The NULL Solution = Episode 22

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The NULL Solution = Episode 22

…Roy Crippen makes the Secret Service crazy, by being intentionally illusive…

Illusive Man by BloodyDragon117 deviantart.com

President Bassett {#51} is indeed on her way back to Washington, unaware that she has been duped. She has bathed herself in the glory of someone else’s accomplishment. That is enough space-stuff for one day. She has a reception dinner for the East Timorese Ambassador to preside over tonight. The U.S. Ambassador to the former Portuguese outpost is a shirttail relative from her mother’s side of the family. Both of  the Ambassadors and East Timorese cuisine give her indigestion.

“Gus is back on our screens!  Someone let President Roy know… he must be going crazy.”

Roy Crippen makes the Secret Service crazy. The former President is intentionally illusive, like keeping track of an apparition. He believes that security provided to him, or the four odd others of his ilk still alive and kicking, is a waste of precious tax dollars, when they could be given to… say the space program.

Providential is the Word of the Day. Pure dumb luck is the more likely term. But the man is so mercurial; locating him is like finding a ghost impersonating the man-in-the-moon. The USSS does its job.

Today they pinpoint their illusive target, too weak to gather himself, barely strong enough to breathe on his own. How much longer he would have lasted is difficult to say. In the 2:25 it takes for the GLF medical staff to reach him, the USSS agents at the scene resuscitate him twice. The last time he regained consciousness long enough for him to hear the good news, “Gus McKinney is on his way back, Sir,” agent #1 reports. Inspired by the news Prez Roy pushes agent #2, who was performing CPR, off of him in rude fashion. He eschews the gathering and well-meaning med-throng stating, “What in Sam Hill is going on? Where is he?”

{There is no malice intended toward Sam Hill, who used such foul language that his name became a euphemism for swear words.}

“I don’t know Mr. President. Someone told me to tell you when we found you.” Agent #1 should not be apologizing.

“How did you find me?” Roy speaks from behind an oxygen mask, like he was expecting a rescue.

“Francine, I mean the First Lady told us where you like to hide out.”

“Can’t a man die in peace?” He doesn’t mean that, but he does mean this, “Please tell me that Harper Lea Bassett is none the wiser. That’s all we need, more meddling from Washington.”

“You need to settle down, Sir. You just had a serious heart episode.”


The NULL Solution =

Episode 22


page 26 (end ch. 2)

Your John Hancock – Declaration of Independence Signers

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Forgotten Signers

of the

Declaration of

Independence

What elementary school student in America couldn’t tell you about Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, two of the most famous signers of one of the three most momentous documents of American history? Most middle school students could go a little further and tell you about second president John Adams or John Hancock, President of the Continental Congress, if only because of his most prominent signature.

That leaves 52 people who risked execution by making it official that the colonies were, and of right ought to have been, free, independent states whom most people probably couldn’t name. That doesn’t mean they weren’t themselves fascinating figures who are owed more prominent positions in posterity than history has provided them. Let’s do our small part to correct this.

10. James Wilson

A successful lawyer and esteemed judge by the time he became a congressional delegate for Pennsylvania, James Wilson had lent a practical sensibility to the revolution with his 1774 pamphlet “Considerations of the Nature and Extent of Legislative Authority in British Parliament” which argued that parliament had no authority to write laws for the colonies. It had been particularly popular reading among the congressional delegates in the meetings leading up to the Declaration.

Why He’s Forgotten:

In no small part is because of how badly he disgraced himself from 1777 on with gambling, speculation, and profiteering. The fledgling nation didn’t want to draw extra attention to someone like that after he’d served his purpose. He also was accused in 1779 of raising food prices in Philadelphia so high it led to riots that nearly cost him his life. These were the sorts of things that could overshadow a career that had never really become iconic with the public anyway.

Curiously, in the stage musical 1776, possibly his best opportunity to become a household name again, James Wilson is portrayed as voting in favor of declaring independence only as a means of remaining historically anonymous because doing so would be going with the crowd. This is quite ridiculous, as Wilson had clearly been a vocal advocate of separation before votes for independence were even being discussed, but the fact the authors of 1776 got away with it showed how far his star had fallen.

9. William Whipple

A former sailor who’d taken part in the

slave trade in the West Indies, William Whipple at least partially redeemed himself from a modern perspective by being one of the few members of Continental Congress who freed his slaves during his lifetime. During the Revolution he took the rank of brigadier general, distinguished himself at the vital American victory at Saratoga, and lost a leg from a cannon ball in 1778.

Why He’s Forgotten:

One of the contributions to his late life unpopularity was that he took a job in 1782 as the New Hampshire Superintendent of Finance, which unfortunately brought with it collecting taxes. It made him something of a pariah for doing a vital job, but also the fact it was an extremely difficult job (not aided by health problems his lost leg brought on) meant he did not collect enough money to please his colleagues either. Even a Founding Father sometimes cannot escape public scorn just for taking an unpopular but necessary job.

8. Elbridge Gerry

A Harvard graduate who became a merchant, and then was elected to Massachusetts Legislature in 1774, Elbridge Gerry’s main duties during his time in the Continental Congress (aside from signing the most important document) was in the naval and commercial departments. After the Revolution, he was part of the the Constitutional Convention, and came out of it hating the Constitution too much to sign it.

Why He’s Forgotten:

While the man himself is not remembered, he has a sort of unflattering legacy. Following his 1811 election as governor of Massachusetts, it was observed that the districts in his state were drawn to unfairly favor the Democratic-Republicans, which was dubbed “the salamander” by a cartoon in the Boston Globe. Perhaps you’ve heard the portmanteau “Gerrymander” lately in this politically charged climate. It’s the sort of thing that can easily overshadow the rest of a career, however distinguished it might have been.

7. Edward Rutledge

During his time in the Continental Congress as a delegate from South Carolina, former law student Edward Rutledge stood out in two ways according to the National Park Service. For one, he proposed a delay when the motion for independence was first made on June 7. Ostensibly it was to allow the colonies to arm themselves and reach out to foreign powers for alliances. The other way was that he was a mere 26 years old at the time, making him the youngest signatory. Indeed, today he’d be four years too young to even be a member of the Senate.

During the Revolutionary War he joined the army as a militia captain. While he was initially successful at the Battle of Port Royal, during the Battle of Charleston in 1780 he and thousands of other American soldiers were captured. He spent the rest of the war in irons.

Why He’s Forgotten:

Rutledge’s position as a political moderate left him initially opposed to the movement for independence. This has led a number of dramas, such as HBO’s John Adams to paint him as being completely opposed to revolution. It’s really quite unfair, as by the time of the vote he was the one who persuaded the rest of the divided South Carolinian delegates to vote for independence. Still, history found it harder to view the cool-headed, initially incorrect moderate as one of the inspirational founders of the nation, even though he was a military hero.

