Read My Shoddy Work: ‘The Night Shift’ Pt. 4

Like the fall of Western Civilization, my writing is not progressing as fast as I’d hoped. I need to get more disciplined during my designated writing time. This goes double once I begin outlining a novel.

But here it is, legions of fans. The fourth installment of “The Night Shift.”

If you haven’t been following along, you can catch up by reading Part 1, Part 2  and Part 3. Enjoy!

Continue reading

Big Data and the New Determinism

You might as well call it a day. Sooner or later the data scientists, the mentats, and the Spacing Guild will know your every move before you make it. As we speak, big companies and governments are hacking the human brain. They are charting the constellations of the human soul.

They are learning to predict how you will vote, what kinds of flannel I’ll buy (trick question, the answer is all of it), who is most likely to shoot up the local shopping mall, which day to mail me that coupon for Bob Evans’ Sausage Links, which applicant will make the best “Customer Care Associate” and so on. Soon enough all will proceed only as they have foreseen. Or so they like to think.

The idea, I guess, is that once you have enough information on someone or some group you can predict how they’ll act in a given situation. Where this gets a little creepier is when you start actively trying to manipulate people with “nudges” in your preferred direction.

If you haven’t already seen it your utility bill will start telling you how your energy consumption stacks up against your neighbors. This is supposed to make you more competitive about being greener and reducing your carbon footprint. As if a lower electricity bill wasn’t enough of an incentive already?

I can’t wait till the next generation of this ulitility bill envy hits the market. Instead of hearing how well your doing against your neighbors on average, Duke Energy will mine social media to find the friend/relative/coworker you loathe the most and put his stupid face on paper with a better score than you. “Did you know Rob Kringle cared more about the Earth than you in 2016?” The fuck he does. I’m gonna buy those double paned low-e argon windows right now and show Rob fucking Kringle what’s up. That’s the hope anyway.

Why do I sound so skeptical about this new enlightened era of rule by algorithm? I don’t think they can pull it off. At least not in the way they seem to think.

For one, much of the psychology and behavioral economics that would make up the foundation of such an effort are undergoing a replication crisis right now. Two, even if the science were sound, the people at the controls are flawed human beings just as susceptible to bias and corruption as you and I. They’re gonna waste all this power on something that’s evil or doesn’t matter. They’ll end up using it to mobilize 40% of the population to hunt and kill the dentist that shot that lion.

Finally, once it becomes public knowledge that they’re using our utility bills and our GPS apps to reduce third-hand smoke. Maybe 40% of us will go along. The rest?

‘oo put you in charge eh?

Put simply,

The Network: Just what is it that you want to do?

Gary King: We want to be free!

Steven Prince: Yeah.

Gary King: We want to be free to do want we want to do!

Steven Prince: Yeah.

Gary King: And we want to get loaded!

Andrew Knightley: Yeah!

Gary King: And we want to have a good time and that’s what we are gonna do!

The Network: It’s pointless arguing with you. You will be left to your own devices.

Gary King: Really?

The Network: Yeah. Fuck it.

That’s how it goes down, baby.

Brett Easton Ellis on Trump

Men call him The Sensemaker:

“You can dislike the fact that Trump was elected, yes, definitely, and yet still understand and accept ultimately that he was elected this time around. Or you can have a complete mental and emotional collapse and let the Trump presidency define you, which I think is absurd. … If you are still losing your s— about Trump, I think you should probably go to a shrink and not let the bad man that was elected define your self-victimization and your life. You are letting him win.”

– Bret Easton Ellis

Is your Brain Ready to Get RIPPED!?!?!?!?!?

I’ve become a little bit of a maniac about discipline and willpower lately. Again, not because I have SO much of it but because I have a little of it and I want more. I’m still a lot like the rest of the modern world: unfocused, lazy, addicted to my smartphone. But I think I’ve got the not-so-secret secret to building discipline more or less figured out. It isn’t easy, but it works. Ready? Let’s go.

Continue reading

Read My Shoddy Work: ‘The Night Shift’ Pt. 3

Been looking after the lovely Mrs. Miller a bit more than usual this week. She’s developed a wicked case of tendinitis (or something). Just one of the hazards of being a hard working human in the digital age. But that doesn’t mean I won’t give my legions of fans the bread and/or circuses they’ve come to expect from this blog.

If you haven’t been following along, you can catch up by reading Part 1 and Part 2 here.

Continue reading

Getting a Super Encouraging Rejection Letter

I mentioned a while back that I submitted my first short story The Shelter (aka ‘Is it not Midnight?’) to a publisher (you can read an earlier draft of it here). Well, I finally got a response back from one of the editors there. The reply was not what I wanted exactly, but probably what I needed.

The editor essentially told me the story (and characters) were too big to be a short story but too short and undeveloped to be a fully fledged novel. But, and here’s the good part, they if I would consider expanding it into a novel, they might like to be in the Alan Miller business.

Honestly, I would have been happy with anything more personal than a copy-and-paste rejection e-mail. But to get encouraging, specific feedback from an editor who had obviously read the manuscript? Well. That is a cut above.

I know what you’re thinking.

“This hayseed thinks he’s hit the big time because a real life editor didn’t completely ignore his submission.”

Believe me, I’m trying to keep things in perspective. Nobody’s agreed to pay money for this drivel, and I still need to expand a long-ass short story into a big boy book. But, I can’t help walking a little straighter knowing someone kind of liked what I had to say.

Three Lesser-known Chuck Berry Gems

I’m planning on doing a longer, more thorough post on this transformational man, but I want to mark the occasion of his demise with something to celebrate his contributions. Everyone knows “Johnny B. Good,” “Maybelline,” and (thanks to Quentin Tarantino) “You Never Can Tell” ad nauseum. As such, I respectfully share the following hidden gems from the great man’s catalogue.

  1. You Can’t Catch Me

2. No Money Down

3. Too Much Monkey Business

BONUS TRACK: Let it Rock