Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #108

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #108

…Tossed onto the sprawling mud like a toy, fully three hundred yards from permanent water, at a staggering 20 degree angle, the River Queen boasts many survivors…

Aftermath-001

Father Ferrell had thought he would be on his own in his search for James and Abbey, alone in a strange city renowned for its crime and disease.

At least he will not be alone.

At least they are still alive.

Tossed onto the mud like a toy, fully three hundred yards from permanent water, at a staggering 20 degree angle, the River Queen boasts many survivors. But it is horribly out of place at its present semi-dry dock. It may take the spring flood waters to naturally return it to sufficient buoyancy.

Until then, James and Abigail wonder, how on earth rescuers will negotiate the swampy wild, especially considering the pockets of quasi-satisfied alligators; scavenging the dead fish and distressed wildlife. Those who chose a lifeboat that did not stay upright, meet the same repulsive fate. So distasteful is the scene, not even the biggest, toughest, manly man is able to stomach it. In fact, the crew has closed all exterior deck to passengers. They have food and water. A radio will be their contact with the outside world.

80 Days

“I know this isn’t how you expected your cruise on the Queen to end, but things may have turned out much worse,” relates Captain Phileas Longfellow. His foreknowledge of a spectacular rescue effort has him choosing his words carefully. He asks of already shaken cruisers, “How many of you have read the book, Around the World in Eighty Days?” About one-half of the seventy-five hands are raised. “Jules Verne is my mother’s favorite author, the inspiration for my first name. I do not consider myself an equal of Phileas Fogg, but we will soon have something in common with the fictional balloonist of globetrotting fame..”

They are given a firm clue of what is in store. For folks who have never been higher than the fourth floor of a big city building, the thought of ballooning is more than a stretch.

“I can see that some of you may be afraid of heights, but I have been told that it is the only way we are going to get out of here. Those of you who know you have a problem with heights, please come forward and we will match you with people who are not. Remember it is the only way we can get back to New Orleans.”

James and Abigail look at each other. Newly wed, they have much to learn about each other. This topic is one that has eluded those celebrating their golden anniversary.

“I have jumped from the loft in our biggest barn,” Abbey says proudly, speaking of her short term role as a tomboy.

 “I have a tree fort in the tallest oak on Hillside Estate.” James describes his prowess as a boys-boy.

Captain Longfellow describes the operation further. “The Army Air Corps, stationed at Fort Pickens… that is at Pensacola… are sailing twelve balloons from their aerial observation unit. They will begin arriving here in when wind conditions allow, needing a southeast quartering direction for optimum flying. Beside the balloonist, they hold six people. The flights will be spaced fifteen minutes apart. The crew will stay with the River Queen.

Age before beauty“The only bad news is that your baggage will have to wait for salvage operations. So make sure it is labeled and at the staging area at the rear of the ballroom.

“Lastly, as close as we can do it, we are going to evacuate according to the age of the individual or the average age of a family grouping. This is at my discretion–so ladies, please refrain from exaggerating your age–opposite to what you are used to.”

‘Well I never’, is the consensus common comment of women truly over 35, secretly hoping to pass for 45 or 50.

“That would place us on the last balloon,” laments the undeniably youthful Abigail. In the meantime, they have a ringside view of one of the most amazing rescues in the history of this low-lying country.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Phileas Fogg & Passepartout

Episode #108


page 99

Utopian Follies – WIF Idealistic Travel

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Experimental Towns

and Communes

The notion of a utopia—a perfect, egalitarian, and harmonious paradise on Earth—has been a recurring theme in literature and storytelling for hundreds of years. It all started with the philosopher Plato’s book Republic, and it’s since been expressed in other books including Thomas More’s Utopia and Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward, as well as in films like Lost Horizon and Things to Come. All this discussion of an ideal and peaceful society has encouraged many people to try and bring these ideas into reality through spiritual communes and new forms of community organization. Whether or not any of the following ten examples actually succeeded is definitely up for debate, but there’s no denying that they work as some interesting experiments in formulating new ways of living.

10. Arcosanti

View of Arcosanti from the southeast, showing buildings from Crafts III on the far left to the guestrooms in the right foreground

View of Arcosanti from the southeast, showing buildings from Crafts III on the far left to the guestrooms in the right foreground

In the desert 70 miles north of Phoenix lies Arcosanti, an experimental town built in 1970 that claims to be an attempt to discover the perfect fusion of architecture and ecology. As imagined by architectural mastermind Paolo Soleri, all the buildings within the city are designed so that they and the people who live in them can work in harmony with their environment. With this in mind, many buildings at the site are multi-use, and all make use of solar power for heating, cooling, and electricity. Arcosanti itself is less of a community than it is a school. Workshops are held throughout the year in order to teach people how to build in Soleri’s unique style, and it is these students—along with the 50 or so teachers who make up the town’s permanent population—who have constructed most of the buildings on the 25-acre site. image: http://www.chromasomatic.com

Community Philosophy:

At the heart of Arcosanti’s philosophy is a strong belief in teaching people to live smarter. The community is meant to serve as an example of how urban centers could run more cheaply and efficiently with just a few design adjustments. For example, many of the buildings at the site are made to reflect the changing seasons, so that a maximum amount of sunlight is allowed in during the winter and a minimum amount during the summer. Meanwhile, the planning of the city itself avoided a typical grid layout in favor of a more courtyard-oriented style, which the residents say encourages community interaction.

