Zoom Out

The Universe is large. Like, impossibly large. And getter bigger. You are much smaller. And while you may increase (or decrease) your mass by a “large” degree during your time in existence, it’s hard to compare that to the size of.a planet.

Much less a star.

Much less galaxy. Quite ridiculous, actually.

As Douglas Adams once noted, space is big. Like, really, really, big.

What are *your problems* in the context of that? In the context of a million years? A billion?

How about where time itself ceases to exist on the edges of the Universe? What do your bills matter to that?

How does your complaint compare to a supernova? A millennia? Space is vast and long, our lives short and sweet.

There is both a difference and sameness to be appreciated.

Zoom In

It’s a curious thing, no one can prove to you that you’re dead.

That the universe, and everything in it, isn’t a construct of your own intellect. Your own brain, the creator of all of this. The center of it.

It’s *really* hard to prove otherwise, as the provee tends not to be around to see the prover’s victory dance.

But the simple face remains, without one’s own perception of the Universe, it’s really hard to argue that one would still think it exists.

Even in the strictly empirical sense, it’s incredibly hard to argue that’s anyone’s perception of anything proceeds beyond death.

Perhaps, as so many pass without our knowledge, their’s was indeed the true reality.

How I wrote, illustrated, edited and published a children’s book over the weekend

TLDR; You can buy it here.

Over the last couple months, I’ve been experimenting/using some of the latest AI technologies, specifically ChatGPT for general knowledge and Stable Diffusion for art creation.

The basic process was pretty simple. I had a motivations to write a children’s story based on my experience with my four children and their voracious appetite for new stories (often featuring them or characters much like them).

(quick side note: I’ve been waiting for the Singularity for 25+ years and have done a few shows about it)

I had already asked it to write a simple version of a story and it did as well as I could have, with my tired-end-of-day brain and kid requests. This was a couple months ago, and quickly forgotten.

With Stable Diffusion, I’ve been digging a little deeper. I did the Lensa thing, I have used some crypto-related projects that offered access to txt2img capabilities, but it wasn’t until I downloaded the Automatic1111 repo and started pulling down checkpoint models that I really got into it and started to see the variations and possibilities this technology represented.

One of the checkpoint models I downloaded was particularly well suited to fantasy art.

Then, on New Year’s Eve eve, I decided to put two and two together, so I fired up the browser and began thusly..

RPN: Hello, I would like you help me write a children's story.

CGP: I'd be happy to help! What is the story about? Do you have any specific characters or themes in mind? It may also be helpful to think about the age group you are writing for and what message you want to convey through the story. Let me know and we can start brainstorming ideas together.

RPN: That sounds wonderful. I'd like you to include some children in the story, with random contemporary names. Four children. Ages 2, 4, 8, 10. Two boys and two girls. They will be the subjects of the story. I would like a light and happy story. The main theme to teach them is about sharing. How does that sound?

CGP: Sure, I can work with that! Here's a rough outline for a children's story about sharing:

Title: "The Sharing Tree"

Synopsis: Four children, Lucy (age 2), Jack (age 4), Emma (age 8), and Max (age 10), go on a nature walk and discover a special tree. The tree is covered in delicious fruit, but when they try to pick some, they find that they are all stuck together. The tree tells them that the fruit will only come off if they learn to share with each other. The children are initially hesitant, but they eventually learn to share and are rewarded with the fruit.


Lucy (age 2, girl)
Jack (age 4, boy)
Emma (age 8, girl)
Max (age 10, boy)
The Sharing Tree (magical tree with the power to grant fruit to those who learn to share)
Themes: Sharing, cooperation, nature, friendship

I hope this outline gives you a good starting point for your children's story! Let me know if you have any questions or if you'd like me to expand on any of the ideas.

RPN: Yes, that's a good start. I'd like the story to incorporate the same characters, but be based in a fantasy magical kingdom with wizards and dragons and kings and queens and knights, things like that.

Keep the same themes, new title. Maybe split into 10 parts, rhyming?

CGP: Sure, I can adapt the story to include a fantasy magical kingdom setting and split it into 10 parts with rhyming verse. Here's a revised outline:

Title: "The Sharing Crown"

Synopsis: In a magical kingdom ruled by a wise and fair queen, four children, Lucy (age 2), Jack (age 4), Emma (age 8), and Max (age 10), go on a quest to find the legendary Sharing Crown. The crown is said to grant great power to those who learn to share with others. The children journey through enchanted forests and meet friendly wizards, brave knights, and fearsome dragons, all while learning the importance of sharing and cooperation. In the end, they find the Sharing Crown and are hailed as heroes.


