#77: Radio Activity

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #77, on the subject of Radio Activity.

A very long time ago when The Doors were popular, someone said to me that if the only Doors songs I knew were their hits, I did not know what they sounded like.  I thought at the time that that was ridiculous.  After all, wouldn’t a band’s hits be their best songs, and wouldn’t their best songs be those that were most typical of their sound?  But then, despite the fact that I already anticipated being a famous rock musician (right, me and thirty million other kids) I was only in middle school and had never heard anything by The Doors that didn’t play on pop radio.

I began to understand years later, when I was a disc jockey (and eventually program director) of a radio station and got to listen to all the albums that had any chance of getting airplay in our format–which was a broadly defined and eclectic contemporary Christian music sound, when Amy Grant was probably the biggest name, The Imperials were still popular, Glad debuted as a rock band, and Resurrection Band and Servant were cutting edge.

The Collision Of Worlds album
The Collision Of Worlds album

I probably should have realized it when Petra released Washes Whiter Than.  It was a wonderful Christian rock album, but it had one song on it that was atypical, acoustic guitar picking with multiple vocals in a gentle neo-folk style, called Why Should the Father Bother?  It was the kind of song any Christian radio station could play, even if they were committed to Doug Oldham and The Gaithers or The Speers–and apparently quite a few did, because it shot up the Christian contemporary and MOR (that’s “middle of the road” and is regarded a genre in the radio business) charts.  It was a good song; it was not like other songs on the album, such as Morning Star.  I didn’t get it then, though.  It wasn’t until they released Never Say Die two years later, with songs like Chameleon, Angel of Light, Killing My Old Man–and again one song with acoustic guitar picking and great multiple vocals, The Coloring Song, which jumped to the top of the charts and was heard on radio stations throughout the country.

It was shortly after that that it connected.  We rarely played any Resurrection Band, and had to fight for just about every track.  DeGarmo and Key had some great stuff, but most of it wouldn’t get past our management.  We had been one of the leading contemporary Christian radio stations in the country, but the new management did not think that Christians listened to that kind of music and wanted us to shift toward the mellow.  (They somehow also thought that anyone who liked Christian music was also in the demographic that would love to have a Big Band show in the evenings; that failed dramatically.)  What Petra was doing was releasing an album that primarily appealed to its Christian rock fans, but including one song that would get massive airplay on all those more mellow radio stations, alerting their fanbase that there was a new Petra album out there.  They did the same thing with the title track of More Power To Ya, which had such great rock songs as Judas Kiss and Rose Colored Stain Glass Windows.  Being the eclectic sort of musician that I am, I love those rock songs–but I also love the gentle ones, and recognize that even when we won the battle with our management and got the rock songs back on the air, there were still stations all over the country that could only play the gentle ones, and that’s how news of the new release reached the fans.

It also makes more sense to me now as I consider Collision’s album, Of Worlds.  The two songs which I think are most exemplary of the band’s style, Still Small Voice and Heavenly Kingdom, are also the only two on which Jonathan, not I, sings the lead vocal.  The one that was always most popular with the fans, Passing Through the Portal, is probably furthest from our norm.  The one I was told would probably be the most successful radio hit, Stand Up, isn’t even one of mine.

Of course, in the time since The Doors had hits on pop radio, the music industry and the radio industry have both changed several times.  Today the very concept of buying an album is becoming a relic of the past–people don’t buy albums, they buy the songs they want to hear.  The strategy of getting a song from the album on the air by specially crafting it for airplay is losing ground; people don’t listen to such radio stations as much anymore, and airplay does not have the importance it once did.  The music world is fragmenting, and it is becoming harder to become a world-famous musician simply because it is easier to listen to the music you want to hear and never know anything about the artists who don’t play what you like.  Finding out about new music from your favorite artists is easier, because you can bookmark their web sites; finding out about new artists you might like is more difficult, but you can still join Facebook groups that share your interests, listen to podcasts, and otherwise keep track of very narrow preferences.  I don’t know that I understand the music world anymore; I only understand music.

I’m not quite sure how that helps me now–but maybe it does.  There have been a few times when I have received notes from people who found me because of my time travel movies materials (probably the part of the regular site that gets the heaviest traffic) who then were pleased to discover my gaming or Bible materials; the same can probably be said for those sections, that people who find one part of the site sometimes then discover other parts, and become, if we can use the word, “fans” of my writing more broadly.  Quite a few people are enjoying the serialization of the novels, whatever their original interests in me might have been.  This, then, has the potential to grow the base; if readers link articles on one subject or another on their social media sites, their friends and contacts discover what I’m writing, and some of them discover more than just that article.  In the long term, it might mean more support through the Patreon campaign.  If one web log post gets attention, it inherently promotes other web log posts.  If one law and politics article draws interest, readers find their way to more.  If something goes viral, it’s a shot in the arm for everything–at least a few readers out of thousands will return to see what else is here in the future.  All of that is good.

So here’s hoping that something can become “internet active”.

Thanks for your encouragement and support.

#76: Intelligent Simulation

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #76, on the subject of Intelligent Simulation.

I saw a news item a few hours ago (I linked it from my Facebook page at the time) reporting on the 2016 Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate.  The headline was that Neil DeGrasse Tyson expressed the opinion that there was a “very high” chance that the universe was just “a simulation”.

Director of the Hayden Planetarium Neil deGrasse Tyson speaks as host of the Apollo 40th anniversary celebration held at the National Air and Space Museum, Monday, July 20, 2009 in Washington. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)
Director of the Hayden Planetarium Neil deGrasse Tyson speaks as host of the Apollo 40th anniversary celebration held at the National Air and Space Museum, Monday, July 20, 2009 in Washington. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Tyson is not alone in his opinion, although it is not the dominant opinion among scientists.  However, the essence of it, that the world we perceive is not real but is a programmed simulation of a reality (something like The Matrix) is not considered to be as ridiculous as it sounds to laymen.  According to the report, Tyson says he would not be surprised if the universe was designed by someone.

I hope he did not use those actual words.  He is cited for defending the notion that the world we know might be a simulation, and thus that someone else is responsible for its existence.  That certainly would mean that someone designed it, and frankly whether or not it is a simulation, I agree with the conclusion (expressed long ago by many, notably William Paley) that someone (at least very probably) designed it.  The reason I hope Tyson did not say those words is for his sake, because he is constantly arguing that “Intelligent Design”–the theory that the universe was created by an intelligent being who had a purpose for the act of creation–is nonsense.  He hosted the second Cosmos television series in large part to refute any notion that anything like God or a god might be responsible for the creation of the universe.

