Independence Day – TJeff and the Gang

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United States

of America

Independence Day

If you you liked “Hamilton”, you will be thrilled with “TJeff & the Gang”

The Declaration of Independence is the usual name of a statement adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, which announced that the thirteen American colonies, then at war with Great Britain, regarded themselves as thirteen newly independent sovereign states, and no longer a part of the British Empire. Instead they formed a new nation—the United States of America. John Adams was a leader in pushing for independence, which was unanimously approved on July 2. A committee of five had already drafted the formal declaration, to be ready when Congress voted on independence. The term “Declaration of Independence” is not used in the document itself.

Adams persuaded the committee to select Thomas Jefferson to compose the original draft of the document, which Congress would edit to produce the final version. The Declaration was ultimately a formal explanation of why Congress had voted on July 2 to declare independence from Great Britain, more than a year after the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War. The national birthday, Independence Day, is celebrated on July 4, although Adams wanted July 2.

After ratifying the text on July 4, Congress issued the Declaration of Independence in several forms. It was initially published as the printed Dunlap broadside that was widely distributed and read to the public. The source copy used for this printing has been lost, and may have been a copy in Thomas Jefferson’s hand. Jefferson’s original draft, complete with changes made by John Adams and Benjamin Franklin, and Jefferson’s notes of changes made by Congress, are preserved at the Library of Congress. The best known version of the Declaration, a signed copy that is popularly regarded as the official document, is displayed at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. This engrossed copy was ordered by Congress on July 19, and signed primarily on August 2.

The sources and interpretation of the Declaration have been the subject of much scholarly inquiry. The Declaration justified the independence of the United States by listing colonial grievances against King George III, and by asserting certain natural and legal rights, including a right of revolution. Having served its original purpose in announcing independence, references to the text of the Declaration were few for the next four score years. Abraham Lincoln made it the centerpiece of his rhetoric (as in the Gettysburg Address of 1863), and his policies. Since then, it has become a well-known statement on human rights, particularly its second sentence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

This has been called “one of the best-known sentences in the English language”, containing “the most potent and consequential words in American history”. The passage came to represent a moral standard to which the United States should strive. This view was notably promoted by Abraham Lincoln, who considered the Declaration to be the foundation of his political philosophy, and argued that the Declaration is a statement of principles through which the United States Constitution should be interpreted.

It provided inspiration to numerous national declarations of independence throughout the world. Historian David Armitage, after examining the influence of the American “Declaration” on over 100 other declarations of independence, says:

The American Revolution was the first outbreak of the contagion of sovereignty that has swept the world in the centuries since 1776. Its influence spread first to the Low Countries and then to the Caribbean, Spanish America, the Balkans, West Africa, and Central Europe in the decades up to 1848…. Declarations of independence were among the primary symptoms of this contagion of sovereignty.

Thirteen Colonies
United States
Coat of arms or logo
Type
Type
History
Established May 10, 1775
Disbanded March 1, 1781
Preceded by First Continental Congress
Succeeded by 1st Confederation Congress
Seats Variable; ~60
Meeting place
1775–1777: Pennsylvania State House, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
1775–1781: Variable
Footnotes
Though there were about 50 members of the Congress at a given time, it was the states that had votes, so there were effectively only 13 seats.


Independence Day

– Let Freedom Ring

THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 109

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THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 109

…A modicum of equality will have to do for now…

CHAPTER TEN

Snail’s Pace

 

Promises are meant to be kept.

Some are deferred.

Skaldic the Null willingly added his Null-ness to the Gifted, with the promise of parity for his people. Ekcello had done his level best to bridge the gap between the Gifted and the Null. However he has not the final word in the matter.

For cycles immemorial, never the tween did meet. The Null had their tower and that was that. Their needs were met more than adequately. And life was good – just happens to be better for the Gifted majority. As in most societies, the majority rules and the majority of Eridanian Gifted believe elevating Skaldic to Gifted status is quite enough. An extra portion of special grog is appropriated for everyone else. Certainly that will do.

Skaldic does not partake in grog, just as he has resisted the temptation of hookah. His judgement is sound and his commitment to his people is as clear as his new robes are white. You can lavish the emperor with new clothes, but you cannot water down what is underneath.

As a small concession, the Null are allowed to roam the planet at certain times in a cycle, not that there is anything fantastic to do outside their tower, but they are allowed to mingle and observe the Gifted way; an unwritten code of conduct unenforced at Null Tower. Little things, like bowing out of common courtesy, not worship and not speaking in the Olde Language, especially not out of tune, are expected behaviors.

In exchange, the Gifted have been instructed to respect the Null and aid them in the indoctrination. Most family units actually have ancestors among the Null population. The difference between the two cultures is esoteric.

A modicum of equality will have to do for now. The Towers were not built in a day.

Just as some riddles are meant to be solved. Some are not.

 


THE NULL SOLUTION

Episode 109


page 108

Middle Ages Handbook – WABAC Into Ancient History

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 Forgotten Peoples

of the Early

Middle Ages

The further back we look through history, the more diverse the people are. This isn’t surprising, given the fact that many nations today are basically tribes that found their way to today’s world. And each of these “tribes” is as diverse as the places they hailed from. Europe is no different.

During the Early Middle Ages (5th to 10th century AD), Europe was in a period of transition. The Roman Empire had recently fallen, and barbaric tribes were on the move, pushed forward by the invading Huns. The Arabic Moors were settling in the Iberian Peninsula, the Viking Age was just beginning, and the Byzantine Empire was carrying on Rome’s legacy in the east.

Well, here are some peoples who were also calling parts of Europe their home during those times. Most people today have all but forgotten about them, but their legacy still remains here and there.

waybac-machine

10. The Hutsuls – Ukraine

The Hutsuls are a group of Ukrainian pastoral highlanders inhabiting the Carpathian Mountains in present day West Ukraine. Their origins are shrouded in mystery. Scholars today can’t even agree on where their name comes from. Some say that the name was originally kochul (nomad), which became kotsul, and then hotsul. This referred to the Kievan Rus, who fled for the mountains during the Mongol Invasion of the 13th century. Others believe that the name derives from a sub-tribe of Cumans or Pechenegs, the Uzians, or from a tribe allied with the Ostrogoths – the Hutsians. More recent theories say that the name Hutsul comes from the Romanian word for brigand.

Whatever the case, these people have been living in the region for a long time, at least from the 9th century AD, and are still there today. They have a long lasting tradition in forestry, logging, and sheep herding. They’ve even been credited for having created the breed of horse known as the Hucul pony. Farming in this region was virtually nonexistent during those times, with the main focus being on animal husbandry. Today, roughly 25,000 Hutsuls live in the region. Most are in Ukraine, while the other 4,000 live in present day Romania.

9. The Principality of Hum – Bosnia and Herzegovina

Hum, more commonly known to the locals as Zachlumia or Zahumlje, was a Principality during the Early Middle Ages of what are now Bosnia and Herzegovina, and parts of Croatia. Zachlumia is a derivative of Hum, from Vlach (Vulgar Latin) culme, meaning “hill.” Zahumlje is named after the mountain of Hum. The name Herzegovina comes from the term Hum.

The inhabitants of the region were Slavic migrants who colonized the area during the 6th century. They mixed with the Romanized people already living there. The House of Viševi, which is Hum’s hereditary dynasty, probably descended from the Slavic Litziki tribe populating the upper streams of the Vistula River.