9. Auroville

Image result for Auroville

One of the hallmarks of these experimental communities is an emphasis on love and peace, usually as filtered through a heavy dose of new age philosophy. Auroville, a multicultural city in southern India, is a perfect example. Since its inception, the town has worked to realize what its website calls “human unity” and the “transformation of consciousness.” The colony was started in the late sixties by Sri Aurobindo and Mirra Richard, and its central philosophy is a belief that society will learn to progress forward only after people of many nations and cultures have learned to live together in harmony. The community works to act as a miniature experiment in world peace. Its over 2,000 residents hail from more than 40 different nations, and they all live and work together with a mind toward finding new and unique ways to achieve balance and harmony among people of different races, religions, and political backgrounds.

Community Philosophy:

Residents of Auroville are expected to build their own house and make donations to the community fund, but beyond this all necessities—including public school, utilities, and health care—are covered by the community, which is itself partially financed by the Indian government. There is no form of hard currency within the commune; rather, all residents use an account system that connects to a central bank. The city is designed in the shape of a circle, around which are areas containing gardens, farmland, an educational and cultural center, and a so-called “peace area” where silence is enforced at all times.

8. Findhorn Ecovillage

Scotland’s Findhorn Ecovillage is perhaps the most notable example of a community founded on principles of environmental sustainability and renewable energy. The commune was started in the 1960s, but it didn’t take on its current form until 1982, when residents made a concerted effort to show that an environmentally unobtrusive community could flourish both socially and economically. The village still exists today, and has been noted as having the smallest environmental footprint of any town in the modern world. This is thanks to an ecologically friendly building code that encourages the use of found materials—several houses are built from recycled whiskey barrels— along with wind turbines and a water treatment apparatus called the “Living Machine,” which makes use of algae, snails, and plant life to purify the community’s water supply.

Community Philosophy:

Part of Findhorn’s intended commitment to sustainability is an emphasis on autonomy. The village’s 350 residents have their own school, arts center, and businesses, which include everything from printmaking to pottery. There is even an independent currency, called the Eko, which is accepted at all community businesses. Beyond its ecological goals, the village has also gained a reputation—to some controversy—for espousing a new age philosophy of spiritualism and holistic health. Findhorn offers retreats that claim to assist in achieving sound mental health, and the organization has even put out a therapeutic board game that it claims can be “a substantial way of understanding and transforming key issues in your life.”

7. Pullman, Illinois

Greenstone Church and the Arcade park in Pullman, Chicago.

Greenstone Church and the Arcade park in Pullman, Chicago.

Though these communities are always started with the very best of intentions, sometimes the line between utopia and dystopia can get a little blurry. Such was the case with Pullman, Illinois, a company town that started as its own workers’ paradise and gradually degraded into an outright dictatorship. The town was conceived by George Pullman, a powerful industrialist who’d made his fortune building ornate and expensive sleeping cars for passenger trains. In 1880, Pullman purchased several thousand acres of land on the outskirts of Chicago with a mind toward building a new factory. Thinking that he could also satisfy his workers by giving them a nice, safe place to live, Pullman had his architect design a miniature town around the factory. The town featured elaborate Victorian architecture and included its own school, shopping centers, theatre, library, church, and even a man-made lake.

Community Philosophy:

For the first few years, the town of Pullman seemed to be a remarkable success. It was used as an exhibit at the Chicago World’s Fair, and it regularly won awards for being one of the best places to live in the country. But beneath its quaint exterior, Pullman was hiding a dark secret. Most troubling of all was that George Pullman ran the town like a despot. He banned certain business (like saloons) from opening nearby, forbade the town from starting an independent newspaper, and regularly had inspectors search through employees’ homes for signs of damage or lack of cleanliness. Employees often protested his baron-like behavior, but they had no recourse, since the town and all its 1400 structures were entirely owned by the company. When he lowered wages in 1894, things quickly turned violent, and a large-scale strike in Pullman had to broken up by the military. In the wake of this incident, the government looked into the legality of the town of Pullman and deemed it “un-American.” It was then broken up and later annexed by the city of Chicago.

6. The Harmony Society Communities

Religious Utopian communities were all the rage in the 1800s, and the communes started by the Harmony Society are some of the most famous examples. The society formed in Germany in the late 1700s, but their mystical take on Christianity soon drew the ire of the Lutheran Church.  A group led by Johann Georg Rapp immigrated to the Pennsylvania in 1803, and it was there that they decided to establish the first of what would eventually be three independent communes. Their Pennsylvania settlement, called Harmony, proved incredibly successful, and it eventually boasted a population of over 800 followers. The residents sold the land for a profit after ten years and started a new commune in Indiana, but they returned to Pennsylvania in 1824 and formed a third commune, which they called Economy.

Community Philosophy:

The Harmony Society’s theosophist religious convictions meant that they had very strict behavioral codes. Chief among them were strong beliefs in temperance, celibacy, and equality. Members rejected worldly possessions, eschewed sexual relationships—including marriage, to a certain extent—and practiced nonviolence. Rapp acted as the community’s resident prophet, and made several predictions about the imminent return of Jesus to the Earth. When his predictions didn’t come true, many members abandoned the community, but it managed to survive well until after Rapp’s death in 1847. Economy, PA finally dissolved in the early 1900s, both because of an ever mounting debt and because the residents’ celibacy guaranteed that there was no new generation left to take over.

5. The Federation of Damanhur

Named after an ancient Egyptian city, the Federation of Damanhur is a Utopian commune located outside of Turin, Italy. It was started in the ‘70s by Oberto Airaudi and a small group of followers, and today it counts as many as 800 citizens among its ranks. There are even offshoot centers for the group located as far away as the U.S. and Japan. The community refers to itself as a “collective dream” where “spiritual, artistic, and social research” takes place. The group prizes environmental sustainability, artistic expression, and optimism above all else, and meditation and self-knowledge are considered fundamental to personal growth.  But while this philosophy might not seem extraordinary, the way it is expressed certainly is. This was most apparent in 1992, when the group revealed a series of striking underground temples—supposedly a monument to peace and the power of human collaboration—that they had been constructing since the late ‘70s.