Yet now it seems he wants it both ways:  it is not possible that there might be a creative omnipotent divine being who designed and fashioned the real universe as it is, but that same universe might be an unreal simulation of a reality created by a vastly superior being of some sort, and we might be the equivalent of computer simulated intelligences within it.  How can the one be impossible and the other highly likely?

This warrants further consideration.

At the base of the issue of whether the universe is a simulation is the fact that it is probably impossible to prove it is not.  The characters in the video game do not know that they are characters in a video game, and could not possibly reason their way to the conclusion that there is a reality beyond them (Tron notwithstanding).  I have discussed this some in my (hopefully forthcoming) book Why I Believe:

When I was perhaps fourteen or fifteen, several friends and I created “The Great Meditators Society”, which is probably a silly name for a silly group of young teenagers trying to be intellectual.  Our greatest discussion considered the fact that we could not prove that the world around us existed, that is, that what we thought we knew, even our conversations with each other, were not completely illusory.  It might be, we concluded, that we exist as a floating non-corporeal consciousness—that is, one of us has such existence—and that there is some other being who creates the illusion of a universe and of interactions with other persons, giving us all of our sensory information very like a dream.

If you want me to prove that God exists, it cannot be done; I cannot even prove that you exist.  This we realized as teenagers.  My experience is better if I assume the illusion to be true, but a good artificial intelligence driving a direct-to-mind virtual reality would provide the same outcome.  Cooperation with the rules of the illusion makes the game more enjoyable, but this does not prove the reality of the perceived world.  (I should mention that The Matrix would not exist for decades, and was not part of our discussion.)

We of course were unaware that we were rehashing intellectual ground much more ably covered by others, particularly Rene Descartes.  This was the starting point for his major treatise, in which he went beyond us to doubt his own existence, but then found a basis to believe that he, at least, existed in the one statement he made which is known by most people, “I think, therefore I am.”  That then becomes the starting point for his own exposition of the ontological argument, possibly the earliest and certainly the most basic of the formal arguments for the existence of God, propounded earlier by Athanasius.

Yet with our own efforts at creating artificial intelligence, we are forced to ask whether being able to think demonstrates existence.  Descartes recognized that the proof of his own existence was not in itself proof of his self-perception–that is, he could still be simply one mind interacting with a simulation created by another mind.  He argued beyond that to the existence of God and thence to the existence of the perceived reality, but not everyone accepts his argument.  It could be a simulation.

Yet it cannot be a simulation without the existence of someone–the programmer, the simulator, the Intelligent Designer.  Paley’s Watchmaker is more necessary if the universe is not real than if it is.

Fundamental in the discussion at the scientific level is the idea that we are gradually discovering the rules, that is, how the universe “works”.  The thought is advanced that if we can indeed determine how it works that increases the probability that it is a simulation, since it means that we could create an identical simulation given sufficient technology to implement it.  I find this ironic.  In the foundations of western science is the fundamentally religious tenet that a rational intelligence (the Greeks called it the Logos, “word” or “reason”) designed the universe and created us as similarly rational beings, and thus that sharing to a lesser degree the same kind of rational mind that was responsible for the creation of the world we ought to be able to grasp to some degree how that world works.  Now the science that is based on the assumption that the creator of reality is a rational being in the same sense (to a greater degree) as we are is being turned on its head to say that if we can prove that reality follows rational rules we increase the probability that it is not real.  To some degree, we would be completely unaware that the world followed rational rules had we not begun with the assumption that it was rationally designed to work by rules which were rationally discoverable.  How does demonstrating the truth of the assumption invalidate it?

It is certainly a connundrum for Tyson.  If the world might be a simulation, then it must be intelligently designed.  Every scrap of evidence that supports the notion that someone designed our world as a simulation as equally supports the notion that someone designed it as a reality.

#75: Musical Influences

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #75, on the subject of Musical Influences.

I don’t know why I’m writing this; I don’t know whether anyone is interested in reading it.  However, I recently heard that a not-quite-local Christian blues band (is that an oxymoron?  No, probably not) was seeking a bass guitar player, and they politely said they were not interested in me without giving a reason.  It might be, though, because I’ve never done blues; it might simply be that I am too far away from them.  However, it got me thinking about what kind of music I actually do, and the answer is I’m very eclectic, but the reasons for that undoubtedly at some level relate to my influences.

Anyway, even though in the scores of artists I have interviewed I don’t think I ever asked one of them this, it strikes me as the kind of question interviewers ask musicians (or at least they do if they think anyone cares):  who are your influences, what artists or musicians have led you to do the kind of music you do?  The answer is never simple, of course, but it’s worth considering.

img0075Bassist

Of course, anyone in my generation, and probably anyone since my generation, who does this really has to acknowledge The Beatles.  It isn’t just that I have probably heard, and maybe even learned, more Beatle songs than any other single artist or composer, it is that they in essence redefined music for a generation.  They would have influenced me directly, but also through the fact that they influenced just about every other artist who influenced me.

The same could be said–and probably is not said often enough–about Johann Sebastian Bach.  Face it, he might not have invented anything, but his mastery of both block harmony and counterpoint means that most of western music theory was developed by studying his work.  I learned a great deal about vocal harmony from that, and also attempted feebly to emulate some of his wonderful counterpoint.  I probably do more counterpoint than a lot of other contemporary artists, simply because most contemporary artists don’t even attempt it, and I love it when it works.  I got most of it from him.

I was always heavily influenced by just about anyone who did anything significant with multiple vocals, but particularly (in chronological order) Simon and Garfunkle, Three Dog Night, Crosby Stills and Nash, Second Chapter of Acts, and, very late in the game, Glad.  Glad also had some influence on me otherwise, because they were so like Chicago, whose influence on my instrumental approach probably goes back to their first album.  They, too, were eclectic, with strong jazz and rock influences.  I played saxophone and guitar at various times in the high school stage band, and always admired bands like them, Blood Sweat and Tears, and Lighthouse, who mixed jazz into a rock sound.