During the second half of the 7th century, the Avars occupied the whole region of Dalmatia and sacked the towns, enslaving and displacing the local population. The principality of Hum was among these places. Some of these Avars might have permanently settled the area. Nevertheless, they attacked Constantinople in 626, but were defeated by the Byzantines and stopped being an influential force in the region. Shortly after, in 630, the Serbs settled Hum under the protection of the Byzantine Emperor.

8. The Vascones – Spain

Located in the Northern part of the Iberian Peninsula, the Vascones were an Indo-European tribe. They’re considered by many to be one of the oldest on the continent. Not very much is known about them before Roman colonization, but what is known is that they are the ancestors of present-day Basques, who live there today. Their languages seem to have similarities, but to date the Vascone language hasn’t been successfully translated.

Before and during Roman rule, the territories of what is now Basque country were shared by the Vascones with three other smaller tribes: the Varduli, Caristii and Autrigones. What happened to them is a matter of debate, but they were more than likely assimilated by the Vascones during the following period. Later, they extended their reach northwards, across the Pyrenees into French Aquitaine. This region became to be known as Gascony, which derives its name from the Vascones.

In the 5th century AD, the Vascones began to see a period of constant strife with the advancing Vandals, Alans, and Suevi tribes, as well as the Visigoths, who were given the province of Aquitaine by the Romans. Later, further conflicts erupted between the Vascones and the Franks, as well as the Goths and Visigoths.

With the Arab Invasion in 711 and the rise of the Carolingian dynasty, the Vascones/Basques were under new threats. After Charlemagne’s death, his son Louis the Pious provoked a new rebellion in the region, led by Gartzia Semeno. A relative of his, Enecco Arista, took power in Pamplona around 824. This is when the Kingdom of Pamplona was born, later known as the Kingdom of Navarre.

7. The Kvens – Upper Scandinavian Peninsula

Contrary to popular belief, the Vikings never did control the whole of the Scandinavian Peninsula. The lands predominantly belonged to the Kvens and Sami of Kvenland since Neolithic times. Their numbers were bolstered by the coming Finno-Ugric peoples from the east, somewhere around the third millennium BC.Kvenland encompassed most of modern day Finland, part of northwestern Russia, and two thirds of Sweden and Norway. Up until the Medieval Period only the southern most parts of the peninsula in Norway, Sweden, and Finland were under control of the Norse.

The Kvens, together with the Sami, formed the ancestral basis for modern day Finland. To the Swedes, Kvenland was known as Österland, or the ‘eastern land’. Their organization was mostly tribal based, with a possibility of local kingships here and there. When talked about in Norse materials or sagas, these kingships were inflated to a national level.

It is believed that the Yngling royal family, the oldest Scandinavian dynasty, hailed from Kvenland. This is not entirely proven. What is for sure, however, is the Norse religion and folklore, which come from the Kvens. Something absolutely characteristic to shamanism from the Ural and Eurasian regions (from where the Kvens originated) is the cosmogony in the higher/middle/lower worlds division, evident in the nine worlds from Norse myth.

6. The Frisians – The Netherlands and Germany

Originating from a larger family of peoples, the Frisians are closely related to the Jutes, Warns, Angles, and Saxons, and spoke a language similar to English. Their forefathers settled the coastal, clay-districts of present-day Dutch provinces of Friesland and Groningen as early as 700 BC. Much like today, the region encountered periodical flooding, with sea levels rising every few centuries. That’s why the inhabitants mostly lived on man-made mounds, called terps.

Later, they fell under the protectorate of the Roman Empire, having to pay regular taxes in the form of cowhides. With the fall of the Romans, Germanic tribes swept over Western Europe. For the first time, they formed organized states. Groups of Frisians, together with the Chaukians, went on to create a new tribal alliance that became the Franks. Other Frisians, together with the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes, crossed the North Sea and formed present-day England.

They also created their own Frisian Empire, which peaked in the 7th century. Its lands were mostly on the coast, from north Belgium to southern Denmark. The North Sea was even called “Mare Frisicum” during this period. The Frisians controlled trade routes from Friesland to England, France, Scandinavia, and northwest Russia.

Even today, the Frisian language is recognized as official in the Netherlands and taught in schools throughout the province of Friesland. The small village of Hindeloopen, with a population of around 870 people, has its own Frisian dialect. It’s the smallest community in the world to publish its own dictionary.

5. The Picts – Scotland

Known as “Picti” (the painted ones) by the Romans, these people can trace their lineage back to the Celts in terms of language and culture. They inhabited the eastern and northern parts of present day Scotland. Because of the Picts, the Romans were unable to successfully conquer the whole of Britain. They were the main reason for Hadrian’s Wall (Picts’ Wall) being built.

Even though they lived on the outermost fringes of the continent, the Picts were skilled artists and traders. They created some of the most beautifully carved stones and jewelry north of Rome itself. They were even making use of “the Golden Ratio” in their designs. That’s something found only in nature, or a handful of other man-made structures like the Notre Dame Cathedral or the Egyptian Pyramids. Another interesting fact about these people is that they were among the last on the continent to practice a matrilineal succession, meaning that they were tracing their descent through a female, rather than male line.

Since they had no written language of their own, most of what we know about the Picts comes from outside sources. We unfortunately don’t know what they called themselves, or what religion or traditions they were practicing. However, the Picts played an active role in British history throughout the Early Middle Ages. They defeated the Anglo-Saxons on several occasions, creating a clear north-south divide on the island. The Picts played an integral role in the early formation of Scotland.

4. The Krivichi – Belarus

The Krivichi, or Krivichians, were a tribal confederation of different ethnic groups of Slavs who occupied regions of Belarus and western Russia. They’re mentioned in the Kievan Rus’ chronicles, though how they came to the region is still up for debate. Whatever the case, they played an intricate role in developing the area in terms of trade. They connected the towns of Novgorod with the town of Pskov, which gave them easy access to the Baltic Sea. They acted as middle men between the Vikings to the north and the Byzantine Empire to the south.

By the end of the first millennium, the Krivichi had built many agricultural settlements with traces of ironworks, jewelry making, and several other crafts. Archeological digs have uncovered many long burial mounds where the druzhinnik (members of princely retinue, or bodyguards) were interred in a sumptuous manner, alongside their weapons and other riches.

By the middle of the 9th century, the Krivichi went under the suzerainty of the Kievan Rus. They took part in Prince Oleh’s and Prince Ihor’s campaigns against Constantinople in 907 and 941, respectively. Both attacks failed to take the city, but sparked a period of good trade relations between the Vikings and the Byzantines. During this period, however, the Krivichians were broken up into three principalities under the rule of the Vikings. Together with the Drehovichians, they made up the ancestral basis for both the modern Russian and Belorussian people. The modern word Krievs means “Russian” in Latvian.

3. The Pannonian Avars – Hungary

The Avars were a nomadic horse-warrior people, whose origins are not entirely known. They are believed to have come from present day Mongolia. Their departure towards the west was most likely sparked by losing power in the region to the Gokturks.

Once on the European continent, they made contact with Emperor Justinian I of the Byzantines. He hired them to protect the Empire’s borders to the north. After Justinian’s death in 565 AD, the new Emperor, Justin II, canceled their agreement and the Avars started looking for a permanent home. Together with the Lombards, they defeated and removed the Gepids from Pannonia (present-day Hungary).

