time.

One lesson Adam Short learns, is that life is as short as his name, that it can fly by in a heartbeat if you’re not paying attention, and the future is not something to be feared, but embraced; because it doesn’t matter, in the end, what your parents or neighbours think of your life choices. Everyone ends up before they’re quite ready, either sitting by the side of Mosley Road, or attending their own funeral, and it can happen in a heartbeat if you’re not ready. But being aware of it, it loses its scariness – and you can appreciate the little things that make a life worth living( some of which Adam loses and some he discovers), and step up to do the things that make a life great.

If we don’t at least try, well, we may as well have no soul.

the-soul-of-adam-medium

You can get a look at the blurb and extract at the MuseitUp website here…or at your local Amazon store here.

A Darwin Award for Everyone in the Audience?

reevolution

This image has been doing the rounds for a while.

I have saved it for a time when my mind is so fucking boggled that this is the only expression of it I can use.

I called the file ReEvolution, as in evolving again – if only we could do it twice. But like all things to do with evolution, if you fuck up you are fucked. Game over. Darwin awards – when someone takes their dumbness genes out of the population –  are dished out left and right in our modern world. And yet, it looks like we might deserve our own collective Darwin award – like that time they put a mirror on the Time person of the year cover.

We are facing the sixth extinction. Racing Extinction is a new documentary about it that is as important as An Inconvenient Truth is. We’ve lost half of our wildlife already in 40 years and 50% of the species on the planet are expected to die out if we don’t turn around like the dude in the picture above.

If that many die out, our environment will “not be pleasant” (my quotatiosn: I can’t acutally imagine how horriblly bad it wil be). Ecosystems will collapse. It’s the big ones that die out first, so if you are wondering how life will be like with half the animals and plants you normally see, scratch out oak trees and deer and keep rats mice and dandelions (conflict alert – I love dandelions).

It’s like when the dinosaurs died out.

With a big fucking exception.

The dinosaurs were done in by some catastrophic event (possibly a huge meteor impact).

We’re doing it ourselves.

It’s like the dinosaurs died out because one group of about a thousand brontosaurus decided they wanted to control all the shit in the world, and in the process made the land uninhabitable for themselves and everything else.

And everyone else just stood around and let them do it.

Imagine how stupid that would be.

Now imagine what’s happening now. The world is being fucked over for the cash flow of a few thousand assholes who have more money than they can imagine – they own it, but they can’t get their own minds around it, just like I can’t really imagine what it would be like to sell the same number of books as Stephen King or JK Rowling. And they want more, will kill people to get more. Will kill entire species to get more. Will fuck up everything around them to get more.

People say the Dodo was dumb. Fuckers didn’t even run away from people, the myth is.

Perhaps there’s a bit of truth in that – since plenty of other species have no innate fear of humans.

However, the Dodo didn’t fucking understand that humans were a danger.

We do!

We have this glorified consciousness. We can anticipate the future, conceive of our own deaths, imagine an afterlife, and all that other good shit. But we can’t get out of our own fucking way. We’re just standing still, waiting for the metaphorical club to come down on our heads.

Even fucking hedgehogs have figured out that they need to move the fuck off the asphalt when they see a car coming.

We’re just curled up in a ball of shit TV and stupid sports (disclaimer alert – I like some sports, sometimes. I watch good TV).

Prominent scientists have publicly stated their worry that humanity might be destroyed by our own creations. They think we should be careful in developing Artificial Intelligence, because the computers might take over.

Sorry, but we’ve already made the entity that is right fucking now raining self-destruction down up on our heads. We’ve endowed them with human characteristics, given them rights and never bothered to give them responsibility – bar one: to make as much fucking money as possible, doing whatever the fuck they like as long as they can get away with it. And we’ve made them immortal. We call them corporations.

Yes, we have made corporations have all the power of a human, but they can’t get sent to prison when they break the law. They are disengaged from their owners, so that their owners don’t get sent down half the time when they purposefully, yes, fucking, on purpose, kill people – dozens or hundreds.

A guy with a remote controlled plane would be responsible if it crashed into one person. A dog owner has more responsibility over what is actually another real life-form, with self-determination.

Corporate CEOs only get richer as they leave one boardroom and waltze on to the next.

I’ve just read Russell Brand’s book, Revolution, which he slants towards Re-Love-ution. It’s a good read. Buy it. One of the things he talks about is bringing an end to corporations: they should be created with one goal and then closed once they’ve completed that function.

I agreed with that.

But that was before the latest glut of corporation atrocities that have been perpetrated came to light and just fucking boggled my mind …. Johnson and Johnson selling dodgy drugs to kids despite the FDA saying it was dangerous, Volkswagen just shitting on clean air laws (and the CEO claims he didn’t know and is not being investigated in Germany….) , Exxon knowing for decades that we were facing climate catastrophe but not giving a fuck, that prick of a hedgefund CEO price gouging AIDS patients.

Now I think its time we started fucking clamouring for the death penalty for these things.

Break the law? End of that company. CEO on trial. Minimum sentence: can never own or operate a company for the rest of his or her natural – go work for someone else who owns a company which acts a bit more responsibly.

People (usually pricks in political office) say we can’t just get rid of Volkswagen or some other big company (same old too big to fail bullshit). What about all the car factory workers?

Don’t believe that.

There is a market for cars. A bigger market for cars made responsibly than for cars made to break the law so they can pollute us. There will be places for those workers to go as other companies take up the slack in the market.

And in any case, the jobs they say might be lost are inconsequent compared to the lives that will be lost as a result of their activities.

It has literally come down to that.