6. Richard Stockton

This delegate from New Jersey was such a successful lawyer before the revolution that King George III himself expressed a favorable opinion of him. Nevertheless, taxes such as the infamous Stamp Act had left Richard Stockton deeply in favor of independence, and in fact he became a delegate after New Jersey voters learned in 1776 that their original delegates intended to vote to stay with Great Britain, so he was one of two swapped in.

Why He’s Forgotten:

 Stockton was by far the least lucky signatory. In 1776 he was attempting to save his family after the British army invaded New Jersey and was captured. He held out in prison for five cold, agonizing weeks with the threat of execution for treason hanging over him before being offered a pardon in exchange for swearing to not take part in the rest of the war. Stockton accepted and resigned from  Congress, which was viewed as a general renouncement of the Revolution. He went back to teaching law, but tragically he was afflicted with cancer of the lip and lived only two more years, in pain to the end and widely held to be the Benedict Arnold of the Continental Congress.

5. Joseph Hewes

Before he became a delegate from North Carolina, Joseph Hewes was a highly successful sea merchant with a fleet of ships. So while in congress, he was basically one of the resident experts on maritime issues for the colonies. This might sound minor relative to the issues of the fate of nations, but it was actually a much-disputed issue during the debates. During the war itself, he offered his ships to be used for the Continental Navy.

Why He’s Forgotten:

Hewes didn’t survive the war. In 1779, he attended his final session of congress twelve days before his death on November 10. Thusly he was not able to continue distinguishing himself in the eyes of the new nation. His wife had also died in 1766 and he never remarried or had any children, so there was less of a family line to keep his name in the public consciousness.

4. Francis Lewis

Francis Lewis was born in Britain, went to America to found successful businesses around Philadelphia and New York, and became a military contractor. When the Seven Years War was started by George Washington, Lewis volunteered to join the army as an aide to General Hugh Mercer. Despite the relatively safe position he was taken prisoner. At the end of the war he was awarded 5,000 acres of land by the government of New York. Thus when he became one of the New York delegates, he was one of the greatest success stories among the distinguished traitors.

Why He’s Forgotten:

It turned out that the war would cost him almost everything. Long Island was lost to the colonials almost immediately during the war and with it his wife Elizabeth and their estate. His estate was destroyed and his wife treated abominably, the record stating that she had to sleep on the ground for months. Washington himself had to literally threaten to abuse the wife of a British official who’d been taken prisoner, though the long abusive treatment had left Elizabeth Lewis traumatized and she died shortly after. Though Lewis long survived the war, dying in 1803 at age 90, he lost his fortune and fell into obscurity.

3. Caesar Rodney

A former sheriff and delegate from Delaware, Caesar Rodney certainly seems like he should have been one of the most remembered figures to sign the Declaration. He was credited with casting the deciding vote for independence by providing one of two votes among the Delaware delegates for it. On the night before the vote he had ridden 80 miles through a storm to be present. And he also had the best name on this list, if we’re being honest.

Why He’s Forgotten:

Rodney’s vote actually went against the will of his constituents. Even as he made the most important vote of his life, his base turned against him and he was subsequently voted out of office. Public opinion had swung back in his favor by 1782 sufficiently for him to be elected back to national congress but he wasn’t healthy enough to take the office.

On the subject of his health, at the time Caesar Rodney signed the Declaration he was suffering from the cancer that would kill him eight years later. When he made that historic signature it had eaten away roughly half his face. He is thusly not included in John Trumbull’s famous painting of the vote and fits oddly with the way Americanhistorical propaganda tried to deify the Founding Fathers. Even the Delaware state quarter, which features him, does so with him at some distance on a horse. Some people just have to put up with ten times as much to receive one tenth the acknowledgement they deserve.

2. John Hart

John Hart came from such a simple, rustic farm background that the exact date he was born was not recorded except that it was around 1715. From that simple background he still became enough of a success that he spent ten years in the New Jersey state assembly. After that he went from committee to committee on his way to the Continental Congress.

Why He’s Forgotten:

The ink on the Declaration was scarcely dry before extreme hardship befell Hart. Most of all, just months after that momentous event, his wife died on October 8, 1776. He had scarce time to mourn before the British army invaded New Jersey and he became a particularly highly valued target. He had to resort to hiding in caves to avoid capture. Eventually the British gave up the chase and he was able to safely return home. He’d lost none of his patriotism, and in 1778, allowed Washington to camp the Continental Army – all 12,000 of them – on his estate for two days while Washington planned new strategies. Perhaps because of the strain all these horrible events and efforts for his country had placed on him, Hart fell ill and died in 1779. Much too early to take a direct part in shaping the new nation.

1. Robert Morris

Merchants were hardly unique among the members of the Continental Congress. This delegate from Pennsylvania took it a bit further than his peers. During the war, Robert Morris managed the financing and equipping of the Continental Army, but stood to profit immensely because he had all supplies go through his company, and thus the new nation was indebted to him in a more monetary sense than most.

On the other, more benevolent hand, during one of the low points of the revolution in 1776, he loaned $10,000 to the Continental Army to allow it to resupply itself in time to attack for the famous Delaware River Crossing and Battle of Trenton. He later provided credit that allowed the victory at the Battle of Yorktown. He even was one of the original architects of the National Bank.

Why He’s Forgotten:

All of his profiteering caught up with him quickly and alienated many, and in 1779 he was under investigation. Even though he was cleared of charges, criticisms from such iconic figures as Thomas Paine blotted his political and financial career. After the war his bullish financial practices would land him in debtor’s prison for three and a half years, dying in poverty.


Your John Hancock

 

– Declaration of Independence Signers

No Go Zone – Countries to Avoid

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10 Countries

You Should

Never Visit

Travel is a wonderful thing. It broadens your mind, it allows you to explore new horizons, and it can totally end up with you getting super-killed in the nastiest way possible. Yep, despite all you might hear about the awesome benefits you’ll get from going off the tourist track, the truth is that the tourist track is there for a reason: to stop starry-eyed dopes from getting killed. While it’s definitely possible for a seasoned traveler, war correspondent, or international super spy to visit all the following, we strongly suggest that you stay away.

 (Just some a quick note before we start. All these countries are places that would suck for a regular guy or gal to visit at the time of writing in 2017. They might be totally awesome ten years from now, so please don’t take our choices as a lifelong prohibition from visiting. Understood? Great! Then let’s begin with…)

10. Venezuela

If there was a competition for country most-likely to tip into civil war in the near future, the winner would probably be Venezuela. The Latin American socialist state boasts some of the most-spectacular natural wonders on Earth, more history than you can shake a proverbial stick at… and a president who seems hell-bent on driving his nation into the ground.

