The Writings of Michael J. Bowler

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Should 14-Year-Olds Be Allowed to Vote?

Posted by Michael J Bowler on January 13, 2013 at 11:20 PM Comments comments (3)

In the United States today a citizen must be 18 years old to vote in any federal, state or local elections. How many of you out there believe, as I do, that the voting age should be lowered to fourteen? A crazy idea? Let’s explore it, shall we?

The cons are easiest to start with since most adults would instantly say them: Fourteen-year-olds aren’t mature enough. Heard that one before? Fourteen year olds aren’t smart enough. Fourteen year olds aren’t educated enough. Fourteen year olds are just kids and they don’t have any life experience to go by. How about this one – if we let them vote, they’ll get to sit on juries. Then what’s next – they drop out of school and join the work force? That would cheapen the adult workers because non-union kids would work for less and take jobs away from adults! And if they can vote, they’ll want to drive cars and join the military. That would undermine the entire social fabric because we’d have a bunch of immature kids on equal footing with mature and capable adults. Are these arguments sound? Do they seem reasonable to you? Is it idiotic to allow fourteen-year-old kids to “be” adults and participate fully in the adult decision-making world? Maybe. Maybe not.

How many of you out there are aware that in 45 out of 50 states, juveniles as young as fourteen, sometimes thirteen, are already considered legal adults? You didn’t know this? Oh, maybe that’s because the adult voters in those states decided that juveniles are adults in only one way – when they get in trouble with the law. In every other way, hell no, they’re just immature kids who don’t know anything! But when it comes to crime, to life in the streets, to gangs and their overreaching influence, to resisting peer pressure – suddenly and magically they become adults. But only for that moment when they made the bad choice. Oddly enough, when they do something good or positive for society, they’re still just punk-ass kids who know nothing and should be seen but not heard, and sometimes not even seen unless they’re good-looking or get good grades.

Make sense to you? How many of you out there truly believe that thirteen or fourteen-year-olds can be an adult today to get caught up in a crime, but not be an adult tomorrow to sit on the jury to hear that crime, or to vote on the very laws that “adultified” them in the first place?

I have spent my entire life working with kids, particularly teenagers. And they’re not adults. Not yet, even though many states like to pretend they are when they get in trouble. Kids don’t have the experience to process feelings like we do, and they can’t reason things out as well. It’s not built in yet. This country wants to pretend children are adults so we can put them in prison when they screw up because we are too lazy and caught up in ourselves to give them a second chance, or a third, or even a fourth. Kids screw up. That’s been the case throughout all of human history, and when they do, those kids need adults to help them become better so they don’t keepscrewing up. They don’t need adults who just want to toss them into prison, out of sight and out of mind.

Too many adults in this country want kids to be magically grown up so they don’t have to parent them and role model for them and set good examples for them, but the bottom line is children are children and need to be allowed to be children. Children can’t, and never will, think and feel like adults because they aren’t adults. Not yet. And the adult society in this country has a throw-away mentality. If the kid screws up, throw him away. We’ll just get another. That’s like the farmer who leaves the barn unlocked and his horse escapes and tramples his crops. Farmer’s solution? Shoot the horse and just buy another. After all, it was the horse’s fault right, for trampling the crops?

So we return to my original question – should fourteen-year-olds be allowed to vote and by extension sit on juries to hear the cases against them? I say yes. If, in our collective idiocy, we are going to pretend they’re adults for doing something wrong, then they sure as hell can be adults to do something right! Or are we, as country, simply afraid of our young people? We seem to be incarcerating a vast number these days, so the answer would appear to be yes. But are we even more afraid of giving them the power to decide laws, to elect presidents and representatives, to pass or reject propositions that would seek to criminalize them just for being kids?

I say if fourteen-year-olds are adult enough to commit a crime then they are more than adult enough to vote! Who’s with me? C’mon, people, let’s start a revolution. . . a children’s crusade for equal rights. . .

Sir Lance says, “I’m fourteen-years-old. I can go to prison, but I can’t drive a car. Crazy, huh?”

 

My Virtual Book Tour!

Posted by Michael J Bowler on September 4, 2012 at 4:10 PM Comments comments (0)

Check out the following link for my Virtual Book Tour throughout the month of September. There will be interviews and giveaways, so head on over and enjoy!

http://www.pumpupyourbook.com/2012/08/08/pump-up-your-book-presents-a-matter-of-time-virtual-book-publicity-tour/#

Could All of Titanic's Passengers Have Been Saved?

Posted by Michael J Bowler on September 2, 2012 at 4:05 AM Comments comments (2)

            Having been fascinated by the Titanic disaster for most of my life, I ‘ve read a great many books and articles on the subject. In writing my novel, "A Matter of Time," I sought to make the Titanic portions as accurate as I possibly could. Despite placing some fictional characters aboard the ship, I strove to portray the real historical figures, like Captain Smith, Jack Phillips and Thomas Andrews, with as much truth and accuracy as possible. As you may or may not know,Titanic brushed alongside an iceberg that essentially punctured her hull below the waterline for a full three hundred feet, on the starboard side near the bow. A design flaw within the watertight compartments caused her to sink. But,there was a way to save probably all the passengers and crew that was never attempted, or to the best knowledge of historians, even discussed.

