A Journal Retrospective: Notes On A Dystopian Speculative Fiction Idea

Going through my old journals, I sometimes come across old story ideas that look like I wrote them late at night in a crazed state of sleep deprivation. “They” represents the government/society, I think? Here is one such example:

Breeders

Based on the date, I can only assume I came up with this idea after being called a “breeder” while walking through the Castro one day. For those that aren’t aware, “breeder” is a slur shouted at anything they assume has a uterus, and the individual shouting at it has had to make a whole slew of assumptions regarding the person possessing said assumed uterus. It’s rude and messy, and if you’re someone that does this, you should reconsider that behavior. The only times they have targeted me with this slur was while I was dating only women and was walking alone through the Castro in San Francisco.

Anyway, the concept of a breeder in this dystopian universe is that at birth, they screen humans for genetic diseases, genetic predispositions, and important or new beneficial traits. They then sterilize any that failed this screening (most infants), but the benefits (on average) life extension and increased intelligence. The detriment of being a breeder is a shorter lifespan with high variation in intelligence.

This creates a cast system with the first division existing between Breeders and Non-breeders. To children this is not apparent until adolescence, when they separate breeders upon reaching sexual maturity from their peers. While they worship Breeders as the genetic parents of all humans. Above Breeders there is a ruling class—the Royal class—retired, pampered, and in control over the government where only they can vote on legislation (non-breeders and breeders have no voting rights).

This whole set up began when a plague ravaged their human colony on a new terraformed planet, yet Earth kept in touch by regular transmission until there was a breakdown of communication. The Ruling Class told everyone that astronomical radiation caused this.” With a plague claiming everyone in the population with a specific genetic trait, the government established when the colony originally started and elder citizens set up a plan to help prevent diseases in the population and create a race of humans free of microbial and genetic diseases. Because the only people that may vote or be involved in lawmaking are post-menopausal men and women, the system persists. This creates further division.

They sterilized the lowest cast: criminal breeders. They only forcibly sterilize a breeder if they have committed a crime, or “new technology” reveals that their traits are no longer desirable, so they now are known to have a previously unknown rare genetic disease (as this is also a crime). In the first case, criminals lose all of their rights and are the absolute lowest class. In the second case, they and all of their offspring must be sterilized and join the non-breeders.

Select non-breeders are chosen as advisors based on their expertise in specific fields, such as the sciences. They also act as teachers, medical professionals, caregivers, and adoptive parents. In terms of the public education prior to adolescence, teachers may not know which students are breeders and which are not. Students much choose to “come out” eventually about their status once they have reached puberty, as this will mean separation from their peers and removal from the education system.

While adoptive parents (non-breeders) aren’t supposed to know the status of a child, it is not uncommon that they find out, and this will sometimes result in conflict and manipulation. This is a criminal offense that results in the child being removed from the parents.

When becoming an adult, the breeders go off to a resort city where they are provided with housing, food, pre-natal vitamins, and all forms of intellectual venture related items like art supplies and books to keep them happy. The work of the non-breeder class pays for this (and the former breeder class). And… I have a huge diagram about how the economy works in this society because a set amount of currency came with this society when they landed and started the colony. This doesn’t mean that counterfeiters don’t pop up, eventually.

In the economy, to allow for optimal success rate, Breeders are given no reason to stress and are encouraged to explore their passions openly from painting to water polo – whatever floats their boat as long as it doesn’t involve alcohol or anything that could affect their body adversely. In return for having their passions encouraged and patronized by all subjects that pay taxes, breeders must contribute a mathematically agreed upon number of babies to the world based on the breeder’s age at onset of puberty.

One conflict idea I had was that there would be a trial run of young adult breeders given the option to opt out and instead work alongside sterile humans to pay their taxes and can change their minds until they hit menopause once they hit a population maximum.

In order to become part of the voting class a woman must have produced at least one child (or however many are necessary per person to maintain the population) and men must not only have a long history of participating in sperm donation but whose genetic material must have been used at least once.

They match eggs and sperm using statistically based genetic profiles of the individuals collected at birth. When a match occurs a woman goes to pick up her fertilized eggs using IVF, then she gets pregnant, gives birth after gestation, and breast feeds until she decides with an adviser that the child is ready to be weaned. At that point they review adoptive parent applications. If a child is not placed, the child is raised in a group home, attend a public school like everyone else, and proceed on through the social steps. “

So… that was a trip. c_c

I rarely write Science Fiction. Partly because I write dystopian Science Fiction. Specifically. And this is a genre that was… TL;DR discouraged to the point I stopped.