Soaring inflation has left essentials like medicine, toilet roll and food all but unaffordable. The average Venezuelan lost 19 pounds due to food shortages last year. There are rolling blackouts, paralyzing strikes, and pitched street battles in the capital, Caracas, between protestors and security forces that have killed nearly 40 in 2017 alone. And did we mention the violence? The murder rate is off the charts. As many as 28,875 people may have been homicide victims in 2015, from a population of 31.1 million. That would put modern Venezuela on a footing with Colombia at the height of its drug-fueled civil war.

The list goes on. The US State Department has a hair-raising account of mass-kidnappings, robbery with assault rifles, grenade attacks, and murderous criminal gangs targeting tourists. Despite all this, though, Venezuela’s crisis may yet be solved. If or when it is, one of the most-beautiful nations on Earth will once again be free for the rest of us to visit.

9. North Korea

Perhaps the most-isolated state, North Korea (DPRK) is also the one most-likely to disappear in a cloud of burning ash and nuclear fallout. Since coming to power after his father’s death, rogue dictator Kim Jong Un has tested 3 nuclear devices aimed at freaking out the international community. It has certainly worked. At time of writing, a war of words with the US seems in danger of spiraling into an actual war. One that could get very, very messy.

But let’s ignore all that for a second. Even if no devastating war comes, visiting the DPRK still isn’t one of the greatest ideas. The Kim regime directly profits from all outside visitors. That profit goes towards keeping a network of concentration camps in operation that the UN has called similar to Nazi Germany. Others have said they’re even worse. Crimes by one member of a family can result in everyone being interred, and for their descendants and their descendants’ descendants being worked to death. Tourism helps keep this decadent world ticking over.

Then there’s the issue of personal safety. The DPRK has a habit of arresting US citizensduring politically convenient times (editor’s note: this was written even before a US citizen was detained just this weekend), even when they haven’t committed any crimes. Given what we know about North Korean prisons, maybe it’s better to stay away altogether.

8. El Salvador

Since it overtook Honduras in 2015, El Salvador has had the highest murder rate in the entire world. The pint-sized Central American nation – roughly the size of Wales – has been a killer’s paradise for years. The murder rate in 2016 was 91 killings per 100,000, higher even than in Venezuela. The capital, San Salvador, recorded 137 homicides per 100,000. This was down from a staggering 190 in 2015. By way of comparison, the global average homicide rate is a mere 6.2. In 2015, you were over 200 times more likely to be murdered in El Salvador than you were in somewhere like Great Britain.

Interestingly, as a foreigner, you’re less likely to be targeted than a native. Most violence occurs between street gangs, and kidnappers tend to focus on snatching wealthy Salvadorians rather than gringo backpackers. Hence why we’ve put it way up here at number 8, above countries with demonstrably lower murder rates.

However, don’t let its ranking lull you into a false sense of security. Notorious street gangs like MS-13 have been known to target random buses and brutally slaughter everyone onboard, simply because the vehicle’s owner refused to pay an extortion fee.

7. Afghanistan

Afghanistan has been a basket case for so long now, it’s almost hard to believe it was once a laidback highlight of the “Hippy Trail” between London and Melbourne. Since then, it has become synonymous with bad times and brutality. Even today, 15 years after the fall of the Taliban, this Texas-sized nation of 32.5 million is still the sort of place where you don’t wanna travel without making prior funeral arrangements.

The causes are as familiar as they are depressing. Radical Islamist insurgents and mad warlords are running rampant over huge swathes of the country. The Taliban are experiencing a resurgence. Petty kidnappers are still addicted to the idea of whisking careless visitors away for ransom. In a show of strength, militants recently managed tostorm an Afghan army hospital, slaughtering nearly 40. There are suicide bombings, homicides, and general nastiness galore. Many governments advise against staying in hotels or visiting restaurants in case you end you evening messily splattered across an area the size of a football pitch.

At times, it can seem like peace will never return to Afghanistan. While we’ve no doubt things will one day settle down, that one day could be very far away indeed. Until it arrives, you’ll just have to content yourself with pictures of this tragically beautiful nation.

6. Iraq

Huge swathes of Iraq are still under the control of ISIS’s monstrous caliphate. Even in areas under Iraqi government control, they’ve got a grim track record of attacking and killing hundreds. And you better believe they target foreigners. According to the UK government, non-Iraqis living or working in Baghdad are considered “high value targets.” That means heightened risk of death, kidnapping, or even worse.

To be perfectly frank, traveling to Iraq at this time is more-or-less equivalent to just lying down in a coffin and shouting at people to bury you now. Even the stable, autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan infrequently suffers car bombings and attacks that would be massive news in almost every other country in the world, but barely raise a flicker of an eyebrow there.

 What’s especially heartbreaking about all this is that Iraq was once a paradise. The fertile marshlands between the ancient Euphrates and Tigris rivers are believed to have even been the location of the Biblical Garden of Eden. To see it now is to see a region that has fallen a long, long way.

5. Central African Republic (CAR)

OK, this is the point where we move away from ‘the countries you probably shouldn’t visit’, and move onto ‘the countries you should definitely stay away from under any circumstances’. These countries all have no consular assistance for visiting Westerners, and most government websites warn against visiting them even if you absolutely have to. The reason? Extreme violence, or the threat of extreme violence accompanied by a breakdown of the social fabric so total it’d make Iraq look like a tourist’s paradise. First on this list of terror? Central African Republic (CAR).

A nation nearly the size of Texas, CAR is home to a mere 4.9 million people, all of whom are desperate to kill one another. The population is divided between Christian and Muslim communities, both of whom take turns seizing power and trying to eliminate the other. In 2013, it was the Muslims’ turn to persecute (read: kill) the Christians. In response, the Christians formed heavily-armed ‘anti-bakala’ militias and now they’re the ones doing the persecuting. The whole situation is as volatile as a washing machine full of homebrewed nitroglycerin, and just as likely to explode at any moment.

On top of all this, CAR is an extremely-poor, nearly undeveloped country, where getting around is next to impossible and most of the country is covered in impenetrable jungle. So, if everything does ignite while you’re there, getting away is gonna be very difficult indeed.

4. South Sudan

Another country that’s helpfully close-enough in size to Texas to allow easy comparisons, South Sudan is also the world’s newest nation. In 2011, the Christian country split from Muslim Sudan, declared independence and set up a capital in Juba. The wave of optimism this generated barely lasted 24 hours. The new government quickly fractured along ethnic and tribal lines and spiraled into a civil war that killed tens of thousands. Although the war is now over, South Sudan’s peace remains so fragile that traveling there is like wrapping your body in bacon, jumping in a piranha tank, and inviting them to chew.