I was also strongly influenced by Randall Thompson, the twentieth century choral composer whose work is so remarkable.  I don’t often achieve anything I think worthy of him, but sometimes my vocal arrangements owe a lot to him.  I should also mention Charles Ives, whose modern dissonances often find their way into some of the songs with which I’m most pleased; Francis Poulenc should also be mentioned there; although my exposure to him is significantly less, it was confirming some of the insights I learned from Ives.

There are undoubtedly hundreds of others who impacted me in one way or another.  I heard, learned, and performed works by Dvorak and Holst and Mendelsohn and Mozart, Led Zepellin and Iron Butterfly, Peter Paul and Mary and The Mamas and the Papas, and countless others.

I do not remember the names of all the music teachers I have had over the years, from Mrs. Poznanski (hey, I was in grade school, I have no idea how she spelled it) and Mr. Tronolone back in elementary school and others along the way, but most particularly Ramsey High School’s choral director Edwin Cargill (who taught me how to sightread, much about proper vocal technique, and ran drills for listening to four part harmony and writing out the parts) and band director Robert Bednar (who taught an advanced music theory class and took the time to explain a lot about theory and performance along the way).  My father and Mr. Bednar both played jazz saxophone, but I don’t know whether they ever knew that about each other.

It occurs to me that I should also mention John “Jay” Fedigan, who really demonstrated for me how to write a song instead of a symphony; Art Robbins, with whom I wrote a few songs in the early days; Jeff Zurheide who at least inspired quite a bit if he didn’t actually work with me on any of it; and my parents, who never wanted me to be a musician but did want me to learn to play an instrument and indulged my interest in playing all of them and singing as much as possible, and who exposed me to a considerable variety of other artists and styles from Benny Goodman and Mitch Miller to the early classical composers and the pop music of the early twentieth century.

A complete list would be impossible, but these seem to be the highlights.

#74: Another Novel

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #74, on the subject of Another Novel.

My first novel went to print now over a decade ago; the second has been languishing, awaiting the financial situation in the publishing company that would permit to committing to printing another book.  That may never happen, so with their permission I am publishing it in serialized form on the web.  I already republished Verse Three, Chapter One:  The First Multiverser Novel that way, and as I did it I also posted a series of “behind the writings” web log posts–the last of them, #71:  Footnotes on Verse Three, Chapter One, indexing all the others and catching a lot of material from an earlier collection of behind-the-writings reflections that had been misplaced for a decade.  Now the second novel, Old Verses New, the one that made it up to the point of needing to be put in publication format and then stopped, is being posted to the web site in the same serialized form, and I am again offering a set of “behind the writings” insights.  This “behind the writings” look definitely contains spoilers, and perhaps in a more serious way than the previous ones, because it sometimes talks about what I was planning to do later in the book or how this book connects to events yet to come in the third (For Better or Verse).  You might want to read the referenced chapters before reading this look at them, or even put off reading these insights until the book has finished.  Those links to the titles will take you to the tables of contents for the books; links below (the section headings) will take you to the specific individual chapters being discussed, and there are (or will soon be) links on those pages to bring you back hopefully to the same point here.

There were numerous similar previous mark Joseph “young” web log posts covering the first novel, but rather than clutter this I’ll refer you to that last one and let you find the others from there.

img0074Lake

History of the series, including the reason it started, the origins of character names and details, and many of the ideas, are in those earlier posts, and won’t be repeated here.


Chapter 1, Hastings 44

I had decided sometime before that I was going to introduce Derek Brown and put Slade on sabbatical for the second book; but it wasn’t until the very end of the first book that I’d decided to have Lauren and Bob together over the span.  That meant Slade would be with her, and I had to find a way to verse her out.  But it also meant I had the opportunity to do some backstory, to bring people up to speed.  That’s where this begins.

Our story begins where we left Lauren and Bob, in the parakeet valley.  When we left, winter was approaching; now it has been on them for some time.  Bob is not going to be in this book beyond his interaction with Lauren at the beginning—as I mentioned in connection with the other book, with the killing of the snake his story has been told, he has become the warrior he dreamed himself to be.  I knew that intuitively at this point, and needed to replace him.  Of course, I really liked Bob, and so I let him cook for a bit and developed a new story for him which begins in the third book—built on fragments from his time on the djinni quest.  Besides, readers missed him.  But for the moment, Bob is a supporting character still present at the beginning of Lauren’s story.

One of the toughest parts of writing a series is that you know that some of your readers read the previous book or books and some did not, and you need to bring the new readers up to date on characters and events without boring the established readers.  That’s what the opening paragraphs are attempting to do regarding Lauren, and indirectly Joe and the verser concept.


Chapter 2, Kondor 42

Very early in the Kondor story I decided that the first book should end with him on the early gunpowder sailing vessel version of that same Mary Piper world in which he had been on the spaceship version.  It was time to continue that story.  There are really two ways people try to explain their presence on the ship in these; one is the drink with the stranger, the other the kidnapping.  Kondor had tried the one, I thought the other would work this time.  Also, the first time he had tried to hide, and it played against him, so this time he took the bull by the horns and introduced himself right away.

The idea Bob raised in the end of the previous chapter about where Joe is “now” segues into where Joe went when he was killed by the sparrow people.  It has been months for Lauren and Bob, and in a sense we’re stepping back to a moment months before, but since, as explained, time doesn’t matter, we can pick up Joe’s story from the moment he came back to life and move it forward from there.

Joe’s concern about being thought a runaway slave is part of his inherent racism—a small hint at his thoughts on the subject, but an important one.

In the age of sail, pilots steer from the aftcastle, because the rudder is in the rear and it is considerably less complicated to put the wheel there.  They are reliant on navigators and deck hands to keep them informed of anything ahead, but the ocean is pretty big and they only really need to see when they are coming into port or trying to approach another vessel.

In game play, it is usually the case that players land in worlds where they know the language, but not always so.  Players develop skills in multiple languages and learn tricks to communicate where they don’t know it, but I keep it simple more often than not.  Somewhere in Doctor Who they suggested the conceit of a “gift of the Timelords”, that enabled anyone traveling with a Timelord to speak and understand whatever languages they encountered without thinking about it.  We don’t do that, and sometimes a language barrier is part of play, but not this time.

