When Wolves Attack

The wolves were thin and hungry. “We are wolves surrounded by a sea of sheep, we should not suffer this indignity!” said one. And so the wolves rallied, strengthening their ranks as they sharpened their fangs. When ready, they wandered beyond their territory, beyond the fences where the unsuspecting flocks lived. Their first strike was quick and the slaughter began.

But watching from their perched position on the Isle of Dragons, the dragons did not appreciate the aggression of the wolves. They sent their sentries to investigate. The wolves were in a vicious state and paid no mind to what the dragons said, even nipping at their heels as they chased them back to their island.

Of course, it’s never wise to irritate dragons. They are masters of the sea and sky. Soon the wolves would know what it meant for the sky to fall, for fire to rain, for tornadoes of flame to engulf and burn, and how those that take to the skies have friends in high places. For in the air, the eagles soar, masters of a vast wilderness, able to bring great resources wherever they’re needed.

But the wolves continued, believing in their own ferocity. The wolves felt themselves penned in, so they sought expansion and endless lands to roam — they looked east to where potential existed. Although those foolhardy wolves knew of the bears, they simply never realized how many actually lived among the bramble.

Besides, those bears were lean and looked as though they had nothing. The wolves gathered in their formation at the border of bear territory and began their attack. But for every bear that fell, it seemed as though two filled its place. The wolves tired themselves out by the slaughter. Soon it was as if three bears rose for every one that fell.

Unbeknownst to the wolves, the great eagles of big-sky country saw what was happening and dropped what was necessary to aid the bears. Then came the winter — so many wolves simply froze in place, unaware of how harsh the cold-lands could become. But while one side of the wolves froze solid in their ranks, the other side was roasted by dragon’s fire.

Long did the wolves howl at the border of the bears, but long did the bears hold their ground, one fallen body at a time. And like a spring compressed, the bears were pushed to a point so pressurized, that they eventually propelled forward with a frightening ferocity. The wolves knew not if their legs trembled from fear or if the ground simply shook, as bears charged full of rage.

Battered and starved for so long, the bears consumed everything along the way as they headed toward the homeland of the wolves. While from the west, the great eagles landed. Crushed between two unstoppable forces, the wolves retreated as much as they could. It would not be long before it was over.

And so it was, the eagles and the bears met and divided the wolf-lands between them. It was discovered how the wolves fed upon their own and committed atrocities unforgivable. The wolves were promptly defanged and watched like hawks, even to this day. But such is life in the animal kingdom, a world of beasts and brutes and violence unbounded.

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An American Beginning

An excerpt from the fictional tales of An Imagined History of America.

It all began one day in England when Mr. and Mrs. Pilgrim were attempting to worship the Almighty Creator in their own special way. You see, they liked to sacrifice fowls and roast them on an open spit right in front of the king’s castle. But one day the king himself, on his way for a morning walk, saw this practice and was to have none of it.

“See hear! What on earth are you doing!?”, shouted the king.
“Why we’re giving burnt offerings to the Lord, your majesty,” said Mrs. Pilgrim.
“But why here and why now!?”, inquired the king.
“To worship the true King of men and give thanks for all His blessings of course, your majesty,” replied Mr. Pilgrim.
“Guards, get these fools away from here! Immediately!”, shouted the king.

Mr. and Mrs. Pilgrim were ushered away and their offerings were disposed of by the king’s men. The reason they chose the doorstep of the king as their place of worship was actually a slight bit of defiance you see. Mr. and Mrs. Pilgrim believed that the true king of man resided in heaven. They thought of the earthly king as a charlatan and fraud — a blasphemer and usurper that put himself in the place of Almighty God.

“You know what Martha, I believe we should leave this unholy land and start a new life elsewhere, in a place free of blasphemy — in a land ruled by God himself, God’s Country,” said Jonathan.
“Why Jonathan, your boldness and passion enflame my heart. Yet we are mere townsfolk, where are we to go, how are we to make-do for ourselves?” replied Martha.
“But Martha, we are children of God and He shall provide. And I’ve heard talk of a new land, they call it America. A veritable Garden of Eden that the Almighty created for those that worship Him with all their heart, all their soul, and all their mind,” replied Jonathan.
“Oh Jonathan! I shall not doubt His ways! Truly we must travel to that land He provideth!”, said Martha excitedly.

