Book Review: Reality (TM) 2048 by Derek Cressman

May 22, 2019

Note: I rarely write book reviews, but activist writer Derek Cressman has written a novel which so speaks to me as it portrays a future born of today's media manipulations.  Find it at Amazon.  
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Derek Cressman’s REALITY 2048 is a modern day horror tale disguised as a futuristic thriller. 
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Cressman’s novel is written in the same vein as George Orwell’s 1949 novel Nineteen Eighty Four, but by the time the calendar turned to 1984, little of what Orwell predicted actually existed. 
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 REALITY 2048, on the other hand, offers an entirely realistic dystopian future which projects just past modern day headlines to a society brainwashed by corporate/ government propaganda which has traded security for freedom. It chillingly takes us into post-nuclear Los Angeles, but is at core an indictment of modern day media manipulation and indoctrination.  
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Vera works for Globalia’s Department of Information as a researcher tasked with condensing complex history lessons into 20 words or less; accuracy is demanded, but she finds truth is often lost. As a member of the Establishment, her brain has been chipped with MyndScreen virtual reality and apps with familiar names like Noodle and Chatter. She has rare intellectual curiosity, but is aware her mind is constantly data mined and if she delves too deeply into truths, she will leave metadata tracks to follow.  If caught, they will upgrade her brain chip, and 34 year old Vera will retire well cared for in a home but brainfed a 24-7 diet of Gladiators or Big Mother reality shows, unable to turn off the channel.   
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Still, in a world that tells her “Advertising Frees Speech,” she yearns for the Pre-Globalian principle of real free speech, so finds ways to trick the data collectors so she can freely research. She falls in love with Chase, a kindred spirit who takes her on outings to rural areas beyond metadata reach and frees her mind – and body - for the first time.
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Vera is so changed she talks Chase in to risking it all to join the underground group the Sisterhood to overthrow the mind numbing Establishment. She says, “we are so inundated with episodes and jingles and ads and facts and flavors and gladiators and chatter and news programs and celebrities and lies and fashion and music and even the truth that we have lost the capacity to think for ourselves. It’s not so much that we want to join the Sisterhood, but that we need to.”  
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The Sisterhood teaches them the ignored history of nuclear war and all that had occurred since the 20th century to create the culture of 2048.   
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What happens next is breathtaking and entirely unpredictable… or then again, perhaps it is the only possible outcome. 
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The ultimate question Cressman asks is what happens if people know they are misled but they just don’t care? As one character says, “A fact is a fact. They have nothing to do with reality.” 
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Especially when Reality is trademarked. 
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Derek Cressman’s REALITY 2048 is a novel of great consequence, one from which I will not easily escape.


Unfortunately, Alex Jones, Sandy Hook Did Happen #StopTheHoax


December 14, 2018

Last July, after Facebook and Twitter and You Tube banned radio host and performance artist Alex Jones from their platforms, I did a little digging, and found that his program and all his affiliate stations are breaking a longstanding Federal Communications Commission rule prohibiting hoaxes.  And what Jones has been doing goes way beyond the original 1938 Halloween broadcast of War of the Worlds, which prompted passage of the rule in the first place.
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The nationally syndicated radio host is currently being sued in Connecticut and Texas by at least eight families who have faced the unthinkable: losing their children in a school shooting. The Sandy Hook school shooting. The school shooting Alex Jones broadcast never happened.
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Court filings document the Alex Jones broadcast saying: “Children did not die, teachers did not die on December 14, 2012.”  “How do you even convince the public something's a total hoax?... The general public doesn't … know they had the kids going in circles in and out of the building as a photo-op” “… Sandy Hook is a synthetic completely fake with actors, in my view, manufactured.” Referring to video of the parents of children killed in the shooting, Jones stated that "they ... bring in actors to break down and cry.”  
Once Jones planted that seed, people began to attack the real grieving parents of small children. Among them, the parents of slain six year old Noah Pozner received death threats, had to relocate seven times, and now live too far to even visit their son’s gravesite.  “Sometimes I lie awake at night worrying that despite our efforts at security, a determined conspiracy fanatic might gain entry to our home,” said Noah’s mother, in reports of her court declaration. Declared her husband, “Due to Mr. Jones’ broadcast, I have also suffered severe emotional distress and trauma which I cannot even begin to adequately describe. No human being should ever be asked to suffer through the torment Mr. Jones carried out.”  
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"The station may be in violation if: (1) the licensee knows this information is false; (2) it is foreseeable that broadcast of the information will cause substantial public harm; and (3) broadcast of the information does in fact directly cause substantial public harm." 
(1) Did his affiliate stations know that what Jones' said about the Sandy Hook school shooting being faked was false?  Of course.  (2) Did they know those lies could cause substantial public harm? Yes, because he had caused substantial harm before with his hoaxes. After Jones falsely broadcast in 2016 that Hillary Clinton was running a child-sex ring out of a Washington, D.C. pizza place, one of his listeners went out and shot the place up with an assault rifle.  (3) Did the false information Jones broadcast about Sandy Hook directly cause substantial public harm?  Indeed it did.
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But the FCC says there is a simple way for stations to air hoaxes without violating the public trust: 
If a station airs a disclaimer before the broadcast that clearly characterizes the program as fiction … the program is presumed not to pose foreseeable public harm.” 
To help right this wrong, the Media Action Center has launched a letter writing action to request that the FCC enforce its rule about hoaxes on Alex Jones' radio program.  Despite what Infowars is saying about this action in recent days, this is not an effort to silence Jones, but the remind the affiliate stations of their legal duty to protect the public interest.  
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Here is a recent OpEd I penned for the Sacramento Bee a few days ago:  

Start writing. #StopTheHoax.