I’d like to change that.

I Published A Book

I published a book! The hardback is available for purchase through the printer, and the paperback is distributed through Ingram Global Distribution, which unfortunately has a mysterious turn around time of no one knows because it is unpredictable.

L'identité Politique
L’identité…
A Collection Of Poetry
By Lo Potter
Photo book
 

Reviews are greatly appreciated. I haven’t made a Goodreads page for the collection yet. I’ll work on that.

Eight Dark Aesthetic Items I Found At Ikea

Update: if you enjoy this post, please consider supporting me by buying a copy of L’identité Politique or by contributing to my Ko-fi.

**This post is not sponsored by anyone. I’m making this for fun because I’m spending way too much time on Ikea’s website lately. These images are from the ikea website and link directly to the products they are referencing. I do not own these images, nor am I the seller of them.**

I have not lived within a day’s drive of an Ikea in over three years. This means that Ikea is a new and exciting concept all over again. Now, I’m going through and finding all of these products that I am not going to buy, but I can aesthetically appreciate.

  1. Upplaga Eating Combination
UPPLAGA Eating combination 6

I really like the delicate printed flower design in a minimal black and white. It pairs nicely for anyone trying to bring in a Victorian revival look.

2. Ruskigt

RUSKIGT Decoration, penguin blue, 5 ½ "

This statue confuses me. It’s labelled in the description as a penguin. So, um. Sure. If I ever get one, Pengowl is going to sit in all of its majesty as my new mascot.

3. Lindrande

LINDRANDE Decoration, earth globe black, 11 "

Is everything okay, Ikea? We know 2020 was hard. And, I enjoy jamming to the Rolling Stones after a bad day too. I admit, this definitely falls under the “dark aesthetic” category.

4. Knoppäng

KNOPPÄNG Frame with poster, garden, 16x20 "

I admit it. I’m into “dark academia” (a sub-category of dark aesthetic) and this falls under that. The retro printing lithograph look of the lighter poster and the white on black look of its corresponding match makes a delightful pair.

5. Tillagd

TILLAGD 20-piece flatware set, black

Have you ever wanted to make sure that even the utensils used in your kitchen echoed the darkness from within your soul? Well, you’re in luck! Ikea has decided they too would like to dine on steel like the shadows of night. Very modern. Very sleek. Definitely black.

6. Björksta

BJÖRKSTA Picture and frame, Misty landscape/black, 55x39 ¼ "

A misty framed image of trees in a landscape. This will accent any wall and provide a nice image to gaze at and let your mind wander as you’re daydreaming about death, decay, ghosts, spirituality, and the great philosophical existential questions that plague the human race.

7. Bakhasare

BAKHASARE Bookend, flower black

As an avid reader of books, I often need book ends. This is a product I am actually buying and desperately hope works. While also coming in an option with red flowers, I find that the all black variant is simplistic and fits in beautifully with the other dark aesthetic items I’ve already shown (even though I’m not buying them). I will resist the urge to put googly eyes on them because that would ruin the potential for my cat to get epic pictures with them.

8. Dalfred

DALFRED Bar stool, black, 24 3/4-29 1/8 "

This artistic swiveling stool is certainly dark and sure to take a reader on wild turns if they get thrown off balance. Am I considering it as a potential desk chair? Maybe.

That’s all I have for everyone today. I’m attempting to get back into the habit of writing daily about *something* in a public way. This may mean mundane listicles and I am sorry. Feel free to berate me – some good-natured cajoling via heckling may do me some good.

A Sky Without Stars: Light Pollution & Human Health

Photo by Caleb Woods on Unsplash

The daylight hours stretch and yawn – extending themselves into the blue edges of the night. I awaken to stars and remind myself that soon they will change – my navigable position on this planet under a glittering sky. This intergenerational knowledge passed into my mind as a child is far older than anyone in my family can remember. My grandfather taught my father and they taught me. Should I ever be lost, wait for nightfall and gain orientation by listening to where the night sky tells you to go. This comfort of belonging and knowing my place in the world is the definition of solace. Cities and light pollution strip me of a knowledge so ingrained in my neurological system I can barely explain with verbal language how I know where to go. I become disoriented.

