HERMITS OR PIONEERS? - 11.15.2023
November 15, 2023
Welcome to my monthly RUPP'S NOTES & FBI SPECIAL AGENT HARTMANN SERIES post. I'm novelist Richard V. Rupp, writing from Burbank, California.
It was nice to see yesterday's Bureau of Labor Statistics report that indicated U.S. inflation was down to 3.2% in October year-over-year, down from 3.7% in September. My stock portfolio enjoyed the news. Of course, the question is what this means for the long term. Man, are the investment analysts all over the place on which direction we are headed?
THEY'RE BACK TO WORK
I can tell you the Burbank economy is on the rebound. Here in Burbank, the writers are writing, and the actors are auditioning after 118 days off. You can feel it in the air. For some reason, this old-timer's mind went to two old songs when I heard the news. I must admit the songs' lyrics seem a little strange (out of date), but they do apply. They are - HOORAY FOR HOLLYWOOD (1937, a year before I was born), and THERE'S NO BUSINESS LIKE SHOW BUSINESS (1954, the year I started Hollywood High School). You will have to Google the songs to see what I mean about the lyrics.
I'm getting the feeling from reading the movie industry trades and talking with my buddies that not only did the strike financially benefit writers and actors, but it's going to provide better shows for you to watch. The strike added a billion-dollar cost to making productions, so there are going to be fewer of them. But they will be better. It's my impression that when the streaming services (adding new money) came into play, production quality was sacrificed for quantity. I watched some shows where the story did not make sense and/or the acting and camera work were questionable.
During the strike, it is my understanding that some TV/Streaming producers were building new sets off the studio's sites to avoid picket lines. So, expect to see a lot of new sets as production ramps up. And I get the impression you will see better scripts, as the writers got back to work before the actors. Let's hope I'm right.
Based on recent studio film trends, I suspect you are going to a lot of event-oriented productions, in other words, long films that will pack theatres. OPPENHEIMER (180 minutes) generated nearly $950 million worldwide. AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER (192 minutes) did $2.32 billion. And of course there is TAYLOR SWIFT'S "ERAS TOUR" concert movie (169 minutes, $203 million).
I can tell you here in Burbank that the beer and wine started flowing when the writers got back to writing, and now that the actors are back, the champagne is flowing. It's a happy town.
ON THE OTHER HAND
While happy days are here again in Burbank, it's not true for the rest of the country. The United States National Security Level was raised to "Level 1," the highest threat-assessment designation by the Department of Homeland Security. This is due to a rise in hate around the world since the Israel-Hamas war began.
I'm again reminded of Rodney King's question during the 1992 L.A. Riots – "Can't we all just get along?"
No, Rodney, we can't seem to get along. In fact, we have started avoiding trying to get along.
I don't know about you, but I've become somewhat of a hermit. When I mentioned this to my buddies at STORY TAVERN, many responded they were feeling the same way.
Who wants to go outside and face filthy homeless encampments, mentally deranged people, street gangs, starving immigrants, vocal protesters of all kinds, mass shooters, and hooded, sweat-shirted group looters? Or the terrible air quality and crazy temperatures. It isn't a pleasant world to venture into, and you don't feel safe or comfortable in it.
The Pandemic got us used to living in our confined spaces. We spent vast amounts of money to make them more comfortable. Home delivery of everything is the preferred way of shopping. Working from home proved to be workable for many employers, who no longer needed to maintain huge office spaces. Malls are closing across the country. Many employers are downsizing their offices. Nationally, office building vacancies are at the highest rates since the Great Depression. The worst vacancy rates are highest in such major cities as New York's Manhattan, Los Angeles, and Chicago. The worst appears to be in San Francisco, where vacancies are over 25%. The SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE published a series of articles that indicated some of my old haunts – Union Square, City Hall, and the Mid-Market District were in a "Doom Loop." MICROSOFT BING – a doom loop is a situation or a cycle in which one negative action or factor triggers another, which in turn worsens the first one or causes more negative actions or factors."
With respect to the increase in gun violence, I noted an article in SCIENTIFIC AMERICA that suggests we should train bartenders, barbers, and divorce attorneys as counselors to reduce gun violence. Really? I'm not sure I'd want to agree to such training. It could have bad repercussions.
I see hermitism, which started with the Pandemic and is now continuing in my apartment complex, where the hallways are filled with packages marked Prime, Costco, etc., in front of the apartment doors. Most of our social contact with others is over a smartphone or other digital device. We use the likes of Zoom for group discussions.
