Social Discourse Reborn

Social Discourse Reborn, West Chester

SDR

We live in a time now where people are scared to talk about problematic issues and race. And when we do find the occasions however few with the majority done behind an electronic screen, it sometimes sadly erupts into chaos. Don’t you feel like it is time we brought back social discourse? Don’t you just really want to dive into it headfirst and have these conversations from a place of honesty and authenticity? Don’t you just want to learn and understand others point of view while also sharing your own beliefs?

As a “progressive” society, we are very far from equilibrium. We all walk around as glasses half filled with patches of knowledge that does nothing but create division and hate. We use it as a sword to defend our way of thinking instead of using it as a pencil to potentially write out newly found truths in our open book or even possibly erasing fallacies we hold dear to us which hold us hostage.

Isn’t it time that we seek the truth from one another? Isn’t it time we begin to ask questions and examine all writings from every side? Isn’t it time for us to debate, experiment and discuss ideas in a place which breeds constructive discourse?

In the end, we are all human beings full of vulnerabilities and imperfections which is why it is important for us not to fall into our own biases. We must question our own ideas to avoid falling into prejudice or careless thinking. The only way to achieve this is through honest and authentic communication with your fellow neighbor.

This year has taught me valuable and indispensable lessons. It has brought me clarity about my own biases and how I’ve use my fraction of the truth as a sword rather than a pencil. I want to be part of something where when I leave, I can wholeheartedly say that I’ve learned something new and can ask the question: “If true, how do I apply it?”

Don’t you? If your answer is yes, you’ll be glad to know that I am forming a group called – Social Discourse Reborn, located in West Chester, PA. The intention is to provide a place where people from all walks of life can join regardless of their political, religious, academic beliefs or race. The goal is to not only get ahead of the 2025 election but to also brew a sense of harmony and knowledge sharing within our small community. In person gatherings will be conducted once a week with topics chosen ahead of time from a pool populated by all attendees. Food and drinks will be provided at every gathering. The place of gathering is TBA and will be announced once all emails have been collected.

Let the social discourse and knowledge sharing begin.

Stay tuned.

Planeta Proibido Part 3

Later that night

Covered beneath the radiating night sky, the expedition team gathers around a campfire. 

Adding to the aesthetics of the Amazon rainforest is a natural symphony of all sorts of exotic animals. Meanwhile, a handful of souls are nicely tucked inside their sleeping bags. The few who remain awake revel in nature’s breathtaking creation. 

“Isn’t it amazing how there’s a clear link between the health of our planet and the health of the Amazon?” states the woman with silk hair. 

“This place alone houses approximately 140 billion metric tons of carbon. It just blows my mind that we could be so ignorant to want to cut down all life in this amazing garden.” she adds.

The man leading the trek tosses a piece of wood in the campfire and remarks: “My friend, you talk of ignorance yet we are on this expedition to remove life from this forest. Are we not?”

The woman with silk hair pauses for a second. She ponders and analyzes what the man has just said. She smiles and replies: “Point taken.”

“We should get some rest. We have an early day ahead of us.” advises the man leading the trek. He then rotates to his left and nods at the other South American man. A signal of some sort.

The next day

Following hours of marching, they finally arrive at their destination. The forest looks completely unrecognizable. From the missing green lush pastures to the tall magnificent trees, all were swallowed whole by the fires. All that remains is the prize. Staring at them from a few feet away is the plant. Not just one, or two, or three, but five wholesome Planeta Proibido’s. Somehow, throughout multiple hell fires, it had miraculously survived.

“Alright, let’s get what we came for.” announces one man.

“Haha! We’re gonna be rich!” excitingly states another. 

As they all walk closer towards the plants, the man leading the trek advises them to tread carefully. He reaches within his bag and retrieves a full face respirator. He wears it. 

“Have the containers ready for extraction.” instructs the woman with silk hair. “Think we should all wear masks?” she then asks.

“My friend, it is up to you.” replies the man leading the trek with his voice muffled through the respirator.

Not taking any chances, she mimics the man’s actions and also wears a respirator. “By the way, where’s the guy with the same accent as you? The one with the brown camo pants.” asks the woman.

“You mean, Javier. There’s another plant I need from this place. I had him check it out for me. We’ll meet him later.” replies the man leading the trek with a heavy accent.

“Why didn’t you tell us?” the woman inquires.

“I’m sorry my friend.” says the man as she shrugs both shoulders.

 Meanwhile, the others get ahead and with shovels at hand begin to dig.  

“It’s so beautiful!” exclaims another woman as she crouches to examine the plant. Slightly above average for an exotic plant, the fluorescent blue green colors of its petals attracted everyone’s attention. Underneath the petals, attached to the stem are jellyfish like tentacles hanging downwards. A marvelous spectacle to see. Yet, the beauty of it all lies in the center. A perfectly white shaped orb protected by a multitude of red filaments with extremely thick anthers. 

“Is that what I think it is? The heart? Can’t we just grab it?” one man says as he halts digging and hastily reaches into the plant.

“My friend, do not…..” warns the man leading the trek as he watches the man remove the plant’s ovary. Seconds after being detached from its stem, it explodes. The content splatters directly onto the man’s face. He screams. He holds his face with both hands and vehemently screams in agony. To add to their current ongoing dilemma, the other four plants activate their defense mechanism and discharge an unknown gas into the air. Everyone panics. The woman with silk hair rushes to the man’s rescue. With pure intentions, she grabs him and turns him over to help. 