Lucy (age 2, girl)
Jack (age 4, boy)
Emma (age 8, girl)
Max (age 10, boy)
Queen (wise and fair ruler of the magical kingdom)
Wizards (mystical beings with magical powers)
Knights (noble warriors who protect the kingdom)
Dragons (fierce creatures with the ability to breathe fire)
Themes: Sharing, cooperation, magic, adventure, friendship

I hope this revised outline fits your desired direction for the story. Let me know if you have any further questions or if you'd like me to expand on any of the ideas.

RPN: Let's do the same story, with some sample text. Just do each chapter one at a time. I say the name for each chapter, you can give a title, and them some some rhyming text. We'll do each of the 10 chapters one at a time. Let's start with Chapter 1. Go.

And it proceeded to give me an outline of Chapter 1, Which I quickly asked for another edit…

RPN: Can you rewrite Chapter 1 with the kids names being O (girl: age 2), T (boy: age 4), R (boy: age: 8), and M (girl: age 10)?

CGP: Sure! Here's Chapter 1 of "The Sharing Crown" with the revised character names:

And so we got each chapter of the book. I actually decided to cut it off after about 6. It would say it’s probably bout 60-40 on the final rhymes and words as far as source goes. I spent zero time with ChatGPT *refining* the text. I took the first draft and ran with it.

So the edits and differences are mine. I’ve decided not to include the full original text here…but…obviously…one can go and generate their own with little more effort than a copy and paste. I will say there were enough edits that I consider the final work to be unique and my own, but that’s another discussion.

Then we started in on the art.

RPN: So I need help with the arti for these. Can you give me some same prompts for an AI art program to illustrate each chapter? I'd like two descriptions for each chapter. Lets begin with Chapter 1. Can you give me two text prompts for AI art for Chapter 1?

CGP: Sure, here are two text prompts for AI art for Chapter 1 of "The Sharing Crown":

"Four adventurous children setting out on a quest through an enchanted forest"

"The four children walking hand in hand through the magical woods, ready to face whatever challenges lie ahead"

I hope these prompts give you some ideas for generating illustrations for Chapter 1 of your story. Let me know if you have any further questions or if you'd like additional prompts for the other chapters.

RPN: Yes, I would like prompts for all the chapters. Can you share them all?

CGP: Sure! Here are text prompts for AI art for all the chapters of "The Sharing Crown":

Chapter 1: "The Quest Begins"

"Four adventurous children setting out on a quest through an enchanted forest"
"The four children walking hand in hand through the magical woods, ready to face whatever challenges lie ahead"

Chapter 2: "The Enchanted Forest"

"The children encountering a wise old wizard in the enchanted forest"
"The wizard giving the children a warning about the dangers of their quest"

Chapter 3: "The Dragon's Lair"

"The children facing a fierce dragon in its lair"
"The dragon calming down and befriending the children after they share a teddy bear with it"

Chapter 4: "The Knight's Challenge"

"The children being challenged by a noble knight to share their belongings"
"The knight approving of the children's sharing and allowing them to pass the challenge"

Chapter 5: "The Wizard's Return"

"The children being surprised by the wizard, who has found the Sharing Crown"
"The children putting on the Sharing Crown, filled with joy and pride"

Chapter 6: "The Return Home"

"The children being hailed as heroes upon their return home"
"The children wearing the Sharing Crown as a symbol of their journey and the legacy they will bear"

I hope these prompts give you some ideas for generating illustrations for each chapter of your story. Let me know if you have any further questions or if you'd like additional prompts.

EDIT UPDATE: Apparently it was saved and the hiccup was a growing pain..And here is where I coyly note that I did not save the original prompts and can’t easily share them. They are all embedded in my various txt2img and img2img processes that created the final results, but I don’t have them in a simple text file any longer. ChatGPT, unfortunately, does not save conversations by default, and so a copy/paste is necessary to save the results in creates.

I have set up Stable Diffusion on a couple local machines (one I had recently upgraded the RAM and GPU on in order to make these iterations faster…as noted, I’ve jumped in pretty deep) and got to work. Prompt -> result -> tweak -> result -> repeat. Getting computers to draw what you want, while certainly easily now than it was a year ago, is still not a perfect process. Even with AI assistance.

A few hours later, I had my first draft for both art and text. And also several hundred extra pieces of art that will never see the light of day for various reasons. This was all complete before the end of the new year. Taking off several hours for fun and family (I did mention all the kiddos, right?) I was still able to get the full first draft done **and submitted to Amazon** in under 24 hours.