The Burbank Senior Board, of which I am a member, recently learned of an interest in developing a "Tiny Homes" complex. Tiny homes are a popular housing option in California because of their affordability, efficiency, eco-friendliness, and minimalism. According to a survey conducted by IPX1031, a Fidelity National Financial subsidiary, 56% of the 2,006 American respondents reported they would consider living in a tiny home.
A CNN story by Catherine E. Shoichet and Parker Leipzig confirms my concept of hermitism. It indicates that nearly 38 million adults live alone in the U.S., a record high. It indicates experts believe this number is likely to climb dramatically in the future. Two reasons for this are the economic gains women have made when entering the workforce and the changing attitudes toward marriage. A study by Susan L. Brown and I-Fen Lin with the Department of Sociology at Bowling Green State University indicates that from 1990 to 2010, the divorce rate for people over 50 in the United States doubled. They dubbed it "the gray divorce revolution."
Another indication of American Hermetism is the fact that parents are homeschooling their kids in record numbers. According to a WASHINGTON POST article, homeschooling is by far the fastest-growing form of education in the United States. The article also indicates that private school enrollment increased by 7% and that public school enrollment declined by 4%.
Yes, folks, we are becoming the "Hermit Generation"! And it could lead to a doom loop for our society.
GO SKYWARD, YOUNG PEOPLE
My solution to avoid becoming a hermit and the problems here on Earth is to join a group with which you have a common interest and go skyward. Become a space pioneer. Space – "distance" between people provides a comfort zone that avoids conflicts. When humans had uninhabited space to venture into conflict was lessened. That is no longer true today.
I'm somewhat confused about where the saying "Go west, young man" originated. One source attribute it to Aaron Burr, and another to Horace Greeley.
Unfortunately, Greeley's version involved "Manifest Destiny," a 19th-century cultural belief that White American settlers were destined to expand across North America, often at the expense of Native Americans. It's not the direction I want to take.
I prefer the Aaron Burr version, which is more general and is a call to adventure, a directive to explore new frontiers and embrace the possibilities that lie ahead. It encourages the younger generation to venture westward, seeking new opportunities and uncharted territories, thereby encouraging the pioneering spirit.
The novel I'm working on, SKYWARD, is based on the pioneering spirit. In it I modify the "Go west, young man" quote to "Go skyward, young people," it will provide you with new opportunities, lead you to uncharted territories, and preserve humankind.
SKYWARD starts by explaining the impact humans have had on our planet Earth as they evolved and why going "skyward" is a continuation of their evolution. I want to make my novel as realistic as possible, and my continued research to do so has led me to a new bestselling book by Kelly and Zach Weinersmith titled A CITY ON MARS. Their book starts out with a quote by Astronaut Tim Peake – "It is no longer a question of if we will colonize the Moon and Mars, but when."
I'm just a few chapters into the book at this point, and I love what I've read thus far. But I have the feeling they are advocating much more research here on Earth before we can safely venture skyward. I did jump to the Conclusion section of their book, and now I am really fascinated to read the entire book. I can tell there will be some differences in our approach to the colonization of space. The book addresses many of the things I have thought about as the result of my research in writing SKYWARD. My novel takes an entrepreneurial and pioneering spirit approach to colonizing space. I believe humans have evolved specifically to colonize space, and it's time to start the process.
Our American pioneers embarked westward toward a new frontier in covered wagons called "Prairie Schooners" (covered wagons) equipped with hammers, saws, augers, gimlets, and other essential tools needed to survive the rugged terrain, harsh weather, and other challenges they encountered along the way. These pioneers faced immense challenges, but their determination, resilience, and well-stocked wagons allowed them to forge a new life on the frontier.
In SKYWARD, my space pioneers are provided with some of the same tools as the American pioneers, but then they also have robotic excavators and tunneling machines, solar panels, a nuclear fission reactor, a well-programed master computer with AI generative capabilities, and industrial 3D printers.
As you can tell from this equipment list, my moon colony will be mainly located underground, which the Weinersmith's suggest in the beginning of their book. I don't want to comment on "space babies" and the law of space until next month, by which time I will have finished reading their book.
Where does the above lead us? SKYWARD! The more research I do, the more I'm convinced we were made to colonize space. It's just so logical.
Have a great Thanksgiving!
Until next month.
Richard V. Rupp, Author
Website – www.richardvrupp.com
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright@2023 by Richard V. Rupp