Now, established on the Pannonian plains, the Avars built their headquarters near Attila’s old capital and fortified it. This place became known as The Ring. From here they began several campaigns of expansion in all directions, enlarging their kingdom. They fought and defeated the Franks in 570, following with a campaign against the Byzantines. After ravaging Moesia, they were finally defeated near Adrianople in 587.

With the death of their ruler, Khan Bayan, around 602 AD, the Avar Khanate went into a slow decline. Just like the Huns, the Avars lacked any real central government capable of managing large numbers of sedentary people. They began to fight among themselves. Emperor Charlemagne of the Franks took advantage by attacking them in 795 AD. One year later, the Avars were ruled by the Franks. Their legacy, besides the iron stirrup (which they introduced in Europe), was the major shift in demographics wherever they raided or settled. The Avars are responsible for uprooting and displacing large numbers of people, who then had to establish their cultures elsewhere.

2. The Sorbs – Germany

During the second half of the 5th century, many Germanic tribes living in areas of present-day East Germany moved toward the Mediterranean. The vacuum left behind was filled by Slavic peoples collectively known as Wends. They assimilated the remaining “Germans,” and by the 7th century most of the region was Slavic speaking. Among these Wends were also the Sorbs, whose territories reached as far North as Berlin.

Their earliest surviving mention was in 631 AD, in Fredegar’s Chronicle, where they were described as Surbi and under the rule of Dervan. Initially subordinates to the Franks, the Sorbs declared their independence after the Frankish defeat of 632, in the face of Samo’s Empire (a political union of Slavic tribes). Over the coming centuries, the Sorbs fought several battles with the Franks and upcoming Germans. In 939, Gero II held a feast where he murdered 30 Sorbian princes, resulting in many Sorbian revolts against German rule.

From this period onward, the region became more and more Germanized. It now forms an integral part of modern day Germany. Around the Bautzen and Cottbus in Lusatia, some Slavic speakers survived and identify themselves as Sorbs even to this day. Their numbers, however, are dwindling. There are only around 60,000 living in the region since the fall of the Soviet bloc. Even if many don’t know how to speak the Sorb language, some still practice the old traditions like the lapanje kokota (rooster plucking), a summer harvesting ritual.

1. The Alans – Pretty Much All Over the Place

The Alans were an Iranian steppe people who, from the 4th century BC, settled the area between the Black and Caspian Seas, north of the Caucasus Mountains. They played an important role in shaping Medieval Europe. They were the only non-Germanic people to build important settlements in Western Europe, and dominated the late Roman Empire’s foreign affairs.

With the arrival of the Huns, the Alans broke into two parts. Some remained behind in Alania, while others pushed forward. Among the latter, some settled within the Byzantine Empire, though most went into Western Europe. Together with the Visigoths and Vandals, the Alans passed into Gaul and Spain, reaching as far as North Africa.

The Alans and Romans were able to defeat Attila the Hun in 451 AD, sparing much of Western Europe from the Hunnic onslaught. After Attila’s death, the Alans settled in large numbers along the middle course of the Loire in Gaul under King Sangiban, as well as on the lower Danube with King Candac. In 461 and 464 they also made incursions into Italy. By the 5th century AD, the Alans became fully Christianized and gradually lost their Iranian language.

The Alans are credited for their introduction of mounted warfare tactics into Western Europe, as well as armoring themselves and their horses. The Spanish province of Catalonia is just a slight deformation of Goth-Alania. The name Alan, in all its variations and languages, comes from the tribe. They also left an imprint in Celtic poetry, e.g., the cycle of legends concerning King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table. They introduced a now-extinct dog breed, the Alaunt. It was used in the still-popular sport of hunting on horseback with hunting dogs. This practice was introduced into Europe by…you guessed it: the Alans.


Middle Ages Handbook

WABAC Into Ancient History

It’s All Greek to Me – Spartan Facts

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Horrifying Facts

About the Spartans

Sparta is one of the most extreme civilizations in Earth’s history. Relatively early in Greek history, even before the Classical World had begun, the Spartans drove through a radical social and political revolution. In effect, all Spartans are made to be equal. Really equal. And they developed key concepts we still use today, like the importance of self-sacrifice for the common good or the value of duties and of rights. In short, all Spartans aimed to be as perfectly human as humanly possible. Every single of our utopic ideas today, can draw their roots from the Spartan example.

 The biggest problem about Sparta, from a historical point of view at least, is that they left very few written records, and didn’t build grand architecture that we could then analyze. However, Spartan women enjoyed a degree of freedom, education and equality unparalleled anywhere in the ancient world. Each member of society, man or woman, master or slave, had a precise role to play, and one can’t talk about Spartan soldiers without talking about Sparta itself. And this is because every Spartan citizen was specifically molded to be the perfect soldier from birth. This preparation was often-times brutal, and we’ll take a look just how extreme the Spartans were.

10. Spartan Children Were Bred for War

Almost every aspect of the Spartan way of life was governed by the state. This included its children. Each Spartan baby was brought before a council of inspectors, who examined him for physical defects. If anything seemed out of the ordinary, they would take the newborn and leave him to die of exposure somewhere on a hillside outside the city. In a few fortunate cases, these forsaken children would be rescued by foreigners passing by, or by the helots (Spartan slaves) working the fields. In their infancy, the babies who survived this first of many tests would be bathed in wine instead of water, as to strengthen their physical attributes. They would also be frequently ignored by their parents when they cried, as to make them accustomed to a “Spartan” way of life. These parenting techniques were so highly admired by foreigners that Spartan women were often sought as nurses or nannies.

Up until the age of seven, Spartan boys lived with their family, but then they were taken by the state to live in communal barracks and start their first training regimen, called “agoge”. This program aimed to mold the young Spartans to become perfect warriors. The training involved hard physical exercises, as well as learning stealth, extreme loyalty, military and combat training, pain-tolerance, hunting, survival skills, social communication, and morality. They were also taught reading, writing, rhetoric and poetry. However, at age 12 they were stripped of all clothing and possessions, save a red cloak. They were then instructed to sleep outside and make their own beds from reeds. They were also encouraged to scavenge or steal food, but if caught they were severely punished by flogging. Spartan girls continued to live with their families after the age of seven, but they too received the famous Spartan education, which involved dance, gymnastics, as well as javelin and discus throwing. These exercises were believed to make them ready for motherhood.

9. Hazing and Fighting Among Themselves

One way through which children were toughened up as a key element in their development as soldiers was to instigate fights among them. Older men and teachers would often start various arguments among their students and encouraged them on, leading the boys to start fighting with each other. Since the main purpose of the agoge was to make these trainees highly resistant to all sorts of hardships found during war, like cold, hunger or pain, those who showed signs of weakness, cowardice, or timidity were subject to harsh punishments and humiliation by peers and teachers alike. Imagine being bullied by someone in school, and then your teacher would come over and join in. To make things even worse, girls often sang choral songs in front of dignitaries during various religious or state ceremonies, sometimes singling out specific trainees for ridicule.

Not even grown-ups were spared humiliation. Spartans absolutely loathed people out of shape. This is one of the reasons why all Spartan citizens, the kings included, had their daily meals at a syssitia, a military mess, where the food was bland and always insufficient. Together with daily physical exercises, Spartan men and women kept in shape throughout their entire lives. Those who didn’t, however, were exposed to public humiliation by everyone, and even risked being banished from the city if they didn’t fix the problem immediately.