Militias continue to terrify the country, with rival tribes using rape as a weapon to subdue their enemies. There are natural disasters to contend with, too. A miserable famine has gripped the country since the start of the year, and tens of thousands are at risk of starvation. Things are so bad that the UN has called the famine (along with similar famines in Yemen, Somalia and Nigeria) “the worst humanitarian crisis since 1945.” Oh, and if you were to visit, there’s no guarantee you’d be able to leave. Last time a political crisis erupted, the borders were effectively sealed and the Juba airport closed, trapping visitors inside an exploding warzone.

3. Libya

Right, so we’ve now gone beyond the ‘countries you should definitely stay away from under any circumstances’ and entered a section of the list we’re gonna call ‘Jesus, you gotta be kidding me!’ Without exception, these three countries are in the grip of wars that have left no region untouched. Libya is merely the first of them. Once a sweltering north African country known for its stunning Roman ruins, Libya deposed its mad dictator in 2011 and tried to make it as a democracy. Instead, everything went to Hell.

There are at least two rival governments currently operating in the country, backed by different superpowers. An uncountable number of militias and rebel groups roam the countryside. ISIS have carved out a niche for themselves, despite heavy airstrikes against their camps. Terror attacks, skirmishes, and deadly fighting are all just facts of daily life. At least 6,000 have died in the continued fighting since 2014, on top of all those who died in the initial 2011 uprising and its aftermath. Westerners have been kidnapped or killed with impunity. Famously, this included US ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, the first American ambassador killed in the line of duty in 33 years.

Luckily, though, there are signs that things may be changing in Libya for the better. On May 3, 2017, a diplomatic breakthrough was reached between the rival governments. Hopefully, things in this beleaguered nation will soon be returning to something like normalcy.

2. Yemen

To look at pictures of Yemen’s capital of old Sana’a these days is like looking at a lost tale from the Arabian Nights. Yemen has always been poor, but it used to be justifiably recognized as one of the most picturesque, dream-like places on the planet. It was a land of history, of great, jagged mountains, ancient clifftop ruins, rocky deserts and fertile valleys. Today, though, Yemen is a land of violent rebel groups, uncontrollable disorder, and Saudi airstrikes that have left thousands dead and tens of thousands hideously wounded.

A strip of land below Saudi Arabia, roughly the size of metropolitan France, Yemen has been the focus of an intense bombing campaign by its bigger neighbor since late 2015. Rather than de-escalate the civil war and bring the Islamist rebels to justice, it sent the conflict into overdrive. January 2017 saw the 10,000th victim die, and large tracts of Sana’a’s hypnotic old city reduced to dust amid heavy shelling. With no end to the conflict in sight, Yemen will likely remain off everyone’s travel list for some time to come, which may be for the best. To see the wreck this once-wonderful country has become would be enough to make any visitor’s blood boil.

1. Syria

What other country could it possibly be?

Right now, Syria is the most-dangerous place in the world. If you can go, don’t. If you need to go, don’t. If you’re already there, get out as quickly and as safely as you can. That’s the sort of place we’re talking about here. A country where basic humanity has broken down, and demons now run amok in human form, doing things too terrible for us to even write about. If Hell has a physical manifestation, then it’s probably the frontlines of Syria’s awful conflict.

Since 2011, rebels, regime forces, militias, terror groups, and insane jihadists like ISIS have been murdering one another in a humanitarian black hole that has left between 320,000 and 500,000 dead. Torture, chemical weapons, genocide… you name it, if it exists and it is awful, it can currently be found in Syria.

Perhaps the worst part is there doesn’t seem to be any easy way out. So many international actors are meddling in the Syrian conflict that an easy solution seems impossible. Russia is bombing rebel territory. Turkey is bombing Kurdish positions. France, the US and Britain are bombing ISIS, and the US recently bombed a regime airbase too. Iran and Saudi Arabia are meddling. Hezbollah and al-Qaeda are involved. Maybe one day this intractable mess will be solved, but don’t count on it happening any time soon.


No Go Zone

– Countries to Avoid

Roman Almanac – WABAC Into History

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Fascinating Facts

About the Romans

“Where is the WABAC Machine going to take us this time, Mr. Peabody?

“Set the WABAC for Ancient Rome, Sherman My Boy.”

Ancient Rome had a huge effect on the world as we know it today. Many of the ideas they had in regards to governing and infrastructure are still in use in the modern world, and similar to Ancient Egypt, everyone knows quite a lot about the Ancient Romans.

 However, just like with the Ancient Egyptians, when a culture becomes that ingrained in the public consciousness, we tend to learn a lot of things that aren’t actually true. Some of the stranger or less convenient facts get swept entirely under the rug. The Ancient Romans are a fascinating culture, and in some ways stranger or more disgusting than you might have imagined.

10. Christians Weren’t Fed To Lions and Many Tales of Martyrdom Were Exaggerated

One of the most popularly told tales about the Romans is how they fed the Christians to the lions for having the audacity to start a new religion and do their own thing. This has been recounted in so much popular culture it is staggering, and at this point it may be impossible to remove it from the public mindset. The sad part here is that it is incredibly untrue, but the untruth has become so ingrained it may as well be fact to most people. Not only are the stories about feeding Christians to lions without any real basis, but many scholars argue that there is no real proof for the kind of sustained, and targeted persecution that many later Christian writers would put forth.

There were, truthfully, only a handful of scattered years where Christians were ever targeted specifically at all, and many of the more colorful accounts of martyrdom are completely impossible to verify, and there is good reason to believe many of the stories were much exaggerated. Now, this doesn’t mean that Christians weren’t ever put to death for reasons that involved their beliefs, but some scholars argue that in many cases where a Christian was killed for being Christian, it was because they made statements refusing the divinity of the emperor or something similar while in court. This wasn’t a specifically targeted persecution, even if it was a difficult position for them to be in – not wanting to say someone is divine when they do not believe they are.

9. In Ancient Rome the Word Decimate had an Entirely Different Meaning

When we use the word decimate today, we just mean to destroy something really badly, often completely or entirely. This is essentially the correct meaning now because of common usage, but when the term was first coined, its meaning was much more literal. As you might imagine from the root of the word, it originally had to do with the number ten. When a group of soldiers committed some crime, such as desertion, the entire troop would be punished to put them in their place. They would isolate the entire group, and then have them draw lots to decide who was going to die.

