THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 51

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THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 51

…The Gifted wish to project themselves as mythical; today the jig is up…

Related image

As far as O is concerned, Ekcello learns that Cerella and the McKinneys had spotted it in another galaxy. To fully comprehend every side of the subject, he subjects himself to that menagerie of beings over in the Spaceflight Expository, the escaped Null included. That a Null is the only Eridanian to have seen O , he is deeply disturbed.

Out of learned respect, Skaldic bows. He is a crowd of one, of those Null having stood in the presence of the Supreme Elder to the High Council. A representative image of Ekcello, looking nothing like this, would appear on their screens whenever any planetary information was to be shared with the isolated tower. #Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain#

The Gifted wish to project themselves as mythical; today the jig is up….

Skaldic is the Null most feared in the eyes of the Gifted. His story {history} is well known. That he dare choose to let his gifts to languish is stuff of legend.

“Can I assume that the rest of the Null are under your control?” That Ekcello concedes Skaldic’s authority is reciprocal respect.

Skaldic relates the story, “With their own eyes they have seen the world of the Gifted. But the hookahs did pose a threat to our stability and I was forced to restrict the rest to the Null Tower. But they have tasted and they have seen. The status of the Null Tower is an issue that will need to be discussed in the future.”

“You are to be commended Skaldic. Self-restraint is a necessary quality in any leader. I recognize you as the Supreme Null,” Ekcello proclaims.

“Is that like being the tallest midget?” Sampson whispers to his daughter-in-law.

“You are witnessing history in the making, father to Deke,” her assessment of this newfangled collaboration is accurate.

This is big – Eridanus big.

Ekcello reaches out for Skaldic’s firsthand observation of O .

“I did see O next to our former home world, but only for the shortest of time. I do not know how long it had been there. It did not show itself on our sensors,” Skaldic relates.

“Three cycles, it appeared three cycles past. It is the cause of our neutralization. We know not what it is.” Ekcello cannot relate.

What the Gifted do not know is impossible to quantify. It’s like, ‘You’ll know it when you see it.’ They didn’t see O,   but it did drive them into silence.

The term: O  is now common in their 4 separate lingoes; not a word, more of a foggy notion.


THE NULL SOLUTION

Episode 51


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THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 25

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THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 25

…There must be a clue in this somewhere…

Clues – Painting by Harmen Steewyck (1612-1656)

–The 1st order of business for Skaldic is to look outward, away from the bounds of Eridanus’ clammy atmosphere. Unable to uncover details from the distance past, he senses the need to access the resources available in the Spaceflight Expository, the physical engine of this star system’s view of the Great Expanse.

During his initial glimpse out, with his naked eye, he notices a bright reflection near the old, scorched home world O . He has never seen it before, but that doesn’t mean much. Nulls have little reason to look up. Before he can get a lock on it, it is gone.

It wasn’t all that long ago that the great Eridanian explorer {not Sampson McKinney} led his family, Cerella Heiress to the High Council and the Defender out in search of answers to the same questions. But Skaldic has no way of knowing these things, just like knowing what strange things are lurking hereabout.

He does use what is available to him there. Backtracking to the “big freeze” moment, one cycle hence, he fires up the global diary. The diary is an independent recorder of what is/has, present/past goings on for posterity’s sake. As much as the Eridanians want to pretend that they are isolated among the nebulae and black holes in their neighborhood, the warp signature of their Defender has pricked the curiosity from some parties afar.

He references the “big freeze” in the archive. He is surprised at the undistinguished nature of that specific timestem. There is nothing unusual in 2052.50, just the freezing of the Gifted.

“The High Council would not leave us in the dark,” he reasons, “not without warning us. There must be a clue in this somewhere.

When in doubt, you slow things down for a better look, which he does. Hidden in a fraction of a second, the narrowest of elapse, is the briefest torrent of light

“That is it!”


THE NULL SOLUTION

Episode 25


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THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 24

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THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 24

…With the Gifted, white-cloaked & motionless, shut down like some many windup toys, the initial Null reaction is to help themselves to the things reserved for the Gifted…

Wind-up Toy Set – set of mini still life oil paintings by Marilyn Fenn

Much to Skaldic’s dismay, the only period of time resembling this one, was while Eridanian explorers were still roaming far into space. There is even a vague reference to a ship that was lost forever. Much music was composed in the spirit of grief. In a language comprised of melody and tuneage, the collective sigh of a civilization is there for all to hear… but no details, just an untold cycle gap between tragedy and enlightenment.

Just what happened during those many cycles? Nothing, that they were willing to make an accounting of.

So like bees fleeing the hive, the Null come out from their restricted tower. Most every one of them was born non-telepathic. Some were afflicted by a brain short-circuit. All are rejects.

Skaldic the Null, however, chose to be this way; no good reason, he just chooses 100% verbal. Rumors claim him to have a tin ear, which would make it hard to communicate with anyone at all, though he has managed and actually excels to this Related imagemoment.

With the Gifted, white-cloaked & motionless, shut down like some many windup toys, the initial Null reaction is to help themselves to the things reserved for the Gifted, aka personal possessions, food and hookahs. Hookahs are the strange devices the Gifted use to expand their limits.