To recount, The Mary Piper is a game world from The First Book of Worlds which was designed to illustrate the principle that you can have the same plot and character elements in entirely different settings.  In the book, the “alpha” world is this one, a wooden cargo sailing vessel with simple cannon and muzzle-loaded guns, and the “beta” world is an interstellar spaceship with kinetic blasters and high-tech medicine.  The two worlds work much the same, with simple cultural and technical adjustments (an iceberg becomes a comet, a whirlpool a black hole, and names like “James” and “Donald” become “Jamison” and “O’Donnell”.  We’re going from the high tech version to the low tech version, and that gives Joe some advantages, because he knows some of this world already and just has to look for how it fits.

I never paid attention to the race of any of the crew until I was writing Kondor into things, and realized that he had a race issue.  That meant I had to figure out who was black, not because it mattered to me but because it mattered to him.  I was color blind, but I had to see the world through his eyes.


Chapter 3, Brown 1

When I started playing in playtest in the fall of 1993, my eldest son Ryan, then ten years old, joined the game shortly thereafter.  In the summer of 1995 I started running a playtest game, and my second and third sons, Kyler and Tristan, were two of my five players (the other three Bill Friant, who had played D&D with both Ed and me, Dorian Mantell, who had little experience in games with us, and Chris Jones, who had played in Ed’s Multiverser game before I did and played in quite a few games in a short time).  Kyler was nine and Tristan was seven.  I thus had quite a bit of experience with games starring young boys, and felt it would be good to put one in the book—but not as young as that.

I owe something to my son Tristan for the Derek Brown story.  He had gone to The Cask of Amontillado as his second world, and it had played out in an interesting way precisely because he was a child.  I decided to try it with Derek, although it was different.

Derek Jacob Brown gets his given names from the British actor Derek Jacoby (played Cadfael in the mystery series of that name, better known for I, Claudius).  The surname is from my wife’s family, as I wanted a common surname to go with the rare given names.  Call it a mnemonic device; I never forgot his name.  I also remembered a Doctor Who companion, Perpugilliam “Peri” Brown, who in a very funny moment introduced herself to Brian Blessed’s character as, “Perpugilliam.  Of the Brown,” only to have him react as only Blessed can with a booming surprise, “Of the Brown?!”  I haven’t used that, but I love it, and it contributed to the choice of name.

I am not certain why I did the horror settings for him.  As he developed in my mind, I imagined a string of horror settings beginning with this one.  Part of it was that I saw a potential moral in the idea of coming to grips with the horror worlds, which I eventually included.  Perhaps some was due to Ed Jones’ influence.  He once commented of C. S. Lewis, upon reading That Hideous Strength, that the man could have written horror; he meant that as a compliment.  He also said that my Post-sympathetic Man game world was the most insidious horror scenario he had ever read, and although I had not thought of it as such before that I could thereafter see what he meant.  (Even now I think perhaps I’ll bring Derek to that one of these days; it would work well for him.)  I wondered whether I could write horror.  I never run horror games (although I have since run some of Derek’s worlds as Multiverser worlds at conventions); I don’t know whether I can maintain the required atmosphere.  But my wife said the Derek Brown stories were frightening, and if some others, at least, think so, I’ll be pleased.

Also, I needed to take a different tack, and although both Lauren’s Vampire Philadelphia and Joe’s Quest for the Vorgo were packed with undead monsters, neither of them really had a horror feel—Lauren’s was more a superhero-versus-monsters feeling (like the television version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, perhaps), and Joe’s a comic horror film (definitely on the order of Army of Darkness).

One of the things that makes the horror work for Derek is that he expects it.  He has seen “all the” horror movies, and knows the tropes, and knows that this is exactly the kind of situation that leads to some kind of horror.  He can’t accept that it’s normal, because horror stories work when things seem normal.

I didn’t want everyone to go the same way; often in the game it’s a computer that gets people.  A video game controller was an idea I’d recognized but never used.

I expected to need the bicycle.  I think I got that from my son Ryan, who brought the lawnmower with him (it was part of his accident) when he versed out, and used it to transport his stuff.  Derek was going to have a lot of stuff, and bicycle baskets would allow him to move it.  A flat tire, at this point, forced him to go to the first house he found.

I was constantly mindful in the Derek stories that I needed to bring back the foreboding periodically, and had to misdirect it as often as I could.  Thus Carlo is introduced as rather frightening.  He is supposed to appear ominous at this point, because that’s how Derek sees him.

Derek was a risk on another level.  People liked Bob Slade, and I was replacing him.  I had to hope that Derek Brown would become as much liked, for entirely different reasons, as the character he seemed to be replacing.


Chapter 4, Hastings 45

The spring scene was very much improvised.  I had not considered it until I started writing it.  I realized that I would have to get out of winter if Lauren was to do anything dangerous.  It also gave me more time for backstory, including the pyrogenesis skill, which I hope gave something of the magical nature of Lauren a bit of an airing.

I am not at all sure at what point I realized that a meadow beside a lake in a valley would be a flood plain in the spring, but it suddenly seemed obvious and gave me some excitement.

The experiment with the rocks actually pinpoints the bias curve of the world rather precisely.  We know that Lauren cannot levitate herself psionically in this world although she can lift others.  Levitation is a 4@8 skill, curve of 12.  She uses her pyrogenesis to heat the rocks, a 7@4 skill, curve of 11.  That means the curve has to be 11, to include the pyro but exclude the levitation.

In the first book it was established that Lauren had met other versers and Bob had not, which here gives me the opportunity to have Lauren explain things that readers might have gleaned from the previous book (if they read it) with a few extras that might be worth mentioning.

The guys who believe we’re in the stories or it’s an army experiment were real players in Ed’s game before I was involved.  The girl was my own invention, although players in my games have included that among possible explanations for their experience.


Chapter 5, Kondor 43

I decided that Kondor’s medical background would give him an inside track on a medical job, and that I could probably do a lot more with that than with any other position.  It seemed easy enough to sell.

The place names in The Mary Piper were all invented, a combination primarily of “make up a word” and “what’s a good name for a place”.  Sardic was, I think, drawn from Sardis, my father’s hometown (and a city in the Asian province of the Roman Empire).  Names like “Syndic” and “Durnmist” were cut from whole cloth; “New Haven” is a town in Connecticut, but made good sense as a remote port.

Again, James (like Jamison) was never any particular race/color until I used the scenario in the first novel for Kondor and started working with his race problem.  Once I’d made Jamison black, it followed that in the parallel James would also be black.

