Tom Diaz

We Had Our Chance Three Times Before—Moses, Jesus, And Mohamed. Now The Destroyer Is Here

In Cronatos Hybamper, Political Satire on January 19, 2017 at 4:16 pm

blackpearl

“All right,” Jyonah Fujimaki said more calmly. “All right. Yes, perhaps a trinity, but not necessarily in the sense of any given religion. More like in the mystery sense. I don’t pretend to know all that could be revealed here. But, you, Dr. Rivera. What was the first test of the atomic bomb called?”

“I don’t know,” Rivera answered acidly. “A ‘test?’”

“You do know!” Fujimaki shouted angrily. “What was the name of the project?”

“Oh,” Quin rolled her eyes. “Trinity. You mean, Trinity?”

“Very good,” he replied. “Very good. And what did Dr. Oppenheimer observe at the moment of the explosion?”

Quin shook her head.

“What is this, Doctor, Trivial Pursuit?”

She only barely knew who Oppenheimer was, much less what he might or might not have said. General Sanders furrowed his brow. It was on the tip of his tongue. The furtive guard moved a bit more quickly, sensing that he was far enough out of the angry scientist’s visual field to risk a few more steps.

“’I am become Death,’” whispered Minister Biryukov. “’I am become Death, destroyer of worlds.’”

“Yes. Excellent, Minister. Your English has improved remarkably. I am become Death. We had our chance three times before—Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed. Now the Destroyer is here. And how arrogant, even of the confused Dr. Oppenheimer. We are not destroyers of worlds. We cannot be destroyers of worlds. Only God can do that. We can only destroy each other. Black Pearl is here to show us a New Eden and tell us to beat our swords into—”

From Cronatos Hybamper –An Extraordinary Incident by Tom Diaz

Although Cronatos is in form a “political satire,” its entire fictional premise—what makes the characters act as they do—is the sudden and simultaneous appearance of three mysterious objects. One of the characters, a brilliant astrophysicist named Jyonah Fujimaki, proposes that these objects are in fact the final manifestation of God, giving humanity one last chance.

The objects appear in deep Alaska, Siberia, and the Negev Desert. They can only be accessed through invisible portals. They look like shimmering black pearls, each about 30 meters high. The kicker is that, within the portal, each appears to be creating an entirely new universe, one in which nothing electromagnetic works. In the face of this phenomenon, politicians, religious leaders, military commanders, spy agencies, and corporate magnates do pretty much what they do in real life—hence, the satire.

How “realistic” is the idea? Hell, I don’t know. I know of few religious traditions that would say the entity that they call “God” actually appeared in a way that human beings could experience directly (face to whatever) without being fried or scared senseless. The Deity’s appearances are usually indirect, mysterious, and through understandable media, such as prophets. Or, in this case, mysterious Black Pearls.

What I insist is indeed “realistic” is that existing religious and political establishments would uniformly resist such a “last warning” and seek to discredit it. End of Days or not, the establishment will cling to its human ways. It always has and always will.

You can read more and open an introduction to the novel here:

From Miniskirts to Shoulder Boards—Women in the Russian Military

In Cronatos Hybamper, Espionage, Intelligence and Counter-Intelligence, Political Satire, Putin, Russia, Russian Army, Ukraine, War and Rumors of War on January 13, 2017 at 11:50 am

putins-miniskirt-army

The mysterious and intoxicating beauty rarely left Russia. But she was definitely confirmed by multi-sourced intelligence to be the most dynamic senior force in the Russian military research and development hierarchy. If there was a glass ceiling in the Russian armed services, she refused to accept it. Colonel Nadezhda Sergeevna Vodovatova was one of a handful of women who had not merely overcome, but blasted through, the sexism that still abounded in Russia’s hierarchy of power. Even President Gribov was said to treat her as a full equal, not merely some sexy dangle to be shown now and again, but a true equal.

