Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #179

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #179

Chapter Ten

ALLIES

… James Ferrell and Herbert Love come to Bristol not knowing what to expect, harboring hope that everyone would come to their senses…

Just because there are chinks in Blountstown armor and the Quincy cavalry is on the way, the battle of the border wars is just being joined. Blount has given over his prisoner… to his counterpart across the river in Bristol, but his son’s girlfriend is not about to be retrieved from her retreat to the Gulf Coast.

Old Road sign-001 Herbert Love and James Ferrell have given the antagonists an hour to correct their wrongs and also draft a summons, approved by the district judge, for Hannah Fielding, the comely 17 year old daughter of a wealthy businessman from Bainbridge, Georgia; explaining why they were heading south into the panhandle, to a clinic that secretly performs abortions for women like her, whose family dare not find out. They were taking a shortcut in life, while taking the vaguely familiar Rock Bluff cutoff. But the time it saves, it takes the life of the driver, an unborn child and threatens to turn the young women’s upside-down.

James and Herbert come to Bristol not knowing what to expect, harboring hope that everyone would come to their senses. Of course that is too much to ask of Hank Blount, however legal or reasonable the occasion. The person, who is responsible for this mess is nowhere to be found, but Willy is, looking like a shiny new Indian Head penny and awfully happy to see his boss and likely his lawyer.

For a moment, just sitting in the jail cell with Willy, getting his side of the story is appeasing, though what they hear is even more disturbing than they had feared. It makes them wonder what would have happened if the victim had not been Charlie Blount. Regrettably, Willy may have ended up in the same jail, awaiting a similar fate, because of the color of his skin.

Summons   More importantly, the one witness to the accident is curiously absent and the witness to the acts of rescue, by the accused, is mute.

“If you are going to continue holding my client, you will have to produce Miss Fielding and the two men who executed the arrest,” Ferrell demands, sporting a legal document. “This is a summons from Judge Grant, 12th District Circuit Court of Florida. If you do not produce these witnesses posthaste, Willy Campbell is to be set free, pending a trial in the 12th District.”

Sheriff Hansen has already had enough of this case, especially after what he knows goes on across Southern Justicethe river and the firing of that county’s sheriff. If he could, all charges would be dropped, but he can just picture a Bristol building mysteriously blowing up. “I have been informed by Calhoun County authorities that Hannah Fielding is out of town, the traveling salesman has moved on and the sheriff has been fired for insubordination.”

“That being the case, we are authorized to take possession of prisoner, Willy Campbell.” The iron barred door swings open. “You may expect a great deal of attention concerning this matter, by officers of the court and the newspapers. Have a good day.”

“Bigotry and Corruption in the Old South Blountstown/Bristol Florida will make a good feature for the Pearson-Eastman Journal, of which I am a part owner.” Love will see to it.

  “I’ll be looking forward to it.” The tone of his voice does not match the upbeat words.


Alpha Omega M.D.

shortcut-home glenn-porter

Shortcut Home by Glenn Porter

Episode #179


page 166

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #178

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #178

…I would rather be a beat walking cop on the streets of New York, enforcing the truth, than to be the sheriff in a corrupt county…

Officer Dibble

Top Cat Beat Cop (Officer Dibble)

“You don’t have that Clete punk in custody and some hotshot lawyer is calling the shots. Not in my lifetime.” Hank Blount has been blinded by his usurped power and his racial predisposition.

“I wouldn’t underestimate them.”

“Them?”

“They are employees of Herbert Love. Did you really expect him to stay out of it?” Straight talk usually doesn’t work with Blount, because he always has a way around trouble. “But that’s not the worst of it. The lawyer wants to talk to Charlie’s girl, Hank.”

“You know she is on her way to Panama City. She ain’t pregnant anymore and she won’t be around to tell her story. I am not in the mood to hand over the nigger and that little tramp is history. We’ll have the only witness, the guy who saw them trying to leave the scene of an accident.”

“They saved the girl’s life by prying open Charlie’s roadster and you know how fast he drives.”

“Do you like having a job, sheriff? I butter your bread, so you best decide which side you are on.”