8. The Contest of Endurance

An integral part of Ancient Sparta, and one of its most gruesome practices, was the so-called Contest of Endurance, or Diamastigosis. This tradition was said to commemorate an incident where people from neighboring settlements killed each other at the altar of Artemis. From that point on, human sacrifices were brought there annually. Since Lycurgus, however – a famous, semi-mythical Spartan lawgiver from the 7th century BC – the ceremony at the sanctuary of Artemis Orthia only involved the ephebes (adolescent boys undergoing the agoge) being flogged until they completely stained the stairs of the altar full of blood. During the event, the altar was covered with cheeses and the young boys would try to reach and take them. Older ones would wait for them with sticks in hand, flogging and beating them without mercy. This tradition was in fact an initiation ceremony where the ephebes were accepted as full Spartan warriors and citizens. The last boy standing would receive great honor for his bravery. Deaths were also not uncommon during this event.

During the Roman occupation of Sparta, the tradition of Diamastigosis endured, but lost much of its ceremonial importance. It instead became a favorite spectator sport. People from all over the empire would flock to Sparta and see how young men were being whipped in such a brutal fashion. By the 3rd century AD the sanctuary was enclosed by a theater where spectators could watch the floggings.

7. The Krypteia

When the ephebes reached the age of 20 or so, those who were marked out as potential future leaders were given the opportunity to take part in the Krypteia. This was a sort of secret police, or at least the closest Sparta got to one. It more closely resembled a guerrilla force since its main purpose was to stake out and terrorize the surrounding helot settlements. At its peak during the 5th century BC, Sparta had about 10,000 men able to bear arms, while the surrounding helot population outnumbered them 7 to 1. This was a double-edged sword for the Spartan citizens. On the one hand, the helots were providing the Spartans with all the food they would need, freeing them to become super-soldiers. On the other hand, the Spartans were constantly under threat from helot rebellions. This continuous risk of revolt was also the main reason why the Spartans developed such a highly militarized society in the first place, in which every Spartan man became a soldier by law.

Every fall these young soldiers got a chance to test out their skills, when the Spartan ephors unofficially declared war on the helot population. At night the members of the Krypteia would be armed with knives and set loose onto the surrounding countryside. They were instructed to kill any helot they encountered, especially the strongest among them. This annual slaughter of the lowest class was to ensure the helots’ obedience, as well as to keep their population in check. Only the Spartans who took part in this gruesome event as young men could hope to one day achieve the highest ranks in the army and society. Throughout the rest of the year, this “secret police” would patrol the countryside looking for any signs of unrest. Any potentially troublesome helot would be summarily executed.

6. Compulsory Marriage

While this can’t be construed as particularly horrifying, compulsory marriage by the age of 30 is something that many today consider especially frightening. We don’t think the same rules apply in modern-day Sparta, but in the ancient times they certainly did. Up until the age of 30, all Spartan men lived their lives in communal barracks and made up the active military of the mighty city-state. They would then be relieved of duty, but would act as the reserve force until they turned 60. In any case, 30 was the age when all male citizens were more or less forced to tie the knot, if they hadn’t done so already.

And since Spartans saw marriage primarily, but not exclusively, as a means of conceiving new soldiers, girls usually married at around 19 (later than other Greek girls). Bachelors were encouraged to evaluate the health and fitness of their future mates. But even if the marriage arrangements were made between the husband and his future father-in-law, this doesn’t mean the girl didn’t have any say in the matter. After all, Spartan women were equal to their men, more so than in a lot of countries today.

In the event a Spartan soldier would get married before finishing his active service when turning 30, he would live separately from his wife until that time. Likewise, if a man remained a bachelor after entering the reserves, he was seen as neglecting his duties towards Sparta itself, and would be publicly mocked at every occasion; especially during official ceremonies. If by any chance a Spartan wasn’t able to bear children, he was expected to find a suitable other who could. There were even cases of a woman having several partners and their collective children belonging to all.

5. Spartan Weapons & Armor

The bulk of every Ancient Greek army, Sparta included, was the hoplite. These were heavily-armored soldiers, citizens of their respective city-states, with enough material means to equip and make themselves available to fight. But while other cities’ hoplites weren’t professional soldiers and often lacked sufficient military training, Sparta’s soldiers were bred solely for war, and did nothing else their entire lives. And while other Greek city-states built massive walls to defend themselves, Sparta famously had none, considering its hoplites as its defenses.

The principle weapon of every hoplite, regardless of origin, was the spear, or dory. These spears measured around 8 feet in length and were held one handed, either over or underhand. Its tip was made out of bronze or iron, and the shaft was made from cornel wood. This wood was especially sought after because of the density and strength it gave the spear. The wood is so dense it actually sinks in water. Then in their left hand, the hoplites held their iconic round shields, the hoplon. Weighing some 30 pounds, these were used primarily for defense, but were also used for bashing. These shields were made out of wood or leather with an outer layer of bronze. Spartans marked their shields with the letter lambda. This stood for Laconia, the name of the region of Sparta.

Now, if either their spears broke off or the battle became too overcrowded, the hoplites in the front row turned to their xiphos. This was a short sword, about 17 inches long, which was used for stabbing while behind the hoplon. Spartans, however, mostly preferred the kopis instead of the xiphos, because of the nasty wounds it inflicted. The kopis was used more as an axe in the form of a thick, curved iron sword, and Spartans were often depicted in Athenian art while holding one. For extra defense, they wore bronze helmets that protected the head, the back of the neck, and the face, as well as a breastplate (thorax) of bronze or leather. Bronze graves, knemides, to protect the shins, as well as arm-guards were also worn.

4. The Phalanx

One of the signs a civilization reaches a certain point in its development is the way its army wages war. Tribal societies, for example, usually fought in loose arrangements, each warrior waving his huge broadsword or axe over his head in intimidation, and looking for personal glory on the battlefield. But more advanced civilizations fought in compact formations, with each individual soldier having a precise role to play within a larger strategy. The Romans did this, and so did the Ancient Greeks. In fact, the famous Roman Legion formations were inspired by the Greek Phalanx.

Hoplites were organized into regiments, lokhoi, of several hundred individuals, and fought in 8 rows or more. This is what’s known as a Phalanx. The men stood shoulder to shoulder in a tight formation, with their shields covering their left half, as well as the right side of the soldier next to him. Above their shields and between their heads, there was a literal forest of spears protruding outwards. The Phalanx advanced at walking speed or slightly faster, usually accompanied by rhythmic music and war-cries; something which Spartans studied intensely during the agoge. As Greek cities often fought each other, Phalanx would usually meet another Phalanx in battle, in which case they would push and stab each other until one side emerged victorious. Think of it as a much bloodier version of a rugby scrum. Nevertheless, this formation was also successfully used against the Persians on numerous occasions.

Its biggest weakness, however, was its left flank. As the Phalanx advanced and each man sought to keep behind the shield of his neighbor, the formation had the tendency to shift right, leaving the left flank exposed. A good commander would therefore put his best warriors in his own right flank in order to take advantage of this possible situation and ultimately win the battle.