The Romans would then force those who were to live to kill the tenth of the troops that drew lots. This meant that, quite literally, they were removing one tenth of that troop, or “decimating” it. This was one of the earlier forms of something referred to today as military discipline, where an entire troop is punished for a few men’s infractions, to make sure the entire troop self-polices. This can be seen some today in modern armies where someone will make a mistake and the entire unit will be forced to pay for the mistake. However, in today’s modern world we don’t kill our troops, we just make them do push-ups or something similar.

8. Romans Shared a Sponge on a Stick for Cleaning Up After Using Public Toilets

Today we like to think of Romans as very hygienic for their time. In fact, we often consider them a beacon of cleanliness that the world didn’t see anything like for quite some time. They had their own sewer and water systems and they had public baths and were very much into being clean. However, the truth is that many of the Roman’s habits would disgust many people today who live in some of the countries without much infrastructure. For example, their public bathrooms were a horror show. It wasn’t uncommon for gigantic rats to come out of the sewer, and because they contained gases, fires could erupt randomly.

To make matters worse, the Romans at public toilets shared a single sponge on a stick that they used to clean up after using the bathroom. They would use the sponge on a stick to wipe themselves up, rinse it, and then leave it for the next person to use. Most people today would be absolutely disgusted by the thought of using a sponge to clean themselves that a bunch of random people had also used. And while people think they were clean, the Romans didn’t actually bathe traditionally, per se. Instead, they would cover themselves in oils, and then scrape it off their skin with an instrument called a strigil.

7. The Romans Invented an Early Form of Concrete

The Romans did an incredible amount of building, and their gigantic structures as well as their infrastructure such as aqueducts are one of the things they are most famous for. One of the biggest reasons we still talk about their buildings so much is because so many of them have managed to withstand the test of time. They managed this by using an early form of concrete, something that was essentially unheard of at that time in history. On top of that, once the Roman Empire fell, the knowledge was lost, and concrete was basically rediscovered much later on.

However, that doesn’t mean that Roman concrete is the same as modern concrete. Modern concrete is actually ten times the strength of Roman concrete, however, the concrete they had back in the day was still an incredible achievement, and not just because they were able to build it at all. Because they had their own unique kind of concrete, it may have been weaker, but it had advantages ours does not. Due to being made with volcanic ash, it actually performs way better against erosion, especially from water, something that modern concrete does not do very well with at all. This has allowed their buildings to withstand the test of time, for generations of tourists to continue to explore and be fascinated by.

6. The Romans Drove a Birth Control Plant to Extinction

Back in the day Romans were definitely known for their love of sex, and they would not have denied their love for it at all. There was a plant called Silphium which they greatly prized, because they believed that it could act as a method of birth control. It could only be grown wild and attempts to put a quota on the harvest failed miserably, due to how ridiculously popular the plant became. It was soon worth an incredible amount of money, and before too many years, the Romans had managed to lust their way to the extinction of the entire plant.

However, some people today wonder if it really worked. The problem is that there is really no way to be actually sure. The plant has gone extinct so we cannot really check samples, and there were plenty of dubious medical cures in Ancient Rome, so this could have been one of them. On the other hand, some experts believe it could have had abortion inducing affects, which means all the men taking it would have been wasting their time and the plant. However, the truth is that whether it worked or not is hardly important. The truth is that just thinking it had that effect was enough – the Romans loved consequence free sex so they drove the plant to extinction.

 5. Some Believe the Antichrist Referred to was Nero

The idea of an antichrist figure who becomes a ruler on earth, and helps set up the final battle between good and evil, that culminates in the second coming of Christ, has been fascinating people for a very long time. Many people will claim that the latest world leader they don’t like is the antichrist, and many people have been suggested to be this figure over the years. For some, the antichrist is always yet to come, but for others, he may have already been. Many scholars believe it is quite possible that the passages referring to the figure we now call the antichrist were actually talking about the Emperor Nero.

This man blamed the Christians for the fire of Rome, and persecuted them greatly. He killed his own mother and was known for being one of the most despicable tyrants in the history of Rome. However, even more telling, is the fact that when he died, many people believed he had just disappeared. Many believed he was actually going to be resurrected or return somehow, and bring more great evil to the world. And if you look at the encoded numbers that everyone always points to as the mark of the beast, the numbers can represent Nero’s name if you interpret them a certain way. Of course, this interpretation may not have been accurate either, but the fact the Christians thought he might resurrect at all shows how much they feared this man.

4. The Romans Flooded the Colosseum in Order to Conduct Mock Sea Battles

The Romans were a culture that liked to do things on a very grand scale, and they certainly kept true to this when they reenacted battles. Specifically, they decided that they wanted to reenact large scale naval battles, so they would dig out huge trenches in the ground, make artificial lakes, and then fill them with soldiers and rowers carrying out the various parts of the battle. In order to make it realistic as possible, prisoners and captured soldiers would literally be forced to fight to the death as part of the mock battles. These forms of entertainment were very popular, but due to the incredible expense they were only done on special occasions.

Many people were not sure at first if the coliseum was used for these spectacles, as it was hard to find physical evidence and it seemed like the structure would not support it. However, it turns out that the coliseum could have supported being flooded for such a purpose; they just would have had to use much smaller scale ships and such. And while there is little physical evidence, there are plenty of written sources that point to the coliseum being used at least a few times for this purpose. The Romans were always about going as big and all out as possible, and their theater was some of the most advanced and realistic you would find anywhere. Today, we stick with pretending to kill people when putting on a show.

3. The Very Strange Lives of Ancient Rome’s Vestal Virgins

The Romans were very religious and very superstitious and had many different gods. One of the more important gods was called Vesta, a great goddess of fire. They believed that as long as her fire was kept burning, Rome as a civilization would endure for the ages. To this extent, they decided they needed well trained and well-disciplined people to keep the fire burning always, to make sure Rome remained. For some reason, they decided that the best way to accomplish this would be to appoint six young girls at a time, who would remain virgins as long as they remained in their position.

It was a coveted position that gave them status most women would never get, but it did come with the price of having to remain virgins for as long as they were helping keep the fire lit. A vestal virgin who briefly let the fire go out was punished severely, usually taken aside, stripped and beaten in order to instill in them how important it is to attend to their sacred duty. And if a vestal virgin became a virgin no longer, it was considered an act of incest, because they were married to the city, and the cities citizens were related to the city in some form. This logic may not sound particularly sound, but to the Romans, it was very important that these women remained virgins. When they committed the crime of being a virgin no longer, certain rules forbade the normal means of execution for these women, so vestal no longer virgins were buried alive as punishment.

