Watched Anderson Cooper narrate an hour TV primer on QAnon (“Q”). Anderson (know as "A Cooper” on the deep web) was trying to reason with a man who wrote the commentator that he wanted to execute him (exact reasons were unclear). A fallback for Q is promising to execute evil celebrities; that seems to up recruitment numbers. There’s more. Did anyone know there was a tunnel running underground from the Vatican to Jerusalem? That a cabal of child-molesting liberals (Republicans and Democrats) suck blood from small children to gain special powers? Every decade, our country has prophets of revolution and conspiracy theorists. The American Nazi Party in the Thirties. The John Birch Society in the Fifties. The Tea Party Republican wing starting in 2010. Today, social media changes the game in so many ways that we should pay close attention. Q flourishes because too many Americans need to express their rage over being left out and left behind. The absurd conspiracy claims come from the manipulators What’s real is the fear and frustration of those craving leadership and believe they have to settle for the loudest voice.
>> I’m hoping the Pandemic ebbs soon, Congress pays a $15 hourly minimum wage, and America gets busy with infrastructure and climate change. That’s something we should all be able to get behind.
I remember the significant outcry in 2016 when Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the National Anthem, protesting racial injustice. The nerve of an athlete using his knee to desecrate our beloved anthem, many said. Last year, a video showed a police officer planting his knee on George Floyd's neck, suffocating him to death. The victim was a troublemaker, said many of the same people irate with Kaepernick. This year, one of the rioters storming the Capitol, bending over if not quite kneeling, used an American flag pole to beat a police officer nearly to death. The rioter was protesting the results of an election. The response I heard from a vast number of “patriots" was an eerie, haunting silence.
With a new White House beset by critical challenges, for now my attention is more riveted on the January 6, 2021 Capitol attack and desecration. With more FBI details emerging about the planning and execution of the insurrection, how deep the roots might reach, and how audacious the Trumpian strategy to possibly impose martial law, the words “shocking,” “unprecedented,” and “complicity” aren’t enough.
The realization that things could have been so much worse doesn’t mean that next time they won’t be worse. I’m not thinking of another attack on the Capitol. For now I’m hopeful of a period of positivity and peace. But there are far more things that can go wrong that we don’t know about, than things we do know. History has never moved so fast, attention spans been so short, memories so inundated and selective. Instead of divining the next decade by what you might feel and want, or what you think is just and right, study history. Read about the cycles of governments, dynasties, and political parties. Nothing lasts forever, but your dreams will last longer if you don’t let your guard down. When the future arrives, you want to be able to recognize it.
Mr. French's manner of story telling is unique and his writing masterful and precise. I feel I'm being mesmerized bass I read- if that can be possible - as if I'm watching a painting being made, brush strokes by brush stroke. His style is invisible, he is not standing between the reader and the story. And the story seems to materialize out of itself.
Mr. French's #1 talent as a writer is his way of generating living, breathing characters. I became aware of his flair for this about half way through the book. I had been reflecting upon what I had just read when I realized that I have a high definition image of the main character, Brit, and that I have no recollection of reading lengthy passages that describe her in such fine detail. My dawning was this: she was assembled by me from lots of little pieces, unrelated quirks, gestures, stray thoughts. Perhaps this is the same mechanism that we use when we come to "know" someone, that we form a composite from the bits and pieces of what we observe. Here we areaquainted with High School seniors in the process of sifting and solidifying the traits that will define their future roles. The readers are on a parallel course with that of the characters, we are aquiring an ever increasing detailed image of them as they gain deeper understanding of themselves. In one memorable scene, we become more familiar with Nathan through the eyes of Brit as she clandestinely surveys the contents of his bedroom through a closed window. His possessions help us to understand the diverse factors influencing his internal make up, subtle hints ,that become obvious with hindsight , of the ingredients that will flavor his unfolding personality disorders. Here, Mr. French's fluid manner of description is cinematic, successfully emulating that of Hitchcock in the opening scene of Rear Window.
Cliffhanger is a purely fun-to-read novel. We become witness to aspects of average American High School life coalesce into a promise of a greater future, one that they will play a part in designing.
Date: 01/10 Time: 4pm
Michael R. French discusses his latest book.
"Cliff HangerJump Before You Get Pushed"
n 2030, viruses, spy drones, terrorism, and joblessness have eroded American optimism. People want something to believe in. As demonstrated in a Midwest high school election, politics have taken on the inflexibility and dogma of a new religion. Only true believers will survive and prosper. Or so they think.
My wife and i just watched a PBS special on 93-year-old naturalist and filmmaker Sir David Attenborough and his thoughts on the planet. Please see it, especially if you’re a denier of man-made climate change. There’s a simple subtext: if we made the mess, we’re responsible for cleaning it up.
Pass the envelope. And the winner is…the voter.
Specifically, millions of new voters, many of whom were in their teens and twenties, stormed the barricades. The #neveragain and other movements of the last four years were great motivators. In my generation, most of us didn’t vote until our thirties, if then, finally figuring out that politics matter. So what was different this time? Metaphorically speaking, a lot of us of all ages and races felt that democracy had come down with COVID, and unless we voted, no one could be sure it would survive. The 65% voter turnout was, I believe, a record for an American presidential election. May the tree of democracy continue to grow. America used to be known principally for its military and economic might. Now, there is additional power to harvest for the world to see. One voice, one vote, to start the list.
In my modest new novel Cliffhanger, it’s 2030 and America is going through tough times again. An 18 year old young woman, running for political office, makes her voice singular, irresistible, and unsinkable in a sea of anger apathy. In history, so often it’s one person who makes the difference.
Michael French is a graduate of Stanford University and Northwestern University. He is a businessman and author who divides his time between Santa Barbara, California, and Santa Fe, New Mexico.
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