Shocked at her discovery, she screams and immediately falls to the ground, accidentally hurting herself. His facial skin was slowly disintegrating revealing only melted flesh and bone. Not too long after, he drops dead. Those without masks begin inhaling the contaminated air. Nature had brought them all to their knees. A small cough morphed into a heavy cough. Subsequently, a heavy cough morphed into dangerous territories. They all try to retrieve their masks but it’s too late. With swollen and aggravated esophagus, they begin to cough up blood. One at a time, they helplessly witness each other asphyxiate by the fumes released from the Planeta Proibido. 

Meanwhile, the man leading the trek suddenly portrays a different outfit. Not only did he sport a full face respirator, he also had on a full fledged white Hazmat Suit. With orange gloves at hand, he strolls through everyone and retrieves the plants. One at a time, he gently removes them from the ground and places them in a sealed glass container. Concluding his task, he carefully returns the glass vials into his bag. In the process, he takes out a metal object. He stands up, straps the bag over his shoulders and surveys. Everyone on his team is either dead or on the brink. He locates the woman with silk hair and heads towards her. 

Still on the ground showing signs of heavy distress, she can’t stop crying. Finally in close proximity, she looks up and stares at the man leading the trek. “Did you know this would happen?” she tells him while sobbing beyond control.

“My friend, I’m so sorry.” states the man in a heavy accent. Not too long after, a gun sound echoes throughout the forest.

Two weeks later

“Thank you for the wire transfer Mr. Leeds.” says the man in a heavy accent as he stares at an enormous sum of 1.2 million dollars in the company of his best friend, Javier.

“No, thank you! Pleasure doing business with you.” replies Mr. Leeds as he hangs up the phone. Standing adjacent to three Planeta Prohibido, Mr. Leeds is ecstatic. So much so that he can’t contain it. “We are going to change the world forever!” loudly exclaims Mr. Leeds to his fellow researchers. “Decades from now, the acronym HIV will be nothing but a speck of dust in the minds of our people. Let’s get ready for extraction shall we.” further adds Mr. Leeds as he proudly witnesses his scientific team thoroughly dismantle the Planeta Proibido to its core.

THE END

Planeta Proibido Part 2

2 Years Later

Somewhere out in the Amazon

Out in the far reaches of the Amazon Rainforest, dozens of men and women are trekking towards 

a treasure. One which holds a promise of riches to live out a full life and dare say a second. It is 

midday and the temperature is scorching hot. Aggressively pushing beyond 95 degrees, the 

temperature is far from ideal for a long expedition. Yet, these men and women are not only devoted but determined to reach their prize. Surrounded by lush green pastures north, south, east and west, they continue on marching. The forest is brimming with life. Home to over forty-thousand plant species, three-thousand freshwater fish species and more than three-hundred and seventy classifications of reptiles, it is the embodiment of mother nature. As the men and women march forward, you can hear the melodic sounds of birds, the grunting and squeaking sounds of emperor tamarins and goeldi monkeys. 

Suddenly, a man sporting brown camo pants, a white shirt, a machete at hand and a very dense backpack says in an South American accent: “Minha Amiga, how do you know this Planeta Proibido survived the fires?”

“Amiga, they say the plant is the heart of this forest. It can survive any disaster.” replies a man wearing a black t-shirt with a thick accent as he leads the trek. 

“And how do you know this plant will do what you claim it does?” curiously questions a middle aged woman with brown silk hair.

The man leading the trek wipes the dripping sweat off his forehead and narrates with a dense accent: “Once, I was coming from an expedition out of Chile and ended up in Bolivia. I was paid to retrieve a special plant for someone. While in Bolivia, I stayed at this cidade pequena – very small country town. While there, rumors of a witch doctor who cured all types of diseases traveled to my ears. I wanted to see for myself, so I went to look for her. She lived in this remote side of the small town where people visited her only if they were dying and needed a cure. Outside of that, everybody was scared of her.”

Unexpectedly, someone from the group interrupts him and asks: “And you were not afraid of this witch?”

The man leading the trek regains control of the conversation and replies: “Absolutely not Minha Amiga! I do this my whole life. So, I went to see her and she turned out to be very, very old. Older than one hundred years if I had to guess. She had all types of plants in her house. Plants I have never seen before. Some of them even looked alive, like, they were moving. She told me of the Planeta Proibido. She said it cures HIV.  She said if I ever found it, I should bring her a heart.”

“A heart?” replies a man.

“What do you mean a heart?” inquires the middle aged woman with silk hair.

“Yes a heart. She said the Planeta Proibido all have a heart of their own. Apparently, the plant has provided life to this forest for many years.” explains the man leading the trek.

“This is madness!” exclaims another man. “Nobody told me we were searching for plants with hearts. What the fuck kind of shit is this?” he further adds.

“Amiga, you said you only wanted to be paid right? Well, here is your chance my friend.” states the man leading the trek.

“Did this witch tell you anything else? How does she even know about it? Has she used it before? And are there any repercussions if we remove this plant from the ground?” wisely asks the woman with silk hair.

“She said the plant has been around way before her ancestors. She said once her ancestors used it to cure a deadly plague which almost wiped out her people.” replies the man as he continues to march forward.