And so it was that Mr. and Mrs. Pilgrim found themselves determined to travel to God’s own country. Within their small circle of friends, they convinced others to make the journey with them — all simple townsfolk lacking the knowhow to survive in an untamed wilderness. But by their ignorance, their faith was emboldened!
“Surely God will make safe passage and provide the provisions we need!”, they’d say.

Then came the day upon which Mr. and Mrs. Pilgrim, and their friends, boarded a ship that would set sail for the Promised Land. It was a long and arduous journey, something the simple townsfolk weren’t used to. The winds and waves rocked their tiny ship and many of the landlubbers amongst them lost their lunch overboard. But what nourishment did they truly need, but the word of God — and so they read their Holy Bible day-in and day-out as they sailed abroad.

Finally, after so long at sea, they landed. But it was cold, so frigid in fact that Mr. and Mrs. Pilgrim lost half their party due to a lack of faith in the Lord. Woe to he that doth not trust in Him to provideth. For truly, some were superficial in their belief whereas others came with the seed of God sown deep within. The day of reckoning had come where wheat was separated from chaff.

And after those first frigid days, the party ventured deeper into the new world. God had not forgotten those that had brought faith instead of knowledge. No, for he sent to them a native-guide that miraculously spoke their own very language. A native that had been taken from his home years earlier, trained in the king’s English, and returned. Even an unoccupied native-village awaited their arrival. God provideth!

Once Mr. and Mrs. Pilgrim and their friends settled into their new life in God’s country, they set about to give thanks to the Almighty for the blessings received. After finding the largest fowl they could, a turkey, they set it as the centerpiece of a magnificent feast filled with all kinds of local farm-to-table goodies. This great dinner would be known as Thanksgiving in the years to come.

And with the Pilgrim’s example, many other religious zealots also made their way to the New World. Of course, when you get a lot of opinionated people together that share a penchant for disregarding mortal authority, there’s bound to be some underlying friction. And so it was that many separate colonies were created, each with their own ideas of how to run things. This was America’s beginning: a land given to the faithful by God.

My Mid90s

Mid-90s for me was late high school. I could sense my sentence coming to an end. I began to isolate myself. I quit band and lacrosse and barely socialized at lunch. Even though it was almost over, it wasn’t relief I felt. What was I going to do now? At least in school I had a set-place to go, assigned things to do, I had acquaintances.

But f*ck school, man. Just a piece of sh*t prison by another name. Well that’s how I felt anyway, a suburban kid in an upper-middle-class town near Boston. On the outside, this is an uninteresting story — it reflects a boring motionless time — but on the inside, an intense adventure raged on.

I was visited by the triptych of fear, uncertainty, and doubt. And on top of that, more loneliness than I ever felt. My time was spent wrestling with those feelings and the dour images they inspired. I ended up continuing school in the form of college. To belabor the prison analogy, I was sentenced with a combination of house-arrest and probation for the next few years.

In college, I knew no one. There was no time to form acquaintanceships. But do you know what happened in the mid-90s? Windows 95 was released. And do you know what happened not long after that? An explosion in the popularity of personal-computers — the PC era was born. And do you know what followed that? An explosion in the popularity of online-services (AOL, Prodigy, CompuServe). And you obviously know what happened next? THIS. The Internet became a global phenomenon.

But back to online-services. Within those silly-little text-boxes, I was able to chat with people from around the country. I could finally interact with people in a way that felt comfortable. And I did just that, for a few years at least. It was at the end of the mid-90s when I met my friend (on an online-service, in a chat-room of course).

So the narrative I experienced in the mid-90s can be summed-up as this:
1. Self-isolation and the resulting loneliness.
2. Discovery of a new platform of communication.
3. Awakening as a communicative being.
4. The foundation of a lifelong friendship.

That’s a tidy little narrative don’t you think? How can something like that happen within a physical-world based on random-chance? Sounds a little too coincidental, no? My character’s lack fulfilled by a deus-ex-machina-level intervention? Hmm. But I appreciate it, without doubt. My life after meeting my friend was much improved.

An Odd Coincidence

An excerpt from the fictional tales of The Haphazard Historian.

In 1972, during his first term in office, then president Nixon made a historic journey to the East in order to establish relations with an angry and isolated China. In 2018, current president Trump made a historic journey to the East in order to establish relations with an angry and isolated North Korea.