Community Philosophy:

Damanhur, though not sovereign from Italy, operates as though it were its own independent nation. There is a constitution, a currency called “credito,” and an independent infrastructure, and at this point there are even grown children who were born in the community and have lived there all their life. Perhaps most interesting is the community’s style of marriage, which works on a contract system. Prior to their wedding, couples decide on a period of time that the marriage will last. Once that period has elapsed, the two can either go their separate ways or agree to renew the marriage for a new span of time.

4. The Farm

Communal living experienced a renaissance with the rise of the hippie movement, when thousands of young people dropped out of society and attempted to form independent, utopian communities. The biggest and most notable of them all is certainly a town in Summerton, Tennessee known only as “The Farm.” The town was the brainchild of Stephen Gaskin, a creative writing teacher from San Francisco who led a caravan of cars and busses across the country to Tennessee, where they bought a 1,000-acre tract of land on a former cattle ranch. The Farm soon became legendary in underground culture, and as new members journeyed to Tennessee from around the country, the community soon grew into a miniature metropolis of tents and log cabins. By 1980, there were over 1,000 people living at the Farm.

Community Philosophy:

In the early days, residents of The Farm took a “vow of poverty” and swore off tobacco, alcohol, and all animal products. All possessions were communal, and residents regularly engaged in group marriages. These restrictions have since loosened, but the community still maintains a steadfast devotion to vegetarianism and environmentally friendly living, and today it works as an ecovillage where all power is generated through solar panels and biofuels. It also has an acclaimed school of midwifery, a book publishing company, and a grade school. Residents have even spearheaded a number of different charitable endeavors around the world. The community went through some tough time in the 80s, and many of the original members abandoned it, but it’s still around today, and as many as 175 people live and work there year round.

3. Israeli Kibbutzim

The term “kibbutz” doesn’t refer to one specific community, but rather to a form of experimental living that became popular in Israel in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The term itself can be translated as “gathering,” and it’s used to describe the numerous cooperative communes that were founded by Jewish immigrants in Palestine prior to the creation of Israel. Many came to the Middle East from Russia to be pioneer farmers, and they chose to live collectively because it allowed for greater safety and a more efficient way of growing crops. Most kibbutzim had about 200 members, and by 1950 there were as many as 60,000 people living in the communes all across Israel. The communities were originally started purely as Jewish farming ventures, but by the ‘30s many had taken on a socialist philosophy, and some of the kibbutzim with more Utopian goals began to allow people of all religions to join.

Community Philosophy:

A key philosophy of these kibbutzim was a devotion to equality. All major decisions were made communally in group meetings. Women were seen as equals to men, and were even required to serve as armed guards at times. There were no personal possessions—not even clothing—and even children were considered to belong to the community at large. Most grew up living with one another in their own communal house, and they spent little time with their parents outside of community activities. After the formation of Israel and the rise of capitalism, many of these values began to be replaced by more modern, individualistic tendencies. Today, most kibbutzim have become private enterprises, and farming has largely been abandoned. Despite this decline, there are still as many as 125,000 people—about 3% of the total population—currently living in kibbutz-style communes all over Israel.

2. Oneida Colony

Image result for Oneida Colony

New York’s Oneida Colony community was started in 1848 by John Humphrey Noyes, a practitioner of a sect of Christianity he called Perfectionism, which stated that Christ had already returned and it was the people who had to build paradise on Earth. The community started as a small group of about 80 people, but this number had doubled within a few years, and by 1880 there were as many as 350 people of all ages living at Oneida. The group had a small plot of land, but its primary base of operations was a 92,000 square foot mansion house, where all the members lived and worked communally.

Community Philosophy:

Oneida worked under a pseudo-socialist style wherein each member would work to the degree that they were able. Women were afforded more freedom than was common at the time, and all possessions were communal. Noyes instituted a strange program of character improvement where each member of the group was regularly brought before a committee and told their personal flaws, which they were expected to fix. As a rule, monogamy was forbidden within Oneida. Instead, the community engaged in a “complex marriage” system where each member was effectively “married” to everyone else. Strong attachments to a single person were discouraged, and members of the commune would regularly trade out sexual partners throughout the course of the week. This included young people, who were supposedly “initiated” into the program by an elder member of the opposite sex. These practices proved to be Oneida’s undoing, as Noyes was forced to flee the country in 1879 in order to escape charges of statutory rape. Without his more-than-questionable guidance, the community soon broke apart.

1. Brook Farm

Image result for Brook Farm George and Sophia Ripley

Massachusetts’s Brook Farm community only lasted for five years, and was a conclusive failure in nearly every way. But it remains one of the most notable experimental communities of the 1800s, if only because of the many famous people who were associated with it.  The town was started by George and Sophia Ripley in 1841. The couple subscribed to the transcendental philosophy espoused by poets and thinkers like Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, and they based their community on these ideals. The basic idea was that by pooling their labor efforts, a society could eliminate the drudgery of work and have time engage in intellectual pursuits and leisure activities. The Ripleys raised money through a joint stock company that counted Nathaniel Hawthorne among its investors, and after buying several acres of farmland outside of Boston, put their experiment into action.

Community Philosophy:

In the beginning, Brook Farm worked around a policy of personal freedom and equality. Members were allowed to choose what kind of work they wanted to do, and special time was set aside for leisure and intellectual study. Women enjoyed much greater equality than was common at that time. Not only were they paid the same as the men, but they were considered autonomous from their husbands and were allowed to be shareholders in the community at large. The commune tried to self-sustain by farming, opening a school, and selling goods like clothing, but they were never able to fully get out of debt. These financial troubles, along with Ripley’s inability to get luminaries like Emerson or Thoreau (who visited many times) to become permanent members, eventually led to the adoption of a more rigid, socialistic philosophy. Against the wishes of many of the members, the community had soon adopted more rules and social guidelines. When a massive communal house caught fire and burned halfway through construction, Brook Farm fell into even more debt, and in 1846 it dissolved for good.