3. No Such Thing as Surrender

As part of their extreme-loyalty training, Spartans despised cowardice above all else, and soldiers were expected to fight without any sense of fear whatsoever. Even to the last man, if need be. In effect, the act of surrender was seen as the epitome of all cowardice. In the highly unlikely event of a Spartan hoplite doing such an unthinkable thing, it would most likely lead him to commit suicide. The ancient historian Herodotus makes mention of two Spartans who missed out on the famous Battle of Thermopylae and who later, in their utter shame, killed themselves. One by hanging himself, and the other by dying a redeeming death during a later conflict for Sparta.

Spartan mothers were famous for saying things like: “Return with your shield or on it” to their sons just before they left for battle, referring to them either returning victorious or dead. Sparta only considered its debt fully repaid when its citizens died doing their duty for her. Men by dying in battle, and Spartan women during childbirth. In fact, only these two groups of people were ever worthy enough to have their own names forever engraved on their tombstones.

2. The Thirty Tyrants

Sparta was known for wanting to spread its own utopian views upon its neighboring states. First were the Messenians to the west, which Sparta defeated during the 7th and 8th centuries BC, turning them into their subservient helots. They later began looking towards Athens itself. During the Peloponnesian War(431–404 BC), not only did the Spartans defeat them, but would also inherit their naval supremacy over the Aegean; something that Sparta never had. Refusing to raze Athens to the ground, as was suggested by the Thebans and Corinthians, the Spartans decided instead to shape the city in their own image.

To do so, they installed a pro-Spartan oligarchy in Athens, infamously known as the Thirty Tyrants. Their main purpose was to revise or in most cases, completely erase the fundamental Athenian laws for its own style of democracy. They reformed the power structure by first lowering most citizens’ rights, and installing 500 councilors to serve the judicial functions formerly belonging to all citizens. They also hand-picked 3,000 Athenian men to “to share in the government” who were allowed more privileges than the rest. During their 13-month-long regime, some 5 percent of all the Athenian population died or simply disappeared, a lot of property confiscated, and many pro-Athenian democrats were exiled.

A former student of Socrates himself, Critias, the leader of the Thirty, was considered cruel, imposing and downright inhumane, as a man who wanted to make Athens into a mirror image of Sparta whatever the cost. Similar to the Krypteia in Sparta, all people who were considered a threat to the new establishment were quickly executed. They also employed 300 “lash-bearers” to patrol the city, harassing and terrorizing the city’s population into submission. Around 1,500 of Athens’s most prominent figures not in favor of Spartan rule were forced to take poison hemlock.

Interestingly enough, the more violent the Tyrants were with the city’s population, the more opposition they faced. This poor state of affairs eventually resulted in a successful rebellion 13 months later, lead by Thrasybulus, one of the few who managed to escape into exile. With the Athenian restoration, the before-mentioned 3,000 were given amnesty, while the rest, the Thirty included, were executed. Critias died in the initial attack. Riddled with corruption, betrayals and violence, the Tyrants’ short rule ensured severe mistrust among the Athenians themselves in the years to come.

1. The Famous Battle of Thermopylae

Made popular today by the 1998 comic book series, and the 2006 movie 300, the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 BC was an epic engagement between the few Greeks under the Spartan King Leonidas I and the many Persians under King Xerxes. The whole conflict began even before these two became rulers, during the reign of Xerxes’ predecessor, Darius I. He already expanded his borders into mainland Europe and then set his sights on Greece itself. When Darius died and Xerxes took power in 486 BC, he immediately began preparations for an invasion; the biggest threat Greece had ever faced.

After much deliberation between the many Greek city-states, a combined force of around 7,000 hoplites was sent to defend the pass of Thermopylae against the advancing Persian army. (Somehow the graphic novel and movie failed to mention those other 6,700 warriors, including the legendary Athenian naval fleet.) Among that 7,000 were the famous 300 Spartans lead by King Leonidas himself. Xerxes amassed around 80,000 troops for the invasion, though the numbers vary a lot. The relatively small Greek force was due in part to their unwillingness to send troops so far north. The other reason was more religious, for it was the period of the sacred games at Olympia and the most important Spartan religious festival, the Karneia, during which no fighting was allowed. In any case, Leonidas realized the peril they were facing and chose 300 of his most loyal men, who all had male heirs.

Located some 95 miles north of Athens, Thermopylae was an excellent defensive position. Only at about 50 feet wide, and cramped between an almost vertical cliff-face and the sea itself, the Persians couldn’t effectively deploy their vastly superior numbers. This gave the Greeks a tremendous advantage, coupled with a defensive wall already built there. When Xerxes finally arrived, he waited four days in the hopes of the Greeks retreating, which didn’t happen. He then sent his envoys one last time, asking they lay down their arms, to which Leonidas replied “come and get them.” For the following two days the Greeks withstood the many Persian attacks, including those of the infamous Immortals. Betrayed by a local shepherd who told Xerxes about a hidden pass through the mountains, Leonidas would soon find himself surrounded.

Learning of this unfortunate turn of events, he dismissed most of the other hoplites under his command, and kept only his Spartans and a few others to make the last stand. When the final attack came, the mighty Leonidas, as well as his 300 Spartans fell, fulfilling their duty towards their people and to Sparta itself. Even to this day, there’s an inscription at Thermopylae which says: “Go tell the Spartans, you who read: We took their orders and here lie dead.” Now even if Leonidas didn’t win the battle, what he did manage to achieve reverberated through the following wars with the Persians, leading the Spartans to lead the resistance and defeat their overwhelming conquerors. This battle also ensured that Sparta will forever be remembered in history as one of the world’s most unique and powerful civilizations.


It’s All Greek to Me

Spartan Facts

THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 90

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THE NULL SOUTION = Episode 90

…’The money we spend on space could be better spent at home…’

…But remember, when you mess with NASA, you’re messing with the future…

“Nobody has seen Deke McKinney lately,” states President Harper Lea Bassett.

“I heard he is on location in Morocco shooting a movie.”

“He’s old enough to run for president right damn now; we ought to check into his political ambitions.”

Only his hairdresser knows for sure.

“I want my own “dawg” down there at NASA, someone who will give me all the credit. It’s an election year you know.”

“Would that person be a “Bassett hound”?” Chief-of-Staff Shriver jokes. “It isn’t just the McKinneys who are loyal to Roy; from the sanitary engineers to the Saturn XIV rocket scientists, I swear that they would die for him.”

“I need an issue that will resonate with our Democratic constituency, like, ‘The money we spend on space could be better spent at home.’

“Over half of our constituency cannot speak English.”

“That’s my point exactly! Unless they can eat it, wear it or spend it, they don’t care. The speed-of-light doesn’t mean squat to the person on the government dime.”

“Those are our people for sure.” Privately, Dane Shriver would consider himself as Republican-leaning, if he did not happen to have the cushiest job in the country.

“Make me up a list of possible NASA directors.  Doesn’t {former California governor} Patrick Schwarzenegger need something to do?”

“Other than screwing every B-list actress under the age of majority?”

“That’s kind of harsh Dane. He is one of my biggest donors, be nice.”

“A new director would need to know something about space.”

“Didn’t Patrick play an astronaut in a movie about Jupiter once?”

“No, that was Channing Tatum. He {Patrick} runs a movie studio now; I believe it is Warner Brothers.” It is hard to keep her focused. “I will shoot a list over to you in a couple of days, but I’m telling you, if not Roy, one of his staffers would be best. Remember, when you mess with NASA, you’re messing with the future… the future of all the people who do speak English and actually have a clue.”