From Cronatos Hybamper –An Extraordinary Incident by Tom Diaz

Three strong women play pivotal roles in the novel Cronatos Hybamper. Others have lesser but key places in the narrative.

Things get very complicated when Russian Colonel Nadezhda Sergeevna Vodovatova and a CIA operations officer go toe-to-toe. (You’ll have to read the novel to get the full significance of that very deliberate double entendre. I won’t spoil the plot by leaking any more classified data on that series of events.)

One might fairly ask, so what is the status of women, and especially high-ranking women, in the real life of the Russian armed forces?

Well, it turns out that there actually is woman who is a Russian Deputy Minister of Defense. Her name is Tatiana Shevtsova. However, unlike Col. Vodovatova, Shevtsova’s career was made in the civil service and not in the military.

Another woman, Natalia Poklonskaya, was supposedly the youngest general in Russia when she resigned and was elected to the Duma, or parliament. But, her rank was also not military. She was formerly the Prosecutor General of the Republic of Crimea. She also has the distinction of being the only woman on the United States’ list of individual sanctions against Ukrainian separatists and Russians.

Poklonskaya enjoys international fame for her beauty, according to Wikipedia:

After a video of Poklonskaya at a press conference on 11 March 2014 was uploaded to YouTube, her attractiveness and youth went viral among Japanese and Chinese internet users and also became the focus of attention of Internet communities…Within a month, the press conference was viewed over 1.7 million times. Many fan-created anime-style images of her uploaded to the Internet also attracted international media attention. A music video by Enjoykin based on Poklonskaya’s press conferences and interviews has had 20 million views on YouTube.

The only “real” female Russian military general I could find in my background research was General Yelena Knyazeva, deputy chief of the Russian Defense Ministry’s Main Department for International Military Cooperation. According to the Russian outlet Sputnik News. “She became Russia’s first woman general in almost two decades and second after woman cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova, who was bestowed the rank of the Major General Lieutenant of the Air Force in the middle of the 90s.”

I’m not sure that General Knyazeva’s views on gender would fly in the U.S. military, however. “Maybe it would be good [for women to do voluntary service], but I think it’s better for women to get married, have children and bring up their sons who will serve their Motherland,” Knyazeva, the only one-star female officer in Russia’s Armed Forces, told RIA Novosti.

On the lighter side, one should not miss the current (real) Russian President’s so-called “Army in Miniskirts.” An interview with one of the female soldiers can be found on a Pravda Report on You Tube.

You can buy the novel and read about Colonel Nadezhda Sergeevna Vodovatova and the other strong women characters in Cronatos by following the link below, which also opens a long read from the book’s beginning pages.

 

 

Answer Me This, Just for the Hell of It: Is Satan Real?

In Cronatos Hybamper, Political Satire, War and Rumors of War on January 12, 2017 at 3:50 pm

nick

“Call me Nick,” the wizened old man in the open vehicle said.

His perch was a ridiculously outsized bucket seat in what looked like a big, rusted-out toy wagon. He licked his thin lips, drawn back like two unevenly twisted rubber bands. The resulting expression was something between a lecher’s smirk and a dead man’s grimace.

“Or Nicholas. Or Nikolai. Whichever pleases you. I answer to them all. If you don’t like any of them, I have others I can suggest.”

“Okay, Nick,” Staff Sergeant Keiko Boynton nodded. “Nick is good.”

She smiled at him. Maybe he was fucking with her, the way he talked in smart-ass riddles. Still, she thought, that was no reason to assume that the locals are unfriendly, or that this one in particular was dangerous. She could see nothing on him or in the vehicle that looked like a weapon. He was just a Jawa, a bare-chested, wrinkled old guy wearing tan cargo shorts and flip-flops cut out of old tires.

From Cronatos Hybamper –An Extraordinary Incident by Tom Diaz

“Nick” is an interesting character. He shows up at the damnedest places in the novel, Cronatos Hybamper. Even people who have met him face to face develop doubts about his reality.