In 1974, Nixon resigned due to a scandal that came about from the 1972 presidential election, the election in which he attained his second term in office. Shady characters working on behalf of Nixon sought to sabotage his Democratic rivals. At least some of these men were caught in the act. A high-level FBI official, knowing what happened, leaked what he knew to The Washington Post. This information would link these shady characters directly to the president himself, ultimately resulting in his resignation.

The current president is currently plagued by election issues in which it’s alleged that shady characters sought to sabotage his Democratic rival. In Nixon’s time, the FBI was apparently not able to directly involve itself in the situation, hence the leaking-of-information tactic. And as it was then, The Washington Post is a vocal critic of the current administration. One would reason then, that the ultimate goal is to tie the current administration directly to the shady characters that worked to sabotage its opponents.

Another item to consider, is that during his time in congress, Nixon was an active member of the House Un-American Activities Committee, the controversial committee that investigated communist ties and spies. According to this group, there is a long and established history of Soviet espionage and tampering within the United States. It is alleged that the successor of the Soviet Union is continuing this trend and in fact played the part of the shady characters.

Is history repeating itself? Will this narrative have a surprise ending or is it simply a remake of the original? Like in Hollywood, are there only a handful of storylines that just get remade over and over again? Does this lend evidence to the proposition that the world is merely a manufactured fiction? A simulation perhaps…? Stay tuned! Same Bat-Time! Same Bat-Channel!

American Style

I’d say what makes America, America, is reckless radical optimism.

How are we gonna get there?
F*ck it, we’re already out the door!

First there’s the Pilgrims:
John: Hey, you know what’d be better than all these old fogies tellin’ us what to do?
William: Um, moving to an untamed wilderness and starting our own God-based society?
John: YES!! We’re totally on the same page bro!
Henry: But how are you guys gonna survive? You’re like a businessman or whatever!
John: Huh? I can’t hear you bro, I’m already on a boat halfway to America….

Then there’s the Founding Fathers:
Samuel: You know what’d be better than all these royal asshats tellin’ us what to do?
John: Startin’ a war and implementing our own government??
Samuel: You read my mind cousin!
James: How the heck is that gonna work!?
John: LOL! We’re just gonna wing it brah!
Samuel: Too late to worry now! Shots fired!!

And how about those plantation owners:
Rhett: How are we gonna get all this work done Bo?
Bo: Well, we could just kidnap folks from a remote location and force them to labor without wages.
Rhett: Won’t they object?
Bo: Nah, why would they, prolly love us for providing jobs!!
Rhett: What about the long-term ramifications?
Bo: Can’t hear ya! Already halfway to Africa!!

And there’s the Civil War guys too:
Henry: What if we free them by sending hundreds of thousands of armed men down there?
David: Um, won’t they fire back?
Henry: Are you nuts! What could go wrong!
David: Um, hundreds of thousands of people could die in the process…?
Henry: Preposterous!
David: And what about the aftermath? Maybe if we looked at England’s method of….
Henry: Huh!? I can’t hear you over the cannon I keep firing!!!

And of course there’s foreign policy:
Allen: You know what might help the ongoing strife in that non-english-speaking country…
Dick: Sendin’ weapons and troops…?
Allen: You know it bro!
Dick: Well at least it can’t hurt!

And what about space travel:
Tim: I’m thinkin’ we strap y’all to a rocket and fire it up toward the moon… whaddya say?
John: Haha, yeah whatever.
Neil: I’ll do it!!

And electing the president:
Adam: Who should we elect as president?
Bruce: Maybe we nominate the best and brightest and follow that up with a rigorous selection process?
Adam: Nah, go with the guy that electrifies the crowd!
Bruce: Yeah that’ll work too!!

This is no criticism by the way, simply a characterization. If you’re wantin’ to pump the brakes, then you might not be much of an American. If you’re ever faced with the question, “Should I do this?” — stomp the accelerator — the answer is always “Yes”! If you’re thinkin’ ’bout potential negative consequences then you’re doin’ it wrong! Things are gonna turn out awesome, always!!

Great Again

My mother was a kid in the 1950s. She lived with her divorced mom and felt self-conscious about not having a dad around. She was considered fat and as an adult she was always following the latest fad diets. She knew some neighbors but nowadays she knows even more and feels safer than ever. Her biggest fear as a kid was being kidnapped, she had some incident with a guy asking her to find his lost puppy. She was born around the time WWII was ending, a little before the first nuclear bomb was detonated over a city full of people. She saw the end of laws that specifically persecuted the descendants of slaves, although it didn’t really mean much to her. When she was a young adult her peers were being drafted into a war they didn’t support. A president during her young-adulthood was assassinated in office and a later one was disgraced out of office.

