FROM ME TO WE - 03.09.2022
March 9, 2022
Good Wednesday morning. I'm novelist Richard V. Rupp, writing from Burbank, California. Welcome to RUPP'S NOTES/FBI SPECIAL AGENT HARTMANN SERIES posts.
I love that I stumbled into novel writing following my retirement as a commercial insurance industry researcher and product development guy. During my working years, I had fun suggesting to the senior management and the investment group of major insurance companies where society was headed and what people wanted.
Now, as a novelist, my research and my imagination allow me to make society, and everything involved with it any way I want. Whether it's what people do or what the world they live in is like. Novelists live in a dream world, and yes, many of us talk to our characters and imagine new or different worlds. But wait, I come from a real-world research background. My mindset is that I try to see things the way they are and suggest their direction. My mindset doesn't allow for flying superheroes or lightning bolts generated by one's finger. I've got to keep things somewhat real. That presents a conundrum as SKYWARD, the manuscript I'm currently working on, goes from well in the past to into the future.
I get a kick out of reading my daily horoscope in the LA TIMES by Holiday Mathis. I'm not sure if what she offers are really horoscopes or just playing with people's minds. Based on her bio, I think it's the latter. Her biography includes writing books, pop songs, grocery lists, and a horoscope column. The horoscope thing is listed last. As I was working on this piece Monday, I read my horoscope, and as it often does, it really related to my trend of thoughts as I wrote this post. Here it is – "In your imagination, you should be able to do anything, even fly. Will you let yourself? Don't clip your own wings. Allow yourself the pleasure of visualizing what you desire."
I think Holiday has recently invested in a metaverse virtual reality goggles company and is trying to expand its sales. But, in this case, I'm going to follow her horoscope's advice.
In the same Monday paper, I read the review of the movie 'FRESH,' which suggests why some of us want to go to the Moon. A TV reviewer of the film was totally befuddled by it. I know that it combines comedy and horror in some strange manner that is hard to explain but reflects what's happening in society today. After reading the review and hearing another one on the television, I'm not sure I want to know.
The same paper had an article in their 'Essential California' section, which helped me with trying to figure out the mindset of millennials for my novel. Here are some excerpts from that article about emails between millennial age news reporters –
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"Should you simply focus on working hard at your job and serving your employer, or does the hyper-competitive global economy force you to focus on promoting yourself and your career?. . . To quickly summarize what went down: On March 2, Business Insider published a story about top New York Times reporters "eyeing jobs elsewhere where they get more money and autonomy." It specifically highlighted "influencer journalists" who desire to expand their reach through projects separate from the newsroom. Social media users widely commented on a quote from Los Angeles-based tech reporter Taylor Lorenz, who recently left the New York Times for the Washington Post. . . ."When you think about the future of media, it's much more distributed and about personalities," Lorenz is quoted in Business Insider. "Younger people recognize the power of having their own brand and audience, and the longer you stay at a job that restricts you from outside opportunities, the less relevant your brand becomes." . . ."I think sometimes I forget how a lot of people are still marinating in this old system that's kind of dying," Lorenz told The Times.
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So much for the real news. The above suggests that "fake news" or "brand" or "concept" building is more important than the real news. I suspect the "autonomy" mentioned above means getting away from the editor's rewrites and questions.' Notably, the old journalism axiom 'that journalists need to avoid making themselves part of the stories they are reporting.' So much for the traditional news business. I'm one of those marinating people trying to understand the younger 'influencers' to develop my SKYWARD characters.
Last night, as I was watching an episode about a murder at a TV station on one of my favorite TV shows, 'Death in Paradise,' this line jumps at me, which is said between two characters who are playing news reporters, "We all know the truth is subjective."
To build the who, what, when, where, and why of my SKYWARD plot, I trace the lives of Bowman family members from when they started with the oil business in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and expanded it to California. During which time, they amassed tremendous wealth. In 1910 the Bowman Mansion was constructed in San Francisco's Pacific Heights. It becomes the focal point of the story. And then, the Bowman twins use the amassed wealth to develop a colony on the Moon. The story goes from 1910 to the 2050s. So my research takes me from the historical past to the near future.