Utopian Follies

– WIF Idealistic Travel

It’s the Law! – WIF Stranger Than Fiction

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Strange

International Laws

If you’ve ever been on the internet, you have probably seen someone pass around a list of “wacky laws” from various states in the USA. These are usually laws that are still on the books from decades or even centuries ago, were never constitutional, wouldn’t be held up by any local judge worthy of their position, and were usually just passed by city councils of small towns to make a point and throw their weight around. However, around the world many truly strange laws have been passed that are either symbolically important, truly enforceable, or are judiciously enforced in creatively interesting ways. In today’s article, we will go over the top 10 strangest examples.

10. In The United States, There Are Some Exemptions to Child Labor Laws On Farms

In most developed countries, child labor has been pretty much done away with and the world is all the better for it. However, in the United States of America, a country that most would imagine got rid of that quite some time ago, there are a lot of exceptions when it comes to farm labor. See, farmers in the United States often have trouble getting enough people to work on their farms and get everything done, especially at a wage that is affordable for the farmer. For this reason, having children work on farms has been a thing for a very long time, and there are exceptions in the law to allow it.

Essentially, as long as they are still getting an education, whether by going to school or a state approved home-school program, they are allowed to be worked on a farm for no pay — even as a young child — without any real restrictions on the hours (as long as they are working for their parents own farm, regardless of how big or commercial a size it might seem). Furthermore, as wild as this may sound to people from Europe, as long as you are just driving your tractor on the farm, you may allow your kids to drive around in it without any age restrictions or training whatsoever. Of course, children die or get horribly maimed due to this sort of nonsense every year, but the pressure from the farm lobbies has so far stopped any laws with real teeth from going into effect to change things.

9. The Laws On Cruise Liners Are Complex, and Different From How Many Imagine

Legal jurisdiction can get extremely murky when it comes to trying to prosecute a cruise liner, or anyone who did anything to you while you were on one, but in general it is supposed to apply as follows: If you are within 12 miles of a country’s waters, you are subject to their laws and jurisdictions. End of story. If you are more than 12 miles out but less than 24, you are not subject to their laws, but you have to allow them to board to look for potential smuggling activity, regardless of your country of origin. After that, once you get to international waters, you do still have to follow laws — the laws of whichever country your cruise ship is officially registered in. That means if your cruise ship is registered in the United States, you still have to obey the laws of the USA.

This meant that from the 1950s to the 1990s, no United States-based cruise liner allowed gambling aboard their ship. However, in 1991, after it was pointed out to the proper regulatory authorities that there were only about three ships left that were officially registered in the United States, they passed a competitiveness act that allows US-based cruise liners to begin allowing people to gamble, in contravention of United States law, once they actually reached international waters. It’s basically a huge exemption that has been carved out so that the USA will not be entirely left out of the cruise ship game.

8. Diplomatic Immunity Has Led to a Plethora of Unpaid Parking Tickets Worldwide

Nobody likes parking tickets and, let’s face it: if we could legally get away with it without any consequences, we would curl the things up into a ball, throw them away, and move on with our lives without paying. Now, most of us simply don’t have the power to do that. We can ball the thing up, but one way or another the city is eventually going to come and somehow take their money from us. However, if you are a diplomat, you have diplomatic immunity. Now, in movies like Lethal Weapon 2, we have plots where diplomatic immunity is used in an attempt to get away with murder, but the vast majority of diplomats abuse it in a much more banal way —  they fulfill a fantasy many of us have, by simply ignoring parking rules (or congestion fees) and doing what they want anyway, as it doesn’t matter.

When you have diplomatic immunity, no one can force you in court to pay your tickets, and many from the United States have argued the congestion fee that London has, for example, is just a tax on going in and out of the city (tax being something diplomats don’t have to pay). The United States government shares this viewpoint. However, it isn’t just London, or even New York for that matter, that suffers most from this, but Canberra and many other cities around the world. If the city plays host to a lot of diplomats, they often have backlogged debts for diplomat parking tickets ranging from the hundreds of thousands to the millions. New York recently implemented a policy where they simply wouldn’t re-register a diplomatic vehicle with too high a debt, and it helped a little, but it has simply creeped back up over the years since. It seems when you give a government official full diplomatic immunity, most just use it to toss aside all the petty bureaucracy that’s part of the system they help maintain.

7. China Decrees They Must Approve Reincarnations, In An Attempt to Control Tibetan Monks

As you probably already know, China has, for a long time, been trying to control the country of Tibet, and part of that involves trying to squash the influence of the Tibetan monks. The entire situation is extremely political, as a lot of religious sensibilities are involved, and if China came down too hard on the current Dalai Lama, they could risk some kind of widespread riots, or even international involvement. However, that doesn’t mean they are just sitting around with no strategy besides occupation and repression.

See, the thing about the Dalai Lama is that he is supposed to be a reincarnation of a previous Lama, and so on.The issue is that the Tibetan monks generally get to choose their own successor, as it is supposed to be their spiritual influence that is able to tell who is actually the next reincarnation. However, in the hopes of controlling the process, China has actually decreed laws not allowing a Lama to reincarnate without going through the Chinese government to approve it first — which means they basically get to hand-pick their own Dalai Lama, which would give them ultimate control and influence over the Tibetan people and anyone who still follows Tibetan Buddhism. However, the current Dalai Lama has already fired back against this by stating the next Lama would likely be born in a free country, and that one chosen out of China, by the Chinese government, could not be trusted as the proper Dalai Lama.