“You didn’t answer the last question.” points out the woman with silk hair.

“All she told me was – careful of what you forcefully take from mother nature. She has an unpleasant way of returning the favor. That’s what she said when I translated it to english.”

Upon hearing the witches revelation, everyone pauses and stares at one another. Suddenly, the sense of adventure and excitement slowly dissipates from their bodies. Completely frozen in place, they deeply ponder within. Out of the blue, the sound of a macaw shakes them out of their paralyzed state of mind. By the time they all turn around, they notice the man in the black t-shirt had slightly left them behind. Panickingly, they all sprint ahead to catch up.

“C’mon my friends, we can’t slow down. I can’t slow down. We are on the clock. The Planeta Proibido is waiting.” states the man leading the trek.

Planeta Proibido Part 1

1 Year Ago

International Health Award Conference

“Ladies and Gentleman! Nurses, Physicians, Surgeons, Doctors, Researchers, welcome to our annual  International Health Award Conference. You know, every year I get up here, I have this aching sensation that this should get easier. Yet, here I am, fifteen years later and it’s still nerve-racking as the first year. It goes to show the passion and love infused within the preparation of this event. It proves how much care and compassion you all imbue into your workplace, into your patients and into your research. So, every year I stand at this podium, I am replete with emotions because I know the meaning of sacrifice. I wholeheartedly know the meaning of holding the life of another in the palm of your hand.” addresses the director of the international health committee. Sporting a black tuxedo, a white shirt and a black bowtie, both his hands are glued to each side of the laminated wooden podium. Adjacent to the director is a large room housing heaps of round tables decorated with intelligently designed ruffled white sheets. At the center of each round table lies a mid-sized radiating orange and green swarovski crystal paradise tulips crystal sculpture. Surrounding each round table are delicately dressed women and men from all over the globe. Within this venue housed the most brilliant and reputable minds in the world. 

Meanwhile, the director at the podium carries on with his introduction. “Before we begin our award ceremony, I’d like to invite on stage a man who has taken the world by storm this past year. A man who’s medical team has not only achieved the impossible, but has repeatedly defied all odds. If you have not been living under a rock these past few years then you all know whom I speak of. Ladies and Gentleman, Johnson Leeds!” announces the director while the entire room is permeated with the joys and claps from the crowd. All eyes are fixated on Johnson as he stands from his seat and buttons his blue tux. He leans over, kisses his wife on the right cheek and confidently takes strides towards the podium. 

Now facing the director, they firmly shake hands. “You are an inspiration to us all.” compliments the director. 

“Very flattering Sir. Thank you!” politely acknowledges Johnson. 

Johnson then turns towards the podium and gives his undivided attention to the crowd as the director makes his exit. In a still position, he surveys the room and locates his wife. She smiles at him and gives him the thumbs up. Following her positive reinforcement, he clears his throat. “Earlier, the director mentioned how nerve-racking it is for him to stand up here every year. Truth is, I wouldn’t know exactly how it feels since I’m not that famous to give out speeches on a yearly basis. Maybe one day.” playfully states Johnson as he makes eye contact with the director. A light smile forges on the director’s face while a short burst of laughter is heard from the crowd. “With that said, I do however understand what it feels like to have to be on your toes year and and year out, always aiming for a breakthrough in a field that has for a very long time left many hopeless and speechless. Well, I can humbly now say that we have finally found hope. A year ago today, our forty year old patient who has been at war with an immunodeficiency virus is now victorious. In our care, he had undergone a special bone-marrow transplant. The stem cells we used for the transplant were from a donor who had a relatively rare genetic mutation that confers resistance to HIV. After many trials and errors, we can finally announce that we have found no active viral infection in his body. Although remnants of HIV’s DNA can still be found in some cells, we remain hopeful in the inability of the virus to replicate. With utmost confidence, I can say that he has been in remission for twelve months.” Suddenly, a shroud of emotion envelops Jonhson. Droplets begin to form from his tear ducts. He pauses to clear his throat once more and adds: “To wrap up, I can’t stress enough how grateful and proud I am of my team and my wife who has stood by me through thick and thin. And most of all, I am grateful and proud of every single of one you. I thank the wonderful people who have dedicated hours to birth this event. I thank our sponsors and donors. Together, we form an unbreakable shield. United, we shall eradicate human kind’s number one enemy – Disease. Thank you!”

The room erupts with claps as every person adopts a standing position to acknowledge Johnson’s breakthrough. 

“This is the guy I told you about. He’s gonna get us the clearance for that plant.” shouts a brown 

skinned man wearing a black long sleeve shirt standing at the far edge of the room as he points at the podium. 

“What did you say, I can’t hear with all this noise.” points out another man.

“That’s him! He’s gonna get us the proper clearance so we can go after the Planeta Proibido. Millions are gonna be made my friend. Millions!” repeats the brown skinned man with a dense accent as she claps along with the rest of the crowd. 

A standing ovation. A magnificent act of acknowledgement to a renown pioneer.

The continuously lengthy and arduous race to self-improvement.

By now, we are all too familiar with the maxim – The road to hell is paved with good intentions. But, have you ever heard of this aphorism – The road to self-improvement isn’t paved at all. On the contrary, it’s full of gravel of all shapes and sizes.