Upon further review, weighing conscience and justice, the Calhoun County Sheriff removes his badge. “You’re on your own, Hank. No way am I goin’ to be part of this big a lie.”

Company Town-001   Blount turns to fraud. “Be out of your house in 48 hours. The Bank of Blountstown is calling in your loan. You should have made last month’s payment on time.”

“I told you why we couldn’t, the new baby and all…”

“You better be more loyal in your next job, if you get one,” Blount supposes.

“I may not get a job, but I am sure the district judge will listen to what I have to say.” The sheriff turns the tables. “And it won’t stop with this case.”

For as long as anyone can remember, Hank Blount is without slick retort. His unopposed power seems to be eroding, because of a previously least threatening source: a black man, in a hopelessly incriminating position.

He never calls “his” sheriffs by their names, not wanting to get to know them or their families, in full realization that he may discard them, for the slightest insubordination, at any given moment. “Perhaps I have spoken in haste, sheriff. I know what they teach you in police training, but sometimes you have to skirt the law to achieve justice.”

“Justice? Upholding the law is why I became a peace officer and I have come the conclusion that there is little of that in Blountstown. I would rather be a beat walking cop on the streets of New York, enforcing the truth, than to be the sheriff in a corrupt county.” There are times when morals trump money. “I don’t know where I’ll be sleeping two days from now, but I can assure you that it will be with a clear conscience.”

“They are going to ask why you resigned.”

“I will tell the truth. You will make up something.”

The sandy soil of Calhoun County is shifting as fast as did the bedrock in San Francisco; one is already being reconstructed, the other may not see that day in a Blount’s lifetime.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Welcone to-001

Episode #178


page 165 (end ch. 9)

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #175

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #175

 …By the time anyone notices it missing, Clete is thundering up Route 12 and the safety of Quincy, Florida…

“Now go get that Clete idiot, before I elect another sheriff!”

Clete Wilsup is no fool, a little slow maybe, but not dumb enough to think he his in the clear. After he was let go, he made a bee-line across the bridge connecting Blountstown to Bristol, each are seats for their respective county, prepared to put as much distance between him and trouble. He does make one important stop: at the Liberty County Highway Department where he sees the Mack truck parked inside a fenced area, next to the smashed Chadwick. The one thing authorities had not counted on was the spare key in the bottom of his right shoe.

Under the cover of darkness, in a town whose wooden walks are rolled up at ten o’clock, the mesh fence is no match for the Mack truck. By the time anyone notices it missing, Clete is thundering up Route 12 and the safety of Quincy, Florida. He is fearing for Willy with every piston stroke. “I gotta get to Mr. Love. I’m ain’t stoppin’ for nothin’,” is his anthem.

At the Gadsden side of the Liberty County line there is a line of cars blocking the road, two or more private cars being checked inside and out. That tells Clete that they are probably looking for him, but don’t know he has the Mack.

“I ain’t stoppin’ for nothin’, so you best scatter boys,” he advises without letting up on the throttle.

In the range of his headlamps, is a frantically waving constable. The look of terror on his face is priceless, with five tons of 10 gauge steel bearing down on him at full speed. Clete sends him flying, as well as two police cruisers. A hail of bullets bounces off without effect.

Quincy 8 Mi    Just 8 more miles to Quincy.

          At mile seven the engine sputters, bringing the truck to a stop. “You can stop truck, but I ain’t.” It runs on a finite amount of fuel, he is running on adrenaline. In the voiding black of this moonless night, across a long flat expanse, he sees the bobbing headlamps of five cars. It is after midnight and he must assume to be the object of their haste.

Time to test his cross-country skills. He has never been there, but he he knows that Herbert Love lives somewhere to the west of Quincy, north of Route 12; on one of the oldest farms in all of Florida, with two huge equine statues at the head of a mile long driveway. Willy told him that it was a twenty minute walk from the ice plant, just after Seminole Ridge.

Poor Willy. Will he ever work for Love again? Clete cannot fathom the possibility.


Alpha Omega M.D.