Kondor’s commitment to honesty is reflected in his answer, “Nothing like this” when asked if he’d ever worked on a ship before.  He had been a medic on the other Mary Piper, which was a spaceship, but despite the similarities a space ship is very different from a sailing ship.


Chapter 6, Brown 2

The story is unfolding much as it would in a game, given the age of the character; but I again recognized the need to create tension, and so started playing the game of juxtaposing Derek’s fears against actual events.  We are more frightened of things here because we see them through Derek’s eyes than because there’s actually anything happening; this is the more important, because there actually is something frightening going on outside Derek’s knowledge, and we can’t see it, so we need to be clued that there is fear here.

I wanted the kitchen to have the look of something early colonial, from a time when fireplaces with chimneys were used for most of the cooking, but with the addition of a “modern” wood stove.  I figure this for eighteenth century.

The details of this story are drawn, to a significant degree, from the Poe story.  I checked maps and such to figure out the setting, and recognized that the town hosting the fair mentioned at the beginning of Poe is in the Alps not far from the northern border of Italy, so it was not completely unreasonable for Derek not to know in what country he was, although it was definitely the kind of question that might have gotten strange looks had he been somewhere else.

Carlo speaks English because this isn’t really Italy, it’s really a world created by the American author in which everyone speaks English.

Derek is applying horror story logic to his situation:  you can’t escape once the killer has spotted you, so your best hope is to be able to defend yourself.


Chapter 7, Hastings 46

I specifically remember that the opening words “Out came the sun” were pulled from that nursery song about the spider.  I hear it sung when I read it—and the following “dried up all the land” is also an echo from that song.

I have been in frigid water in the late spring, and it is very cold.

The leg warming trick is not something that anyone ever did in any game I remember, but I thought a lot about how seals and divers stay warm and figured that for short-term it should work for Lauren.

Lauren would want her disintegrator rod functional, and I wanted her to have it again eventually—but not yet.  Making and repairing psionic devices are not simple skills, but she only gets as far as trying to view the molecular structure of the rod before she botches.

I had once versed out by trying to build a weapon, as Lauren had.  It seemed reasonable to use fixing one as a means of getting her out again.

The botch is what is called a “psionic shock wave”, an overload of the nervous system of all creatures within a specified radius.  It usually has the potential to kill anyone within ten feet, but beyond that it only wounds with decreasing force for each ten feet.  Bob would probably have felt it, but he probably is not close enough for serious damage.

I needed to move Lauren out of the parakeet valley to start her next adventure, and as it happens my own character is more likely to verse out attempting to create a new skill than fighting a dangerous adversary—I’m too careful in a fight, and too bold in trying to learn things.

The dream sequence came because I wanted to move her toward the state of being awake on arrival; it fit better with the image I was trying to create for her.  It also created a bit of tension at the moment, because it was difficult to know what was real here.


Chapter 8, Kondor 44

I’ll credit Doctor Who with the bit that the cook on a sailing vessel is called “the doctor”, from a Peter Davison episode.  It also makes sense that the guy who runs the kitchen, where the herbs and spices are kept, also is the head of medical.  Having a staff here was perhaps stretching things a bit, but not unreasonably so for the length of the voyage.

The cleansing of the food and medical areas seemed like the course a modern doctor would take faced with the normal conditions of the age; that didn’t take much thought.  I had wanted to introduce Walter, counterpart to Walters, because I wanted a friend to connect Kondor to other events on the ship.  I think the whirlpool event may have been rolled by the dice, but it gave me the opportunity to do the rescue, and this led to the idea of CPR, so it all flowed quite well.

The introduction of Walters’ doppelganger gave impetus to Joe leaving medical; I had not at the moment I introduced Walter considered the next step.

Square sails generally catch the wind more fully and so provide the greatest propulsion, but lateen sails—the triangular ones—provide more maneuverability, allowing one to tack more effectively.  Thus in the whirlpool situation it is good to have both the power of the square sails and the maneuverability from the lateen ones to escape the current.

Handing Joe a rope made him part of the effort to save the ship, but more importantly it gave him that rope for the next problem.  He has to act fast to get a strong loop around his body and get in the water before the ship has left the man behind to be sucked back into the whirlpool, so I went for the feeling that he barely made it.

I don’t think the question of whether Joe could swim had ever arisen previously, but he needed to have those skills here and there was no reason in his history that he wouldn’t.

It had to be Walter who went over, because that adds to Joe’s motivation in this scene.  This is the doppelganger of a good friend from another universe, and he already feels a connection here.  The idea that he might lose that before he gets it gives us the all-important cliffhanger, the moment that makes the reader want to know what happens next.


Chapter 9, Brown 3

We have probably all heard one side of a conversation on a telephone.  This is like that, but that the conversants are calling to each other from separate rooms, and the eavesdropper is close enough to hear the one but not the other.  Thus to him he does not know for certain that there is a conversation, only that Carlo seems to be answering someone who might not exist.  I realized that if Derek could hear only one side of the conversation, the reader would be as uncertain as he whether the other side existed.  Yet I could at the same time give the edge of the story behind this one, as Montresor and Fortunato are recognized coming in to the house.

In the original, Montresor had told the servants that he was going to be away overnight and expected them to remain in the house, knowing that as soon as he was well out of sight they would all rush to the annual fair; he then finds Fortunato at the fair and brings him back to the empty house to execute his plan.  In my version here, the butler is the last to leave the house, and the arrival of the verser delays him long enough that the master returns with his victim, making the butler a problem.  In this case, Carlo hears the jingle of the bells on Fortunato’s party hat, and so deduces that there is someone, making him more of a problem.  Apart from Carlo, all the servants would testify that they never left the house and Montresor never returned, but Carlo is now a complication.

Derek is also a problem, now, because Montresor must assume he heard the conversation or spoke with Carlo after that, and so knows that he returned to the house.

I wanted Derek to have a weapon; I wasn’t sure how or when he would use it, but he was going to need it.  Besides, I already knew that he was going to have to kill Montresor, so he would need a weapon for that.  I wasn’t certain myself whether a butcher knife or a cleaver was a better weapon in reality, but I could better envision how to use, and thus how to describe the use of, the knife.  It made no sense for him to have brought a weapon from home, but now I could add this to his equipment for future use.

There are several ways to attach legs to a table, and the better would create indentations in the table top in which the legs fit; but even in those cases, a larger table would probably also have brackets of some kind secured to the tabletop, leaving a potential gap into which the tip of a knife could be pressed.  This is how I see Derek hiding the knife.

