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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

CHAPTER 4 – WHY? – Excerpt From Homegrown Terrorist

A series of homegrown terrorist attacks in New York City left the population in a state of panic, and law enforcement straining to contain the situation. One of the first steps in calculating the nature and scope of the homegrown terrorist threats they were facing, was to determine who the known terrorists were and why they’d acted as they did. John Stamper, acting head of the FBI in NYC, enlisted the aid of his two loyal associates Jim and Eric to attempt to build profiles for the eight known bombers. They only had to go through a few files before a common thread became obvious.

These young men and women were not driven for the most part by religious fanaticism. They were propelled in their disastrous actions by an overriding feeling of hopelessness, and a wish to somehow make a statement that would change the social context in which people like them felt trapped. In their desperation, they ‘d made a determination that no life was better then the life they were currently living. If an afterlife could be provided that would be an added bonus, but not the real reason they were willing to become suicide bombers.

Able Knowi was a twenty-three year old Moslem of Iranian decent. His parents had both passed away when he was nineteen in a car accident. They ‘d been hit by a limousine, which was returning from a lush party in the Hamptons on Long Island, NY with a carload full of hookers. Able had received only a pittance from the insurance company for the limousine company. He lived in a hovel of an apartment in Astoria, Queens, one of the outlying boroughs of New York City, where he’d grown up in relative poverty.

Able was not really a practicing Moslem, going to the local Mosque only occasionally to try and make friends. He was basically a loner who had little money, no job, and practically no friends. It was at the Mosque that he started hearing some of the radical jihadist propaganda that certain radical clerics were spouting with impunity under the guise of free speech. Able was convinced he had no future. Somehow and through some medium he became self radicalized – teaching himself how to become a jihadist. After a period of self indoctrination, Able thought he had found the answer, and blew himself up in the Bangles and Bows Toy Store with a home made bomb constructed from blueprints obtained on the Internet and supplies from the local hardware store, killing and injuring many innocent civilians. There were no links as far as the FBI knew to any known terrorist organizations, and as far as they knew, Able operated on his own with no help from any one.

It all seemed so easy. Blowing himself up was going to be the answer to all his problems. He was going to change America and solve his personal problems at the same time. He was going to become a terrorist – a jihadist. He was going to Heaven where he would be treated like a king and have seventy-two virgins at his command. This last part was the bonus benefit to a wasted life with no purpose and no future he could perceive, except to make a statement as a homegrown terrorist. .

The scariest part of all this was the self-radicalization aspect. He had virtually taught himself how to become a terrorist. As far as the FBI knew he had no contact whatsoever with Iranian terrorists or any other terror organization. The question was how did he do it? How did he learn to make a bomb? How did he teach himself to become a jihadist? He must have been receiving instruction from somewhere or someone. What had convinced him to create a holy war or jihad in the name of a Moslem religion he hardly believed in? What had convinced him that Americans were foreign devils when he himself was an American by birth?

Anna Costa was twenty-nine years old and of Puerto Rican decent. She was a fairly homely girl with buckteeth and a crooked nose. She lived in Flushing, New York with her mother. They hadn’t seen or heard from her father in years. They lived on welfare payments. Anna had dropped out of high school in her junior year. She had no skills, no job, and no boyfriend. She felt hopeless. She had been arrested for shoplifting at a local discount store, and had been treated badly by the store security guards who man handled her and strip-searched her in a dressing room. They discovered she had no stolen property on her person and let her go, not even bothering to apologize. Anna felt violated

At a Sunday Church social, to which she had gone in a vain attempt to meet a man, she met another lost soul who convinced her that there was nothing for her in this life: no future, no man. He convinced her that she would find what she was looking for in Heaven. He told her he had found the way to a better world, and would help her find her way there herself. He told her the way was to become a jihadist and exact revenge against America for leaving her in her current circumstance of poverty. He convinced her that her mother would cry for her, but would be proud of her for helping to destroy America whose fault it was that she was so unhappy. He convinced her that she didn’t have to be Moslem to go to Heaven and be welcomed by Allah. All she had to do was to commit Jihad – war against America.

Anna set off a bomb in Grand Central Railroad Station in New York City killing and injuring one hundred and forty people at rush hour in the main terminal building including herself. She was smiling when she set off the bomb and mumbling something unintelligible. She was on her way to Heaven to meet her new husband she thought. In her case the bonus of going to heaven was an important part in her decision to blow herself up, but it wasn’t what caused her to become desperate enough to become a homegrown terrorist; that part was caused by her feeling of total hopelessness. The FBI hadn’t been able to pin down if the new friend she met at Church was a secret Iranian agent working for a specific terrorist cell, but they had their suspicions.