Alright, you caught me and I can hear you whispering: “That’s not a saying at all. This guy is full of….” Before you finish your thoughts, let’s not get too hostile. Hear me out. Have you ever experienced an epiphany so strong, it naturally moved you to improve a trait or habit which you deemed for so long paralyzing or destructive? Only to conquer that trait or habit and be rudely greeted immediately by another paralyzing or destructive trait or habit you had no idea existed within you. Soon you realize as you continue to trek forward, the road doesn’t get easier. The gravel beneath you begins to increase in size and no amount of money can save you from developing sore feet.

Three years ago, I decided to embark on such a journey after experiencing what I would describe as a life altering moment. To describe my early twenties, it would equate to the famous Joker ride at Six Flags – fun and dangerous. My pride had reached unfathomable levels like the stock market today. My selfishness knew no bounds. Not to get into the nitty gritty but, let’s just say throughout my fun and dangerous moments, I was blessed enough to escape death on one or two occasions. Those eye opening experiences were enough to prompt me to enter the race to self-improvement, not knowing the arduous challenges ahead. One day, I sat in deep thought and realized I had everything I ever needed – food, shelter, clothes, a career, loving people and great health. Yet, I was missing something. Desperate for an answer, I turned to religion for guidance. A bit naïve, I saw it has a cure to all my problems. Following months of studying and spiritual growth I surely believed I was on my way to a better life.

Initially, conquering your first bad trait or habit feels rewarding. However; you slowly notice the toll it takes on your state of mind. Just as I was preparing myself to take along breath of victory, life decided to throw me a curve ball. “Oh you thought you were done?” life said. Without warning, a new challenge sprung forth. “Now fix that!” shouted life. “And this, and that, and umm, don’t forget about this one.”

Naturally, if you’re not mentally strong, self-doubt begins to seep into all the neurons inside of your brain. Inevitably, the pain travels downwards and your feet begin to hurt as you trek on the uncomfortable gravel. “How could I have so many flaws?” you may catch yourself asking. “Why can’t this road be paved already? I just want to be better!” you may shout from within.

I get it. I really do.

Luckily, it doesn’t have to remain that way. By allowing myself to be humble as I can be, to interact and be in the company of people of all ages, old and young, I am now able to see the beauty in this continuously lengthy and arduous race to self-improvement. I am now able to recognize growth, short or long term, and appreciate its worth. I am now able to calm my self-doubts and focus on one gravel at a time. And so can you! Humble yourself. Branch out, meet new people of different cultures, age and backgrounds. Build your knowledge bank. As you interact with those individuals, don’t fall in the trap of comparing yourself to them. Instead, take in the stories they share, draw out the lessons and use them as fuel to keep you going on your continuously lengthy and arduous race to self-improvement. Now is not the time to give up. We may not be able to utterly predict our future, but stay on this lengthy and arduous path to self-improvement and the end result can only be a true masterpiece.

With that said, I leave you with this – Take your eyes away from this screen. Look around you. If you don’t like what you see, then change it. Do not allow them to break your spiritual core as it is the only spark that will set you free!

Covid Today. AI & AGI Tomorrow.

This topic we’ll be discussing today is a bit niche and to be frank, my expertise concerning this topic is quite minuscule. However, for the sake of starting a conversation, I think I know just enough to make this an entertaining read for you. What are we talking about here?

Well, let’s start with the current pandemic that has taken the world by storm. Covid-19 has struck the world a new blow. Millions have been infected and thousands have sadly died. As of this very moment, many continue to contract the virus while we all remain hopeful for a treatment or vaccine on the horizon. As tragic as it all is, we’re not here to discuss something that is street knowledge. Instead, let’s discuss particularly one area where Covid-19 has burned a hole through. The unemployment hole. According to recent statistics, the unemployment rate in the United States alone has reached a whopping 15%. Over 24 million Americans have been furloughed and are currently glued to the unemployment program run by their respective states. For how long they remain in such a state totally depends on a victorious battle against Covid-19, or so we hope, right? You see, to stave off a colossal economic crash, billions of dollars (money printed out of thin air, which if economic laws hold, we the taxpayers will be footing the bill sooner rather than later) were pumped into mostly corporate businesses to retain their employees. Unfortunately, some of these corporate entities had other plans and still carried through with mass layoffs to retain cash flow. For example, United Airlines, after receiving a fat check of 5 billions dollars announced their plan to lay off a portion of their employees come Fall. In turn, many will be sent running to the hills of unemployment benefits. The good news is, as long as employers continue to pay into the unemployment insurance taxes, the funds should be available for those furloughed. The law states: “Employers must pay unemployment insurance for as long as they have employees, as long as these employees work a minimum amount.” 

Now comes the meat of this discussion. If employers must pay unemployment insurance for as long as they have employees, what happens when they no longer have employees? What happens when AI and AGI become the bread and butter of corporate industries? I grew up in a small town where I was fortunate enough to witness the damage self-checkouts had on the working class. It took years to take shape but eventually the doorbell rang. I was fortunate enough to live in a progressive state these past few years (California) to witness the revamp of the grocery store and fast food chain. And guess what? The revamp had profit in mind first and employees second. Even now, I’m still fortunate enough to witness a revolution which could spell trouble for our civilization. Last week, I stumbled across a startup company providing autonomous security services to businesses at a fraction of the cost it would take to hire human security details. Three days ago, I happen to be reading about a company gearing up to supply autonomous machine patty makers. Possibly in the next 5 years, uber may possibly lay off their drivers in favor of autonomous cars. Ten years from now, maybe airlines will invest in fully autonomous planes. Are you catching my drift yet? When AI and AGI have reached autonomous levels to complete tasks beyond the capabilities of humans, where does that leave humanity?  Where does that leave the working class? At the mercy of unemployment benefits? But wait, these companies no longer have employees, so who will be supplying the unemployment funds then? The government? Extremely high taxes? UBI? This is pure speculation, but maybe these stimulus checks might be a form of trial phase for an upcoming era where UBI comes to fruition. (I see you clapping Mr. Andrew Yang) 

Sorry got side tracked there for a second.