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Episode #175


page 162

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #173

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #173

…The Calhoun County Sheriff applies handcuffs to Willy, without bothering to find out who was driving….

Protocol for accident situations is in its infancy, but one commonality involves involving the law.

“How come you dint tell him I was doin’ the drivin’, Willy? I ain’t goin’ to let you take a fall for me.”

Driver Licence (old)-001 “You ain’t got a license ta drive dis truck, Clete, justa car. They may throw you in jail.”

In the midst of noble intent, there comes a faint groan from the smashed auto, the first sign that it contains a driver. Willy leaps into action without hesitation, running to fetch a tire iron from its popped trunk.

“Get the bar from out the truck seat, quick like, I think we can free this door (grunting) pry on the bottom?”

“I think it’s workin’ Willy! Try a skinch lower–here she comes–pull with your hands.”

Car accident (old) That last effort finally swings the blood stained driver side door open. The painful moans are coming from the female passenger, not the driver, witnessed by his crushed skull. Between them, they pull him out, carefully placing his lifeless body to the side of the road. They are even more careful with the woman, who is suffering from unknown injuries; Willy had learned triage during his stint rescuing hurricane victims.

Shortly after completing the extrication, the police sedan peels onto the scene, a Calhoun County insignia painted on the door, closely followed by the salesman, who was true to his word. The first thing they see is Willy looking inside the expensive auto.

  “What do you think you are doing, boy?” The sheriff looks sideways at what he thinks are questionable motives.

   “The lady over there is askin’ for her bag,” he explains.

   “Are you sure you weren’t stealing it?” He is wary.

    “Please take her to a doctor. She says she is with child.”

        “Not before I take you in for killing Charlie Blount.” What a cruel coincidence.

          He applies handcuffs to Willy, without bothering to find out who was driving. “I hereby deputize you,” he pulls out a star from his pocket, handing it to the salesman. “Take both of them to the Calhoun County Jail. I’ll take care of Charlie’s girlfriend.”

          “Willy wasn’t drivin’, sheriff!” Clete is distraught.

          “Don’t be lying for that nigger, son. I have a witness who tells me different.”

 “He was tryin’ to move the truck off the wreck. I got us in this mess, when…”

 “I don’t want to hear it! Take both of them away.”


Alpha Omega M.D.

by Holly Crabapple

Episode #173


page 161

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #172

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #172

…The once speedy roadster goes no further. Its top is cut off like a can of vacuum packed food and there is no chance that whoever is under the rear deck of the Mack could have survived…

The sign had read “ROCK BLUFF 3 miles”. Had it not been for the narrowing of theOld Road sign-001 roadbed, he may not have noticed their wayward path.

“I’m sorry, Willy, I weren’t doin’ good though, eh?”

“You was, Clete.” Willy scouts for solid enough ground to make a Y-turn. If they put the truck on sand, they would be soon be on foot. “There! Puller in befo’ the bend……and give that horn a good pull.”

If there were a cemetery nearby, the occupants would think the gates of heaven were being opened, so loud the report.

Pulling off the road is easy, but Clete has yet to configure the gears to reverse and gropes unsuccessfully for the R slot in the H shift pattern. Willy has to help.

Driver School-001“It’s right… there!” One gets a “feel” for gears, which comes with repetition.

Flush with success, Clete causes the truck to lurch backward, without the recommended pull on the air horn and before Willy can confirm a previously empty roadway. It had been… ten seconds before.

From out of the roar of the 100 horsepower comes the screeching crunch of metal, the same novel chorus of sounds being repeated throughout the country. The only difference is that the Mack is an immovable object.

     The once speedy roadster goes no further. Its top is cut off like a can of vacuum packed food and there is no chance that whoever is under the rear deck of the Mack could have survived. There is equally little chance that they can pull forward, but they try anyway, with Willy at the wheel. The truck will not loosen its grip; they can only drag the Chadwick Six along and under.

Clete waves off any further attempts to free the shiny white auto, when a Model T headed for Rock Bluff stops to help.

“My God, is anyone alive in there?” asks what appears to be a traveling salesman, peering into a slight opening spewing smoke and steam.