2. Urine Was Used as a Cleaning Product for Both Teeth and Clothes

As we mentioned earlier, the Romans were known for being hygienic, but they also did a lot of things that we might find rather questionable. And one of the most questionable things would likely be the way they made use of urine. Now, urine is mostly ammonia so it can be used in cleaning products, and ammonia does have cleaning properties, but the difference is that today we are essentially processing it to only keep the stuff we need.

Back in the day, Romans would use urine in order to whiten their teeth, and also in order to clean clothes. Urine would be collected throughout the day, and then diluted with water somewhat, and poured over clothes, where the launderer would then stomp on them to sort of simulate the workings of how a washing machine works now. While it may have indeed been useful at getting out the stains, we don’t really want to imagine what their clothes would have smelled like, since they soaked them in unprocessed urine in order to get them clean. However, likely the Romans would have been used to the smell, or perhaps would have used various oils or other perfumes to hide it. As we mentioned earlier, they also didn’t clean in the traditional sense to begin with and instead oiled themselves and then scraped off the excess.

1. There is Little Evidence That Romans Threw Up on Purpose So They Could Eat More Food

One of the most commonly believed myths is that Romans had a special room in which they threw up food so they could then go eat more food. This has been greatly confused because there is a word for a “vomitorium”, but this is just the exit of a coliseum, where it “vomits out” all the people back onto the street. This “fact” has made its way into books like the Hunger Games series, where the people of the capital are seen as being similar to the Romans in this respect. When most people learn that this isn’t actually true, many insist that the Romans at least still threw up on purpose to eat more.

 However, there is really little evidence of such actually happening. Romans did sometimes throw up on purpose, just as some people do today. But it is likely there were other reasons for it, just as there are today. There is really little reason to believe that Romans were actually throwing up just to make room for more food right there on the spot, and then stuffing down more, just to throw up again. This widespread belief, which is a great exaggeration, likely has made its way around due to the fact that Romans were known for elaborate feasts and hedonism in general, making it very easy to believe. The truth is, what people are talking about likely wouldn’t work that well anyway. Most people don’t feel like eating after being full, and don’t really want to make room for more, and most people certainly don’t feel like eating after recently throwing up.

Roman Almanac

– WABAC Into History


THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 264

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 264

…“Yes Fortän, I am afraid the times are tilting back to our uneasy past.” He speaks to the female Eridanian of greatest familiarity…

The dust still uneasy on hurried graves-3 by Nilima Sheikh,

Founder Shrine

Founders Shrine

As well-liked and welcomed as the Earthlings have become, their overall impact on the average Eridanian is profound and growing. This very subject has prompted the Supreme Elder of the High Counsel to gather the other members, at the Founder Shrine, the point where the first settlers set foot on this Utopian and enchanted world.

The Shrine is like no other structure on Eridanus, the only such brick & mortar allowed to use the architectural look of the Mother Planet. Its opulence and grandeur stands as a haunting reminder of their sorted past. For the “average” Eridanian, special permission is needed to visit it.

Ekcello comes here most often, gliding through the hall of this edifice, to hear the echoes of a long forgotten civilization. In keeping with time-honored tradition, only the Olde Language isused here and so it will be during this special session of the High Counsel.

In this very hall, speaking the Olde Language, another of the elders is in search of his/her roots: “It is refreshing to speak aloud Ekcello,” chimes the other, in rusty tones and pitches.

“Yes Fortän, I am afraid the times are tilting back to our uneasy past.” He speaks to the female Eridanian of greatest familiarity to him. She is his mate, the mother of Cerella, and just so happens to Elder a distant towered city.

“Did you bring our daughter with you?” Her tone chills as she utters mention of her offspring.

“She is too close to this matter Fortän. Her involvement with the humans is affecting her objectivity.” He is similar in pragmatic tone.

“You have convened the High Counsel concerning the Earth people, have you not?”

“It weighs heavily on my mind, as all can sense. There is a need for a consensus assessment of the growing emotional influence of these earthlings on our world.”


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 264


page 307

Contents TRT

“We The People of the Superior States of North America”

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 “We The People

of the Superior States

of North America”

“Hereby secede from The United States of America.”

Superior States of North America

Solemn Declaration:

Let it not be said that disaffected citizens of an existing nation cannot band together, in their like-mindedness, and create a land that is established with the blessing of God, to live together without beholding to a government which insists on ignoring the majority in favor of a raucous and gaudy minority.

  • We do not enter into this union lightly or without regard to its obligation to the greater community of the planet Earth.
  • We stand on the Word of God and adhere to its Superior guidance.
  • We are people of good moral standing, who treat all as equal under the sun and expect the best from ourselves.
  • We take complete and total responsibility for our actions, whether as individuals or together.
  • We shall defend our borders with fervor, respectful of our neighbors (Canada) to the North and (United States of America) to the South.

We the citizens of Superior States of North America hereby reject:

  • The blatant ignorance of the Constitution of the United States of America on which the country was established, but has been trampled upon by those currently in power.
  • The aggressive suppression of religious freedom as previously contracted by the Founding Fathers.
  • The inability to enforce the laws of the land as set forth by previous members of the United States’ Congresses.
  • The notion that “political correctness” takes precedence over common sense.
  • The Tax Code has become the personal toy of the Economic Elite, thereby creating an unsatisfactory disparity among the very rich and the very poor.

Within the Superior States of North America:

  • Sound moral code will rule the day
  • Compassion  will rule the day
  • Common Sense will rule the day
  • From each according to his ability, to each according to his need
  • The One True God will rule His people

*DISCLAIMER*

“I was temporarily insane and disillusioned at the time.”

This is a postulate set forth by the goals & aspirations of Gwendolyn Hoff and her alone, with the hope of inspiring like-minded people to action. She is not a card-carrying member of the Tea Party and does not endorse continued participation as citizens of the United States of America.

The map as shown is subject to the approval by referendum by the entire individual states of Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, North & South Dakota, Idaho and Montana. It is also subject to the approval by referendum of counties bordering the following states, Michigan, Illinois and Wyoming.

“If you believe in this cause, get a hold of me & we will talk.”

Gwenny

Gwenny


We The People of the Superior States

of North America


 

Real Laws – WIF NonSense

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Real Laws That

Make Absolutely

No Sense

Laws aren’t made to be popular; they are made to enforce behavior and allow humans to live together in functional societies. However, across the world, there are some laws that just don’t make sense. Some aren’t enforceable, some are anachronistic, and some defy facts and/or logic. Below are 10 examples of regulations that will make you ask, “Seriously–how is this a law?”