THE NULL SOLUTION

Messing with the Future

Episode 90


page 91

THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 89

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THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 89

…Speaking of those blasted space-nuts, rumors are spreading about Deke McKinney, nobody has seen him lately…

“Is it just me, or is Roy Crippen a threat to national security?” Harper Lea Bassett asks.

“It’s pretty much just you… and a fundamental sectarian cult the hills of Tennessee. What gives?” Chief-of-Staff Dane Shriver compares his boss to a group of hillbillies who think that if it isn’t found in the Holy Bible, it can’t be true. She just does not get it.

“It seems like NASA is a military drone without the remote control.”

“But Prez Roy is a folk hero and NASA comes in under budget every year… and he wears a white cowboy hat!”

“I wore a white hat on Easter last year!”

“But somebody found it had feathers from an endangered species of bird on it.”

“A Golden-cheeked Warbler, how could I forget?”

“There were only 500 nesting pairs left and they are only found in Texas… and where is our legendary former president from?”

“Okay, alright, but it’s the milliner’s fault. He told me the yellow feathers would bring out the brown in my beautiful hazel eyes.” A scant 51% of Americans would agree, the rest would side with the blue-eyed Republican who campaigned against her three year ago. “If I have him fired, what would be the big whooped-y-do? He’s old and he should retire to that ranch of his.”

“There is still the McKinney factor. They are equally big or bigger heroes as Crippen and that voting block is as loyal as hell to him”

President Bassett is wearing a path into the pink Oval Office carpet.

“Speaking of those blasted space-nuts, rumors are spreading about Deke McKinney, and they say that he a severe case of radiation poisoning… nobody has seen him lately.”

“I heard he is on location in Morocco shooting a movie.”

The the funny thing about rumors & gossip; both lack accuracy as well as credibility and spread faster than a norovirus on a overbooked cruise ship.


THE NULL SOLUTION

Episode 89


page 90

George Washington Digest – WIF Into History

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Lesser Known

Facts About

George Washington

Even as American values change and history is continually revised by new discoveries, George Washington remains one of the most venerated figures in human history. A highly esteemed soldier and general who became a pioneer politician, he appeals both to the intellectual types and those who liked to prove their worth through combat. Unfortunately, for all his acclaim, the casual reader only gets a vague impression of what he was like as a human. It’s unfortunate, because it leaves out a number of very interesting aspects of the life of a fascinating (if deeply flawed) man. Unfortunate for the average person, that is, not for George Washington. His legacy has literally been set in stone. So, let’s get to learning more about America’s most prominent Founding Father.

 10. Started the First Worldwide War

Although he’s a central figure in the American Revolutionary War, Washington had an even more significant role in a larger scale conflict that is often overlooked in American history. In 1754, Washington was a Lieutenant Colonel in command of forty troops that had been dispatched to intercept a column of French troops in Southwestern Pennsylvania. While this was technically still peace time, tensions were high, as the year before Washington had led a retinue to the French Fort Duquesne to demand they leave the territory, and it had been only through a mighty show of force that the French had surrendered the fort without a fight. So it was that on May 28, Washington’s small command found the French column, and despite having been ordered not to engage the enemy, Washington ordered a sneak attack. He was, after all, only about 22 years old and eager to prove himself, even if it meant defying orders. They killed a small number of French soldiers, wounded a few others, and took 21 prisoners.

 According to History.com, his small engagement was the flashpoint that led to the rival nations of France and Great Britain enlarging their armed forces in the colonies, and in time the war spilled over into Europe. It became known as the Seven Years’ War, and it was the deadliest conflict of the Eighteenth Century. Necrometrics. computes the number of dead from that conflict at 853,000, far exceeding the total combined forces engaged in the American Revolution, let alone the number of casualties. Makes the “Shot Heard Round the World” seem almost quaint.

9. Signed a Murder Confession

Well before it escalated to the Seven Years War, in the immediate aftermath of Washington’s unauthorized sneak attack it became clear it was a British/Colonial boondoggle. It turned out the French column was actually on a diplomatic mission, and Smithsonian Magazine states they had the documentation to prove it. The diplomat in question was an Ensign Joseph Jumonville, and according to Washington, he was killed in the immediate aftermath of the attack when a Native American, who went by the nickname Half King, put a tomahawk in his brain. A larger French force was dispatched to deal with the treacherous British and Washington responded by falling back to an improvised log defense dubbed Fort Necessity. Even after being reinforced by more than a hundred extra soldiers, Washington decided to surrender without another shot being fired. During the process Washington was made to sign a document, wherein he confessed to having murdered Jumonville.

In Washington’s defense, he signed the document under extreme duress and it was written in French, a language he was not familiar with. Rather than being court-martialed for disobeying orders and ignominiously surrendering, not to mention literally signing a confession, the British propaganda machine took Washington’s side. The British were determined to have North America for themselves and they needed to rally support for their cause instead of admitting defeat, and heaping scorn on the impulsive lieutenant colonel would do nothing to help achieve that goal. It took seven years of fighting, but eventually the British won and greatly expanded their American colonies, which as we now know would ultimately prove their undoing on that continent.

8. Did Not Have Wooden Teeth: Had Something Almost Worse

These days the historical trivia note that Washington had wooden teeth is so widely debunked that it’s probably harder to find someone who does believe it. This is not to say he had good teeth: he was having them taken out as young as 24. By 1789, the year he was elected president, he was down to one tooth still in his gums. The rest were his own refitted into dentures, nine were possibly form black people, and others were from whalebone. Even by the standards of the time they were unsightly, and the misconception they were wooden was likely due to their discolored appearance.

Although the dental problems so embarrassed Washington that he tried to keep them secret, they ultimately proved hugely advantageous in their own way. In 1781, a correspondence with a French dentist named Dr. Jean-Pierre Le Mayeur included notes that indicated Washington planned to stay in New York City. One of his letters was intercepted by the British, and they believed the letter indicated that it would be safe for a large contingent of British troops to move to a community called Yorktown. As it happened, Washington had changed his mind and moved to trap the British in the most decisive American victory of the war.

7. Signed the Most Slavery-Friendly Law

As with many of the Founding Fathers, slavery was an un-erasable stain on Washington’s legacy and a fixture of his life. The New York Times said he was an owner of ten slaves when he was only 11 years old, after his father’s death. By the time of his marriage in 1759, the number had grown to 80, and by 1776 it was 150. By the time of his death, between he and his wife Martha Custis Washington, he had 317.

Certain historical notes may seem to slightly redeem or at least complicate his feelings. In 1778 he wrote about wanting to get out of the business of owning slaves. When he died in 1799, his will stipulated that he wanted all the slaves owned by his family freed (this amounted to about half of them). But all this is overshadowed by a particularly nasty piece of legislation he urged to be pushed through congress in 1793. Known as the Fugitive Slave Act, it stipulated that slaveowners could cross any state boundaries in pursuit of escapees. It put a fine of $500 on anyone who sheltered a runaway slave or even aided them, an amount History.org tells us is more than eight years’ salary for a teacher in Virginia at the time.

6. Spent Final Years Pursuing a Single Escaped Slave

The most remembered person ever forced into servitude under Washington was Ona “Oney” Judge, one of the slaves Washington and his wife had with him in Philadelphia, whose main duty was attending to Martha’s personal needs. In May 1796, she slipped out of the Washington home. She had no shortage of help, as Philadelphia was so anti-slavery at the time that any slave that lived there for six months was automatically freed (Washington had gotten around this by merely regularly rotating his staff).