Since my principal characters in the main part of SKYWARD are millennials that end up living on the Moon, here is what I have laid out. My millennial STEM-educated characters can set up a colony on the Moon because of their inherited wealth, supplemented by millennial-type investing (cryptocurrency trading, video game development, brand-building). They do this to escape millennial burnout on Earth and the fact that in the mid-2000s, wealthy young white guys are discriminated against by just about everyone. I ended up with a group of well-educated young people living in a confined space in a somewhat middle-class-ness community separated from the old marinating crowd. Let me just call it what it is – a commune or an intentional community. If you think about human spaceflight thus far, the astronauts live in a very confined and controlled environment. I don't see that changing for my characters when they decide to colonize space.
Note – I know I'm on the right track as respects the Bowman twins feeling about reverse discrimination against them by the title of this new best-selling book - NICE WHITE LADIES: THE TRUTH ABOUT WHITE SUPREMACY, OUR ROLE IN IT, AND HOW WE CAN HELP DISMANTLE IT, by Jessie Daniels.
Back to SKYWARD. Am I building a utopia on the Moon? Yes. Is the concept realistic? I think it is. Do the Bowman twins discriminate about who joins them at their Moon colony? Yes and No. They don't discriminate by race or sex. They do discriminate by age, physical and mental ability, and education. Do Earthly problems crop up? Yes. Will the colony last? Yes. Does the colonist reflect on what they left back on Earth? Yes. That's really what the story is about. Reflection. At least that's the way my mind sees things.
Thomas Wolfe coined the term' Me Decade' to apply to American attitudes during the 1970s. Anne Petersen suggests it extended into the Regan era and beyond. There was a pecking order, and the objective was to get to the top of it. The parents of that era conveyed that in the way they raised their millennial kids.
In researching the 'Me Decade,' I laughed about a concept in this book - THE GREAT RISK SHIFT: THE NEW ECONOMIC INSECURITY AND THE DECLINE OF THE AMERICAN DREAM, by Jacob Hacker. He wanted to take away the industry I had worked for over 50 years. The insurance industry. He indicates that insurance "take(s) away our incentive to be productive and prudent." Sorry Hacker, I genuinely believe that the sharing of risk involved in insurance has allowed our society to advance. Having said that, in the Bowman Colony and space colonization, there is no place for insurance. Risk-sharing is automatic and does not involve a commercial enterprise.
In SKYWARD, the concept of 'moon death' evolves. Moon death acts as a Bowman Colony cleansing (or discriminating) process. Should a colonist become seriously ill or disabled, they are returned to Earth to receive proper care and rarely are returned to the colony. Or, if they commit a crime or unacceptable act (i.e., mentally unstable), they are returned to Earth.
My gut tells me that most millennials feel that an "individual" is more likely to fail if left to just their own devices and more likely to succeed through "teamwork." An individual may build a cabin, but it takes a team to create an air-conditioned high-rise building. They also feel that government does not lead to team play. These two feelings play an essential role in SKYWARD. I believe this reflects the values most millennials want. But it also leads to a new form of discrimination. It's a human thing.
Unfortunately, as I write this, an old white Russian guy from the 'Me Decade' is trying to rewrite European history. He can do this because he used everything possible to rise to the top of the me pyramid. Discrimination is his justification, and the tool he is using is war. CIA director William Burns said of Putin, he has been "stewing in a combustible combination of grievance and ambition for many years, and as his inner circle of advisors has shrunk as he has created a system in which it's not proven career-enhancing for people to question or challenge his judgment."
I still read the insurance industry trade journals and noted this comment about what is happening in Ukraine - Michel Leonard, vice president, senior economist, and data scientist, head of the economics and analytics department at the Insurance Information Institute in New York, said it is "highly unlikely" that insurers would consider issuing political risk or trade credit coverage across Eastern Europe, especially for the Baltic States, Poland, Romania, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia. In my old world, I would be analyzing what effect the invasion of Ukraine would have on my employer.
Until next week.
Richard V. Rupp, Author
Website – www.richardvrupp.com
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright©2022 by Richard V. Rupp