Hookahs would not help the Null cause whatsoever.  The effects would send their minds past the edge of reality. Skaldic categorically forbids any use of said devices. Looting too is halted posthaste. There may be hell to pay if/when the Gifted revive.

He goes about the process of forming a coalition of trusted Nulls. Though acquainted with most, he counts those he can rely on, on one digit.

This situation requires equals, not peons. The majority of his kind has settled for the status quo, secure in the knowledge that they are taken care of. ‘Why should we struggle to attain anything greater?’ has been the mantra for untold cycles, going back to before the times that Skaldic is looking into.-


THE NULL SOLUTION

Episode 24


page 28

Far-flung Farcical Fallacies – WIF Superstitions

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 Strangest Superstitions

From Around

the World

superstition is essentially anything you believe with no actual good reason to believe it. It is the opposite of science and logic and, in fact, science and logic will tear it apart. So you ignore the science and logic because maybe one day you wore blue socks and got a raise at work, so now you believe wholeheartedly that your blue socks are lucky and make you money.

Historically, whole cultures have come to adopt some of these superstitions as legit beliefs and fears based on coincidence, anecdotal evidence and maybe just a fervent hope that the world has some more mystery in it than we can see. Here are some of the weirdest of the bunch.

10. Opposing Mirrors Welcome the Devil

Having a mirror facing another mirror is a cool effect and the reason the hall of mirrors in a funhouse is in a place called a “funhouse” to begin with. It messes with your head, creates an endless hallway of fun, and also provides an effect used in far too many horror and action movies to even begin to count.

But apparently none of those were filmed in Mexico because you do not want to have one mirror face another mirror there. According to Mexican superstition, when a mirror faces another mirror you’re inviting the devil in by creating a threshold of doorway for him to enter your world. Maybe all of those horror movies with mirrors in them were on to something after all.

9. Filipino Pagpag

Pagpag is a fun word if you don’t know what it means, but in practice it’s a little grim. From a Filipino superstition relating to funerals, pagpag is what you might call the safety procedure you need to engage in before going home after a funeral or wake. Once you’ve left the somber affair, you go to a restaurant or a mall or wherever. Anywhere but home. You don’t even need to do anything at this place, you just need to be there.

Why? The bad energy and negative spirits you picked up at the funeral will follow you to the mall instead of your house. Does that mean that Filipino malls are all haunted? We can only assume.

8. Don’t Whistle Indoors in Lithuania

Whistling is a good way to call your dog or pass the time if you and your six dwarf buddies are in the mines pulling out gems. It is not, however, anything you want to do when you visit Lithuania, at least not in anyone’s house. Etiquette in Lithuania is fairly conservative and even making eye contact with strangers is the sort of thing that is frowned upon, to give you an idea of how things go there.

But kicking it up a notch is the belief that whistling indoors will not only summon your dog, it will attract the attention of little devils as well. That’s not a metaphor or a euphemism, either. It’s just the genuine belief that demons of small stature might invade your home after being beckoned with a simple whistle.

7. Never Toast with Water

Everyone likes a good toast at a wedding or some dinner party that takes place in the middle of a movie, but there is some etiquette regarding how to best pull this tradition off. For instance, you better be making your toast with anything but water lest the Ancient Greeks start spinning in their graves.

According to superstition, the dead would drink from the River Lethe in Hades and that water would wash away all their ties to the mortal world. Drinking a toast with water in the living world was therefore akin to cursing someone to death or, at the very least, cursing yourself to it. How that was different from just having anon-toasted drink of water was probably up for debate, but typically a toast is meant as some kind of a blessing, so it would be a backhanded curse to use the beverage of the damned for it.

6. Upside Down Bread Invites Death

Have you ever heard that toast will always fall butter-side down? It’s not a superstition, just an unfortunate and sometimes true observation that can ruin your breakfast. But if we were in France that toast would potentially be some seriously bad luck because how you situate your bread holds some extra meaning there. Bread or baguettes left upside are believed to invite death.

Why’s that? Well, some folks think it comes from executioners having the right to snag something for free from a shop if they grabbed it with one hand, and bakers leaving loaves upside for them so other shoppers would know not to take it. Nowadays, if you leave a loaf upside down, you’re inviting death to come and take from you and who wants that?

5. Lucky Poop

You’ve probably never felt entirely lucky to step in dog poop if it’s ever happened to you but maybe you should have. Word is the French have divided stepping in dog poop into two separate scenarios that you can experience based on a very weird superstition. If you happen to land your right foot into some dog plop you’re doomed to a life of dismal awfulness. However, if your left foot hits the pile well, then call your friends and family because good luck is a-comin’!

Russia is the source of a similar superstition you may have heard about birds. In this one, it’s considered good luck if a bird poops on your or something you own. Why would that be lucky? Well, the odds of getting hit by bird pop seem to be slim so by some definitions of the word lucky, you really are lucky if you get pooped on by a bird. An alternate theory is that it’s incredibly unlucky to get pooped on or to step on it and these superstitions are at least a small way to try to ameliorate the grossness by suggesting something good will come from it.

