November 2020 Newsletter
The Road Not Taken
We read a lot about First Amendment rights these days, from both sides of the aisle. There really is no argument. Either there is Freedom of Speech, or there isn’t. There is no such thing as partial freedom. A straw man argument sometimes put forth involves yelling “Fire!” in a theater. That’s not an act of speech. That’s incitement to riot. It’s a crime. Go to jail. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200.00.
What’s bothersome these days is that Freedom of Speech is considered to imply freedom for me but none for thee. The result, as we are seeing even now, is a diminution of what is fact, of what is true. If one side can be denied expression on the grounds—established by those doing the denying—that the denied thoughts and ideas are fake, phony, unsubstantiated, what-have-you—then what makes the other side paragons of Truth and Fact? All of Society suffers under these conditions. We no longer have access to facts because we lack the information, the data, needed to assess and evaluate what we read and hear.
Here's an example. It comes from several years ago, but is still relevant. It’s an advertisement on television. Ready?
Here's an example of the way truth is presented to you in the media. There's a substance called Five Hour Energy Drink. Comes in a small red bottle. The woman promoting the product told you that they had "asked 3,000 doctors about" energy-boosting substances, and that "73%" of those who responded said that they would approve of such a substance for the appropriate patients. "73%!" the woman repeated, gushing.
Holy No-Doze, Batman!
Yes, Robin, it's a steaming pile of insomnia.
So Five Hour Energy Drink sounds like a good idea, right? Okay, first, let me say this: I have nothing against this product. I don't use it, and don't expect to; if I want a caffeine jolt, I'll try a nice Turkish blend. But the product is not the point here; it's the advertisement.
Let's examine the ad a little more closely. They approached 3,000 doctors. So 73% of that is 2,190, a substantial figure. But wait! That's not quite what she said [and how many of you noticed this?]. She said 73% of those who responded. She did not tell you how many of the 3,000 actually responded. It might have been all 3,000—although if it had been, or it were even reasonably close to that figure, the advertising folks would not have had her say "of those who responded." Instead, they might have told her to say, "virtually everyone," or words to that effect. So we don't truly know how many doctors responded; in fact, we don't even know enough to hazard a guess. But if only half the doctors responded, and 73% of them approved it, that comes to [let's see . . . clicks beads on abacus . . . ] 1095, or just over 1/3 of those who were approached. If only 300 responded, well, you have abaci at home, you can work it out.
Now, I don't have any particular reason to doubt the 3,000 figure or the 73%. But the results, the way she presented them, are just about meaningless.
One more thing: nowhere does the advertisement state that those doctors who did approve a regimen of energy-boosting substances specifically approved Five Hour Energy Drink. It's implicit in the advertisement, but it is never so stated.
So how do we know what is fact and true? Dunno. Maybe for a start we can look up the word “epistemology.”
Me? I’ve got it easier. I write fiction. I’m a storyteller. But I’m far more entertaining—as are the storytellers we publish—than purveyors of partial fact. Just sayin’.
The ONLINE EDITION of the November 2020 SCIFAIKUEST is available for your reading pleasure. It’s free! Here’s the link: https://www.hiraethsffh.com/scifaikuest-online-november-2020
A new Drabble Contest is now open! The theme is “Don’t Pull That Cord!” (thanks to Francis W. Alexander for the inspiration). Guidelines can be found here: https://www.hiraethsffh.com/drabble-contest
On 7 November 2020 we will post guidelines for Potters Field 7! Watch for them.
WINNERS OF DRABBLE CONTEST #2:
The theme was “Diplomatic Immunity for Extra-Terrestrial Visitors”
First Place: Francis W. Alexander/"Karen"
Second Place: Lauren McBride/"Our Alien Friends Honor Us with a Visit"
Honorable Mention: Marcia Borell/"No Diplomatic Immunity"
Honorable Mention: D. L. R. Frase/"Immunity Limit"
An anthology is still open to submissions: DRABBUN! Here’s what that’s all about: Hiraeth editors Teri Santitoro and Wes Alexander have created a new minimalist poetry/storytelling form called Drabbun. This form combines the qualities of a drabble (which is a story containing exactly, precisely, 100 words) and a haibun, which is a poem that includes a short narrative story punctuated by a relevant haiku. Eh voilà: Drabbun! Please check the guidelines; here’s the link: https://www.hiraethsffh.com/drabbun
We have several new publications available for your enjoyment, pondering, and meditation. These are now listed in our shop. If you will allow me…
SPACEPORTS & SPIDERSILK, OCTOBER 2020
Science fiction and fantasy for younger readers! Special Halloween issue! Edited by Marcie Lynn Tentchoff. Buy a copy here: https://www.hiraethsffh.com/product-page/spaceports-spidersilk-october-2020-edited-by-marcie-lynn-tentchoff
SCIFAIKUEST NOVEMBER 2020
Featured Poet: David C. Kopaska-Merkel
Author Page: Ngo Binh Anh Khoa
Plus voices familiar and new!
ADOPTED CHILD by t.santitoro
Imp, now 13, has awakened from stasis by MA, the ship’s computer, to find that everyone else has been killed by a highly infectious disease. She is alone on the ship. But she is about to have visitors.
The Greentown, a salvage ship, has spotted a derelict and is about to board her for salvage rights. The crew is blissfully unaware of what happened to the people on the derelict. Soon enough they will find out…but will it be too late? And what of the girl who now controls the derelict?
To everyone involved, everything is new…and potentially lethal.
THE JUSTICE LARK by Tyree Campbell
Five hundred years into the future, Pevely Keiser is the capo of the criminal organization called Temmen. Temmen runs itself, for the most part, with only a few nudges from Pevely to keep people in line. Lately she has two things on her mind. She wants to do something good and useful with the funds that accrue to the gang. And she wants a companion or two to help her…and perhaps to share her bed, for she well knows it’s lonely at the top.
While Athena, Pevely’s computer who has taken the form of a young woman, strives to humanize herself, Pevely encounters an enigmatic young man on the run, and agrees to help him. A relationship forms, which ends in murder. Pevely is now bound to seek retribution, and winds up opposing powerful corporate hierarchs in the process—hierarchs with their own power-grabbing agenda that cannot but bode ill for the people of the Confederation. The outcome is unpredictable as Pevely’s companions face certain death if they try to protect her.
ILLUMEN – Autumn 2020
Featured Poet: William R. Ford Jr.
Article: Creating Triptychs by Terrie Leigh Relf
Plus Marge Simon, Deborah Guzzi, Maureen Bowden, Denny Marshall, and many more!
THE MISEDUCATION OF THE ANDROIDS by William Landis
What happens when androids confront concepts inconsistent with their programming? William Landis examines this question by means of flash fiction and haiku that you will find pithy, poignant, and amusing.
William Landis is a science fiction poet from North Carolina. He is a graduate of North Carolina A&T State University, completing both undergraduate, and graduate work in agriculture. He is currently working on a vermicomposting project, and he is an Army reserve engineer officer. He enjoys running, writing, reading, and exploring new places.
And don’t forget our other new titles:
Without further ado, then: browse, read, buy, enjoy. If you have any questions or comments, send them to us at sdpshowcase at yahoo dot com.
See you next month. And please, from all of us at Hiraeth Publishing, stay safe and Happy Thanksgiving!
Storyteller and Managing Editor