I’m beginning to feel like not enough is being done to avoid such a catastrophic future. And it took a tragic event like Covid-19 to put things into perspective. Why are we not having this conversation more often? Why are we not forging reliable plans to prevent an unemployment rate which could exceed 25% when AI and AGI become the norm? Why are we not investing more in trade schools to give the working class a chance to get ahead so they can be prepared to live in an AI and AGI runned world?

The biggest question is, how sustainable will this new system be? Sure sounds marvelous for corporate businesses, but how will the tune sound when 25%+ of your population becomes illiterate in a world where they no longer recognize and as human beings bring zero value to? What then?

Thanks for stopping by. Leave your comments below or DM on insta @iiarcseriesii. Let’s talk. Teach me something I don’t know regarding AI and AGI.

A Random Evening (Jason’s short Story)

The time is thirty minutes past four in the afternoon. Not an ounce of quiet can be found in these bustling streets. Heading north on Main street, vehicles begin to align bumper to bumper. On one side of Main street, heading south, the public bus stops to drop off and pick up a handful of passengers.  On that same exact side of the street, a mob of teenagers on their bicycles are gunning down the sidewalk while trying to outmaneuver through a dense crowd of bystanders. In the process, the teenagers arouse within a few bystanders a feeling of frustration. Parallel to that street, its sidewalk portrays the same traits. Crowded and busy. Some are walking in and out of stores, while others are making haste to get to their next destination. Suddenly, the sound of a siren echoes down Main street alerting everyone in the process. It’s faint at first but with every passing second, the siren elevates in volume. As the drivers begin to maneuver to the side of the road, another vehicle unexpectedly zooms down North of main street. Unable to slow down due to traffic, the driver crashes into another vehicle causing a catastrophic chain of reaction. Everyone panics! The perpetrator immediately exits his car and runs off like a madman. He takes off pushing every pedestrian in his path without a care in the world. Meanwhile, the siren finally rings in its full glory revealing a decked out police car. Realizing the mess the perpetrator had left behind, the officer rapidly exits his vehicle in pursuit of his target. A few feet ahead, the perpetrator resumes his rampage to escape, shoving an innocent woman in the company of her child. Completely and utterly unprepared for such a violent interaction, the woman’s body ragdolls in the concrete wall while unintentionally smashing her head in. The crowd screams! The child begins to cry and the perpetrator once again escapes. A few seconds later, the officer runs by the victim. He gently injects her and presses a button on his utility belt. 

“Medic. Code 098. Temporary aid needed at my pinged location. Victim – Woman, brown hair, light green eyes. Age – early forties, bleeding on the right side of her head.” shouts the officer through the comm attached to his hand. 

Then, he urges the witnesses to keep the victim company while the medics arrive. The officer then resumes his chase. Standing at the entrance of his Dojo, Jason drops both of his grocery bags on the ground and urgently takes off after the maniac responsible for committing such a monstrous act. On the way, he stops to check on the injured woman and her child. He puts his best foot forward and tries to console the child to the best of his ability. In the spur of a moment, a drone arrives at the scene. 

“Scanning pinged victim.” announces the drone in a very pleasant programmed voice.“Pinged victim identify. Administering temporary med-aid.” says the drone.

Witnessing the drone administer medical aid to the injured woman, Jason feels a bit indecisive. He’s unsure whether he should remain at the side of the victim and her child or chase after the person responsible. After all, is it ethical to place the life of an injured woman at the hand of a mechanical drone or to allow such a maniac to run amok without restraint? In a crouched position, Jason looks to his right, then to his left. He grabs the nearest person and instructs them to look after the child. He stands up and instantly accelerates North. He runs block after block. Those rigorous training exercises and experiments he was put through at A.R.C were paying off. Being in the best shape any man would dream of, he sprints. Following a brief minute, he finally catches up to the officer. Jason slowly looks over his shoulder and notices the sweat and fatigue painted all over the officer’s face. “Poor old man.” thinks Jason. Not wasting another second, he overtakes the officer in pursuit of the perpetrator. After multiple turns and weaves, Jason begins to feel just sick and tired of this maniac’s destructive behavior. He notices the perpetrator forcefully yank a man away from his car illegally parked on the side of the road. He gets in and sinks his foot on the gas pedal. Unaware of incoming traffic behind him, he lags to close the driver’s door and gets it wrenched off by an incoming truck. Not a bit unnerved by the incident, he drives further North and then takes a left turn. Aware of all the streets and intersections in the area, Jason decides to cut this chase short. “He’ll hit traffic in less than a minute. The road he turned into is a one way street. He’ll have no choice but to head upI have to catch him before he crashes into any more people.” says Jason. Resuming his chase, he zooms North to intercept the maniac. Just as he planned, a few miles north of the one way street, traffic was indeed in session. Horns are blowing non stop. Jason analyzes the area and notices one horn blowing particularly irregularly. He pinpoints the vehicle and in a stealthy manner chases after it. Finally at the end of his mission, he slowly and quietly creeps up on the perpetrator. Completely caught off guard, the perpetrator is ambushed. Jason knocks him out cold and removes him from the vehicle. He carries him away from the street to the sidewalk. With the perpetrator tied to a lamp pole, Jason quietly remains seated next to him as he patiently waits. A minute goes by and no one shows up. Two minutes, not a soul in sight. Three minutes, all you can see is a collection of vehicles stuck in traffic with drivers trying their best to stay sane through this ruckus. Suddenly, sirens break loose. “About time they showed up.” Jason expresses out loud. 

