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

The NULL Solution = Episode 18

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The NULL Solution = Episode 18

…For the first time in all his born days, Roy expresses doubt in the field of his passion, “Do we belong 93,000,000 miles out in space?”…

Roy Crippen, beloved #48, sits back on a chair in his personal space at the Galveston Launch Facility. He had orchestrated the great theater for this day. Everything was going just fine until it wasn’t. What started as a way to hide a missing McKinney has rapidly descended into panic on his part.

Human nature’s default reaction is to think the worst. ‘Gus will not be coming back.’ His lone mistake was placing a time-frame on the return of the Stellar Explorer.

The location of his office is a state secret.

That he is there is also a secret.

He uses whatever mission hook-ups he has at his disposal to search for Gus, or that shiny spheroid his stepson was speaking of, up until there was the blaring sound of silence.

The Sun is making a better door than a window; looking directly at it damages the cornea, looking around it is tough, looking through it is impossible.

Gus’ last words rattle around his brain, “I’m back in control of SEx, slowing down to get a closer look. I can tell you one thing, somebody made this thing…”

For the first time in all his born days, he expresses doubt in the field of his passion, “Do we belong that far out in space?”

  1. 10 -Space Colony 1 destroyed √
  2. 45 -Sampson & Celeste gone √
  3. 25 -Deke McKinney absent √
  4. 50 -Gus & Stellar Explorer missing (possibly, maybe) √

He would prefer not assuming the worst, but that is an imposing list of failures that stares him in the face, even though the facts about the first 3 are not known to him or anyone else on Earth. That is zero comfort when comfort is needed ASAP.

Otherwise in great health, President Roy’s heart gives in to the mounting stress.

The location of his office is a state secret.

That he is in it now is a secret.

That he lies prostrate on the floor this day is an unintended consequence.


The NULL Solution =

Episode 18


page 23

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

Allegiance vs. Protest – The Great Divide (Op-Ed)

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Allegiance vs. Protest – The Great Divide

…A mixed(up) message…

One Woman’s Opinions

It usually takes something BIG to draw me into the open. I usually play things pretty close to my chest, my chest being the last place people would look. But the events of the past few days, specifically the to-do about protesting football players and a megalomaniac in the Oval Office.

It certainly was not Mike Pence. He was out of the office at the time, probably hosting a luncheon for a delegation stumping to make Puerto Rico the 51st state of our present (dis)union. They need not bother, because in my last book “The Null Solution”, sometime around 2050 I have made it so… the book is Science Fiction after all.

But I digress.

Full disclosure: I voted for & still support that megalomaniac.

Nevertheless, I am so worn down by the state of current events that I try not to watch the 1st (first) 15 minutes of the “news”, as to avoid being beat down by politics, murder and natural disasters.

  • – I avoid discussions on politics
  • – I cannot fathom the act of murder
  • – I do not live on a fault-line or in a hurricane prone state

The weather and sports come on 17 mins into a newscast.

My precious Lord has taught me how to deal with anger OR at least the best ways to avoid it. BUT, the day has come when no remote control or bomb shelter can disguise the hate that is flooding, like a stubborn tropical depression, onto the entire landscape that I like to call the United States of America.

Due in part to the age of social media (admittedly I am a blogger) and the immediate nature of how we receive our information, fake or not, segments of society can unite in a matter of hours. Movements that used to take a year to pick up steam, are now spread by Instagram, hot mics or Mark Zuckerberg even before they can be explained or retracted.

What started with one San Francisco 2nd-string quarterback and his expressing his displeasure with how Blacks are being treated by the police, has exploded into a name-calling discourse of overblown proportions. Colin K. may have been more upset about being on the bench.

Are there bad cops? Yes. Is there economic disparity in the world? I can attest to that myself. Does it mean that the issues are not being addressed? The answer is one-big-fat NO.

Neither am I questioning the allegiance (to the USA) of these protesters. Everyone wants their everything, but unfortunately it doesn’t work that way.

Fast food workers are being assaulted for not getting peoples’ orders out fast enough or God forbid, the order is wrong. Fast *&#(#@! Food for crying out loud.

The problems with our society can be summed up with one two-word phrase: Immediate Gratification. No longer is God’s time good enough for us. We want what we want & we want it NOW.

Instead of trusting God to work on our behalf (for our own good), we choose to hold our breath until we are blue in the face… and we make sure everyone knows about it. Toss in an incriminating video or whip some Facebook friends into a frenzy and there you have it. Immediate results without having to wait.

With luck it goes “viral”, a word that is used far too much.

I ordered curly fries not regular!

What was my original point? Oh yes, “Allegiance versus Protest – The Great Divide”, was my title. That seems to be the bridge too far.  For those who do not understand what the hoo-ha is all about are questioning the allegiance of the protesters; allegiance to God & country. Personally I think that is a bit much about too little, but it is just enough to divide a nation like the English Channel separates Britain from France. Why isn’t it called the French Channel? Protest @ 6P.

In the end, this is all about a mixed(up) message and cauliflower ears. When God set up the Tower of Babel, he did his usual dandy job & it still exists in theory.

Evil on both sides, has turned a simple issue into a garbled hot mess. Even the not-so-evil are caught up in the fray.

“Love your neighbor as yourself” is the Word given to the Apostle Mark, as he quotes in The Holy Bible.

If whole world could adhere to that Fatherly advice, the world would be a Garden of Eden for all.