6. In Russia You Can Be Fined Because of a Dirty Car (Sort Of)

Now, this isn’t exactly the law, as it’s more of a law being misinterpreted by the police. However, in a country like Russia, arguing with the police (or the local city council over your police’s corrupt behavior) is not likely to get you much of anywhere. In Moscow, and other big cities in Russia, drivers often simply stop driving for much of the winter as it gets too cold for many older vehicles to operate, and then bring them back in the spring — sometimes without washing them at all first.

Now, the law — like in many countries — simply states that a car is considered “dirty” as an actual offense if it’s dirty to the point that the license plate is not visible. However, many police are using the law and people’s ignorance of the details to fine anyone with an extremely filthy car, even if the license plate can be seen just fine. The first time city authorities started doing this back in 2006 after a harsh winter, they declared it was “clean car month” and went on a rampage of fines. While it may not have necessarily been legal, the city clearly wanted to do something to encourage people to clean up, and didn’t want to have to amend the old law to do it… so they just sort of bent it a bit.

5. In China, You Must Have Social Visits With Your Elderly Parents

China has a lot of elderly citizens. When counted in 2014, their percentage of elderly citizens was at 9%, which is higher than many countries, such as India, which was only at 5% when the same estimate was made. It’s also one of the fastest growing elderly populations in the world, with experts expecting their elderly population to roughly double by the year of 2030. For this reason, elderly people who are lonely or not particularly well cared for are becoming an increasingly serious problem. Elderly people have already even been occasionally suing their children for not visiting them enough, or taking care of them, but a law passed in 2013 in China helps give the elderly more teeth with which to sue their children.

The law states that children should make an effort to regularly visit their elderly parents; however, it isn’t really clear on how often that should be. The law is difficult to enforce because of the ambiguity, but the lawmakers have said that it wasn’t necessarily meant to be a fully functional law, but more of a way to raise awareness of the issue, and make it easier for parents to sue and get the court to order some kind of visitation schedule, if they are being truly neglected when they need physical or emotional care. We feel like it’s important to emphasize that last part, because obviously, this isn’t just your nagging mom wondering why you don’t stop by for dinner more often.

Some Chinese people are worried about the law mainly because of the ambiguity, and also because oftentimes well-intentioned children don’t always have the means, or even the time off work, to visit. The law doesn’t really fix anything, but it does serve to highlight the growing demographic problem in China and the tension between the young and the old.

4. In Much Of The Caribbean, Camouflage Clothing Is Illegal

In the United States, it’s actually fairly common to wear camo-pattern clothes, so much so that people make jokes about whether they can “actually see you there” because of your ability to “blend in.” While it isn’t exactly considered a high fashion choice, it’s certainly not something the authorities would ever worry about in most countries, and people would just assume you have an affinity for military-style garb and/or enjoy hunting.

However, in many Caribbean countries such as Barbados, Jamaica, St. Vincent and St. Lucia, several African countries, and even Saudi Arabia, wearing of camouflage patterned clothes is banned, unless you want to be fined or potentially jailed. The issue is that they don’t want any civilians being mixed up with members of the military, as most of the countries with these laws have at least one uniform with a camouflage pattern. When you think of it that way, the law actually makes perfect sense… although it’s unlikely someone wearing say, a pair of camo shorts and a beach shirt, is going to be confused for active duty military of any kind.

3. The Town of Tuszyn, Poland Banned Winnie the Pooh From Their Playground

While it wasn’t exactly a law, the town of Tuszyn, Poland made international news for a strange decision they made in 2014. They had been trying to decide a new mascot for the town playground, and were going over innocent and wholesome cartoon characters they could use that would be fun for the children. One of the names that came up was Winnie the Pooh, and at first you would think this was a suggestion that would pick up some steam; it doesn’t get much more innocent, fun, and generally banal than Winnie the Pooh. He is, in fact, a character that most people would imagine would be impossible to be offended by… unless he is already associated negatively with your dear leader, as he is in China.

However, someone recorded the town council meeting where it was discussed, and leaked the audio to the Croatian Times, who made fun of the proceedings and their inherent silliness. Apparently, the idea was shot down and Pooh was banned as the potential mascot mainly because he wasn’t wearing any clothes on his bottom half, and was actually “half-naked.” Now, some would imagine you would argue that he isn’t immodest because he has no genitals, and is just a cartoon. Oh, and also, a bear. Last time we checked, it’s more unusual for bears to be wearing red shirts than it is for them to be without pants. Unfortunately, that did come up during the debate, and some council members suggested that it made Pooh some kind of hermaphrodite, or someone with some kind of other gender identity disorder, and that it therefore made him even more inappropriate for children. We wonder what the city council of Tuszyn, Poland, thinks of Donald Duck.

2. Japan Is Policing Obesity, But They Haven’t Made It Illegal As Some People Think

In 2008, Japan passed a “Metabo Law” that left a lot of people scratching their heads and adding yet another one to the “weird Japan” file. The rumor claimed that the law literally made it illegal to be fat, and that if you were fat enough, the government could fine or even imprison you. However, while a Metabo Law was passed, it was not at all what many in the Western World thought it was.

The way the law works is that if you are in between the ages of 45 and 74, and you have a waistline of 35.4 inches or more for a man, or 31.5 inches or more for a woman, then you have to have it measured every year and seek proper medical advice from a doctor on how to shrink your waistline and improve your health. The law does not make it illegal or even attach fines to having extra weight; it just ensures that you get the medical attention you need if you go beyond what Japanese legislators have considered the line for an early intervention against dangerous levels of weight gain.