It took my first trip to the antipodes for me to understand this fully, and not for any reason related to light pollution. Instead, when I stared up into the sky, I failed to orient myself with any landmarks. Gasping for breath in the consuming sea of stars, to gain footing I required the Southern Cross. And even with this point established, it was no Polaris, not in the way I knew or expected. Over my time in New Zealand I gained orientation, at one point finding myself in a forest of glow worms with a full dark sky above. As I traveled elsewhere in the South Pacific, the Southern Cross failed as my anchor.

Having watched and photographed galaxy rises, my back against the earth as it hurdles through space, I ponder the impacts of light pollution on those with celestial navigation as a part of their blood, be it land or sea. Before city lights, for hundreds of thousands of years, humans evolved, watching the stars and orienting ourselves alongside their existences, giving their clusters names. We immortalized warriors, kings, ethical dilemmas, and the foundations of our beliefs in Super Novas, Neutron Stars, White Dwarfs and so many other identified and yet to be identified or understood dots of light filtering through our atmosphere from billions of light years away.

And now we can’t see them. Nor can our children. Nor could many of my peers during their formative years. But what impact is this having on our health?

In December, 2020, the Southern Economic Journal published the first ever study on the link between premature births and light pollution. This showed a 12.9% increased likelihood of preterm birth associated being able to only see 0.25 – 0.33 of stars visible under dark sky conditions. Skyglow, as measured by Walker’s Law (the sky-glow intensity from a light source is approximately proportional to the distance raised to the −2.5 power), has a direct impact of fetal health. Premature birth increases the risk of neonatal mortality. Premature birth of a child is closely associated with postpartum depression in mothers.

But this is not the first time researchers have raised concerns about the link between light pollution and impacts to human health. In 2011, the journal Medical Hypotheses published a review article on light pollution’s disruption of circadian rhythm potentially contributing to the rise in obesity. These impaired metabolic processes relate to circadian gene expression conserved through all mammalian species that regulate at least 10% of our genomes, including those of household pets. This article discusses the comparative obesity problems observed in domesticated animals (including horses!) living alongside humans under light pollution conditions. Going into more detail the health impacts of circadian disruption, the article mentions studies on shift work’s impacts on the release of hormones such as insulin independent of lifestyle choices by individuals. Shift work’s negative impacts on health, while linked to light pollution by exclusion of other causes, has additional epidemiological evidence to back it up. Let’s return to that question of gene expression and focus on the metabolic gene clock. Yes. That’s the actual name.

The International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health published a review Lighting in the Home and Health this month (January 2021). Focusing on the impacts of types of lighting and its impacts on human health they concluded that though not enough studies exist at this time. Their review found suggests insufficient natural lighting increased risks for infectious diseases, injuries, and self-reported depression. While reviewing artificial lighting, they divided the data into multiple categories: fuel based lighting and electric lighting. While fuel based lighting was associated with adverse health from the toxic effects of the burning fuel (asthma, increased risk of respiratory infection, etc) and potential physical injuries, the lighting provided lower self-reported depression with even minimal usage. However, the toxic effects of the burning fuel varied greatly based on the fuel, whereas the increased infection risk remained constant among electric light users. Artificial lights were found to be associated with increased incidence of farsightedness in some children.

The strongest impacts from artificial lighting came from its use after dark, impacting sleep quality and subsequently health. The most notable health impacts from prolonged exposure to artificial light (regardless of lifestyle) at night included primarily metabolic disorders such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, and dyslipidemia in elderly populations. This raises a concern: are these sensitive populations, indicating a more serious underlying issue the rest of society is experiencing?

In the 1950s the Circadian Resonance Hypothesis was proposed by Pittendrigh and Bruce and published in Nature. This stated that an organism’s overall fitness is proportional with the coupling of its internal circadian rhythms to its surrounding environment. While very few studies exist focusing on the impacts of artificial lights and light pollution on human health, many do exist focusing on the negative impacts on the ecosystem, biodiversity, and wildlife. Need I remind everyone reading this, humans do not exist in an isolated vacuum from the ecosystem and are in fact likely experiencing ill effects much like any other mammalian member, though our niches within that ecosystem may vary.

As I consider my future living in another city where light pollution drowns out the stars leading me home, I begin plotting my respite escapes for the sake of my own health. What more can I do until policies change and we find alternative solutions that let us turn down the lights?


Thanks for taking the time to read my writing! If you enjoyed this essay, please take a moment to like, share, and/or comment. It helps others find it and read the scientific articles I’ve linked.