We are told that Montresor was wealthy and lost a fortune due to something done by Fortunato.  He still owns the home, and I was attempting to create the appearance of the opulence of wealth here.

I didn’t want Derek to be separated from his things, so I had him bring them in; but in the end, the bicycle became the problem–he couldn’t reasonably bring that inside.  I used that to my advantage, so I was pleased with it ultimately, but at this point it was something I couldn’t figure out how to fix.  I eventually realized that one of the things that would move him forward in the next world was trying to find it.

There really is no likelihood to the idea that Derek would actually have heard Fortunato’s cry, but I needed the reader to know what was happening here—and since Derek has seen “every horror movie” he has probably seen some version of Cask of Amontilado from which his dreams might have pulled the classic line in reaction to the setting.  The dream was an attempt to bring any reader who had not yet made the connection to the original story up to speed.

Carlo’s murder is obvious.  He is thrown from the rooftop, probably after being hit, to make it appear perhaps an accident or perhaps the work of the intruder.  Montresor cannot allow him to mention to anyone that the master returned to the house with someone—once Fortunato is reported missing, he will be questioned, and the universal testimony of the household must be that he left that afternoon and did not return until the next day, which they will report because they have all gone to the carnival and gotten completely drunk.

The obvious way to put Derek on alert, and so ready for Montresor, was to kill Carlo, let him know it, and not have him where he would be seen when it happened.

With Carlo’s death, the scenario turns into the horror story Derek has been anticipating.


I hope these “behind the writings” posts continue to be of interest, and perhaps some value, to those of you who have been reading the novel.  If there is any positive feedback, they will continue.

#73: Authenticity of the New Testament Accounts

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #73, on the subject of Authenticity of the New Testament Accounts.

I have covered–or perhaps I should say I will be covering–this in my hopefully forthcoming book Why I Believe.  However, I recently read a work of fiction in which a widely embraced and repeated nineteenth century error was asserted, not once but twice, not casually but in the presence of a person trained in a presumably conservative seminary who instead of knowing better and saying so accepted the mistake and was significantly motivated by it.  The mistake is that the New Testament documents are not historically reliable, and specifically that the Bible contains four Gospel accounts written long after the first century pseudepigraphically (that is, by anonymous authors who took the names of famous persons), to tell the story the Church wanted at that point to tell.

There are so many problems with this view that it is difficult to know where to begin; however, the core problem is that attitude that the New Testament Gospels, which include the resurrection of Jesus, are not authentic historic accounts.

The "Jesus Papyrus", at Magdalen College, showing fragments of the Gospel of Matthew and plausibly dated to the mid first century.
The “Jesus Papyrus”, at Magdalen College, showing fragments of the Gospel of Matthew and plausibly dated to the mid first century.

The root of the problem is a circular argument that was the basis for a lot of what passed for nineteenth century scholarship:  miracles do not happen, and so we need to figure out why certain documents related to the Christian faith report that they did.  The obvious answer was that despite the fact that the church had always believed these documents were written by first century eyewitnesses or investigators, they were actually written centuries later by church leaders attempting to create a history that supported the religion they wanted.  At the same time, there were competing Christian sects which wrote their own similarly pseudepigraphal accounts which presented a different view of Jesus, which are just as valid–which is to say just as invalid–as those generally accepted.  The support for this theory is simply that it provides an adequate explanation for why accounts claiming to be, or be based on, eyewitness testimony report events we want to say never occurred:  the claims of historicity are invalidated by the late dates.

The fact that that is a circular argument is lost on most people, because most modern people buy the premise:  miracles do not happen, and therefore any account that claims miracles did happen must be false, and it’s just a matter of finding a plausible explanation for how such a false account could have been accepted as true.  That in turn is aided by the modern view that our forefathers were gullible idiots who believed many impossible things simply because they lacked the intellect for modern science.  The people who think this have never wrestled with the towering intellectual works of Augustine and Athanasius and Tertullian; they simply assume that people who believed in miracles must not have been very smart, because they don’t believe in miracles and have an inflated view of their own intellectual capabilities, and perhaps more defensibly because they know some other truly intelligent people who don’t believe in miracles.  Yet the events recounted in the Gospels are reported not because the writers thought miracles happened all the time, but precisely because the writers recognized that these were violations of the natural order, that events were occurring that ought to be impossible.  Our ancestors, and particularly the writers of these books, did not believe in miracles because they were gullible, but because the evidence available to them on the subject was overwhelmingly credible despite the seeming impossibility.

Let’s set aside the fact that the accounts read like eyewitness testimony.  There could be explanations for that–it is likely that at least parts, and sometimes substantial parts, of the Gospels themselves were compiled from source materials, short eyewitness accounts that had been put to paper before the Gospels themselves were composed.  This theory explains the kinds of similarities and differences we have, particularly between the three “synoptic” Gospels, Matthew, Mark, and Luke.  At least part of their work involved compiling the earlier recorded accounts of others.  This, though, makes the accounts more, not less, reliable, as it suggests that the accounts were earlier than the Gospels themselves, and the Gospel writers selected those they thought most credible at the time.  We think that it is possible to invent something that sounds like an eyewitness account, filled with unimportant details, but such fictional accounts were unknown then, and certainly never attempted to report anything resembling historic events.  That is a feature of modern fiction not known in a time when things were written because they were important to someone.

Also, we must dispel the notion that the claimed writers were ignorant peasants who could not read nor write.  Luke is identified by Paul (we’ll get to him) as a “healer”, the word commonly taken to mean doctor, and the educated use of the Greek language in the two books attributed to him reflects that about him.  Matthew was said to be a tax collector, and it is unlikely that the Romans would have given the responsibility to assess and collect local taxes to someone who could not read and write.  What little we know about Mark suggests that he was the son of a wealthy Jewish family–Barnabas was a close relative, probably an uncle, and a propertied businessman.  The possibility of a wealthy Jewish boy not receiving an education in that era is non-existent.  People will claim that John was a poor peasant fisherman, pointing to places in the world in modern times where uneducated peasants eke out a living by lakesides.  However, John was co-owner of a fishing business (with his brother James and their friends, the brothers Peter and Andrew) which had employees, several boats and ample equipment, and was prosperous enough that the four owners could leave it in the care of their employees for most of several years while they took a sabbatical to learn from an itinerant teacher–and note that Peter, at least, had a family that would have to be supported by that business in his absence.  Our image of the peasant fisherman should be replaced by the image of a fishing magnate.  They were the Mrs. Paul’s, the Gorton’s of Gloucester, in their time.  They weren’t independently wealthy, but their business holdings were adequate to support them and their families while they took a couple years away from work.  They, too, were almost certainly educated; Jewish boys became Jewish men by proving at the age of 13 that they could read the Torah, Prophets, and Writings in public.  To think that they could not also work in the commercial language of the age is silly.