1. Turkmenbashi Was A Mad Ruler Of Turkmenistan… But They Aren’t Much Better Off Without Him

If you have ever seen the TV show Archer, you may be familiar with an episode where they visit Turkmenistan and learn that it has an insane leader named Gorbagun Gorbanguly, who has changed the words for both bread and Friday to his dog’s name: Gurpgork. Now, while this isn’t at all true, it is based on some true life events. Turkmenistan’s current leader’s name is Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, and the previous leader of the country, a man named Saparmurat Niyazov — also known as Turkmenbashi — was pretty much the undisputed dictator from 1990 until 2006. During that time he was known for being a power-mad eccentric who not only ruled with an iron fist, but made utterly insane proclamations.

He created a national melon day, after the country’s chief export, and also a national day for horses. People used to wear gold fillings in their teeth as a mark of status, but Turkmenbashi felt they were not a good thing, and soon people were tearing them out of their mouths, spending their money on expensive dental work. He banned circuses and ballet because they were “unnecessary.” He also banned beards because he didn’t trust followers of Islam. On top of that, he changed the name of January to his name, and April to his mother’s name. When he died and the new dictator for life took over, he did do away with a lot of the more eccentric laws, but it still continues to be an incredibly poor country where ethnic Muslims are distrusted, and the vast majority of the country’s oil riches are going to the elites who run it all, or just sitting in the ground not being used due to poor infrastructure and mismanagement.


It’s the Law! –

WIF Stranger Than Fiction

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #96

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode # 96

…Thankfully, with due respect to the dear departed Mr. Finkle, there are still a score of guests waiting in line; Edna is prompted to shuffle off to food and drink…

Meanwhile

In the receiving line after James & Abigail’s wedding

“Are you going on a wedding holiday?” asks Edna Finkle, one of the Ferrell Groceries’ first Edna Finkle-001and most loyal customers, thus deemed longtime observer of the Ferrell family saga.

“Yes, Mrs. Finkle. We are taking the train to New Orleans. It sounds like an exciting city.”

“Oh my, yes, I should say. I remember when Mr. Finkle was alive; we spent a month there one week,” as opposed to when he was dead. “It is a spicy town though, filled with people that seem to defy the conventional.”

They are kind to the eighty-something woman, if for no other reason than she is a walking billboard for their stores; gladly singing the praises, all the while during her weekly four hour assembling of her week’s worth of goods.

“We will be staying at the Vieux Carre …………”

“The Olde Square, my yes. Mr. Finkle so loved the food in that part of town. I believe we left before the yellow fever outbreak, you know, back in 1878.” The well-meaning elderly woman is doing nothing to help the Crescent City’s unhealthy reputation, but youngsters have an air of invulnerability about them, tending to ignore danger, in exchange for adventure.

Thankfully, with due respect to the dear departed Mr. Finkle, there are still a score of guests waiting in line; she is prompted to shuffle off to food and drink. “I’ll take one of those, sonny.” She is handed a glass of champagne, grabbing a back-up, claiming, “I cannot stay long— close to my bedtime, you know.”


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode # 96


page 89

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #83

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #83

… Inventions, like the telephone and the motorcar are shrinking the size of the world. Those bicycle-making Wrights in Carolina are doing their part, as the railroads have already joined the coasts…

“Thank you for your prompt reply, Mr. Love. May I presume that this fine day finds you well and that you will rescue me from the vexing problem I am facing?”

God Fearing Man-001

“It is an honor to speak with you, Mr. President and as a matter of fact, I have discussed your proposal with my wife and we believe that the call of country is of the greatest import.”

“I appreciate a man who treasures the counsel of his spouse, good sir,” confirms America’s current first citizen. “We have been monitoring your expertise from afar and my folks agree that you are the best possible candidate to administer agricultural policy for these United States.”

“I am but a simple businessman, doing his best to make the most of the land that God has entrusted me.”

“A God fearing man and modest at that… the more I hear, the more I want to hear. Tell me, is it true that you have formulated an atomizer that foils the development of those cursed weevil eggs!”

Love Dairies-001 “We do not grow very much cotton in Florida, but here in Gadsden County, we take pride in quality rather than quantity and the weevil needs to be halted, to that end. The spray my men and I have produced seems to limit larvae numbers at an ever increasing rate.”

“Florida’s main contribution to cotton production is not in the number of plants grown, but in the efforts of forward thinking men like you.

“And your progress in the fields of refrigeration and milk pasteurization are a model for farms and manufacturing throughout the land. You are the quietest of pioneers.”

  Inventions, like the telephone, are shrinking the size of the world, just as the motorcar is starting to do so. And those bicycle-making Wrights in Carolina are doing their part. The railroads have already joined the coasts, linking the established east with the wild, wild West.

Most applicable with Tallahassee to Washington, “I will dispatch my train to fetch you this very day–if that suits your schedule. It would reach you tomorrow about this time and would expect Mrs. Love to accompany you.”


Alpha Omega M.D.

The President’s Train

Episode #83


page 76

Mars Without Matt Damon – WIF Far-off Travel

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Things to Know

About Visiting

Mars

Space travel has made exceptional progress over the years. It was only in July 1969 that man first walked on the moon, and now just 50 years later there are plans to send humans to Mars in the not-so-distant future. According to NASA, they plan to send humans to Mars by the year 2033.

There have been several spacecrafts that have landed on Mars – the United States has successfully landed eight on the Red Planet, including Opportunity and InSight. While the spacecrafts have conducted exceptional research on the planet, it’s not the same as having humans exploring the area.

Although it’s exciting to think about humans landing on Mars, they will encounter numerous problems during their exploration of our planetary neighbor. From long-lasting dust storms and exceptionally high radiation levels, to worrying about their food supply and their overall health, they will have several obstacles to overcome — not to mention to extremely long trip there and back. Let’s take a look at 10 of the most challenging obstacles the astronauts will face on their journey.