4. Outdoor Knitting Prolongs the Winter

In North America we all routinely engage in the very odd yet annual superstition that a groundhog has the ability to determine whether or not winter’s going to last an additional six weeks or not. Why? No one bothers to ask anymore but it stems from an old Pennsylvania Dutch belief that the groundhog seeing its shadow would lead to prolonged winter, itself borrowed from a similar German belief about badgers which in turn may have come from the belief that clear weather on Candelmas means an extended winter.

Regardless of why we believe what we believe about meteorological rodents,  it spawned a really entertaining Bill Murray movie so we go with it. And that’s not the only superstition about winter overstaying its welcome in the world by a long shot. According to an Icelandic superstition, if you decide to sit on your doorstep and do some knitting in the winter, you’ve just prolonged that terrible season. Hopefully the afghan you made was extra warm.

3. Yo-Yos Lead to Droughts

Most superstitions have an aspect of history to them, they’re ancient and relics of a bygone era. You can almost understand them insofar as they’re so old you can’t blame the worlds that created them because they didn’t know the science that explained so much of the world. If people thought black cats were unlucky then oh well, so be it. But what about a superstition about yo-yos? How do you account for that? According to a 1933 article, Syria outlawed yo-yos because there was a severe drought at the time killing cattle and crops. And while everyone was praying for rain to fall from the heavens and save the day, the yo-yos of the world were going down just like rain, but then being all deceitful as they flew right back up again. The leaders at the time decided this evil influence was to blame and yo-yos were banished. Police were even told to confiscate them on site.

The Onion didn’t exist in 1933 and the paper, the Barrier Miner from New South Wales in Australia, seemed like it was on the up and up. So while the story is absurd, is it any more absurd than thinking a broken mirror brings 7 years of bad luck?

2. The Hairy Goat Curse

If you’re of the carnivorous persuasion and have never eaten goat you should really give it a try, it’s quite tasty. That said, this was not something you could have recommended to women of the past in Rwanda thanks to an insidious superstition there about goat meat. According to the story, back in the day it was very taboo for a woman to dare eat the meat of a goat for fear she might take on that most unladylike of goaty characteristics, a full on beard. They’d also take on the goat’s habit of being stubborn. So a beard and a bad attitude which, you can imagine, no woman would ever want.

Where does this belief come from? This may be nothing more than speculation but, with women unable to eat the meat, it meant that only men were enjoying it. And that does seem like a good way to be greedy and hoard all the delicious goat for yourself if you can convince everyone else it’ll cause them to grow beards.

1. Never Speak the Name of Carlos Menem

Have you ever heard of Carlos Menem? From 1989 to 1999, Menem was the President of Argentina and his legacy is a nearly Hitchcockian level of menace and bad luck. People will refuse to even say the man’s name for fear it may bring about another round of misfortune as though he were the Candyman or Voldemort.

Argentina endured an economic crisis in 2001 for which Menem, though he had been out of office for two years, is often blamed. But that’s at least a “normal” explanation for why people might dislike Menem. His legacy goes far beyond poor financial planning.

When Menem became President, two of his appointed ministers died early deaths. Had Menem cursed them? Well, apparently. And he was just getting warmed up.

In 1990, Menem patted a soccer player’s knee. He later broke that knee. Menem jinxed tennis players, race car drivers, famous dancers and singers, and even a boat racer who shook Menem’s hand and then lost his damn arm in a boat crash.  Some people even blamed him for an earthquake. And it wasn’t just others. Menem cursed himself, suffering a failed marriage and the untimely death of his own son. No one seemed safe from the man.

Thanks to the never ending stream of nightmarish coincidences and misfortune Menem became the embodiment of all that is unwanted and sinister in life. To invoke his name was to ask for bad times. So people don’t do it.


Far-flung Farcical Fallacies

WIF Superstitions

When Intentions Do Not Match Results – WIF Government

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Government Programs

That Went

Horribly Wrong

(USA)

The government is necessary and most of the time they should be trusted — at least (and especially) your local government. You need police, firefighters, and even bureaucrats and tax collectors. However, sometimes the government makes it hard for people to trust them. Whether through malice, or just plain incompetence, sometimes the United States government‘s best laid plans and programs went horribly wrong, and caused massive damage… or even deaths. In today’s article, we will go over 10 programs or agencies that have caused serious and lasting harm.

10. Smokey The Bear Helped Create More Massive Wildfires

Smokey the Bear is one of the most well known mascots of all time, except instead of being the mascot for a major sports team, Smokey is the mascot for United States natural parks, and all of US wildlife and forests in general. Smokey was conceived by the United States government decades ago in order to spread awareness about the importance of putting out your fires, especially old campfires and the sparks from your cigarettes. His famous line “Only YOU can prevent forest fires” is catchy and known by many outside of States.

However, despite the best intentions of the government, Smokey the Bear has actually done a lot more harm than good at this point, and with how much death and destruction recent wildfires have caused, the entire thing is no laughing matter. Because the campaign worked a bit too well, people became so obsessed with putting out tiny brush fires — even natural ones — that not enough natural clearing was occurring. This meant that when a wildfire does start now, it usually has way too much fuel to help it keep moving, whereas otherwise it might have choked itself off because dry brush was regularly burned out naturally.