“Wake up!” says Jason while showering the perpetrator with a few slaps to the face. 

The perpetrator wakes up to find both his hands burdened by a rubber cable. 

“Who the hell are you?” asks the perpetrator.

“The face you never want to see again.” answers Jason in a cold tone. 

“What the fuck!” yells the perpetrator. “I have rights. You ain’t no cop!” further adds the perpetrator.

“You had rights.” replies Jason.

“Man, if you don’t…..” exclaims the perpetrator, but Jason wouldn’t let him finish.

“Shut your damm mouth!” expresses Jason. “You hurt a lot of good people today. Shut your mouth!”

Ensuing a few moments, a few police vehicles arrive at the scene. The officer Jason overtook earlier steps up to the curb. Completely out of breath and drenched in sweat, he states in an animated tone : “Boy, you didn’t break a sweat. You must be a track star kid. Oh I’m sure of it, you definitely are a track star.”

“What’s a track star?” confusingly asks Jason.

Baffled by Jason’s comment, the officer looks at Jason, laughs and rhetorically asks: “What’s a track star? Are you not from planet earth kid?”

“You probably wouldn’t believe me if I told you where I was from.” answers Jason.

“Try me!” says the officer.

Amazed at the officer’s curiosity, Jason springs forth a light smile.

“C’mon, try me!” insists the officer.

“Not today sir. Not today. How’s the woman doing?” asks Jason. 

“She’ll be fine. She’s on her way to the hospital. Thank God for those drones uuh. As you can tell, I’m an old fashion guy. Technology isn’t my thing. But I gotta admit, those drones are God sent. Now we can be in multiple places at one. It’s a goddamn miracle some genius invented those things. ” explains the officer.

Not wanting to prolong the interaction any further, Jason decides to walk away leaving the rest of the work to the police officers on site. 

“We could use a man like you on the force!” proposes the officer to Jason as he carries away the perpetrator.

“I’VE SEEN YOUR FACE!” yells the perpetrator as he’s forcefully being put inside the police car.

“Shut the hell up and get in!” says the officer to the perpetrator.

Jason ignores it all and doesn’t reply. He continues walking down the busy and crowded street. With his back turned away from the scene, he waves his right hand at the officer. 

“See ya around kid.” states the officer.

The unforeseen and continuous rippling effect of a character molded in 1951

For so long, I’ve deeply pondered over the differences between a rebel and an anarchist. Without the aid of literature or wiki, I wanted to come to my own conclusion by just analyzing the events unfolding in today’s society. Foolish you might say. What you might not realize is, sometimes, it pays to be calm in the mind and let it figure things without the influence of another. Only then can you claim that your conclusion was the product of your own understanding. Unfortunately, I never got to that conclusion and was compelled to search through google for the differences after recently watching the controversial and critically acclaimed film – Joker.

This is going to be a lengthy piece, so strap yourselves in and enjoy the read.

Prior to my trip to watch one of DC’s most iconic villain in his debut origin film, I constantly browsed the internet for articles pertaining to the Joker. After endless clicks, a few articles caught my attention. Why? Because they all shared the same exact theme – “Joker the movie should not be screened to the public due to the fear that it might entice violence and anarchy.” To combat this fear, it was reported in multiple articles that selected movie theaters would be provided with adequate to robust security detail if deemed necessary. As I read those articles, I just had to raise my eyebrows. Then, the lightbulb in my mind quickly illuminated and I instantly recalled the violent incident which occurred during a showing of The Dark Knight Rises in 2012 at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. The assailant set off tear gas grenades and shot into the audience killing twelve civilians in the process. A tragic moment.

And yet, 7 years later, the release of Joker not only brought back those horrific memories but also planted a dose of fear in the minds of many. But why Joker? A plethora of violent films have been released to the public in the past 7 years and I can’t think of one who forced cities to mobilize police officers to monitor selected movie theaters screening Joker. What is it about this character that has so many people frightened? After all, he’s just a comic book character, right?

Well, before we get to answer the questions above, here’s my abbreviated experience going to and returning from seeing Joker.