10. Women in Saudi Arabia are not legally allowed to drive

Saudi Arabia is not known for its tolerant climate toward women’s rights—women in the kingdom, which is governed by Sharia (Islamic law), with a strict Wahabbism interpretation, face numerous restrictions on their day-to-day lives. These religious restrictions, which have the power of law, include a requirement for women to dress conservatively and cover their hair, the need for a male guardian when venturing out in public, and a restriction that requires women to get the permission of a male relative to open a bank account or obtain a passport.

While women in Saudi Arabia have gained some limited rights in recent years, including the right to vote and run for office, they still face numerous limitations on their freedoms, including the world’s only ban on female drivers. While the ban is technically an unwritten religious edict, it is codified as law because Saudi Arabia only recognizes local driver’s licenses, which are not issued to women, and has arrested women who attempt to defy the ban. The kingdom’s ruling family and religious authorities have repeatedly justified the ban, with deputy crown prince Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud saying the Saudi community “is not convinced about women driving” and one conservative cleric contending, without offering evidence, that driving posed a threat to women’s ovaries and would result in children born with health problems (again, this argument is refuted by evidence from every other country on earth). The nonsensical ban has certainly impacted the Saudi economy, with limited mobility hurting female workforce participation, and exacerbated income inequality, as women from wealthy families are able toemploy drivers to get around, but poor women cannot.

Interestingly, while Saudi women (and non-Saudi women in Saudi Arabia) cannot drive cars, they are able to fly planes within the kingdom. The first female Saudi pilot was licensed in 2014.

9. In Utah, drinks can’t be seen by patrons until they are served

If James Bond really wants to be certain his martini is “shaken, not stirred,” he better not drop by any restaurants in Utah. Since 2009, Utah law requires restaurants to prepare mixed drinks behind a 7-foot partition (often made of opaque glass) out of the view of restaurant patrons. This so-called “Zion Curtain,” a nod to the state’s large teetotaling Mormon community, was meant to shield children from the glamour and corrupting influence of seeing a drink being mixed. This, despite any evidence that seeing drinks mixed by professionals would be a potential gateway to underage drinking for Utah youths. About the only good thing you can say about the law is that it is actually better than the alcohol restrictions it replaced. Prior to 2009, Utah law required customers to become members of “social clubs” (i.e. restaurants) or bars before you could consume a drop of alcohol on the premises. Basically, getting wine with dinner involved the same procedure as joining a country club, sometimes even requiring sponsorship.

The “Zion Curtain” law has been unpopular in the state, with a survey showing 70% of Utah residents oppose the law. A revised version of the law, effective July 1, 2017, will allow restaurants to forgo the “Zion Curtain,” but only if they create an adults-only buffer zone around the bar. Again, the law is better than what it replaced, but still tied to the–largely unproven–conclusion that the sight of an alcoholic drink being mixed poses an unacceptable threat to Utah’s youth (but somehow watching adults consume the drinks post-mixing doesn’t).

8. In Mississippi, it’s illegal to have a second illegitimate child

There are archaic “love laws” that remain on the books all over the United States that make everything from living together before marriage, gay sex, and adultery criminal acts. These laws are rarely, if ever, enforced, so their continued existence is perplexing.

Mississippi has one particularly strange law of this type, which states:

“If any person, who shall have previously become the natural parent of an illegitimate child within or without this state by coition within or without this state, shall again become the natural parent of an illegitimate child born within this state, he or she shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by imprisonment in the county jail for not less than thirty (30) days nor more than ninety (90) days or by a fine of not more than Two Hundred Fifty Dollars ($ 250.00), or both.”

This law has a dark history. It was designed largely to target African-Americans and originallyclassified parenting a second illegitimate child a felony and included a provision that allowed violators to escape punishment if they agreed to sterilization (fortunately, that version never became law). There was one quirky loophole written into the law: all multiple births would be counted as the first illegitimate child, so if you had twins (or triplets, etc.) out of wedlock, you had found the only way to legally have multiple illegitimate children in Mississippi.

While it may seem harmless to keep these outdated and unused laws on the books, the fact remains that as long as a law is there, someone could decide to enforce it (in the case of laws against adultery, a vindictive spouse seems to be the primary complainant seeking the law’s enforcement against their partner or partner’s paramours). Before gay marriage was legalized across the United States, there was some concern that the law against a second out-of-wedlock birth, borne of racist intentions, could find another discriminatory outlet. The law could theoretically be used to target gay parents, whose marriages were not recognized in Mississippi (and whose children were all, therefore, technically born out wedlock). Another reason for Mississippi to ditch this law: it doesn’t seem to be discouraging Mississippians from having kids outside of marriage. Census Bureau research showed that Mississippi’s percentage of out-of-wedlock births was the second-highest among US states, with more than 48% of births occurring outside of marriage.

7. It’s legal to be naked in public in Vermont, but can be illegal to take your clothes off in public

one man, who strolled through Burlington, Vermont one day in the summer of 2016, wearing only sneakers and a bandana (on his head), apparently knows, it’s not illegal to be naked in public in Vermont, unless you are in a public park. However, while nudity is fine, disrobing in public is generally considered to be a violation of Vermont’s law against lewd and lascivious conduct. A Vermont Supreme Court case (around a flasher) did find that exposing one’s naked body could be a violation of the law and the Court further referenced the need for lewd and lascivious conduct to be obscene or sexual in nature.

Because it’s hard to draw the line between innocently taking off one’s clothes in public and being a flasher, would-be nudists in Vermont are advised to drop trou before they head out in public. When asked about public nudity, Burlington’s police chief described the behavior of a man who was walking through busy intersections in the buff as “inappropriate,” but “not necessarily illegal,” noting that as long as naked folks weren’t stripping down in public, harassing people, or touching themselves, there was not much city police officers could do according to state law.

6. In the US, it is illegal to burn money

Got money to burn? Well if you’re in the US, you can’t, at least not legally (several other countries also outlaw the destruction of currency).  Title 18, Section 333 of the United States Code says that:

“Whoever mutilates, cuts, disfigures, perforates, unites or cements together, or does any other thing to any bank bill, draft, note, or other evidence of debt issued by any national banking association, Federal Reserve Bank, or Federal Reserve System, with intent to render such item(s) unfit to be reissued, shall be fined not more than $100 or imprisoned not more than six months, or both.”

Interestingly, it’s fine to destroy coins, as long as it’s not done “fraudulently,” so collectors of souvenir pressed pennies can sleep soundly at night.

Actually, everyone can pretty much sleep soundly at night. Despite the existence of this law, destroying bills is not a crime that’s often prosecuted, even when it’s done publically. MSNBC’s Larry Kudlow burned a bill on the air to protest inflationary policies without facing any legal consequences. And some think that if burning of currency were prosecuted, the law would likely be ruled unconstitutional as a limit on protected speech, though others point out that since the government pays to print money (about 5 cents per bill), its interest in preserving the cash supply isn’t merely symbolic. In the US, this law is mainly used against counterfeiters, so while burning money is technically illegal (even when it’s YOUR money), the odds that you’ll end up doing time for setting fire to a stack of Benjamins remain low.