9. The Fast And Furious Scandal Ended Up Giving More Guns To The Cartels

Fast and the Furious was a scandal that caused a lot of damage to the Obama administration’s reputation, and especially to his attorney general Eric Holder. The federal government knows the cartels often come across the border, buy lots of guns, and then sneak them across the border again to use in wars with other drug dealers and even their own government. Now, the United States government has long tried to prevent this, but the Obama administration got another idea.

They figured that if they knew this reliably happened so much, instead of putting all efforts to stop it and get gun stores to be a bit more vigilant, they actually decided to pull a trick on the cartels. They allowed a whole bunch of gun sales, with the plan to track the guns so they could figure out where in Mexico (or elsewhere) they were ending up, and who ultimately was using them. Now, this could have led to valuable intelligence, and if they had managed to track the people down and get the guns back, it would have been a successful operation. Unfortunately, it became a scandal after it became public that the government had completely lost track of the guns, making the entire operation a complete waste that just made the cartels more powerful.

8. The War On Drugs Is A Colossal Failure And An Enormous Boondoggle

The war on drugs was started back in the Nixon era, and ramped-up to even more of a fevered pitch during the Reagan years. In fact, Nancy Reagan, the First Lady at the time, even made it her mission in life to go on a campaign against drugs, with her famous slogan, “Just say no.” (Something that basically never worked for any teenager under peer pressure… ever). The idea was that if we put enough government dollars into restrictive laws and prison sentences, cracked down hard on the gangs and on individual dealers, and went all out against the drugs as if we are actually at war, we would make a huge dent and get lots of people off drugs. However, the truth is that all the facts suggest that the “War on Drugs” was a colossal waste of time and money.

Despite all the arguably unfair prison sentences for small drug offenses, the bigger issue is simply that the program has not been effective. Even though an incredible amount of time and money has been spent, evidence shows that over the years, access to drugs has become cheaper, the cartels and drug dealers are making more money, more people are doing drugs, and the problem is actually getting worse. It doesn’t help that legal drugs like opioids helped create an entirely new black market for getting high and ruining your life.

7. The Housing Projects Cemented Segregation

All the way back in the FDR years, the United States of America saw a need for more low income housing for poor urban citizens — which is often code for black people. Now, there were a lot of ways this could be done, but the government did it really the wrong way entirely. Obviously, we don’t know for sure what their intentions were, but the effect was devastating for the black community, and helped codify segregation permanently into the very infrastructure of the United States.

The housing projects were all put in the same city blocks, and were closely packed together. They were not spread out within different zip codes throughout the big cities, as would make more sense, and none of them were built in slightly wealthier zones, to help uplift the poor people coming to live in the projects. Instead, they chose more run-down parts of the city, and closely packed the housing projects together.

Because cities’ tax revenues are based on the riches of its citizens, small cities that have a lot of housing projects tend to have very little money to fix anything, have nice schools, or even keep the city up. And because moving is so expensive, most people born in the projects will simply never get out.

6. Poisoning People During Prohibition

The prohibition era is a well known time from America’s history, and perhaps one of the biggest mistakes in modern history. It is well known that a huge new class of drug cartels spawned due to prohibition, and it didn’t even work. The federal government was annoyed that people kept finding ways to flout their decree, and wanted to force people to behave — or else. They devised a plan to teach people that alcohol WAS bad for them, even if they didn’t think so, and even if they had to put bad stuff in alcohol that wasn’t usually in it.

So, they figured if they poisoned a bunch of bootleg alcohol, people would get sick stop drinking due to the dangers. They poisoned a bunch of alcohol from industrial sources and denatured it, making it unsafe to drink; then, they just waited, knowing the bootleggers usually used those sources. Tens of thousands got sick and thousands died, at least according to most estimates. The government did not admit until later what they did, and it is hard to know for sure just how many hospital stays and deaths were caused by this irresponsible and deadly action by the United States government.

5. FEMA Keeps Failing At Basic Disaster Management Over And Over Again

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #153

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #153

… No one listening to this fiery man of God, on that hot June day, really believed that Ezra Elijah is his real name…

Ezra Elijah-001

– Leon and Gadsden Counties, Florida, big business is small and bustling city life is not. If Tallahassee were not the capital of its state and it did not have the two universities, the area more closely resembles southern Georgia or Alabama or Mississippi.

San Luis Lake-001 But it is not and that is a good thing, though as 1902 replaces 1901, there is still widespread poverty in the entire South, including Tallahassee, Midway and Quincy.

The Ferrells, John, Martha and Agnes, operate on the fringe of all that is bad, their place in the community tied to the locations of their three groceries. The neighborhoods are representative of the typical Southern mix; from the affluent Capital Hills to black Frenchtown and not much in-between.

At home on San Luis Lake, they are insulated and isolated from the people they serve. Some would say on the fringe of reality as well.