That last bit is an important part, and involves **WAAAY** more AI’s than were involved in the direct creation of the book. The empowering tools of the modern self-publishing world have matured fully. The ability to publish and sell a manuscript without the intervention of any other (or any) human being is certainly a possibility.

And so, the point stands:

In 2022 it was possible to write, illustrate, edit and publish a children’s book in under 24 hours, using AI assisted technology.

Over the next week I then “upscaled” all the images and then added the text directly (via a wonderful iPad image editing tool called Procreate).

Then I recreated the manuscript and resubmitted the upscaled and upgraded version via Kindle Direct Publishing for review. That new version was been slowly filtering through Amazon’s self-publishing maelstrom and appears to be the current one available for purchase.

I am happy enough with it to have my name attached to it (although I apparently forgot to include it on the cover and there’s at least one typo in the current version)

You can see the results here:

The Sharing Crown

My plan, given the time and opportunity, is to do a few more versions of similar stories. The generative process was quite enjoyable, and much of the friction of creation was just me figuring out which buttons to click. I’d expect the next iteration to allow for a higher quality first draft within the single day parameters. And a fully professional product given more expanded timelines.

An amazing time we live in. I hope we can learn to enjoy and embrace it.

This article is a lie, there is no “pro-life” movement in United States

There is a “forced-birth” movement. A “pro-life” movement would be against the death penalty and advocating for universal healthcare, especially for mothers.

Forced birthers do none of those things and mock the very idea. Understanding that lie puts this article into the proper context.


Cyberpunk 2077 : Pre-Interlude Ongoing Review

Can I post spoilers from a free form game, or would that be too much…because this game is good. Real good.

The 1.04 patch helped a bit with frame rates, so things are smooth and nice. Battles are fun. Hacking everything I can…and now we meet Keanu…well, we are Keanu. Picking up at the Interlude tomorrow.

Not a spoiler, that was in the advertisements.

The thing about games is, the thing they try to do is, their purpose is — they create new worlds. You do, as the player. You experience a new world. This game, this “Cyberpunk 2077” is pushing that to another level. I know, I know…hype…hype…hype…hype. This one’s for real. The hype wasn’t enough.

Creating worlds and characters and emotional responses to those worlds is a *craft*. Coding is a skill, and an art. Bringing them together, it brings together new worlds, worlds beyond number, and experiences not possible to directly achieve in our physical bodies.

Drinking one to Jackie tonight, even though he never *really* existed.

There’s a new yardstick for what an “RPG” game can be. Cut or uncut, your choices matter.

Plants vs Zombies – Battle for Neighborville : Review

So this is what happens when you take something to the next level. In this case that next level is essentially another dimension, taking what was a two dimensional game and making it into a 3-D team battle shooter.

Similar to other arena type shooters you have RPG and stylistic upgrade elements, lots of chances to open various chest resources to collect and characters to upgrade.

There is a bed of humor and self-awareness in the style of the game including various callbacks with the characters to other pop culture references.

In addition to single-player quests sides on both the plants and the zombies factions, you then have the full-time arena shooter to participate in.

It is another kid-friendly style shooter that includes cartoon violence. N

The story, if you can even call it that, is fairly outlandish since you have animate plants fighting animated zombies for control over a town where all the humans are hiding inside, so don’t expect high, fact grounded literature here. It’s more like a cartoon Destiny style stuff.

Enjoying my experience with the game so far and I can recommend taking it for a spin if any of these kind of elements intrigue you. I’ll have a wrapup, or at least more expensive review if we keep going further with the title.

Playing on the PS4, we paid the $9.99 for it during a special.

Clinton Wins 2016 Democratic Primary

I’m not one to be such a douchebag to never admit I was wrong.

In a recent heated discussion I mentioned, repeatedly, how Clinton would win the nomination after New Jersey, before California polls closed, on June 7th, 2016.

I was wrong. After the huge victory in Puerto Rico, a number of un-pledged delegates have announced their support for Clinton, giving her the necessary delegates to end this thing on the first ballot of the convention as of June 6, 2016.

So I was wrong. I thought it would be June 7. Instead it was June 6, eight years to the day she conceded the nomination to Obama. I apologize for my error.

I supported Obama in that primary, as he rose time and time again to the challenges of the campaign. From Reverend Wright to the “black” thing, Obama knocked it out the park, again and again.

This election cycle, as I’ve watched it play out, time and again it was Hillary who hit the right notes, on the beat. From her 11-hour shoulder-brush-off in front of the GOP Congress witch hunt, to the intense scrutiny of debates and campaigning, she had done everything she needed to in order to secure the nomination. Bernie missed the mark. Yes, the bird liked him, but the New York Daily News editorical board *exposed* him. When faced with adversity in the campaign, he went hugely negative, and got turned away in the red zone after an impressive drive.