“Ain’t heard nothin’ since they run into us, goin’ faster than Casey Jones’ train.” Clete describes what he did not see.

 “When did this happen?”

  “Ain’t been ten minutes – we’re tryin’ to get away from the car.” (fearing an explosion)

  “You were going to cut and run?” accuses the confused man.

   “Oh, nosir, nosir, we hada see ifin anybody is livin,” pleads Willy, already flustered and distraught.

   “Well, I am going back to Bristol to locate the proper authorities. I believe it is the Liberty County seat. So I recommend you wait here for us to return.” It is a stern warning by a concerned citizen, just a little bit suspicious of a Negro driving a new truck. For better or worse, he is mistaken.

Episode-001


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #172


page 160

Kitchen Hacks = Good | Computer Hacking = Get a Life!

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The Most Egregious

Hack(er)s

of All-Time

Image result for computer hacking gif

We are fortunate to live in an incredibly advanced age, where we can buy things on Amazon and have them at our doorstep within a day or two, instantly communicate with anyone around the globe, and have access to precisely all of the “crying Michael Jordan” memes ever created.

But with that massive power at our fingertips comes immense responsibility and an even greater need for security. Hackers have wormed their way into the very fabric of our lives. Sometimes the damage can be fixed with a simple virus protection program. Other times it can bring a country to its knees. These are some of the most egregious  hacks ever unleashed upon the world.

10. The Bitcoin hack

Cryptocurrency is a concept that not a lot of people understand, let alone use. But the people that use it, really use it. Basically, it’s a digital currency that uses encryption security measures, and is independent of a normal bank. There’s no physical, tangible money. You might ask, “but that doesn’t seem like it’s real,” and we would probably agree.

Nonetheless, many people online have fallen for adopted cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, though those numbers may have dipped since a major hack in 2018 by cyberthieves. A major Bitcoin company in South Korea lost about 30 percent of its virtual money holdings, which led to about a 30 billion dollars loss for cryptocurrency overall in just seven hours of trading. It caused the price of Bitcoin itself to drop around 7 percent almost instantly. This is all interesting, in that the very idea of cryptocurrency is its inherent safety, which is paramount online. The fact that an encrypted digital currency can be undone in a day of hacking raises strong concerns about its longevity.

9. The Conficker worm

2008 may not seem very long ago, but in the digital age, that’s like decades. Whole hardware and operating systems that were ubiquitous at the time have been rendered obsolete. So it’s strange to hear that a simple computer virus that was prevalent at the time is still loitering around the digital wasteland.

The Conficker worm was discovered in 2008, when it infected around 15 million computers due to its ability to be shared easily, and spread through software and removable media devices. This virus is different, though. Conficker doesn’t even steal data — it’s method is to spread to as many computers as possible and disrupt things that way. And even as recently as 2017, there were several million successful infections of computers. That’s some serious service time for a bug. One of the most common ways it happens are unpatched computers on a network. Word to the wise: those annoying software updates are your friends.

8. The Iran nuke hack

The 1983 Matthew Broderick movie WarGames dealt with the vulnerabilities of military systems to motivated hackers. In the film, he toyed with the defense department and eventually scared the pants off everyone, making it seem like a Russian nuke launch was imminent. You would think the systems in place to make a nuclear winter possible would be secure enough to not be susceptible to computer shenanigans, right?

Well, the country of Iran would tell you it’s not that absurd. In 2010, a virus named Stuxnet invaded their nuclear systems, a product of Israeli-American computer wizardry. The virus targeted Iran’s centrifuges, which helped to enrich uranium that would be used for nuclear weapons. The bug would spin those centrifuges until they busted, all while reporting everything was normal. Eventually, up to 20 percent of the country’s centrifuges were useless. And this was over the course of a couple of years. Everything was going fine until Israel ramped up the program to be more aggressive, and Iran became wise to the plan. It has since set off a rash of hacked public services and secret government programs around the globe. All hailing from a tiny virus no bigger than 500 kilobytes.