Once upon a time

      John Ferrell has busied himself juggling his two very different worlds, managing to keep them separate, apparently by the infinite grace of God. For a man who can be formerly categorized as a two-timer on both religious and personal fronts, (attending church at Christmas and Easter, in addition to having children by wife Martha and Laura Bell), he has experienced a revival of such proportions that neither his wife or Laura Bell know what to think, though they do not dare turn down the blessing. They can thank a traveling Protestant evangelist named, Ezra Elijah of the American Bible League, barnstorming Florida with news of the redeeming grace of Jesus Christ; grace being a gift from God for those who believe in him.

No one listening to this fiery man of God, on that hot June day, really believed that Ezra Elijah is his real name, but after listening to him speak on heaven and hell, all they can think of is where they will go when they die. Most of the Tallahasseans watching and listening to the figure, on the back of a well-traveled wagon, are there by happenstance, curiosity seekers like John Ferrell. A core of bible toting black women knew of his coming and are escorting and exhorting him along his way, as far as their faithful walk with God will take them.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Marvel Comic’s version

Episode #153


page 141

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #87

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #87

… James is seated quite near his sister, just now beginning to notice how fetching this woman is at this moment…

fetch·ing

ˈfeCHiNG/
adjective
1.  attractive.

2. etc…

attractive, appealing, sweet, pretty, good-looking, lovely, delightful, charming, prepossessing, captivating, enchanting, irresistible;

bonny

“Give me fifteen minutes to get ready.”

He nods his approval.

Agnes allows herself to melt in the warmth of the moment. She is so taken, that she can feel the perspiration trickle between her amply bestowed breasts. Her sweaty palms are more easily dealt with, a lace hanky doing the job.

San Luis Lake-001

James could not be more oblivious to any of the signals his sister secretes, now or in the past. He merrily steers the one horse wagon down the well-worn path to the north side of San Luis Lake. About half way around the two-parcel oval body of water is a short bridge spanning an equally small stream of tributary water. A large cypress tree provides ample shade, natural cooling in a subtropical climate. It is here that Agnes and James stop. She produces a blanket to sit on and a container of fresh squeezed lemonade, summoning James to her favorite spot.

San luis lake4“Come and sit with me,” she urges after spreading the blanket. She seats herself in the middle, dispersing the skirt of her dress symmetrically and looking every bit the part of a classic Southern belle.

“It is so comfortable here, like God’s gift to please and soothe.” She fans herself coquettishly.

   James is seated quite near her, just now beginning to notice how fetching this woman is at this moment. They do not come prettier than his Abbey, whose looks match her age. Agnes Ferrell, on the other hand, is a classic, in the mold of Venus de Milo; beauty that defies biological age. He never thought of her as beautiful until this moment. He is battling his hormones, in the face of a frontal assault on his emotional equilibrium and previously unthought-of of taboo.

Agnes wastes no time. It is apparent that she has been fantasizing about this moment-opportune for quite some time, now at the point of zero inhibition. She embraces her brother with un-sisterly talent, drawing him over the top of her, helping him gain access to her virginal womanhood without petticoat or panty. She consumes his tongue with a kiss for the ages, removing the final psychological obstacle to her end.

James has forgotten the reasons for their country dally and before he can say a word, his pants have traveled past his ankles and Agnes is moaning in intense pleasure. Never mind that he has exactly the same sexual experience as his familial partner, nature has taken its crooked course. James Ferrell loves his sister, though not the way God intended or society would understand.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Agnes & James-001

Episode #87


page 80

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #86

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #86

… Martha Ferrell, finds great humor in their exchange, breaking into joyful laughter, a sound not heard here for quite some time..,

“I wish you luck, son.” John Ferrell knows that Agnes will not take the news about James’ plans with Abigail very well. He does not quite why, he just knows. He fears for his daughter, who has the deportment of a woman in her fortieth year, fully twenty-two years down the line.

James tarries little about that comment, instead fresh with euphoric feelings of love and the grand plans of a promising life. He seeks out Abbey, who he has taken responsibility for the care and well-being of, hence lessening the duration of her own minor episodes of catatonia.

He interrupts a lesson on the art of being a top notch research assistant; more valuable nuggets that will serve the soon to be Abigail Smythwick-Ferrell Ferrell well, very well..

   “Pack your bags Abbey, New Orleans here we come!” picking her up, spinning her around gleefully. He speaks of the colorful city in Louisiana, known for flights of fancy. In this case, it will be a honeymoon destination.

“We have three weeks to wait and we have to be at Harvard the day after we are to return, so don’t you think we should concentrate on packing for that?” she reasons.

      “You are such an organizer!”

Abigail Smythwick

Abbey

Sweetheart Tree-001

Sweethearts

          “And you are the dreamer. I must make sure that those dreams come true.” In the case of both Abbey and Agnes, it is a shame that they have grown to womanhood in an almost pioneer way; spawned by necessity of the times and fueled by the determination of survival.

          “Well, I’ve been dreaming of a life with you since our days at Maclay Park, back when you were a flat-chested freckle-faced skinny girl.”

  “Why James Ferrell, I should wash your mouth out with soap!” threatens the victim of his recollection.