For me, the support of Clinton now goes all the way *back* to 2008 and how I thought she needed more experience to really lay the claim to the Oval office. From that point she kept working as Secretary of State, and delivered again and again on the President’s foreign policy agenda…one that was face with historic external opposition at the start and unprecedented internal opposition throughout (the GOP’s “Letter to Iran”).

By the end of her service, and Obama’s term, we have done a great deal to restore our standing in the world. This is in no small part thanks to her efforts.

She will make a wonderful President, and I’m looking forward to watching the campaign unfold.

Our media faces a reality-show challenge now, and whether or not they can differentiate between a candidate who could maybe play a President on TV as a joke, and one who can step into the office ready to go with unprecedented experience on Day 1.

The choice is so easy here as to be laughable, which is why I will hold off on the real laughter until Mid-November, and she’s earned her placed in history.

The Five Stages of Accepting President Clinton

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross gained some minor fame as a psychologist for studying the stages of grief.  She noted five major stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.   In watching the Democratic Primary (which ended roughly the moment NY polls closed), we have now moved well into the second stage of the model.


In Nevada, however, that first day of voting was only the beginning. In an intermediary round of county caucuses, the Sanders campaign turned out greater numbers, which tilted the balance toward his side. At the state convention on Saturday, Mrs Clinton once again had the higher turnout – in part because some Sanders delegates showed up late, provided insufficient information or were not registered as members of the Democratic Party.

The Sanders team wanted the rules changed to accommodate their delegates. The Clinton team refused. Then all hell broke loose.


Anger is the second stage in the grief model.  A great many people were passionately attached to the Bernie Sanders campaign, and watching something you love die is never easy.

Next up is the bargaining stage that will come after Clinton seals it up *officially* in NJ.  The idea here being that Sanders will get to have/be bribed with more power in the Democratic party in exchange for not tearing it apart (he has bee a Democrat for about a year now).

Depression will set in during July when a lifelong independent fails to get permission to re-write the Democratic Party platform (especially considering the actual nominee is a hardcore policy wonk).

Acceptance comes in August with the convention, and the *start* of the mainstream campaign against Voldemort and the United States’ racist and bigoted past.

It’ll be a blowout by at least 10 points, barring some major act of God or jihad between now and then.

Why Bernie Can’t and Won’t Win

In a recent YouGov survey, 43 percent of respondents under age 30 said they had a favorable opinion of socialism, while just 32 percent said the same about capitalism. Among all ages, races, geographic regions, genders, party affiliations and income levels, millennials were the only demographic that held socialism in higher regard than capitalism.

It’s not just Sanders’s socialist label that sells; it’s his socialist ideas, too.

And in 20 years, when the majority of the voting generations have grown up with “socialists” like Obama, instead on Stalin, you’ll be able to win a national election proudly bearing that label.

Until that time, it’s just not going to fly in a national election.


The Vermont senator’s brand of “authenticity” is off-limits to Hillary Clinton and…

Politics 2016 (in which we select a Supreme Court in the United States)

Anyway, welcome to Politics 2016 (which is an election year….Nov, 8, 2016 is when we pick the Supreme Court for the FORESEEABLE FUTURE, i.e., the rest of my functional life).

Hint: if you are looking for someone fairly middle of the road who knows how to get things done…which apparently is a bad thing now…just look back to the 90’s.

Pretty boring, I know, but boring and steady is what we need. I don’t think a socialist revolution is really going to work this year. Maybe in another 12 or 16…maybe even another 8…but not now.

Andy Cohen's photo.

Tump, the Jackass, Ascendent

K…just had to comment on this…We all know Trump is a jackass…wait…we don’t all know that. Somehow we *don’t* all know that Trump is a jackass.

We *should* know that, because it’s so incredibly obvious…but anyway I’ll give you a quick example of one of his tricks, because it’s blatant, pathetic and should be called out.

Any one who has read my stuff for any amount of time knows what I think of “political correctness”. It’s stupid bullshit. If a moron is acting like a moron, they need to be called a moron. Dumbing down and sanitizing language and social interaction limits one of great equalizers in social societies, public shame.

I much prefer an open, combative dialogue, than a hushed, oppressed one. This is somewhere I diverge quite a bit from folks who have to follow these rules to get paid. I don’t get paid, I just have fun, so it makes things a bit more chaotic from an editing standpoint.