Austin Blake was a feckless young man from a well to do family. He was twenty-two years old and had recently dropped out of college. He was a druggy who had been in and out of drug rehab, disowned by his parents, and currently living on the streets. He was trying to keep warm over a vent on the sidewalk in front of Dales Department store, which he had just been thrown out of for loitering, when the thought struck him that there must be a better way. He had no friends and no hope for the future. He hated America and what he perceived had been done to him. He wanted to make a statement and change things. He knew he was a useless bum who had no future. He felt hopeless.

Two weeks later he blew himself and eighty-nine other people up on the main floor of the same Dales Department Store in New York City on 43rd street and Ninth Avenue, which he had been thrown out of earlier. In his drugged out state, he’d convinced himself that he was going to a better place where everything would be all right, and where he would be loved by his new family and friends. He died smiling and mumbling something unintelligible.

This trend towards self-radicalization scared John more than anything else. Who knew how many of these crazies there were out there who thought they could commit jihad against America and find a better life for themselves in Heaven? The question was how were these people, who had little or no connection to each other all finding the same way to self-radicalize themselves and make the same kind of homemade bombs? Who was teaching these people what to do? Were the Iranians really involved, at least on an organizational level?

John Unridge was perhaps the most disturbing of the group. He was a matriculating student at Downswitch University on a full scholarship who was on Dean’s List and had a bright future in front of him. He came from a middle class Ohio Methodist family, and had never been in trouble of any kind. What could have possessed him to become a suicide bomber? What made him hate his country enough to kill himself and scores of innocent strangers who had never done him any harm?

John had been turned on by one of the Moslem groups who were tolerated if not supported at Downswitch under the guise of free speech and equal rights for all, but this group did not appear to be a terrorist cell or have connections to foreign terrorists. They’d simply put the idea of jihad in Undridge’s head. He had self-radicalized himself. John was the only one who left a note, which said in part that he was sacrificing himself to demonstrate against the social inequities in America that had developed an impoverished underclass for which he felt partially responsible. He also stated that his parents who’d given him everything weren’t to blame for him turning out the way he did. He ended his note by saying, “We are coming.”

John Stamper shook his head in disbelief. He couldn’t understand how any of this was enough to make someone kill himself or herself and innocent people. He couldn’t understand how a bright young man with a great future and good marks in school, who apparently had friends and was popular, could fall for this line of bull from an on campus non confrontational Moslem group. Where was he getting the information on how to become a terrorist? Where had he learned to make a bomb? Why did all the bombs appear to have used a commonly constructed explosive device? Where have we gone wrong? What were these homegrown terrorists mumbling when they exploded their deadly bombs? How many other young men and women were ready to sacrifice their lives for warped principals, and what did the statement “We are coming,” mean? Who’s coming?

John Stamper turned to his assistant Eric and said, “I don’t fathom any of this. It’s beyond me.

Eric shook his head in agreement. “You got me boss. I don’t have a clue.”

This is part of what scared John so. The whole thing didn’t make sense. It wasn’t rational. It defied logic – “We are coming.” Who was coming? Who was we? How do you fight something that makes no sense? How were they going to beat this insidious virus that virtually leapt from the mind of one lost soul to another, constructing a virtual community of dissidents who had practically no physical association with one another?

The profiles the FBI established were based on the most extensive investigation of the terrorist’s actions in the weeks leading up to the bombings, and cell phone videos taken by alert spectators at the various bombings. A pattern of self-radicalization had become obvious in every case investigated. In each case these warped and misguided individuals had taught themselves how to become terrorists and how to make bombs.

Much of the information was gathered from pictures of the terrorists from their embedded microchip identification chips. They were identified by their DNA, and from camera shots of the terrorists. Cameras on most New York City blocks were a given in this day and age, similar to what London had installed years earlier.

We could go on and on analyzing all eight known terrorists, but the pattern was undeniable. All of them felt hopeless and lonely for one reason or another, or committed to some higher calling as radical as it might be. They had all taught themselves how to put the bombs together. The bomb components were readily available at your local hardware store. Most of them thought they were going to Heaven where there dreams would come true, so they had borrowed heavily from Moslem jihadist teachings, and all of them thought they were making a statement against American society.