7. Spamhaus

The Spamhaus Project is an organization whose entire purpose is the tracking and fighting of spam. They hate spam. The group scours the internet to find the worst of the spammers and compile them into a list. Some estimates put their success rate at 80 percent. 80 percent…of all the spam that gets blocked, like, ever.

One group that drew the ire of Spamhaus was CyberBunker. CyberBunker stores the data and content of literally almost anyone except for “child porn and anything related to terrorism.” Their words. Spamhaus blacklisted CyberBunker, claiming they allow themselves to be used as a host for megaspammers. CyberBunker didn’t react well to being ostracized, and though they claim they had nothing to do with it, someone likely took their side and initiated the largest cyber attack in history. In what’s called a DDoS attack, where a website is flooded with requests to the point of crashing, Spamhaus was knocked offline and Internet around the globe was slowed down. A reported 100,000 servers were used to inundate the site, and more bandwidth was taken up than any other attack ever attempted. That is a serious overreaction to wanting less ads for genital enhancement in peoples’ inboxes.

6. The Melissa virus

Ah, the growing pains of the early Internet Age. It seems so innocent, but even as your AOL connection page starting screeching its demonic language, there could have been one of the early Net viruses worming its way into your prehistoric computers.

The Melissa virus of 1999 was a document widely shared online, in which there were promises of all sorts of passwords to get into paid porn sites. The document attachment to the emails were opened, a bum Microsoft Word doc opened, and the Melissa virus took over from there. It would then hack into the user’s email program and mass-send itself to fifty of the recipient’s contacts. There wasn’t much those days that was sensitive on peoples’ computers, but it did wreak havoc on the business world, shutting down servers at companies as big as Microsoft. All told, the virus hit up more than a million computers and affected 20 percent of North American businesses, while racking up $80 million in computer damages.

5. The Fappening

Surely it’s not surprising that in the digital age, people are taking advantage of apps like Snapchat and other texting options to send each other photos of their nether bits. It becomes an even bigger deal when we find out celebrities are doing the same things we are. Going back to leaked sex tapes of Kim Kardashian and Pam and Tommy Lee, the spectre of celebrity genitalia sets the world on fire. But nothing on the level of 2014’s mass image dump of hacked iCloud photos, lovably known as “The Fappening.”

Almost 500 photos were leaked to the notorious 4chan site of celebrities in the buff, stolen from private iCloud accounts. Apple itself has seemingly had the reputation of being a closed system that is much more difficult to hack, but those responsible were well-versed in a technique called “spear phishing”, which involves gathering all the personal info on a target possible to hack their sensitive material. The FBI was quick on the case, eventually tracking the work to a few hackers spread throughout the United States, and they earned varying prison stints for their actions.

4. 2016 FBI hack

One Justice Department employee’s email account. That’s all it took for a hacker to become privy to every single person who works for the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security. From that compromised account, he was able to download roughly 200 GB of incredibly sensitive info, like a real version of the Mission: Impossible NOC list. He then tricked a DOJ rep into giving him access to the database itself.

The names, rank, and personal information of nearly 30,000 employees who work in a very guarded profession immediately had their cover blown. Phone numbers and email addresses were made public, and the hacker stated he had credit card numbers as well. The hacks were apparently done by someone with pro-Palestine sympathies. That someone, it turns out, was a 16-year-old teenager living in England.

3. One writer at Wired has his whole life erased and all his gadgets frozen in minutes

Mat Honan was a tech writer for the Wired site in 2012. When hackers wormed their way into his Google account, he became a nobody. In the space of an hour.

At first, the hackers made eight years of email correspondences vanish. They took to Twitter next to issue homophobic slurs and racist rants, before deleting photos off of his Apple devices. They invaded every corner of his digital life. Think of every interaction or post or photo you’ve been a part of in your existence on the Internet. They thought of that too, and made him basically disappear, digitally speaking. Once his Apple ID was compromised, they remotely erased every single thing throughout all of his devices.

He could have stopped the hackers in their tracks early if he had utilized the extra layer of security Google offers (his fault), but once they started exploiting security lapses within Amazon and Apple, they were able to unleash much more damage (not his fault). Through it all, the hacker, known as Phobia, was in constant contact. Phobia still hasn’t had to pay for his actions, though investigators may be getting closer to finding out his identity.