An article about Ona Judge on ushistory.org reports that Martha, for her part, seemed personally offended that a slave she felt she’d treated well would want to leave, refusing to believe Judge would ever want to leave of her own free will. Meanwhile, George initially tried to keep the incident under wraps while in abolitionist territory. Eventually he relented, had notices posted offering a $10 reward for aid in recapturing her, and asked the Secretary of the Treasury for help in bringing her back.

After being smuggled to New York City, for a time the president was able to get back in touch with her. Naturally, George was unable to persuade her to return to bondage without threat of physical force, and was worried using physical force would have caused “a riot on the docks.” Eventually she made her way to the community of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. She married a local freeborn black sailor and spent the final 50 years of her life a fugitive and favorite of abolitionist papers. Even when George Washington died three years later, he still had agents on the hunt for her.

5. A Moonshine Distiller

A popular misconception is that, since George Washington and other Founding Fathers grew hemp on their plantations, they must have been smoking it. That’s extremely unlikely, as they grew a species of hemp with little THC in it, which would have been nearly worthless for getting a buzz. Besides, Washington had a much more viable source of inebriation at Mount Vernon in the form of a huge whiskey distillery.

How huge was it? Big enough that it yielded more than 11,000 gallons a year, according to CBS, making it one of the nation’s largest. Of course, Washington couldn’t go through all that even if he threw lavish house parties, so he sold most of it off at a tidy profit. It’s enough to make you wonder if Sam Adams should really be the Founding Father whose name we most associate with alcohol.

4. HATED Becoming the President

An ambitious go-getter on the battlefield and a math enthusiast, you would think the highest office in the country of his birth would be a plum position for Washington. It should have seemed all the sweeter when the results came in from Congress on February 4 and said that of the sixty-nine votes, he’d won all of them. He was the only American president to be elected by unanimous vote. As History.org tells us, Washington was aware that in 1789 he had the support of the public as well as the landed gentry.

Nevertheless, Washington hated assuming the position. He’d spent months trying to get around being appointed to the position, or flat out refusing it prior to his unanimous election. In private, he removed any sense of ambiguity about his feelings, such as when he wrote to his friend Edward Rutledge that accepting the office meant “giving up all expectations of private happiness.”

3. Presidency Massively Criticized by Other Founding Fathers

Despite initial overwhelming support for Washington in Congress, the press, and the public, by the start of Washington’s second term it was a very different story. One of the milder critics was John Adams, who said the president was “too illiterate, unread, and unlearned for his station.”

Thomas Jefferson took a much harsher attitude in 1795 after Washington signed the controversial Jay Treaty, which gave favorable trading deals to Great Britain in exchange for moving British troops out of forts in territory outside the United States. He accused Washington of treason over that. Just before Washington left the office, Thomas Paine went to the press to accuse him of monopolizing for his own profit and his favorites, and depriving veterans. Amidst all this, many other newspapers criticized Washington too, of their own volition, and it was a large contributor to his decision to retire.

2. Invented Farming Equipment and Designs

After leaving the presidency, Washington devoted his twilight years to what had been his true passion all along: Farming. But being the sort of man he was, he of course needed to be in some way exceptional at it. He created an object called a “drill plow,” which was a huge time saver in that it planted seeds at the same time it tilled the soil.

But more significant was his 1797 innovation, the Threshing Barn. Essentially, it was a 15-sided brick building that was two stories tall, and the top floor was used to beat the wheat against the floor until the chaff was sorted out and the seeds fell to the bottom floor. Of course, it should be mentioned that working in it was something Washington delegated to the slaves.

1. Experimental Blood Transfusion Proposal

On December 14, 1799, at age 67, Washington passed away from an obstructive epiglottis, having only noticed the symptoms of it the day before. It must be said, though, that his condition was very likely not helped at all by the team of doctors dispatched to help him, and who concluded that bleeding was Washington’s best hope. Over 12 hours, they drained a staggering 40 percent of his blood. After he expired, in part because so much blood had been removed, a very odd proposal came up: Putting blood from another creature in. Yes, you read that right. Not another person’s blood. Another creature’s.

One of those present at Washington’s death was a William Thornton, a student from Edinburgh in Scotland. Since blood transfusions were relatively new to the field of medicine, some had claimed they could work medical miracles, including reviving the dead. Despite those outlandish claims, when he offered to give the corpse a transfusion of lamb’s blood, the family understandably declined.


George Washington Digest

WIF Into History

THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 32

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THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 32

…the United Korean Peninsula has been and continues to be blight upon the family of nations that makes up the rest of Earth…

The foreboding posture of the United Korean Peninsula is a troubling stain on the world at large.

The planet Earth is cut in half by an imaginary, yet quantifiable, line called the equator. In geography, latitude (φ) is a geographic coordinate that specifies the north-south position of a point on the Earth’s surface. Latitude is an angle which ranges from 0° at the Equator to 90° (North or South) at the poles. Lines of constant latitude, or parallels, run east-west, circles the run parallel to the equator.

The Korean Peninsula is a peninsula in East Asia. It extends southwards for about 684 miles (1,100 km) from continental Asia into the Pacific Ocean and is surrounded by the Sea of Japan to the east, and the Yellow Sea to the west, the Korea Strait connecting the first two bodies of water. It is situated between the 34th and 40th degree of parallel longitude in the northern hemisphere.

Once Upon a Time in Joseon (A Korean Tale)

In a happier age, back when Baby Boomers roamed the Earth, there were two kingdoms, each named Korea (or the peninsula titled by its neighbors: Joseon). The country to the South was a friendly kingdom, a land where its people were free to prosper and participate in the beautiful planet called Earth. The country to the North was a belligerent kingdom, where its people were purposely forbidden to know the truth about their beautiful planet. The two kingdoms had to be separated by a barrier, manned by great warriors to keep the peace. But the peace was fragile and the kingdom to the North did not keep the same rules as the rest of the world and they dared to use a mighty weapon to subdue their neighbors to the South. The other kingdoms of the world could not put things back the way it was before. And so it was that the United Korean Peninsula came to be and it was bad. 

THE END

To this day, the United Korean Peninsula has been and continues to be blight upon the family of nations that makes up the rest of Earth. With undeserved impunity, they have managed to spoil some of the most progressive projects in the world’s history. Space Colony 1, the prime example, was permanently sabotaged, resulting in the stranding of Sampson & Celeste McKinney, as well as squelching any sustained appetite to replace it.

Even worse than that, they were the first nation, since the signing of the Non-Proliferation Treaty in the year 1968, to use offensive nuclear weapons. To label them as “rogue” is a gross understatement.


THE NULL SOLUTION

Episode 32


page 36

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)

Pope City / Vatican Secrets – WIF Confidential

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Dark Secrets

About the Vatican

Walled off in the city of Rome, Vatican City is an independent city-state that is just one-eighth the size of Central Park in New York City, and is the home of the Pope. However, the Vatican can also refer to the Holy See, which is the governing body of the Catholic church. These are the five darkest facts about the Vatican.

6. Pop(e) Secret

I apologize for this hint of irreverence (my Readers, Religious leaders or Theater feeders). I actually like popcorn and love God.