Martha Ferrell, who is on the perimeter of the room, finds great humor in their exchange; breaking into joyful laughter, a sound not heard here for quite some time. Welcome clatter emanates from the Hillside home, serving to greet Agnes, who is now returning from her store duties.

“To what do we credit such a happy sound?” she inquires of the three.

“James and Ab…” Mother catches herself.

“James would like Agnes to join him for a ride over to the Endlichoffers. Joseph should have the carriage hitched and ready to go.” He wants to scurry off to the surrey that fringe on the top.

“What is the occasion?” she slows him down, asking, though none is needed when she is alone with James, with Abbey joined at the hip.

“I have a surprise I want to share and we have not spent much time together. I thought a nice ride on this beautiful summers’ evening.”

“Give me fifteen minutes to get ready.”

He nods his approval.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #86


page 79

Telling Us How to Think – WIF Mind Games

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20th Century

Philosophers

(And What They Believed)

There’s a joke about a degree in philosophy where the people majoring in it get asked, “would you like fries with that?” Getting a degree in philosophy is supposed to be such a waste of time and money because philosophy ostensibly does not provide a utilitarian skill set. This claim was compellingly countered by Atlantic magazine in 2015, which found they had an average mid-career income of $82,000. It indicates that while philosophers can seem like marginal people — if not frivolous — they can make their contributions felt even while we mock them.

This list will be focusing on philosophers from the previous century. Philosophers from two or three centuries seem to get all the attention, not to mention all the philosophers from about two millennia ago. Some of these names will be familiar.

10. Ludwig Wittgenstein

Born in Vienna, Austria in 1889 to a wealthy family of musicians, in his youth the strongest desire of Wittgenstein’s heart was to work in engineering; specifically as it related to the infant technology of motorized flight. Wittgenstein happened to get hung up on pure mathematics and went to Cambridge to be taught by Bertrand Russell himself. It would be during a 1908 retreat in Norway, in a cabin he built, that Wittgenstein would have the inspiration for the “Picture Theory of Meaning” that would make him famous after he fought in World War I and got a job as an elementary school teacher for six years in 1920 because he’d divested himself of his inheritance in 1919.

Wittgenstein laid out the Picture Theory of Meaning in his 1921 book Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, which in brief said that unless a statement could be translated from an abstraction into an “arrangement of objects” then it had no meaning. It was a literalism that could be expected of a philosophically-minded engineer and which he also applied to the classroom, having students perform such hands-on learning as constructing models and dissecting animals (and applying corporal punishment to a degree that compelled him to lie about it and quit his job).

Wittgenstein reinforced the point of applied philosophy with his other book of philosophy that’s held up as a classic, Philosophical Investigations from 1953. Wittgenstein claimed that ethics and logic are inextricably linked, and that actions were the only way that a person could follow their ethics was to act on them. In his own words, “It is not possible to obey a rule ‘privately’: otherwise thinking one was obeying a rule would be the same thing as obeying it.” It’s a harsh rebuke for people who claim to be above others by not participating in the world around them, or who convince themselves that what matters is who they are “on the inside.”

9. Hiratsuka Raicho

For this philosopher born in 1886, her feminist beliefs that would one day change the face of Japan were initially born more of religion than pure humanism. She had been taught that the Buddha claimed all people were equal, and naturally that meant all the women must be equal to men despite lacking key civil rights. It wasn’t until she read the work of Ellen Key that she began to think of women as deserving equal rights for purposes of autonomy and individualism. As she wrote in her autobiography, women had been “the sun” but society had reduced them to “ …a wan and sickly moon, dependent on another, reflecting another’s brilliance.”

The single most significant action Raicho undertook was founding and editing Seito, a literary magazine, that ran from 1911 to 1916. She continued campaigning after seeing the appalling conditions of textile factories, which tended to employ primarily female crews. In 1920 she founded the New Woman’s Association. They were able to almost pass women’s suffrage in 1921, and in 1922 successfully pressured the government to amend the Public Order and Police Law. Although her goal of suffrage wasn’t achieved until 1945, her efforts still got her elected president of the Women’s Federation in 1953. In 1908, she scandalously accompanied her (platonic) best friend to a mountain for a ritual suicide with an attitude of curiosity about what it was like to die, and because she suspected her partner would lose his willingness to kill himself when push came to shove. It was the sort of combination of deep conviction and apathy to social pressure that is often significant to bringing about change.

8. Noam Chomsky

There are two movies about long-term Massachusetts Institute of Technology linguist Noam Chomsky that, between them, encapsulate his two main areas of interest: Manufacturing Consent from 1992, an analysis of the profit-driven and narrative-driven media and US foreign policy, and Is the Man Who is Tall Happy?from 2013, a collection of interviews Michel Gondry wherein Chomsky’s answers or asks philosophical questions about how language shapes thoughts and memories practically since his birth in 1929, all of which are illustrated/animated in Gondry’s intentionally rough and child-like style.