10. Mars May Still Be Volcanically Active

In a new study, it appears as though Mars may still be volcanically active. Located under solid ice at the South Pole, there is a lake of liquid water measuring 20 kilometers wide. While it was originally thought that the water stayed in liquid format because of dissolved salt as well as pressure from above the lake, new research provides a much different theory.

The new study concluded that the salt and pressure couldn’t have stopped the water from becoming frozen and that volcanic activity (more specifically a magma chamber that was created in the previous few hundred years) was the only way that it could have remained in liquid format.

Mars was definitely volcanically active in the past, as Olympus Mons is the biggest volcano in our entire solar system. Located near Olympus Mons are three other shield volcanoes called Tharsis Montes, and there are several more volcanoes on the Red Planet.

According to the study, magma from the planet’s interior came up to the surface around 300,000 years ago. Instead of breaking through the surface of the planet and creating a new volcano, it remained in a magma chamber located beneath the South Pole. When the magma chamber cooled down, it would have released a sufficient amount of heat in order to melt the water underneath the polar ice sheet. They believe that the heat is still being slowly released even to this day. The authors of the study suggest that if there was volcanic activity 300,000 years ago, there is a definite possibility that it’s still active today which could cause an issue for eventual visitors to the planet.

9. Scarce Food Sources

Astronauts need to eat and growing food on Mars would be a very difficult task. In fact, it would take several hundred years before farming could be conducted without protective greenhouses since the soil there contains perchlorates, which are harsh chemicals that would need to be removed before any plants could be grown.

In addition to the chemicals, gravity would also pose a problem as the planet only has around one-third of the gravity that’s here on Earth. Although some experiments have proved some plants can grow in the microgravity located on the International Space Station, that doesn’t mean that they’ll grow on Mars.

There is some hope, as revealed in a 2014 study that tomatoes, wheat, cress and mustard leaves were able to grow in simulated Martian soil without fertilizers for 50 days. But transforming Mars into a planet capable of growing plants would take hundreds of years for its thin atmosphere to contain enough oxygen.

Let’s say, for example, that humans could quickly transform the atmosphere in order to grow plants, the winters pose another huge problem as the temperatures can dip as low as -207 degrees Fahrenheit.

8. They’d Have To Wear Permanent Space Suits

Astronauts visiting Mars would have to wear permanent space suits during their trip as the planet is not suitable for humans. The suits would have to be flexible enough for the astronauts to work with construction materials as well as for using different machines. Plus, they have to be comfortable enough for them to essentially live in.

As for the atmosphere there, it’s comparable to being at an altitude of 25 kilometers on Earth, which means that the air would be much too thin for humans to breathe. In addition to the thin air, there is way too much carbon dioxide and not enough oxygen. And since the winter temperatures can get as low as -207 degrees Fahrenheit, the astronauts need warm space suits to keep their blood circulating throughout their bodies. These spacesuits will be their life-line, so they need to be made perfectly for the astronauts to survive their exploration trip to our planetary neighbor.

7. Creating A Human Civilization May Not Be So Easy

Obviously, the astronauts exploring the Red Planet wouldn’t be there to create Martian families, but there is much talk about one day humans colonizing there permanently. That may not be as easy as it sounds. Just the lack of gravitational pull and the high amount of radiation are enough to severely damage a fetus. While there have been several experiments involving mice, rats, frogs, salamanders, fish, and plants to see if they could successfully reproduce in space, results have been inconclusive.

While mice and humans are obviously different, based on the experiments conducted, as of right now it’s not looking good for humans to successfully reproduce on Mars.

6. Landing And Returning

Landing on Mars will not be a smooth ride. For example, when NASA’s InSight spacecraft entered into the atmosphere on Mars, it was moving at a whopping 12,300 MPH. While it was descending through the atmosphere, it had to slow down to just 5 MPH before landing on the surface. The deceleration happened in less than seven minutes, which NASA engineers referred to as “seven minutes of terror.”

Since we know how to land on the Red Planet – although it will most likely be one rough landing – leaving Mars may not be so easy. The Mars Ascent Vehicle (MAV) will be powered by liquid oxygen and methane, with all of the ingredients (hydrogen, carbon, and oxygen) being available on Mars. The atmosphere is mostly carbon dioxide, so that would be relatively easy to get; however, drilling for water would be much more challenging as they wouldn’t be 100% certain that water lies underneath them. Assuming they would get the necessary ingredients for the fuel, taking off from the harsh environment and atmosphere on Mars may not be an easy lift-off.

5. Long-Lasting Dust Storms

Mars is definitely known for their massive dust storms – some of which are so huge that they can be seen from Earth-bound telescopes. As a matter of fact, some dust storms cover the same area as an entire continent, lasting for several weeks. And approximately every three Mars years (or five and a half Earth years), a gigantic dust storm covers the entire Red Planet which are known as “global dust storms.” The good thing about the dust storms is that the strongest winds only reach approximately 60 miles per hour, so it’s very unlikely that they would damage any spacecrafts.

On the other hand, the small dust particles tend to stick to surfaces and even mechanical gears. One specific problem would be the solar panels and if enough dust would cover them, they wouldn’t be able to absorb as much sunlight in order to get the energy to power the equipment.

4. Extremely Rough Terrain And Chilling Weather

The very rough and rocky terrain on Mars could cause problems for the spacecraft as well as the astronauts who are trying to walk around on the surface. The planet is covered with rocks, canyons, volcanoes, craters, and dry lake beds, as well as red dust covering the majority of the surface. The Curiosity rover experienced such problems when, in 2013, it came upon an area with sharp rocks that looked similar to spikes. The sharp rocks – that looked like 3 to 4 inch teeth from a shark – were most likely created by the wind. These sharp rocks could dent and even puncture wheels, not to mention how impossible they’d be to walk on.