No one knew what they were mumbling when they died, or how they’d learned how to self-radicalize themselves. Someone had to be pulling their strings. These people weren’t smart enough to do this on their own. Only the lone wasp in the group, John Unridge, had thought to leave a note or make a statement, that was before the videos of some of the suicide bombers started to circulate on Social Networks on the Internet.

Hi, this is Arthur Levine with an excerpt from my recently completed novel – Homegrown Terrorist. To read more excerpts from this novel, or to leave a comment, please go to

Sunday, September 27, 2009

God The Game Master Verses Virtual Reality

I am going stir crazy pacing up and down in my home, with nothing to do, waiting for the scars on my face to heal from my attempted suicide at Harvard as a result of my breakup with the former love of my life, Alice. Tossing around in my bed late one night, unable to sleep, the thought struck me, maybe none of the stuff that happened to me with Alice or trying to commit suicide at Harvard was real.

I sat bolt upright in bed. I felt alive again. I had a new purpose in life. I started thinking how some super genius might have constructed my whole world. Maybe this was a virtual reality world I lived in – not the real thing. Maybe everything that was happening wasn’t my fault. I couldn’t stop thinking. Finally, I had something to occupy myself with, and take my mind off my problems. I decided to put my genius brain to work proving my new theory was correct.

I had to know who had constructed the virtual reality world I fancied I lived in to prove to myself that this was the fact. I had to decide why someone or something had gone to all this trouble and why. I decided to call this alien force the Game Master, calling on my broad knowledge of video computer games.

Figuring out how to create a virtual world was another matter. Then the thought crossed my mind: The Game Master must have used some version of what we know as quantum computing. That’s the only way he could have done this, but why? Was he really what we have come to believe in as God or just some time and space traveler creating a game for his or her own enjoyment? And what about my concept of Dialectic Materialism? How does this virtual world concept fit in with my religious theories? The more I thought, the more confused I got.

Thinking about the concept of a virtual reality world caused more ideas to pop into my head. Hundreds of questions started streaming into my mind – some conscious, some not. I couldn’t stop thinking about this. Now I was glad I had plenty of time. I spent most of the summer in my room attempting to replicate what this genius Game Master must have done. My parents had grounded me anyway, so what better use could I make of my time. Wonder if they are real? The task before me was almost inconceivable, but I wouldn’t stop. I was a genius. I should be able to replicate this program, but trying to implement the concept was an unbelievably daunting task. How am I ever going to figure this out?

How to recreate the senses of sight, smell, touch, sound, taste, and combine these with cognitive capabilities, emotional context, and real time responses was mind boggling. How had the Game Master done all this with the use of artificial intelligence, and still made everything so real? What was his motive? Where did he obtain the historical knowledge base necessary to do a project of this nature, and most important – how did he know how to populate this virtual reality world?

Where did the people come from? Who chose the races and the animals? Who created the scenarios we all play out? Was any of this possible? Was I just letting my over active imagination compensate for my human shortcomings? Was I giving my wild imagination too much credit for the ability to discern fact from fiction? Why approach the problem using Quantum computing? How else could I hope to recreate a virtual reality world? Quantum computing is the only application I can think of advanced enough to do the job of creating all the variables and all the randomness necessary to pass for reality.

I poured over information gleaned from the Internet through Google to try and form an understanding of Quantum computing and how the application could be used to create what was now my virtual reality world. Even with my genius mind, the concept was almost impossible to grasp. There were so many sub concepts like super positioning and windowing. I don’t even understand what they mean. The thought crept intro my mind that maybe a superior form of intelligence was needed to create worlds and universes real or virtual, but I kept on trying. Geniuses don’t give up that easily. Sometimes I feel as if I’m on the verge of great discovery. Other times I get stuck in theory, and can go no further. The harder I try to understand the more confused I became.

Quantum computing is nothing like what I had jokingly described to my childhood friend Billy, and yet in some respects there is great similarity. As best I can figure the theory out, Quantum computing is our best hope of producing a program powerful enough to challenge our understanding of reality. That’s what I’m trying to do.

The theory, I understand, allows us to reduce computer chips to the size of atoms, which have their own quirky characteristics including using 1 and 0 at the same time to mean different things, or to mean the same thing. Boy is this confusing. The worst part is that much of this is still theoretical, and hasn’t been proven to work. How am I going to use this stuff to create a virtual reality world when it’s not actually working yet except in the laboratory? All I know is that this whole process dynamically increases the speed with which we can process information. That makes sense. How else can I possibly hope to program all the different bits and pieces of information necessary to make up a virtual world?