5. Under US military law, unsuccessful suicide attempts are illegal

You would think someone who was on the verge of taking his own life would have suffered enough, right? But the US military disagrees, making it a crime for soldiers to attempt to kill themselves, one that can result in disciplinary action, including prison time and a bad-conduct discharge. Under Article 134 in the Manual for Court Martial, prosecution is allowed for self injury that causes “prejudice to good order and discipline” or has a “tendency to bring the service into disrepute”, a provision that has been used to prosecute unsuccessful suicide attempts, even when there was evidence of mental health issues on the part of the offending soldier.

Suicide isn’t treated as a crime for soldiers who succeed. As one military lawyer, defending a client who was court-martialed after a failed suicide attempt, explained this cruel paradox, “If he had succeeded… he would have been treated like his service was honorable, his family would have received a condolence letter from the President, and his death would have been considered in the line of duty. Because he failed, he was prosecuted.”

Certainly, the US military does have a compelling interest in dissuading its troops from suicide. Suicide rates amongst US service members are more than two times the average for the general population. However, there isn’t any evidence that criminalizing suicide attempts reduces their frequency. Data from Canada and New Zealand, which decriminalized suicide in 1972 and 1961 respectively, suggest that removing laws punishing suicide attempts did not impact the suicide rates within those nations.

Common sense suggests that adding criminal charges to the plate of an already suicidal individual only compounds the problems facing that person. The World Health Organization suggests that criminalizing suicidal acts adds to the stigma related to suicide, which can undermine suicide prevention efforts. In other words, laws against suicide attempts, like those within the US military, don’t stop suicides, but they may deter depressed people from accessing help that might prevent suicides.

4. In several US states, atheists are barred from public office

Atheists, those who do not believe in a higher power, have long faced discrimination, and in many places across the globe, that discrimination is codified as law. In 13 Muslim countries, people who reject the state religion of Islam or espouse atheism face the death penalty. In the United States, the situation for atheists isn’t nearly so dire, but for a country whose Constitution includes several references to freedom of religion, the US has a surprising number of legal restrictions on atheists.

In seven US states, state constitutions bar atheists from public office. Maryland’s Constitutiongoes a step further, saying atheists also can’t serve as jurors or witnesses. While these restrictions have been rendered unenforceable by a Supreme Court decision (in a case brought by a Maryland notary who refused to take an oath that required belief in God), that hasn’t stopped some from trying to use them to deny office to atheist elected officials. Given that keeping these bans on the books serves no purpose, some atheist groups have been arguing for their removal. Proponents of removing the atheist bans, like Todd Steifer, chairman of the Openly Secular Coalition, say that if illegal discrimination against any other minority group was enshrined in the state constitution, “You’d have politicians falling all over themselves to try to get it repealed. Even if it was still unenforceable, it would still be disgraceful and be removed. So why are we different?”

3. In some US states, you must disclose if your house is haunted when trying to sell it

While the existence of ghosts is up for debate, with polls showing that almost half the people in the US and the UK believe in ghosts, there is no conclusive scientific evidence that supports their existence. In fact, some scientists have argued that the existence of ghosts is refuted by the failure of the Large Hadron Collider to detect any energy that would comprise such spirit beings. However, even though there’s no irrefutable proof that ghosts exist, some US states still require you to disclose whether your property is haunted when you try to sell it.

The extent of required ghost-related disclosures depends on the state where your house is located. In Virginia, you aren’t legally required to disclose any act or occurrence (including hauntings), unless it had, “effect on the physical structure of the real property, its physical environment, or the improvements located hereon.” So if the haunting extends to blood appearing on the walls, for example, you do need to make it known to buyers. In New York State, the Supreme Court found that once a homeowner publically represents their home as haunted, the home is legally considered haunted, a material condition that must be disclosed to potential buyers. But if you’ve kept Casper’s existence to yourself, you’re in the clear to sell without providing info to buyers. In Massachusetts, there is no requirement to disclose that a home, “has been the site of alleged parapsychological or supernatural phenomenon.” However, if the buyer asks if the place is haunted, it is a crime to lie. For an unproven phenomenon, ghosts seem to get a surprising number of mentions in US real estate law.

2. In Switzerland, it is illegal to keep just one of a social animal

In 2008, Switzerland passed legislation protecting the “social rights” of certain animals. Since passage of this law, it is illegal to keep a single member of a social animal species, a designation which includes goldfish, parrots, and guinea pigs, since a solitary social animal will be lonely.

While this law has great intentions behind it, it does create a bit of a quandary for some pet owners seeking to abide by the law. What if you start with two guinea pigs, but one dies? Do you now have to continue buying replacement companion guinea pigs until the end of time? One enterprising Swiss company addresses just this problem, offering a “rent-a-guinea-pig”service. The rental service provides companion guinea pigs for an otherwise solitary guinea pig’s remaining time, which can be returned after the death of the other guinea pig. No word on how the law will deal with guinea pigs who happen to be antisocial jerks, and are the rare members of their species that don’t want to chill with a buddy. However, the law doesn’t have strong enforcement provisions, especially since the Swiss voted down an attempt to appoint lawyers to act on behalf of pets, so folks who keep a solitary goldfish are unlikely to face penalties (other than pangs of conscience) for violating the law.

1. In China, it is illegal for Buddhist monks to reincarnate without state permission

China’s citizens are subject to a sweeping array of laws, including legal restrictions on thenumber of children they can have and their mobility to relocate within the country. But with regard to Tibetan Buddhist monks, the Chinese government is seeking to extend its control even beyond this life. China’s State Religious Affairs Bureau Order No. 5 requires Tibetan religious leaders (known as living Buddhas or tulkus) who are planning to be reborn to apply to several government entities for approval before doing so. China has called the law, “an important move to institutionalize management of reincarnation,” a statement that merely underlines the inherent futility of attempting to regulate what its citizens can do after death.

The real purpose of the law seems to be to allow Chinese authorities to control the selection of the eventual successor to the Dalai Lama, and to quell any movement in support of Tibetan independence by religious figures in the region. The Dalai Lama has previously said that if Tibet remains under Chinese control, he will be reincarnated elsewhere, suggesting there could be dueling Dalai Lamas in the future—one selected by Chinese authorities through their reincarnation recognition procedures, and another illegally-reincarnated Dalai Lama outside of Chinese territory.


Real Laws

–  WIF NonSense