It’s noon on a Friday. I pull into the parking lot of the movie where I reside. Sorry, can’t say the name. (Now that would be foolish). However; I won’t leave you hanging and will sprinkle in a very important detail. I live in one of the safest cities on the eastern coast. It’s so safe you could leave your car open at night and wake up the next morning to find your belongings still intact. Now back to the story. I pull into the lot and the first thing I see is a police vehicle. Mind you, I’m a frequent movie goer to that specific theater and I’ve never seen a police vehicle outside of that theater. I walk into the movie theater and there she is pacing back and forth in full uniform. “Man, this is serious!” – I said to myself going into the theater. I get my ticket, walk into the showing room and noticed no more than 15 people. I sit and voila, the movie begins. Truthfully speaking, from the beginning of the movie to the end, I felt quite uncomfortable. So much so it gave me a slight headache. But, oddly enough, the uncomfortable feeling was not negative. On the contrary, it was a positive experience. A positive experience which propelled me to think. (Maybe a little too much) The narrative set forth and displayed to the audience that Friday afternoon was a brilliant masterpiece.  A time piece depicting the rapid degeneration of a man who was once abused a child. A man who’s mentally unstable and desperately looked to find comfort in the happiness of others. Instead, he was ridiculed and tormented to the brink of no return. In the process, this man commits a string of murders and realizes that his happiness and tranquility lies solely within that morbid lifestyle. Coincidentally, he unintentionally births a movement. A movement not bred by rebellion but of pure anarchy, hence becoming the prince of crime and Batman’s greatest foe.

So, what is it about this character that has so many people frightened? – I previously asked. After all, he’s just a comic book character, right?

In my opinion, I wholeheartedly believe this fear comes from the fact that this could indeed play out in today’s society. “Are you saying someone could become the joker in real life? What are you smoking? I’m out!” – You say. Before you storm out, look closely at the gem and analyze the fragment within.  Mental illness has plagued our society for so long. In the past it was brush off as nothing but a phase. In modern society, after countless of violent incidences, strides are being made to better understand the intricacies of the human brain. Yet, as the movie narrated, for those who do not have access to decent health care, they can’t and may never receive the proper treatment or medication to cure them or soothe their mental afflictions. And when left uncheck, awful repercussions soon follow.

A man or a woman with similar mental afflictions as the Joker may not start a rebellion or an uprising based solely on anarchy as shown in the movie (doubt anyone would even have the courage or energy to leave their homes nowadays if something of the sort did occur) but he or she may be pushed to the brink of committing horrific acts similar to the Aurora theater or the Sandy Hook shooting.

When Bill Finger, Jerry Robinson and Bob Kane created Joker, I have no idea if their intentions were to spread the awareness of mental illness in our society. 68 years later, the character not only withstood the test of time, it served as a well needed reboot for the failing DCEU and a wakeup call for all of us to take mental illness very seriously.

Now with that said, will I be watching Joker a second time? No. I loved it the first time. I will be listening to the epic score repeatedly on my way to work. But, I will not be watching it a second time. In my eyes, it is a truly tragic story meant for one viewing only. That’s just my opinion however; don’t let me rain on your parade. “After all, life is nothing but a comedy.” – Joker.

On a side note: It would be such a bold move and frankly quite amazing for Warner Bros to set their new Batman film in this universe. A time piece story for Batman would be epic.

The Game We Play- A Short Story

It’s the year 2018

The court room has no more than twelve participants out in the stands. Small chatters run rampant as the jury mulls over their decision. Meanwhile, located to the left of the room sits the defendant with his lawyer. A middle aged man, skinny in stature with pale skin and short spiky hair. Sporting formal attire, the defendant sits with his right leg crossed over to his left.  Every so often, he turns around and gazes at another young man sitting in the crowd. His expression towards the young man is nothing short of disappointment. To the right sits the plaintiff with enough physical bruises that would cause the faintest of hearts to skip a few beats. A swollen upper lip and lower lip, a black eye accompanied by small patches of unhealed bruises all over.

“Shall the defendant and plaintiff please rise.” announces the bailiff. 

Both parties did as instructed.

“Members of the Jury, have you reached a verdict?” asks the District Judge. The Jury spokesman stands up and replies: “Yes, your honor. We have. Your honor, the members of this jury find the defendant GUILTY!”. Upon hearing that statement, lips were sealed and salivas were swallowed all around the room. 

The judge in turn takes very little time and announces: “Mr. Kettleman. You were found guilty on a charge of 3rd degree aggravated assault. You will be sentenced to one year with possibility of early parole if said parole conditions are met.” After hammering down his final verdict, the judge proceeds to adjourn the court. 

Without a fuss, Mr. Kettleman accepts his faith and allows himself to be escorted out of the courtroom. Halfway through the aisle, he once again stares at the young man sitting in the crowd. “You’re gonna be alright.” the young man sympathetically expresses to Mr. Kettleman. Deep down however; that sympathy might have been masked to hide something veritably dark. 

Mr. Kettleman does not speak and makes his exit while mentally preparing for his one year sentence. 

Later that night, somewhere deep inside an underground facility 

The District Judge sits at a round table in the company of others in his domain and many others with pay grades higher than the mind dares to count. Their weekly meeting carries on as usual until its abruptly interrupted by a messenger. “ Sir, someone’s here to see you.” the messenger relays to the District Judge. A bit flustered by the interruption, the District Judge politely excuses himself off the table. “Gentlemen, will you excuse me.” announces the Judge. He makes his way out of the securely guarded double doors. He heads down the hallway and takes the elevator up to the garage. There, a man awaits him. The Judge greets him and says: “What do you have for me?”

The man in turn replies as he hands the Judge a yellow sealed rectangular envelope: “From Mr. Kettleman. $250,000 in advance for said conditions. An additional $250,000 will be delivered to you upon Mr. Kettleman’s release.” 

