Douglas Arvidson is a past winner of the WICE/Paris Transcontinental International Short Story competition. His short fiction has been published in Paris, Prague, and in literary magazines in the United States and he was recently invited to be a staff writer for the Prague Revue, a cutting-edge, online literary journal ( The novels in his fantasy series, The Eye of the Eye of Stallion, include The Face in Amber, The Mirrors of Castaway Time, and A Drop of Wizard's Blood. His new novel, Brothers of the Fire Star, was selected as a finalist in the ForeWord Reviews 2012 Book of the Year national awards and as a finalist in three categories in the 2013 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards: Action Adventure Fiction, Historical Fiction, and Young Adult Fiction. It has become part of the pantheon of Pacific literature and is now included in school literature programs. Brothers of the Fire Star is an adventure story set in the Pacific during World War II and concerns two boys of different races and cultures who escape the island of Guam in a small sailboat when the Japanese army invades. They must then struggle to survive as they master the secrets of the ancient Pacific navigators. Appropriate for young adults as well as adult readers, Brothers of the Fire Star is available on Barnes & Noble, ( and Visit the author's website:

Friday, February 11, 2011

Headlines: Woman Dies In PA Hotel After Buttocks Injection; Egyption Revolution Continues to Smolder (Yawn?); Why Would We Even Want to Behave Without God?

The Framers [of the Constitution] knew that free speech is the friend of change and revolution. But they also knew that it is always the deadliest enemy of tyranny.  Hugo Black

Those who hate most fervently must have once loved deeply; those who want to deny the world must have once embraced what they now set on fire.  Kurt Tucholsky

(Note: As I write this, I'm twelve floors up in a hotel on Washington D.C. listening to the desperate Doppler of sirens rushing past down below signaling the constant flood of human bad behavior/bad luck.)

As a one-time news reporter and broadcast journalist, I love weird headlines as much as the rest of you. After all, someone had to write them and writing involves contemplation, consideration, editing, and second guessing and I used to love all that.

So, it was easy for me to imagine the folks in the news room trying to decide how to phrase this poor young woman's tragedy. Seems she came all the way from England to a hotel at the Philadelphia airport to get her presumably unattractive, unlovable, flat bottom "enhanced" via injections of liquid silicone. Problem was, the risky procedure was performed by an allegedly unlicensed buttocks enhancing practitioner. End result? Doctors speculate that the liquid silicone got into her blood stream via the huge needle required for the injections, and thence to her heart, which did not need enhancement, just someone to love it more, hence the attempt at acquiring poochier glutes. It's all terribly sad, to be truthful, as is all extreme vanity and extreme greed.

This, of course, begs the question: if this is how people behave with God, can you imagine how they would behave without Him? Or why would we even both to try to behave unless we have the Big Hammer up there waiting to slam on us if we dare step out of the prescribed behavioral line?

For an answer to the eternal question of whether or not to have my butt enhanced on the cheap, so to speak, we turn to an interview with social scientist Carol Tavris on eSkeptic: Here's her answer to the question the religious are always asking the non-religious:

Skeptic: Without God, what would be the reason to be a moral person, or to try to improve the world?

Tavris: Helping people. Humanity in general. Bettering the world, if not in time for you, then for your kids. Justice. Kindness. Those are pretty good reasons. My parents believed that if you are working only for yourself it is not enough.

Good thinking, Carol. You hit the nail on the head with the Big Hammer of Reason, the nail being the assumption of Christian doctrine that people are, at bottom line, just awful. And that's no doubt due to Original Sin, but in any event, she implies that free thinkers and nonthiests have a more upbeat view of humanity than our religious brethren. My own take on this issue? Yes, people can be just awful and/or simply wonderful. But Big Hammers (in the hands of governments or gods), inevitably result in the awful bright fires of revolution. Best to proceed gently and trust in the better angels of our natures.

Meanwhile, is it possible for revolutions to get boring? It's been what, two weeks now since thousands of Egyptians gathered in the streets of Cairo demanding Hosni (another bad behavior poster boy) leave and real democracy be implemented?  (Resulting in a sewage problem, one would assume, of magnificent proportions) I can see those poor news folks in their news rooms trying to figure out when the great American public will grow weary of Arabic demonstrations and stop watching/reading about how, "today will be the day of decision" only to  have it pass without any certifiable climax. What to do? Look for buttock injection tragedies and give them top billing.

(Another note: Not ten minutes after I finished writing this, wouldn't you know it, Hosni resigned and the massive protest was instantly transformed into a massive celebration. Bully for the people of  Egypt--and bully for Facebook, Google, and Twitter, without which, it is said, the revolution would have been impossible.)

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