2. OPM hack

We mentioned earlier how FBI and Department of Homeland Security personnel information was severely compromised in 2016. Well, just a year before that, another government agency found that they had been hacked. This time, it was the Office of Personnel Management, which is in charge of all the civilians working for the U.S. government.

The OPM’s IT department came across the hack first, when they noticed a bunch of forms used for background checks for their employees had been whisked away. And by a bunch, we mean millions. Oh, and they fingerprint records, too. The hack itself had been in progress for the previous two years, and the OPM was actually onto them by 2014, but allowed them to keep working to gain intelligence on them. Unfortunately for millions and millions of civilian government employees, this extra time just allowed the hackers to gain more and more clearance into the OPM’s systems. The attacks were blamed on China-backed hackers, and in 2017, a Chinese man was arrested for reasons related to the OPM hack, even though it wasn’t directly stated.

1. DNC and election hack

There has been a veritable storm of crap related to Russia and just how far they got influencing the 2016 U.S. presidential election. It’s such an all-encompassing story and the tentacles spread so far that it’s almost impossible to wrap one’s head around the main crux of it all: that election systems in every state and the Democratic National Committee itself were hacked in 2016, and that Russian hackers were likely behind it all.

DNC servers had Russian digital fingerprints all over it, it was discovered in June that year, and had likely been compromised for almost a year. Using malware, they published documents clearly meant to turn the elections in the Republicans’ favor. It went further. Other hackers went after the election cyber infrastructure located in each state, attacking them and pulling voter registrations and sample ballots. And while it’s not clear if they were able to actually change votes, we may never know just how far the hackers made it into one of America’s most revered institutions.


Kitchen Hack = Good

Computer Hacking = Get a Life

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #142

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #142

…Aw heck, Judith, you know I’m just a small town paper guy. I am grateful for any scraps you send my way…

Small Town Boy-001

“Now that was one hell of a picture!” asks Harv Pearson of Judith Eastman. The two of them have been literally attached at the hip since their serendipitous meeting. Together they are taking photographic journalism to another level. Pictures taken at the Pan-American Exposition are gaining form in one of the three baths of liquid in this very dark room. A dim red bulb allows them to see their work, but little else.

“I was actually setting up for John Philip Sousa. When I heard the shots I turned the tripod, approximated the angle and snapped.” The President had not reached the ground in the aforementioned image; a moment frozen in time, for human eyes to see, now and forever.

“You do realize that you have a pretty good look at the gunman…..here?”mckinley_assassination-P

“I thought so,” Judith agrees, “though at first that bandage on his hand looked like real wound dressing”

“So, how many duplicates does this make?” This particular picture is in great demand, making Judith an Eastman known in her own right. She is not exactly Matthew Brady, but neither is he and dying in a charity ward like him is not in her long-range plans.

“Ten, but do you remember what a time we had getting the government to release it for publication?”

“Don’t remind me. All my articles on the assassination ran with file photographs of McKinley.”

“Well, how soon we forget,” she quips with mock indignation.  “What about all the other pictures of the Exposition, including everyone and his brother with the President! Were they but chicken feed to you?”

Harv does his best backpedal, lest he be banished from her good graces. He can ill-afford to lose either her technical skills or her friendship, especially since he is not far from expressing his undying love for this incredible woman. If you throw in the national magazine the pair is envisioning, he cannot let professional considerations to be divisive.

Quincy Reporter-001“Aw, heck, Judith, you know I’m just a small town paper guy. I am grateful for any scraps you send my way.”

“Don’t give me that poor old country boy routine.” She parts the dark to embrace him, fully appreciating that authentic charm. His nose for news and unfailing loyalty do not hurt his chances either. “Hurricanes and assassination and who knows what else have given you the most respected by-line I’ve seen in years. Your name has been mentioned in the same breath with Horace Greeley. Small town, my eye!”


Alpha Omega M.D.

Small Town America by Tom Brown

Episode #142


page 130