I'm James Maxey, the author of numerous novels of fantasy and science fiction. I use this site to discuss a wide range of topics, with a heavy emphasis on cranky, uninformed rants about politics and religion and other topics that polite people attempt to avoid. For anyone just wanting to read about my books, I maintain a second blog, The Prophet and the Dragon, where I keep the focus solely on my fiction. I also have a webpage where both blogs stream, with more information about all my books, at jamesmaxey.net.


Sunday, July 13, 2008

My first ever blog post composed on a cell phone

I'm at the beach, sitting in the crows nest of a beachhouse, typing a blog post on my phone. It's one of those strange moments when I worry that my sense of wonder is either underdeveloped - I am, after all twenty yards from the Atlantic and completely ignoring it - or overdeveloped, since I'm feeling all tingly with gadget awe, and the uncanny sense that the future has arrived.

We live in a world of casual miracles. Today I've communicated with people on three different continents, messages flying around the globe in seconds. Earlier, I rode to the beach in my friend Cheryl's hybrid Toyota. It converted five gallons of gas into 200 miles of forward motion, and in under four hours we'd covered a distance that once would have required days.

Of course, my sense of wonder is tempered by a fair share of pessimism. Not more than an hour ago, I had a conversation where I adopted the rather sour opinion that we are on the brink of a new depression. So much of our current prosperity seems built on unsubstainable debt. A viscious cycle of ever increasing debt defaults will lead to less credit, leading to more default, until everyone is living on actual cash in hand-a situation that will topple the structure of our economy.

But then I go up above the roofline, look at the ocean, and write about it on my phone, and I feel like things will be fine. There is so much innovation and progress - We'll beat this current downtick. I can't imagine how, but I didn't see blogs, cell phones, or hybrid cars coming either.

Sometimes, I worry about my mood swings...


Mr. Cavin said...

I am, after all twenty yards from the Atlantic and completely ignoring it.

Well, there's some global serendipity there. You're ignoring the Atlantic to write you blog and I am ignoring a palm-fringed South China Beach bay to read it.

I wish my phone were as nice as yours.

Pema said...

Of course, my sense of wonder is tempered by a fair share of pessimism. Not more than an hour ago, I had a conversation where I adopted the rather sour opinion that we are on the brink of a new depression.

I had a conversation today with a woman who makes her living connecting workers with jobs. She told me that sometime in the last six months things really turned around. Before that, she had more jobs than she could find people to fill. Now, she can't find enough work for the people who come to her looking for it.

This does not bode well, for my job search, or the economy.

James Maxey said...

One reason for my pessimism is that I'd love to quit my dayjob and make a living solely by writing. I think I'd have to write two books a year to make it, but I'm confident I can write the books. What worries me is that, if I did quit and things didn't work out in a few years, there wouldn't be any jobs for me to go back to.

I had intended to have a big buffer of savings in my 401k before I made the leap, but I did some calculations the other day and realized that I have made absolutely no money on my 401k in the last 4 years. I have more money than I did 4 years ago, it's true, but the growth is less over 4 years than the raw amount of money I've put into it through my contributions and the employer match. I honestly would have more money if I'd stuffed my money into a mattress (assuming I could convince my employers to match the contributions). I don't see how we're getting out of the downward spiral anytime soon. A lot of the "wealth" of the last twenty years has been an illusion brought about by American's piling up ever increasing mounds of debt. They could max out credit cards without fear, because there were always a dozen credit card offers waiting in the mail offering even more credit. Now, the age of easy credit is coming to a close, and we're going to have a decade or more where people dig themselves out of their debt graves one tea-spoonful at a time. It took about twenty years to get into this mess--I don't see it turning around in only six months.

But, again, my pessimism is tempered by my belief that someone out there is on the verge of a revolution that will transform the economy. Someone could be filing a patent today on a battery that will let an electric car have a 600 mile range between charges, or on a cancer treatment that has a 90% success rate and, as a result, cuts health care costs in half. (Having had some experience with the cancer merrry-go-round, I can say that one of the huge drivers of cost is that there are dozens of treatments available, with success rates of maybe 10%. So, a lot of money is wasted on treatments that have worked in enough patients that you can't ethically not give it a try, yet are still, statistically, almost certainly going to fail. A truly effective treatment, even if it were astronomically expensive, would save money by eliminated all these more marginal treatments.)

Hmm... my comment is turning out to be longer than my original post. I'll shut up now.