Chomsky’s core beliefs relate to how controlling media (news coverage, commonly employed phrases and the words that back them, etc.) can be used to create public approval of what by basic human nature would not be acceptable. Back in 1968 in a televised debate with William Buckley (who threatened Gore Vidal on air), he argued how the US government arguing the military was occupying South Vietnam for the good of the Vietnamese was an excuse used since Ancient Roman conquests. Manufacturing Consent also devoted much of its run time to how the media would withhold coverage of the Indonesian invasion of East Timor because it served elite interests to ignore it. One of the core values of Chomsky’s political commentary and his stated views on language is to always question the narrative being provided. He goes so far as to say that in his childhood during the 1930s he went to a school that was well-suited for him before he went to high school because he was given freedom in classes to question instead of going through a highly regimented curriculum.

7. Jacques Derrida

Lately you hear the word “deconstruction” thrown around a lot in regards to media with some form of meta-commentary (e.g., a superhero movie where the filmmakers have the characters comment on the supposedly fascistic power fantasy nature of superhero narratives within the movie’s dialogue). We can attribute the popularity of that phrase to a man born in French-Algeria in 1930; a man who flunked his own exams to become a licensed Parisian philosopher in 1952. Badly flunked, too: A score of five out of twenty, and he choked disastrously on the written portion. He would need three attempts to pass in 1956, and after some time in the military he spent decades teaching. It was while working in education that he would write the essays that made him famous with the English-speaking world.

If Derrida’s philosophical insight that made him so influential were to be reduced to a logline (and bear in mind that this is someone who wrote 70 books and countless essays), it would be to critique other writers who claimed they were being objective. Derrida said that was functionally impossible, as the education any analyst had received would introduce biases that would impact their views one way or another. That claim is a rebuke to every school of thought, even Chomsky’s “question everything” philosophy. It argues there are limited a very limited number of questions a person will ask and narrow-minded ways they will be asked, the limitations being set by the person’s upbringing. Derrida’s seemingly detached central tenet didn’t mean he avoided controversial opinions, since he was an admirer of Karl Marx and Nazi Party member Martin Heidegger.

6. Judith Jarvis Thomson

Whatever your views on the abortion debate, there’s no denying Thomson’s influence over the issue in the United States of America. Born in 1929, by 1969 she was a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy. In 1971 she wrote “A Defense of Abortion” and went a long way to reframing the debate in a manner which put the feminist movement behind the landmark 1973 Roe V. Wade ruling. Its influence and controversy has led to her essay being dubbed “the most widely reprinted essay in all of contemporary philosophy.”

The most momentous passage of Thomson’s essay is a metaphor. Thomson asks the reader to imagine they woke up on life support (the reader’s kidneys being used to support the life of a violinist in a coma), and the reader is being used for this process because they’re the only matching blood type. While the violinist certainly has the right to life, Thomson asserts that the reader would also have a right to their own body and potentially their own life. In so doing she reframed the debate from focusing on the rights of the fetus to those of the parent. This is hardly her sole contribution to the philosophical landscape, such as her redesign of the famous Trolley Problem (i.e. the moral quandary about whether it’s inherently better to take action to kill one person and save five) but the 1971 essay remains her most momentous piece of writing.

5. Jean-Paul Sartre

Born in Paris in 1905, his body of work would, by the time of his death in 1980, includes books and plays such as Being and Nothingness and The Flies, which were key to spreading existential philosophy around the world. His most famous play, No Exit, coined the popular expression “hell is other people.” Sartre rejected the label of existentialist for a time, and in 1964 he rejected the Nobel Prize in literature, criticizing its Eurocentrism (he came to regret this latter rejection in particular, saying he could have donated the prize money to an anti-Apartheid committee in London). Also in 1964, he renounced all literature as a substitute for taking meaningful action in the world.

Sartre was a nihilist when it came to human nature, as he outlined in Existentialism is Humanism. He argued that human beings, as autonomous and sentient entities, have to define themselves as they live, and they do so through their actions (as Wittgenstein did). Sartre was not positive about this state being, calling it “anguish.” Little wonder he felt Hell is other people.

4. Giovanni Gentile

The inclusion of any figure on this list is not an endorsement of their views. we want to be made especially clear in this case, as in 1932 this Italian philosopher born in 1886 was literally a co-author for The Doctrine of Fascism with Benito Mussolini. Meaning, of course, that he indirectly helped write the blueprints for much more destructive German fascism. He created a philosophical movement of his own known initially as “actual idealism,” which was shortened to “actualism.” It was largely an extension of the work of nineteenth century philosopher Georg Hegel.

Gentile argued that objective reality was unknowable and that individual identities were an illusion, which in turn he argued meant that the only way to find value was to bind oneself into a larger group. In a sense it’s a form of nihilism since everything outside the group is unquantifiable and thus can’t have a value, giving people within the group tacit approval to subjugate any outsiders however they please.

3. Ayn Rand

Few people are as well known for their contradictions as this bestselling author born in Russia in 1905 who created the Objectivist movement. She is highly lauded in right wing circles despite being aggressively pro-choice. She believed only in wealth redistribution through private charity but is very often mocked for accepting social security near the time of her passing in 1982. Her books The Fountainhead, We the Living, Anthem, and Atlas Shrugged are all endlessly derided and bought. Despite how far out of fashion her writing style and subject matter have fallen she remains popular enough that blockbuster director Zack Snyder plans to make a film adaptation of The Fountainhead.