—  The preceding portrays the views of Gwendolyn Hoff alone. I welcome everyone to “Love thy neighbor as yourself”, even if they don’t live next door.


Allegiance vs. Protest

– The Great Divide

The NULL Solution = Episode 3

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The NULL Solution = Episode 3

…Prez Roy, Prez Roy, ya da – ya da. I wish this country would let go of him…

“I want a tickertape parade on Inauguration Day. This is mankind’s greatest achievement and I want to rub it in the nose of those damned United Koreans.” Harper Lea Bassett, recently elected Madame President of the United States of America and proud to have supported NASA as part of her party’s platform, wants to thrust the SOL Project front & center for the entire world to see. “We have been playing second fiddle to Pan-Asia for far too long.”

{Pan-Asia does not include the United Korean Peninsula, at their causation,

thereby encouraging that rogue nation’s isolationist policies. The rest of the world has high anxiety because of Korea’s is current second placement in the race for “real” outer space. China has dropped to third, due to societal decay and fifth-place Russia has not recovered from the embargo of 2020’s.

India is fourth, at the expense of their 2 billion people, who are more interested in investing their capital in every possible commercial franchise opportunity.  To their credit, you cannot buy a donut and coffee without them.}

“I am sorry Madame President, but former President Crippen has nixed that idea,” her Chief-of-Staff informs her.

“What the hell, Dane! You’d think him and his NASA cronies would love the attention of an adoring planet. Get him on the secure line; I want to talk to him!”

“I’m sorry, but the secure line is down.”

“Don’t tell me, the Koreans?”

“We suspect they hacked in last week… they seem to have found out about our plan to kidnap an Un-family member and replace him with a doppelgänger.”

#^~`*+%=!!!  It’s hard to keep a secret anymore. It’s turned into a freaking competition; between the hackers, the drones, the satellites and the spy planes, you name it.”

“Half of them are ours!”

“Not the hackers. Our geeks are in their basements playing virtual-reality holographic games.”

“You should try Club Neptune; it is the hottest bar/game in the Solar System.”

“You want reality? We just blew past Neptune’s orbit twice and I can’t even get the Space Family McKinney to show up for a damned parade in their honor!”

“Prez Roy said he could send one of the SOL prototypes over instead.”

Prez Roy, Prez Roy, ya da – ya da. I wish this country would let go of him. How old is he now, Dane? He must be pushing 90.”

“He still runs 10 miles a day and, AND plays tennis with Francine!”

“Damn, I wish I had her legs… see, even I am jealous of an 80-something… and I am the youngest President ever elected,” just over the wire at 36, named after Harper Lee {different sp.} of To Kill a Mockingbird fame, elected by a motivated under-30 demographic and still wet behind her presidential ears. “I want USA One ready to go. I am going to go down to Texas and see what’s up.”


The NULL Solution =

Episode 3


page 9

History a la Carte (Op-Ed)

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History A Lá Carte

Picking and choosing which “past”

is worthy keeping around

What or who is next?

Let’s delve into the growing trend of tailoring history to suit individual sensibilities in what I am calling:

History A Lá Carte

There are important milestones in the academic discipline we call history.

  1. Pre-History
  2. Antiquity
  3. Modern History

Pre-history happens to academia’s best guess as to what happened before written/recorded language like:

  • 3 million B.C., when an upright-walking ape-man appears on the Earth
  • Or the invention of the wheel (to whoever’s family is owed an incredible royalty)
  • We can’t include fire because lightning probably made the 1st fire and God made lightning

Antiquity is the period around 3400 B.C. when that civilization called the Egyptians got going and was clever enough to record history using hieroglyphics, which normal people cannot read b/c it is a conglomeration of stick-men and lions. That and the rest of antiquity requires too-smart people to reassemble properly and we don’t question them.

Modern History revs up somewhere after the dark ages  (our thanks to Wikipedia for providing the details).  It has been labeled as a time of intellectual darkness between the fall of Rome and the Renaissance.

Perhaps we should add the category Revisionist History.

Are we currently entering a time of  “intellectual darkness”?

This author believes so. If all the statues and tributes to people and events in history are removed from sight, can the recorded evidence of those people & events be stricken as well?

However misguided or heinous some periods of history may be, they did happen and should be remembered, lest we repeat the mistakes of the past.

Statues of Robert E. Lee or Jefferson Davis are meant to be memorials, not edifices of glorification. These men were an integral part of a young nation. Yes the “cause” of slavery was a weak foundation which to champion, but only 100 years in to the country of the United States of America, nearly half of the country legally seceded. The CIVIL WAR settled that dispute after a huge price paid by loss of life. Look it up – it happened and the “South” lost. Destroying visual reminders does not change the facts.

Will the movie Amistad be banned because that ship brought slaves to America in the first place?

We have entered a time of toxic political correctness, where anyone who is offended by anything has the power to overpower history. The needs of the few are outweighing those of the many.

And even tough our nation was founded on the Word of God, for the express purpose of religious freedom, the questions need to be raised:

  • Are Jesus and tributes to Him to be eradicated because some of us are offended?
  • Will atheists overrule common sense, just because they can?

Unfortunately, those who either don’t believe Jesus to be who He said he was OR do believe he and The Bible is a figment of 1st Century imagination.

History a lá Carte has arrived.

And do not be surprised when the next “offensive” part of history is covered by the “tarpaulin of sensitivity”.

Our God has the power to strike down a vial nation. He has done it before.

The preceding article are the express opinions of Gwendolyn K. Hoff. This is solely her work. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.


History a lá Carte