Everything I have learned so far shows me that the theory of Quantum computing allows us to exist in different realities at the same time. That’s perfect for me. If I don’t like one reality, I can just switch to another. The truth is I think I do this already, I just don’t know how I’m performing this trick of nature or mathematics – take your pick, but then I’m a genius, and much of what we know is instinctive on a sub-conscious level.

All of this thinking is getting me more, rather than less confused about what’s reality, and what part God and Quantum computing play in this whole process. I don’t real know any more than when I started this whole experiment. All I know is that a higher power than I is necessary to have formed the universe and shaped our thoughts.

I took a quantum leap of faith and made a determination that would stay with me the rest of my life. I’ve decided that in my final version of reality, God is the Game Master. I pray that is so. This has been a humbling experience. Strange how us humans feel called upon to examine the nature of the world we live in. Why can’t we just accept what is happening to us like other animals? Why must we always question our own existence? I guess that’s what sets the human race apart.

God, if you’re listening, I believe in you. I have my doubts at times, but in my opinion you’re the Game Master. You’re the Man. I just want to be your messenger.

Time has worked wonders. I’ve decided that whatever world I’m living in is the right one for me. My scars are healed. I feel like a new man. No more pensive thinking for me and speculating about the nature of what’s real. I’m ready to come back to the world of the living. That’s the reality I like best. That’s where I do my best work.

I feel good again. The Game Master must be watching over me.

To find out more about virtual reality and the novel Johnny Oops, please go to

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Death Of Character

What ever happened to your word being your bond?

What ever happened to meaning what you say and doing what you mean?

What ever happened to character as a driving force in your life?

Did character mean anything in deciding who are leaders are going to be, or did that requirement die with out parents?

Is it all right to lie as long as you think what you are saying is in the public’s best interest?

Who gets to decide how much the truth can be twisted and when you can misinform the public in the name of patriotism?

What happened to the requirement to tell the truth as best you know it?

When did decision masking stop using principal and a values system as prime ingredients in deciding what to do?

It’s almost scary how we have come to accept that we are not being told the truth and can’t expect that what we hear is what was meant. What happened to the people of character who told us what they believed and believed what they said?

Character has been sacrificed to the bully pulpit of expediency. Our leaders no longer think having high morals and a value system is important in a world beset by terrorism.

Now it’s every man and woman for himself or herself. Forget telling the truth. Forget meaning what you say. Just do what’s expedient, twist the truth to suit your own purposes, and let the devil take the hindmost.

If character isn’t dead, it certainly is on its deathbed and we are at fault because we have become too permissive. We allow people to lie to us and get away with it. We allow people to twist the truth and stand there applauding in the hopes that these mirages and fictions of the mind will somehow magically become real.

What has become of our common sense? When did we start believing in fairytales again? Where will this lead us if not to the destruction of our democracy and all we hold dear? What would our forefathers who fought for our independence have though of how passive and gullible we have become? Is this the beginning of the end of freedom, as we know it?

It’s time for you to stand up, show some character, and answer the questions.

Monday, September 21, 2009

You Can Work At Home

With high unemployment and a bad economy, this is the perfect time for seniors to consider working at home, but beware of scams and get rich quick schemes. If it sounds to good to be true, it probably is.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Who's Writing The Fine Print

When a bill finally gets approved in congress who is writing the actual details of what is going on? How much will it differ from what we are being told? How much pork will be added to the bill to get votes? Is this where government takes control of the health care system, in the details of the bill written by staff or outside consultants or Apollo or Acorn? Is this part of the compromise between the Senate and the house over a Government Option? Are we going to get it no matter what we think is happening? Is it going to silently be put in the bill after the outline is rushed to a vote?

How can we tell we won't be covering illegal immigrants when we don't ask for proof of citizenship when we give out these new health care benefits?

Please remember that the devil is in the details, and when you open the door to the hen house, the fox will come in.

Watch your back. Don't expect any help from the congress unless you make your desires known. They have their own agenda and you the voting public are not number one on their list of priorities.

I'm tired of thinking one thing was voted on and then finding out we got something completely different when the details slowly come out. I'm tired of being outraged. I want congress to do what they say they are going to do.

We are not fools, as many members of congress are going to find out in the next election. Do what we put you in office to do - represent us and what we want, not what you want.