5. Exorcisms

With advances in the fields of psychology, neuroscience, and biology, it’s hard to believe that exorcisms are still performed by the Catholic Church. However, according to former exorcist Gabriele Amorth, who apparently performed 70,000 exorcisms in his office in the Vatican, there are around 300 exorcists worldwide and four working in Rome.

Besides priests performing exorcisms, at least two modern-day Popes have performed exorcisms in the Vatican.

The first one was performed by Pope John Paul II in March 1982, on a young woman named Francesca Fabrizi from the Umbria region of Italy. During the exorcism, she writhed on the ground and cried out. The Pope said he would say mass for her the next day, which apparently cured her. She went on to live a normal life, getting married and having kids.

Pope John Paul’s second exorcism was in September 2000, when a woman with a history of possession was sitting in the front row of the Pope’s weekly audience. She flew into a rage and needed to be restrained, but was too strong and fought off the security. When she was finally restrained, Pope John Paul talked with her, hugged her, and then performed an exorcism. However, it didn’t work and Father Amorth had to do a follow up exorcism session that lasted two hours the next day.

Then in May 2009, Benedict XVI performed an exorcism on two men who were howling during the weekly audience. Apparently, when Pope Benedict blessed the men, they flew back nine feet and were cured.

4. Retiring Popes

For most Popes, it’s a job they have until they die. It’s part of Catholic Dogma; it would be like a parent giving up his or her kids. However, that doesn’t mean they aren’t allowed to. It’s just very rare that they resign or retire. In fact, over the past 1,000 years there have been 123 Popes and out of all of them, only five have abdicated.

The first one to resign was Benedict IX, who was one of the youngest Popes, and was probably about 20 when he first sported that amazing hat. He was also the only person to have served multiple terms as Pope. He was forced out of the Papacy in 1036, but returned just months later and became Pope again. However, he had a problem – he wanted to get married. So he ended up selling the Papacy to the man who became his successor, Pope Gregory VI, in May 1045. However, Benedict soon regretted doing that because it turned out the woman he wanted to marry wasn’t interested in marrying him. Oops. He was able to reclaim the title of Pope in November 1047, but he only lasted a year before he was excommunicated.

The second Pope to resign was the man who bought the Papacy, Pope Gregory VI, who stepped down at the urging of the Bishops. He denied he did anything wrong, but resigned nevertheless in 1046.

The next Pope to resign was Pope Celestine V in 1294. He decreed that if the Pope wanted to resign, then he should be allowed to do so. He did that very thing a week later, after five months of being Pope. After retiring, he lived like a hermit for two years. Unfortunately, his predecessor was worried that Celestine might try to reclaim the Papacy or oppose him, so he had him imprisoned, and he died after 10 months.

The next one was Pope Gregory XII in 1415. At the time, due to a schism in the Catholic Church, which started in 1378, there were two Popes: one in Rome, and one in Avignon. Gregory chose to step down so that the Pope in Avignon could be excommunicated and the Catholic Church could get a fresh start.

The final Pope to resign was Pope Benedict XVI in 2013; he did it citing health reasons. However, there is a conspiracy theory that he was forced out, or undermined so much that he was forced to resign. Proponents of this theory point out that he retired after the “Vatileaks” scandal, which was the leaking of documents that showed Pope Benedict’s struggle to be more transparent with the public about things like priests and sexual abuse, but interior politics thwarted his plans. The Vatileaks scandal showed that Benedict was an ineffectual manager and he chose to retire.

3. The Banco Ambrosiano Scandal

The Vatican bank is officially known as the Institute for Religious Works, and from 1971 to 1989, the President of the bank was Archbishop Paul Marcinkus from Cicero, Illinois. Before that, the 6-foot-4 former rugby player worked as a bodyguard for Pope Paul VI. However, he’d be remembered for a scandal that broke in 1982.

The scandal started with the collapse of Banco Ambrosiano, which was one of the biggest private banks in Italy, with $1.4 billion in debt. Shortly afterwards, Roberto Calvi (pictured above), who was the general manager of the bank and friend of Marcinkus, was found dead, hanging from a bridge in London, England. Originally it was considered a suicide, but it was later ruled a homicide. Five people were tried in connection to his murder, but they were all acquitted.

That brings us to Marcinkus and the Vatican bank. It turns out that the main shareholder in the bank was the Vatican, and they had funneled a billion dollars from the bank into 10 shell companies. Other rumors that surrounded the scandal was that other shareholders with the bank were involved in organized crime and some were even members of a secret Masonic lodge.

When Italian investigators tried to interview Marcinkus about the scandal, he was very uncooperative. He refused to leave the Vatican, and even refused to answer questions, citing diplomatic immunity. Marcinkus ended up being indicted, but he never went to trial because the charges against him were dismissed. He continued to head the Vatican bank for seven more years.

The scandal has even led to some conspiracy theories. The most famous one was used in the plot of Godfather Part III, and it’s that Pope John Paul I was assassinated by the Mafia in August 1978. John Paul I was pope for only 33 days in 1978 before he was found dead sitting up in bed. The official cause of death was a heart attack, but no autopsy was performed. According to the conspiracy theory, he was assassinated because he wanted to put end the relationship between the church and private bank.

2. The Apostolic Penitentiary

Catholic priests have some pretty awesome powers when it comes to granting absolution for committing crimes. This includes forgiving people for things like murder, or mass murders and even genocide. That’s right: if you’re Catholic and you chop up the family next door and eat them, you could go to a priest, and ask for forgiveness and he could forgive you. Not only that, but the priest could never tell the police.

Yet, there are five sins that are so grave that priests can’t absolve them. Instead, inside the Vatican, they have a secret tribunal called The Apostolic Penitentiary, which looks at cases involving these sins.

The tribunal was established by Pope Alexander III in 1179 and the type of cases that they examine has been a secret for much of its history. However, in 2009, the Catholic Church made a huge step towards transparency and revealed the nature of these sins.

Two of them can be committed by anyone. The first is desecrating the Eucharist, because Catholics believe that it is the actual body and blood of Christ. The second is attempting to kill the Pope.

The other three sins can only be committed by a priest, or men trying to become priests. One is if a priest reveals a sin (and the person who committed the sin) that they hear in confession. Second, they can’t have sex with someone and then offer confession to their sexual partner. Third, a man who wants to be a priest or a deacon can’t directly be involved with an abortion, such as paying for the procedure.

1. The Vatican Bank and Nazi Gold

According to a 1946 document from the Treasury Department, the Vatican may have both held and smuggled Nazi gold during World War II, despite being a neutral entity.

The document, which was brought to the attention of the public in 1997, said the Vatican bank held 200 million francs, which is about $254 million in 2016, for the Nazis. According to a rumor cited in the document, that money was later funneled through something called the “Vatican pipeline” to Argentina and Spain, where it was given to Nazis who fled prosecution for war crimes.

The Vatican bank also apparently funneled money that was stolen from Serbs and Jews by the Utashe, who were a Nazi puppet regime in Croatia. At the end of the war, the Utashe started plundering from the victims of their ethnic cleansing campaigns and then smuggled 350 million Swiss francs, which is worth about $440 million, out of Yugoslavia through the Vatican. The money was then used to support the murderous Ustashe organization while they were in exile.

In 2000, a lawsuit was brought against the Vatican over this issue, but the suit ultimately failed.


Pope City / Vatican Secrets

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