Besides, even very well educated persons, such as Paul (son of wealthy businessmen in a Roman city, student of one of the top Rabbis of all time), frequently dictated letters and books to a scribe, called an amanuensis, in the same way that twentieth century executives and authors dictated letters and books to stenographers (or later Dictaphones) to be typed, to ensure a clear and legible copy.  They did not need to write well physically to be the authors; they only needed to be able to tell the scribes what to write.

So these purported first century authors could have written these books; the more significant question is, did they?

To that, we have testimony as early as the end of the first century–Clement of Rome, writing c.90-110 AD, who asserted that there were four recognized accounts of the life of Jesus.  By the middle of the second century those four accounts had names, the same names as the books we have.  That testimony spreads across the Roman Empire, coming from sources in Alexandria (Egypt), Antioch (Syria), Smyrna (Turkey), Carthage (North Africa), and Rome (Italy), and from people who apparently had, and independently preserved, copies of them.  It is impossible to argue that these documents were not well known by the beginning of the second century, and almost as difficult to argue that the persons preserving them, separated as they were by long distances and relying on the documents to preserve the truth they believed, would have agreed to change them.  The hundreds of ancient copies of portions of the New Testament which we have today are traced back to origins in those diverse regions; they are the best attested ancient historic documents in the world.

There are also early fragments of these same books.  The ones pictured above in this article, sometimes called the Magdalen Fragments because they were stored at Magdalen College, more recently called the Jesus Papyrus, have recently been dated to sometime around fifty or sixty AD–the middle of the first century.  They show fragments of the Gospel of Matthew on both sides.  That makes them the earliest known extant copies of any part of any New Testament book–yet it is significant that they are copies, clearly showing evidence that they were copied from a previous version, and thus that the book was already in circulation and being copied and shared across long distances.  A well-known early first century original is thus virtually certain, based on this scholarship.

Yet even if we suppose that somehow they actually are later documents, that does not resolve the problem for those who deny the resurrection.  You still have to deal with the letters of Paul.  No one doubts that most of his letters to churches were written by someone of his name and description in the mid first century.  In almost every one of them the author reinforces the notion that Jesus arose from the grave, that that is the essence of the message; in several he asserts that he is one of the witnesses who saw Him, and he also tells us that he had met other witnesses, of which there were over five hundred.

The essential element of the Christian faith, that Jesus Christ was executed and arose from the grave, is incontrovertibly historically supported.  It is of course possible that it is not true–as it is possible that George Washington was not the first President of the United States, that Hitler did not run concentration camps in which Jews were exterminated, that Sir Isaac Newton did not create the famous laws of motion that are known by his name.  Everything that is historical is open to question on some level.  We evaluate the evidence and reach conclusions; we do not reach conclusions and then use them to discredit the evidence.

I hope to have the book available soon.  It goes into more detail on some of these issues and many others.  Meanwhile, don’t believe the disbelievers without examining the evidence.

#72: Being an Author

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #72, on the subject of Being an Author.

One of my sons was in some sort of meeting or interview and was asked what his father did.  “He’s an author,” was his reply.

I wasn’t present, so I don’t know what was said or done at that moment, but my son got the distinct impression of disdain, a sort of, “Right, he’s a layabout who does nothing and thinks that people should give him money for scribbing on paper, but what does he have to show for it?”  My son, at least, felt that I was being insulted by the questioner’s attitude.

What strangers think of me is of no consequence, although I am concerned about the opinions of my readers and other fans (I am more than an author, being also a game designer and a musician and a Bible teacher).  I am more concerned that one of my other sons seems at times to be of the opinion that I waste my time trying to succeed at such a career, that I should have a “real” job that makes enough money to support the family.  He is not old enough to have known our lives when I was not making enough money to support the family working as a radio announcer, a microfilm technician, a drywall installer and painter, or a health insurance claims processor.  I suppose perhaps there are people who claim to be authors who lack any skill or talent in the field, and I think everyone in creative fields faces some self-doubt, some uncertainty as to whether they are really “good enough” to do this.  However, I think the notion that someone is not an author, or that this is a foolish idea, a flawed self-perception, is difficult to justify.  I am an author; I might not be terribly successful at it, but there are good reasons why the latter is not a good measure of the former.

img0072Novel

This is not really about whether or not I am an “author” so much as about what it takes to qualify for that title.  For my part, I thought I would be a musician, and had the idea of being an author on a distant back burner–in college, circa 1977, I took a class entited Creative Writing:  Fiction, and began work on a fantasy epic that quickly bogged down into trouble and wound up on that same distant back burner.  Either the Lord or happenstance, depending on your viewpoint, landed me at WNNN-FM, a contemporary Christian radio station, first as a disc jockey/announcer, working my way up ultimately to program director, with a side job editing (and largely writing) the radio station newsletter.  Along the way I developed a relationship with the associate editor of a local newspaper (The Elmer Times), which at some point published a couple of pieces of political satire I wrote, about 1983.  I was published, but I was not yet thinking of myself as an author.  I also started putting together some notes about the controversy over Dungeons & Dragons™, and somewhere around 1991 composed a draft of an article which I tried unsuccessfully to farm to a few Christian magazines, impeded perhaps by the fact that I didn’t actually subscribe to or regularly read any magazines.