Regardless of all that, what Trump does is play the game both ways. He claims to hate the not of PC talk, but then hides behind it when called out. “Schlong” is a word for dick. Being “schlonged” is being “fucked”. Much like how he called out Megyn Kelly for being on the rag, and then claiming he was talking about a nosebleed, he retreats behind the PC lie when needed.

My guess is that he like many of his supporters, will finally just end up calling Hillary a “dumb bitch” and be done with it.

I do think you have to hit back, and do so harder, when folks get out of line like this, as Trump has. The “rules” of PC don’t allow that, which is why it was a dumb idea, for the most part.

It leaves you exposed to someone like Trump, or Cruz, who hide behind the very linguistic curtain they publicly claim to despise. Which can lead to *very* dark places, if they gain power using such techniques.

When I said that Hillary Clinton got schlonged by Obama, it meant got beaten badly. The media knows this. Often used word in politics!

Obama on Sandy Hook

President Obama's photo.
Three years ago today, a gunman murdered twenty innocent schoolchildren and six of the educators who cared for them at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut.

This photo was taken two days later, when I went to Newtown and visited with the families of the victims. It was a town that could be any town in America. They were grieving moms and dads, brothers and sisters, spouses missing the center of their lives at Christmastime – good and decent people who could have been any of our loved ones.

Three years on, how do we tell them that their Congress hasn’t done anything to prevent what happened to them from happening to other families?

Soon after the shootings, I took a series of executive actions within my power to reduce gun violence and keep more of our kids safe. Their governor in Connecticut, Dan Malloy, worked with his legislature to pass some commonsense gun safety reforms – reforms that didn’t infringe upon anyone’s right to bear arms, but actually might have prevented another massacre in the meantime. And two United States senators – a Democrat from West Virginia and a Republican from Pennsylvania, both gun owners, both strong defenders of our Second Amendment rights, both with “A grades” from the NRA – worked together to write a commonsense compromise bill that would have required virtually everyone who buys a gun to get a background check. That’s it. Dangerous people would no longer get to play by a different set of rules than responsible gun owners who bought their guns the right way. Pretty commonsense stuff.

But the gun lobby and its allies mobilized to paint that compromise reform as an assault on our freedom. And even though background checks were supported by some 90% of the American people and a majority of NRA households, the Senate surrendered, voting to block those background checks – even with the families of Newtown in attendance.

Since then, tens of thousands of our fellow Americans have been mowed down by gun violence. Tens of thousands. More kids have lost siblings. More parents have lost children. More husbands and wives have had to bury the love of their life. Sometimes, it’s hard to put specific numbers on this epidemic and its causes – because Congress has actually prevented the CDC, our leading public health agency, from conducting serious research into gun violence. Did you know that? Some years ago, they actually voted to make it harder for public health experts to conduct research into gun violence – but even after San Bernardino, they’ve refused to make it harder for terrorist suspects to buy semi-automatic weapons.

Every time this happens, we’re told that commonsense reforms like background checks might not have stopped the last massacre, or the one before that, so we shouldn’t do anything. We’re not fools – we know that we can’t heal every troubled mind, or stop every act of violence.

But what if we tried to stop even one? What if Congress did something – anything – to save one American, or a classroom of Americans, or a stadium’s worth of Americans from losing their lives to gun violence in the years to come?

I refuse to give up on this. Because I still believe that we can do better. I still believe that we can get this right. We may not have a Congress that’s willing to work with us on this right now. So the rest of us will have to do what we can. I recently tasked my team at the White House to take another look at any other actions I can take to help reduce gun violence. And if you care about this, then please help me – whether you’re a Democrat, a Republican, or neither. We especially need the help of responsible gun owners who grieve with us every time this happens, and feel like your views aren’t being properly represented. I know there are a lot of you. I’ve heard from you. I’ve read your letters and emails.

Let me be absolutely clear – like I’ve said many times before, I believe that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to bear arms. Period. No matter how many times people try to paint me as holding a different position. I also believe that most gun owners agree that we can respect the Second Amendment while keeping an irresponsible, law-breaking few from inflicting harm on a massive scale. I believe there is a rational, bipartisan majority in America who agrees that we all have the right to worship freely and safely; the right to assemble peaceably; the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness – and who doesn’t want to see those rights taken from us, as they were taken from worshipers in Charleston and Oak Creek; moviegoers in Aurora and Lafayette; students in Blacksburg and Roseburg, Columbine and Newtown, and kids on street corners in Chicago too often to tolerate.

Change, as always, is going to take all of us – from the grassroots up. The gun lobby is loud and organized in its defense of effortlessly available guns for anyone. The rest of us are going to have to be just as passionate and organized in our defense of our kids.

America, this will change – but only when we stand up, together, and demand it