Let’s say—just for the sake of discussion—that the character Nick in the novel is actually “Old Nick.” The Devil.

Do you believe such a being actually exists?

Or, do you think that Satan is just a Biblical metaphor, or the invention of medieval moralists, or just silly? And thus, by extension, the character Nick must be regarded as entirely fanciful?

Not that there is anything wrong with using the Devil as a literary device in a novel, even in pursuit of a “higher” mythological or theological meaning:

…Satan is a character about whom one is always tempted to tell stories, and one may best understand him not by examining his character or the beliefs about his nature according to some elaborate and rootless metaphysical system, but rather by putting him back into history, into the narrative contexts in which he begins and which he never really leaves. That is, we must try to see him as an actor, or what Aristotle called an “agent,” with a role to play in a plot or mythos.

Neil Forsyth, The Old Enemy—Satan and the Combat Myth (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1987), p. 4.

In the United States, at least, polls show that a very large number of people believe that the Devil, Satan, is as real as it gets.

Gallup asked Americans if the devil is something they believe in, something they’re not sure about, or something they don’t believe in. Sixty-eight percent said in a May 2001 poll that they believe in the devil, 20% said they don’t, and 12% said they aren’t sure. Majorities of Americans of every political inclination, region, educational level, and age group said they believe in the devil.

Gallup, “The Devil and the Demographic Details,” by Jennifer Robison

Here is a chart from the same article.

belief-in-the-devil-graph

It perhaps won’t surprise anyone that belief in Satan’s existence varies by geographic region as well as religion and political affiliation.

belief-in-the-devil-by-region-graph

Bottom line from Gallup?

Over the centuries, science has been able to explain many phenomena that once seemed supernatural. Bad weather, ill health, and heretical opinions may not be the work of the infernal after all. With the advent of evolutionary theory and modern psychology, these days we’re more likely to think of people who do terrible things as broken human beings, rather than agents of the netherworld. Furthermore, religion has ceded its civil authority, and religiosity has declined somewhat in American society. So we might expect belief in the devil to have largely evaporated. It hasn’t. Regardless of political belief, religious inclination, education, or region, most Americans believe that the devil exists.

This leads inevitably to the question, why? Why do people in a modern, aggressively “secular” culture believe in the literal existence of this creature known by so many names? Libraries of books have been written about Satan and this question of why (not counting scripture and its gloss). I have half a dozen in my own library, as well as books of art about how the Devil has been represented throughout the ages.

Here is one representative explanation of Satan’s necessity from a Christian perspective:

In Satan, nothing that is good, humane, or redeemable can reside. Unless the wretched sinners cling to the mercies of God provided through Jesus Christ, the reprobate would spend all of eternity suffering in the never-ending fires of Hell where they would be tormented by hordes of hideous creatures…Even if we wanted to move beyond dualistic notions of absolute Good (God) and absolute Evil (Satan), the fact remains that the current religious imagination of Christians, fueled by centuries of reinforcements from popular culture, is locked in this binary world-view that dates back to the early church and its struggle against paganism. To hint that evil comes from God (as did some biblical passages), or that Satan can lead believers to good consequences, continues to be considered blasphemy among most Christians.

Miguel A. De La Torre and Albert Hernandez, The Quest for the Historical Satan (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2011), p. 197.

On the other hand, the Christian Post reported in 2009 that most U.S. Christians “do not believe that Satan is a real being or that the Holy Spirit is a living entity.” Rather, citing another survey, the Christian Post stated that “nearly six out of ten Christians either strongly agreed or somewhat agreed with the statement that Satan ‘is not a living being but is a symbol of evil.’” Christian Post, Jennifer Riley, “Most U.S. Christians Don’t Believe Satan, Holy Spirit Exist,” April 13, 2009.

You can read more about Nick in the novel, which you can preview and order from this link.

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