            The builde rof Titanic, Thomas Andrews, was aboard her for the maiden voyage, to gauge her strengths and weaknesses. The ship was considered “practically unsinkable” due to the watertight compartments designed to contain seawater should the ship strike something and damage her hull. But the builders, and designers, envisioned a head-on collision, or perhaps another ship ramming Titanic from the side. They never imagined an iceberg, or anything, ripping a 300-foot gash across the first five watertight compartments beneath the waterline. Each compartment had watertight doors and bulkheads to contain the incoming seawater. The design flaw was the bulkhead between the fifth and sixth watertight compartments – it only rose as high as E Deck (not all the way to the top deck.) Thus, once those first five compartments flooded, the water spilled over that not-high-enough bulkhead into the seventh compartment and then into the eighth, and so on. Titanic effectively became an ice cube tray, with water spilling over into each successive compartment and dragging her down. She was pulled down by the head, and once this process accelerated, there was no stopping it.

            What neither Andrews nor Captain Smith even considered doing was the following: they could have opened the watertight doors separating these compartments and allowed water to fill the entire bottom portion of the ship. If they had done this, Titanic would not have been pulled down by the head, but would have sunk on an even keel, with only twelve square feet open to the sea all night. The aft (rear) engine pumps could have been activated, likely keeping the ship afloat indefinitely, or at least long enough for the rescue ships to arrive.

            No one knows why this wasn’t tried, since both men went down with the ship. Perhaps the sheer shock of such an impossible event stunned Andrews to the point that this option never came to mind. Alas, had he thought of it, Titanic would not likely be the worst maritime disaster in history because the loss of life would’ve been slight, or perhaps no one would have been lost at all!

            I utilize this knowledge within my book for a character who comes from the future, who must decide whether or not to inform the Captain of this possibility, and, in so doing, change history forever. You’ll have to read the book to discover what he chooses.

 

Odd Facts About Titanic Inspired My Book

Posted by Michael J Bowler on September 2, 2012 at 4:00 AM Comments comments (0)

            As a child growing up, I’d felt a strong connection to the Titanic disaster from the first moment I read about it, and I continually devoured every book published on the subject. I don’t quite know where that “pull” came from, but it was almost as if I’d been there in 1912 and in my own time simultaneously. As if somehow Iwas there that cold April night, even though such was impossible.

            That overlapping time feeling, coupled with a couple of odd facts about the sinking, planted the seed that grew into my novel. Fifteen minutes before Titanic took her final plunge into the sea, Captain Smith relieved the two wireless officers of duty, telling them there was nothing more they could do for the ship. These men had been frantically calling for help on the Marconi wireless and thus had missed all but one of the lifeboats. The two men, Jack Phillips and Harold Bride, exited the wireless cabin, which was located very near the already submerged bow of the ship. At that point, there was only one collapsible lifeboat left,strapped down very close to the rapidly rising seawater, and some crewmen were struggling to float it off into the ocean before it could be pulled under.

            As would be expected, Bride rushed forward to assist, since that final boat would be his only hope for survival. But Phillips did something odd and counterintuitive –he turned and headed aft, towards the sloping rear of Titanic! Why? Why gotowards certain death when your salvation lay a few feet away? That anomalous behavior led me to create a reason for his choice, a fantastical reason, yes, but a reason that led eventually straight into A Matter of Time.

            There was another little known fact I glommed on to because I was always fascinated by everything supernatural. Titanic was carrying that night, in her cargo hold, the mummy of an Egyptian priestess, from the temple of Amon Ra. This mummy had already gained a reputation for being cursed – several of its owners had died mysteriously and photographs of the wrapped corpse displayed a living woman with glaring eyes. Even the photographer who’d taken these pictures died suddenly.There were so many mishaps and deaths associated with this mummy that the British museum finally sold the cursed object to an American buyer. The buyer packed it up, sarcophagus and all, for shipping to New York . . . aboard Titanic.

            Later, after the sinking, some of the more superstitious people out there attributed the collision and sinking to the mummy’s presence on board the ship – just another casualty of the same curse that had killed so many others. In my book, the sarcophagus, not the mummy, does play a major role in how events unspooled on April 15th, 1912, and in fact, does contribute to the circumstances which led to the collision. How? Read "A Matter of Time" to find out.

 

My book is an award winner!

Posted by Michael J Bowler on September 2, 2012 at 1:00 AM Comments comments (0)

My novel, "A Matter of Time" has been given a 2012 SIlver Medalist Award from Reader's Favorite. I'll be heading to Miami in November to receive the award and promote my book. It's really cool to have my work honored, plus I've never been to Miami! I'm stoked. Check out my book on Amazon or Barnes and Noble or at OutskirtsPress.com. I will post some background on how I came to write "A Matter of Time" and how it all stemmed from the always fascinating story of Titanic, which captured my imagination when I was just a boy.


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