It is often asserted that the Soviet government’s seizure of her father’s pharmacywhile she was a child inspired her to design a philosophical framework of her own which is often referred to as Randianism but which she called Objectivism. Objectivism argues that the best way for humanity to proceed is for everyone to act in their rational self-interest. People will act ethically because it is in the best interest of capitalism for them to treat everyone ethically, so that others will treat them ethically. Morality cannot be forced on anyone, and to use the threat of physical violence to compel people to act morally (e.g. to use the threat of arrest to coerce citizens to give tax money that would be used to help the needy) is itself amoral.

2. Leo Strauss

Leo Strauss has not become a household name since his death in 1973. Even among the circle that knew him at the time he was more polarizing than most. Strauss is more influential because he was read by a few at the top than by many at the bottom or in the middle. From Gerald Ford to the Bushes, his work was taught and discussed in the White House itself every time there was a Republican in office. Even William Gaston, a domestic policy adviser to Bill Clinton for two years, was a student of him.

Strauss believed that human beings do not have natural rights, and are inherently unequal and thus shouldn’t be treated as if they are. He argued that society needed to have its “noble lies,” which was what Strauss considered religion, so that the lower classes would remain productive. He said science and philosophy must be the “preserve of a small minority” because science and philosophy are attempts to replace opinion, and opinion is “the element in which society breathes.”

1.  Albert Camus

Like Derrida he was born in Algeria, though in Camus’s case in 1913. He also shared with Derrida a soft spot for communism, though that was out of his system by the time he was in France and made his name. Derrida is said to be the father of deconstruction, Camus is credited with being one of the fathers of absurdism as a philosophical movement, even if he rejected “armchair philosophy” in favor of going out and living life to the fullest.

Camus’s first published book is 1942’s The Stranger, a novel about a sociopathic man who neither cares at his mother’s death nor understands why everyone else does. Accused of premeditated murder, what actually gets him sentenced to death is his apathy and atheism. Before his execution he tears into the priest sent to receive his confession, and manages to find peace in accepting the meaninglessness of life.

His most famous book, and his winner of the Nobel Prize in literature, is 1947’s The Plague. A story of a bubonic plague epidemic in Oran, Algeria (based on a cholera epidemic that hit the town in 1849 and metaphorical for the presence of the Third Reich in France) it’s the story of how society is broken down so that people isolate themselves in the hopes of riding the plague out and others fight against it. Even though Camus treats the struggle against the plague as absurd, it’s clear that the resisting characters have his sympathies.

Camus’s other work of nonfiction is The Myth of Sisyphus, a 130 page essay published in 1942 about the character from Greek mythology who is condemned to forever push a boulder up a mountain, a task impossible because in some versions it will always roll back down or just can’t be moved in the first place. Camus argued that this was a perfect symbol for the human condition: Forever pointlessly struggling since the inevitability of oblivion hangs over everyone and everything at all times. So why not commit suicide instead? Rather than reaching a dour, nihilistic conclusion from that, Camus said “one must imagine Sisyphus happy.” After all, he does have an eternal sense of purpose. In its way, Camus’s absurdist philosophy is a optimistic and accepting form of nihilism.


Telling Us How to Think –

WIF Mind Games

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #51

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #51

…Fort Sumter South looks like the countryside of Gettysburg, the day after the battle…

Fort Sumter3-001

The Fall of Fort Sumter South

The road back to Tallahassee runs right past Sumter South, at least close enough to Delivery Truck-001see the Mansion far in the distance. Herbert Love precedes the Ferrell Grocery “Freedom Express” in a Love Dairy & Ice wagon, loaded with supplies. He needs to reach the plantation ahead of the truck, if the smoke screen is to work, that is. Just what kind of reception he will get, when he gets there, is up in the air.

As he approaches the area, a thick black haze hangs thirty feet above the ground. Upon closer view, every structure is flattened. Even the grand three story main house stands amid the smoke. It is a sad scene for foes and friends alike. An evil empire has been reduced to ash and rubble; never in anyone’s wildest dreams.

Oddly, there is no person, white or black, to be seen. Farm animals wander unattended, cattle or horse not knowing what to do in area unfamiliar. It looks like the countryside of Gettysburg, the day after the battle, without the military corpsmen on both sides searching for anyone who may still be alive.

That was the view from the road. Love steers his ice wagon down the lane leading to the main house. Magnolia trees line the way, paired every twenty feet. How fragrant this path must be in spring. The team of horses is reined down to a slow pace, no urgency is indicated. Every appearance points to complete vacancy.

About mid-drive he hears the whimpering of a female cry. Where she is is not as obvious. He applies the wagon’s brake and dismounts to investigate, having seen nothing from his higher perch. After a minute of silence, sobs reemerge but not from the ground, rather from among the large leaves of one of the magnolias he was passing under. Peering up the trunk, he discovers a girl, adolescent he guesses, huddled in the crotch of the tree’s largest limb. She is wearing only a yellow nightie, a sure sign that she fled the mansion in a rush.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #51


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