I find it strange whenever I hear people claiming things were better in the past. I wouldn’t trade the Internet era for any time in recent history. When I grew up, my biggest aggravation was the unrepentant reruns the TV would air, especially compiled clip-shows of the current season’s episodes. Being the 80s, I did consider global thermo-nuclear war a viable threat too.

When people complain about social media, I find it odd. My childhood consisted mostly of sitting alone in my house watching TV reruns. Calling someone on their house-phone was torture, as anyone could answer, or it could be a busy-signal, or the person wasn’t home — it was inconvenience-cubed. I like the connectedness of today, the new content, I like watching shows whenever I want. And when I was a kid, I just assumed I hated music because I disliked what the radio played — it turns out I like music now that I can select what I want to hear.

When I wanted a specific book, I had to ask the bookstore to order it for me and then wait until they called. When I ordered stuff from a catalog (toys, trinkets, clothes, whatever), I tore out the order-form, meticulously filled it in, mailed it along with my mother’s check, then waited three weeks until the check cleared and the item arrived in the mail. When I missed an episode of my favorite show I waited weeks until it aired again as a rerun. When I wanted to watch a movie I had to go to the movie theater to watch it, that is until video rentals became a thing, then I could choose from a selection of crappy movies because that’s all they had in stock.

I love mobile-phones. When I was a kid, you just showed up hoping other people would be there. If you had the wrong time and your mom dropped you off, you were outta luck. Incessant waiting without knowing was a thing. It was nerve-wracking, what if no one came, what if I had the wrong date, I’d be stuck.

When I thought of cities when I was a kid, I pictured violent crime, gangs, graffiti, vandalism, riots, pollution. When I think of cities today I picture culinary adventures, tech hubs, gentrification, and hipsters. When I thought of Europe as a kid, I thought of spies and cold-war stuff, iron-curtains and oppressed peoples, hijackings, bombings, post-war aftermath, and bad food. Nowadays when I think of Europe I picture modern well-taken-care-of citizens in charming old-world settings. When I thought of nature, I pictured endless litter and toxic dumping. Nowadays I picture beautiful beaches and well-maintained woods.

In my opinion anyway, this is the best it’s been (there’s even robots on Mars!) — screw the haters that say otherwise.

Labor Day

An excerpt from the fictional tales of The Haphazard Historian.

Imagine that there are some people willing to enslave other people for their own gain. Well in fact no imagination is necessary, as we can browse the pages of history (or even current events) to know this to be the case. So we know people can, and will, exploit their fellow man for mere economic advantage.

We know there are some that would do all they can to get as close to slave-like conditions as possible, just to get a bit more. This being the case, what protects workers from such unrepentant greed? What protects those with little-power from hungry wolves waiting to feast?

Answer: the power of the herd, an unshakable union of fellow workers. Without this solidarity, workers are picked off one-by-one as each individual stays silent, threatened by the knowledge that he’ll be next should he utter complaint. Only as a solid whole, a single voice, can these workers hope to overcome the power of greed.

And so, this is the day we set aside as reminder of that ongoing struggle against greed. A greed so nefarious that man would kidnap his fellow man and force his labor, that man would employ children in perilous industry, that man would continuously shave as much as mathematically possible from wages — ever attempting to reach zero.

But it is not this selfishness we must focus on today, it is the unity that opposes it. Throughout history, the bulk of mankind has only ever shown a desire to pitch in, to contribute to community. He wants to work and do right by his neighbor. It is with this spirit, that mankind often bands together whenever foxes attempt to divvy him up.

As a collection of individuals, mankind can be divided. And, it often requires a bit of prodding before the sleeping giant of solidarity awakens to the threat of dismemberment. But in due time, and after much strain, he does wake, and those that dared divide him meet their end.

As workers ourselves, it is our duty to keep an open ear for this call to solidarity — for it is in our best interest, and the interest of industry itself. Fruitful commerce requires a fruitful workforce who in turn become prosperous customers. Industry itself is not the enemy, there’s simply some greed that needs weeding out. And we must all be on the lookout.