Late in I think 1992 Ed Jones approached me about co-authoring his game idea, “Multiverse”, which was ultimately to become Multiverser™.  I had been running original Advanced Dungeons & Dragons™ since 1980, and he had been playing in my game for perhaps a year (and I for a slightly shorter time in his) during which we had had discussed role playing games generally at length and I had become one of his Multiverser™ playtesters; he had read the unpublished article.  In the spring of 1997 he withdrew from the project due to complications in his personal life and left me to finish the work and publish the game later that fall.  I now had two books in print (the Referee’s Rules and The First Book of Worlds), but did not think of myself as an author so much as a game designer.  I started half a dozen web sites (now all either gone or consolidated here as various sections of M. J. Young Net) primarily to promote the game; that defense of Dungeons & Dragons™ article I’d drafted a decade before became one of the founding works under the title Confessions of a Dungeons & Dragons™ Addict, along with web sites on time travel, D&D, law and politics, and Bible.  Still, the publication of Multiverser led to invitations to write for role playing game related web sites–starting with Gaming Outpost and extending to include articles at RPGNet, Places to Go, People to Be, The Forge, Roleplayingtips.com, and perhaps half a dozen others which no longer exist.  I was also asked to become the Chaplain of the Christian Gamers Guild, and contributed to their e-zine The Way, The Truth, and the Dice, and wrote a few articles mostly about such subjects as business, e-commerce, and morality in politics, which appeared on various sites around the web.  Multiverser:  The Second Book of Worlds went to print, confirming my authenticity as a game designer.

Sometime in 1998 Valdron Inc started discussing publishing a Multiverser comic book series, and since I was the in-house writer it fell to me to create the stories.  I began these, working as if they were comic books, writing individual panels.  I actually did not know that many authors who wrote books also wrote comic books and “illustrated novels”, but it was a short-lived endeavor–I wrote three issues, two episodes for each, and then the in-house artists said that there was no way that a comic could be produced on the kind of budget we had, and everything went onto that proverbial back burner, where it simmered.  However, this one started to boil over, and after consulting with Valdron’s people I rewrote those episodes and created Multiverser‘s first novel–my first novel–Verse Three, Chapter One.  Valdron put it into print, and we sold a few hardcover copies; I have no idea of the number.  However, at this point I thought of myself as an author:  I had a novel in print.

When I was in high school I worked stage crew (yeah, you probably guessed that, right?), as a sophomore for the junior class play.  At one point one of the characters questions another about a book he’d written.  It wasn’t a big deal, the author says; it only sold three hundred copies.  I’d like to read it, the questioner continued; where can I get it?  From me, the author responded; I have three hundred copies.  In the trade there has long been what is disdainfully called “vanity press”, the ability to write your own book and have it printed for a few thousand dollars, receiving a few hundred copies which you then can sell entirely on your own.  In the digital age that has become more complicated.  It is now possible to go through companies like Lulu.com and print your book at very little cost, get an international standard book number (ISBN), and have it listed through Amazon and other retailers.  That is not how those first four books went to press, but some might think they were “vanity press” anyway.  Having been through law school, I undertook the necessary steps to create a corporation, sold stock, got the stockholders to elect a board of directors who in turn appointed corporate officers, and spearheaded the effort to publish and promote the Multiverser game system and supplements.  I would say that none of us had a clue what we should do, but that’s not quite true–we all had a few clues, and we proceeded to stumble through the effort.  It would be wrong to say that the company was entirely comprised of my friends and family.  Many of the stockholders were family or friends, and most of the rest were friends of family or friends of friends, and of course it being a small company I ultimately met all of them, chatting with them at stockholder picnics and such.  My next few books were closer to the “vanity press” sort.  I wrote What Does God Expect?  A Gospel-based Approach to Christian Conduct, and when Valdron decided they did not want to be more closely associated with Christian book publishing I asked people for ideas on getting it in print, and thus was introduced to Lulu.com.  That was also the venue I used to release About the Fruit, and I have not quite completed the process of releasing a book entitled Do You Trust Me? due to a failure on my part to stick to the process.  Valdron released a book version of what might be called the first season of the Game Ideas Unlimited series from Gaming Outpost; at the same time I did the same for the series entitled Faith and Gaming that had been published at the Christian Gamers Guild web site.  Some time after that Blackwyrm Publishing approached me about permitting them to publish an expanded edition of Faith and Gaming, and thus one of my books is in print through a publishing house in which I hold no interest otherwise.

The question, then, is not really whether I am an author.  Depending on how you count them I have between eight and ten books in print (two titles were published in two different editions); some of my online articles have been translated and printed in the French gaming magazine Joie de Role, and I was for quite a few years paid for regular contributions to TheExaminer.com.  The question is at what point I became an author.

In this I am reminded that many authors struggle for many years.  Steven King’s financial problems were so great that even after he was famous and made a television commercial for them, American Express would not authorize a card for him; he kept a day job as a teacher until he sold the movie rights to Christine, which is when the tide turned for him.  Was he an author when his books were not bestsellers and he had to teach to support himself?  J. K. Rowling struggled as a single mother, and reportedly received a mere six thousand pounds for the rights to the first printing of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone; she is now reportedly wealthier than the Queen of England.  Was she an author when she was writing the book that started it all–and if so, who knew?

I have always been a musician; I have never made much money at it.  I have composed hundreds of songs, performed thousands times, been part of dozens of bands, choirs, combos, performing groups, and accompanist groups, and had some avid fans (in college some wanted to print Bach and Young T-shirts, but it was not so easy then).  I have one album, Collision Of Worlds, on the market.  Am I not a musician because I don’t make a living at it?  There are thousands upon thousands of singers and instrumentalists who play bars and nightclubs, weddings and parties, who hold regular jobs; it is a joke in the music industry to say to a young musician, “Don’t quit your day job.”  Are those not musicians, because they cannot support themselves doing what they love?

I am not an artist, but it is typical in the art world that painters and sculptors struggle for decades to make a name for themselves, to make a living creating artwork, only to die penniless–and then suddenly to have everything they ever created leap to new values.  Were they not really artists during their lives, but became so the moment they died?

In the creative world, people create, and it is that aspect of creating that makes them authors–or poets, artists, musicians.  Some authors eke out a living; some become incredibly wealthy; some spend more than they earn trying to become known.  That is true in all the creative arts, including filmmaking–for every Robert Townsend Hollywood Shuffle success story there are dozens of good but failed independent films.  Herman Melville was not well known prior to writing Moby Dick, despite having written for newspapers and magazines.  Being an author is not primarily defined by commercial success; it is defined by creative product.

I should footnote this by mentioning that that first novel has now been released on the Internet, and the second is following it in serialized format beginning today.  I am an author, even if I give away my product.  Your support through Patreon and otherwise helps make it possible for me to publish and you to enjoy some of that.  It does not change whether I am an author, only whether I am viewed as successful.