“Inform your client that from now on, the advances have doubled.” says the District Judge as he returns to the elevator.

Half a year later

Zan, a tall and light skinned young adult walks out of his vehicle. Lacking confidence due to a deformity in his eyes, his unsteady hand wobbles a bit as he uses the key to lock the doors to his vehicle. Out in an abandoned parking lot, Zan stands near his car as he awaits for his long anticipated meeting with one of the biggest names in his town. A meeting with The Pin! Following a few minutes, a luxurious white Bentley with tinted windows slowly drives into the lot. Zan immediately fixes his posture upright and takes in a deep breath. The white Bentley comes to a full stop, parked parallel to Zan’s outdated and worn out red Buick. The driver’s door to the Bentley springs open and a man steps out. Obesed and quite short, the man propels himself out of the vehicle onto his two feet.

“Mr. Pin. How are you?” greets Zan as he analyzes the lack of breathing room left by Mr. Pin’s tight blue suit. 

“Zan! My son. Good to see you!” excitingly replies Mr. Pin as he walks towards Zan with open arms. Mr. Pin then pauses and takes a quick look at Zan. Ensuing a quick warm manly hug, Mr. Pin says: “Come, come meet my family. My daughter is so excited to see you.” 

Mr. Pin walks to the passenger seat and opens the front door. A woman walks out of the passenger seat. A bit older she is with wrinkles to show but not enough to come to the conclusion that she was beyond fifty. The shining jewels around her neck and ears definitely complemented her light blue outfit. “This is my wife.” points out Mr. Pin. With nothing else to say, not even a few words of compliment or encouragement, he resumes his tour and proceeds to open the back passenger door.  Out came an invigorating and stunning young woman. The white dress and pearls around her neck has Zan jaw drop in utter suspense. Noticing his reaction, Mr. Pin carries on and gently grabs her by the elbow. Unexpectedly, he greets his daughter with a light and quick passionate kiss to the lip. Zan does not find any kind of joy in seeing such an interaction between Mr. Pin and his daughter. Feeling belittled, he suddenly becomes tense. 

Mr. Pin walks the young woman over and says: “Zan. Meet my daughter, Angel! She’s my precious jewel. I trust that you will treat her like the rare diamond that she is. This merger is progress. Not just for you both, but for both of our families. And if you ever need anything, I mean anything, you know where to find me.” 

“Of course.” replies Zan. 

“By the way, how’s your father?” asks Mr. Pin.

“Never been better.” replies Zan.

“Tell him we’ll be seeing each other soon. We’ve got lots to discuss. Great things are on the horizon. Great things! I send him my regards.” adds Mr. Pin as he returns to his white Bentley and dries off leaving his daughter in the company of Zan. 

One month later

Blood spills all over. It continuously drips as it finds its way between the cracks of the ceramic floor.  

Mr. Kettleman stands firmly over his victim with a bat at hand. He’s breath seems heavy and his heart beats at an abnormal rate. He swings once more with enough force to break any firm bones. Realizing he might have pushed the limits with his punishment, he takes a step back and swings the bat to the farthest corner of the room. “I will no longer take the blame or serve anymore jail sentences for your reckless behavior. From now on, you will own responsibility for all of your hideous messes. Now get up!” Mr. Kettleman demands.

The victim does not respond. Mr. Kettleman demands once more: “ Dammit! Get up! Get up Zan!”

Not a sound. 

“Zan! This isn’t the time for your foolishness.” adds Mr. Kettleman. He leans over to grab his son and realizes he had just created his worst nightmare. He immediately breaks down mentally. Tears swim out of his tear ducts faster than he can control them. He wipes his eyes and in the process stains his face with the blood of his son. “ZAN! ZAN! WAKE UP!” yells Mr. Kettleman. He cries and cries. “ZAN! I WAS JUST TRYING TO TEACH YOU A LESSON! GET UP!” 

Nothing Mr Kettleman had to say would bring his son back.

Two Weeks Later

Sporting formal attire, the defendant sits with his head down.  Every so often, he turns around and gazes at an empty seat in the crowd. His expression is nothing short of regret and sadness.

“Members of the Jury, have you reached a verdict?” asks the District Judge. The Jury spokesman stands up and says: “Yes, your honor. We have. Your honor, the members of this jury find the defendant GUILTY!”

The judge in turn takes very little time and announces: “Mr. Kettleman. You were found guilty on one charge of 3rd degree aggravated assault and first degree murder. You will be sentenced to life in prison without parole.” After hammering down his final verdict, the judge proceeds to adjourn the court.

Somewhere out in the 50th floor of a penthouse

“Was it all worth it?” asks the woman as she watches the news unfold detailing Mr. Kettleman’s trial.

“Yes it was. I don’t blame you for being blind to the bigger picture. You’re so small minded.” answers Mr. Pin as he sits as his large glass desk overlooking the city behind him. 

“The boy beat our daughter pin! Angel is now paralyzed from the waist down. How could you say it was worth it? How could you say such a thing!” the woman adds before breaking into tears.

Mr. Pin stands up from his leather chair, walks over to the glass window, places both hands in his pockets and expresses: “ With one trojan horse, I was able to take his entire kingdom.” Mr. Pin pauses, takes a deep breath, smiles and ends with: “Now I own 75% of downtown. It’s the game we play. The game we play.”