Astronauts visiting the Red Planet will certainly not be accustomed to its extremely freezing cold temperatures. The average temperature on the planet is a frigid -80 degrees Fahrenheit and can get as low as -207 degrees Fahrenheit during the winter. They would need special spacesuits that would keep them warm from the chilling temperatures.

3. High Levels Of Radiation And Very Little Gravity

Since Mars has a much thinner atmosphere than Earth, humans visiting the Red Planet will have very little protection against the high levels of radiation. In fact, they have to worry about two dangerous sources of radiation. The first are the dangerous solar flares that come from our sun, for which they’ll need proper protection. The second are particles from galactic cosmic rays that pass through the solar system almost at the speed of light and can damage anything they hit, such as the spacecraft or even the astronauts themselves. The spacesuits, as well as the spacecrafts, will need to be made from materials that will shield them from the high levels of radiation.

Another major problem is that the gravity on Mars is only a fraction of what it is on Earth. In fact, the gravity on the Red Planet is 62% lower than it is here on our planet. To better understand, if a person weighs 220 pounds on Earth, they would weigh just 84 pounds on Mars. There are several factors that contribute to its lower gravity, such as density, mass, and radius of the planet. While both planets have nearly the same land surface, Mars has just 15% of our planet’s volume and only 11% of our mass.

While it’s still uncertain what long-term effects the change in gravity would have on the astronauts’ health, research indicates that the effects of microgravity would cause loss of bone density, muscle mass, organ function, and eyesight.

2. The Long Journey To Mars

Before the astronauts even get to Mars, they would have to endure an exceptionally long journey just to get there. As for how long the trip would actually take, there are several factors to take into consideration, such as where the planets are positioned in the solar system at the time of the launch, since the distance between them is always changing as they go around the sun.

While the average distance between Mars and Earth is 140 million miles, they do get much closer to each other depending on their position around the sun. The two planets would be closest to each other when Mars is located at its closest position to the sun and the Earth is at its farthest position. At that point, the two planets would be 33.9 million miles away from each other. When the planets are located on opposite sides of the sun, they are at a distance of 250 million miles from each other.

According to NASA, the ideal launch to Mars would take approximately nine months. And that’s just how long it would take to get there. It would take another nine months or so to return back to Earth, along with however long they end up staying on the Red Planet.

1. Mental And Physical Health Issues

In addition to the rough terrain, freezing temperatures, and dust storms, astronauts would also have to worry about the mental and physical health issues that they could develop. The process of going from two highly different gravitational fields would affect their spatial orientation, balance, mobility, motion sickness, hand-eye and head-eye coordination.

Being confined to a small space on an unpopulated planet away from family and friends for several months or years would be mentally hard on them. They could develop a drop in their mood, morale, cognition, or a decline in their daily interactions (misunderstandings and impaired communication). In addition, they could develop sleep disorders, fatigue, or even depression.

Being in an enclosed area makes it very easy for one person to transfer germs to the others, which could cause illnesses, allergies, or diseases.

The biggest health factor is the high levels of radiation on Mars, which could increase their chances of developing cancer. Radiation can damage their central nervous system, causing changes to their cognitive function, their behavior, and reducing their motor function. It could also cause nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and anorexia. Cardiac and circulatory diseases, as well as cataracts, could additionally develop.


Mars Without Matt Damon –

WIF Far-off Travel

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #75

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #75

…Amanda Campbell can only hope that her husband will return before his oldest son Hosea vanishes into the filthy cracks of life in the big city…

.Hosea-001

A worried mother keeps all those fearful imaginings to herself, taking sole comfort in the company of her faithful daughters, Agnes and Francis cuddling in bed like baby birds in a nest.Debauchery-001

Light sleeps falls hard, extending to the dawn of a new day, when Amanda Campbell hears feet clamoring through the door of her house. She thinks it is Willy safely returning. Instead, she discovers Hosea, strung out and hangdog from a long night of unimaginable debauchery.

“You’re a disgustin’ sight, Hosey!” she proclaims. “How are yo goin’ to work in your soory state?”

“It’s Saturdee, Ma, ain’t gotta milk ‘em ‘til Mondee–goddam cows’ll have some udder damn fool pullin’ their tits.”

“There’s no talkin’ like that in this house. God’ll strike you dead some day, you’ll see.” There toughloveis a surprizing lack of respect in her words. Some would say that she is disowning him, tired of trying to change his philandering ways. Hosey Campbell is sixteen, with the look of a man twice his age. Even on the plantation he seemed to be involved in all the shady goings on.

 “You ain’t gonna do nuttin to me, woman,” asserts Hosey, rebellion in full bloom.

“I cin put you on da street boy and don’t tink I won’t!”

Threats are all she is left with.

“That be jist fine wit me. I knows a guy headed fo Jersey. There’s big money up dere on what dey call da Boardwalk and I’ma goin’ to git me sum.”

She never thought her warning would meet immediate, if not, unwelcome results. So much hurt had been allowed to fester. A mother ignores her forgiving instincts, letting Hosea extract every earthly possession he can fit in a burlap bag. She is frozen in place, unable to move or speak on the behalf of her family. She can only hope that Willy will return before his oldest son vanishes into the filthy cracks of life in the big city.

In fifteen short minutes he amasses his things, in a bag made of carpet. At 5:45 A.M. there is no sign of Willy, the only person able to derail this runaway steam engine called “pride”.

A wordless hug is exchanged at the door, no mention of love or the future, just the fading empty warmth of a struggling family.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #75


page 69