Stoned Castings

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Last August when the editor of La Civiltà Cattolica (an Italian Jesuit journal) interviewed Pope Francis the first question he asked him was “Who is Jorge Mario Bergoglio?”

Just to refresh your memory, that’s the Pope’s given name.

The holy father – yes, Bergy is called father, meaning he’s my pappy too, even if I can categorically state that my mother never made it to Bonus Hairs and therefore never could have had unprotected sex with ‘im.

Anyways, the Pope remained silent for a while and the journalist had ta repeat the question…

“Your Holiness, who is Jorge Mario Bergoglio?”

“He is a sinner”, said Pope Francis hesitantly, smiling that signature disarming grin of his. Heartening response indeed. Hey, if the Pope has committed sins, I’m on a roll, man.

Perhaps what made the Pope hesitate was the famous passage from the Gospel According to John about Jesus and the adulteress. The passage describes a confrontation between Jesus and the scribes and Pharisees over a woman caught in an act of adultery. The accusers quoted Mosaic Law, which stated that the anybody caught in adultery “should be stoned”.

I would like to think that being stoned meant being made to smoke weed against someone’s will, but no, it meant being battered with stones to death. Whoever says the early Abrahamic God was a ‘merciful’ God obviously lives in a world where plus is minus and minus, plus.

Anyways, Jesus’s relationship with God must have been like the one General James Mattis has with Donald Trump. Jesus nodded agreement with God in everything and then went out and did the exact opposite. In this case, he shamed the crowd into sparing the woman by saying, “Let him who is without sin, cast the first stone.”

The implication of Jesus’s words was actually pretty clear: all of us have sinned sometime in our lives and therefore we do not have the right to pass judgement on others.

Here’s where the Bible seems incomprehensible to me. As soon as Jesus’s words were out of his mouth, those who were itching to stone the woman simply melted away, looking awkwardly bashful, muttering to each other, “The guy has a point. Why, just the other day I had to be told I was only a goatherd and shouldn’t be buggering them goats.”

And that’s the ultimate jerk-off. Create human beings, gift them with the ability and the choice to commit sins, then make laws that brutally punish them if they commit sins and finally wave your divine hands and say, ‘no, no, no, you can’t punish the sinner because everyone sins.” God should be charged with entrapment.

My point is that sins vary in gravity. Adultery is a really shameful sin, but a great majority of sins are minor sins – otherwise known as misdemeanors – like making off with a stick of gum or a bar of chocolate from the corner Couche-Tard, a massive convenience store chain for whom the loss would be only a tiny pin prick. If the crowd of accusers fell into the latter category, then wouldn’t they have a right to stone a woman who has committed adultery? Fucking a married man is far worse than stealing gum, no?

So how could Jesus know whether the woman’s accusers had only minor misdemeanors in their past history or if they were adulterers themselves? Which in turn begs the question  – why isn’t there any mention in the Bible of the man who screwed the adulteress, let alone any mention of similar punishment being recommended against him? Wasn’t he an adulterer too? Looks like male chauvinism began with the Bible, doesn’t it?

What Jesus should have said to the accusers instead, should have been, “Get me the m—ther f—ker who did this with her. And anyone who has only chewed stolen gum, let him come forward and cast the first stone.” Now, that would have been apple-to-apple, though frankly I am against stoning, even if the woman and the man were serial out-of-wedlock humperdinks.

Then again, Jesus had never had sex before and therefore should have voluntarily recused himself from rendering his opinion on the case. But he was a chatterbox and felt compelled to hold forth. I understand that even his parents had never had sex. He was conceived inside Virgin Mary’s womb, by the Holy Spirit – proof that ISpermCloud services were available in those days.

And by the way, you don’t say, ‘the virgin, Mary’, like she was a woman named Mary who just happened to be a virgin. Her first name was Virgin and the actual name on her identity parchment was V. Mary. Why Mary and Joseph couldn’t have given birth to a messiah simply by adopting the missionary position and having sex the way the rest of us do, is beyond me.

Then, after the crowd went away, Jesus was finally where he had wanted to be from the very first moment he set eyes on the adulteress – alone with her. Jesus gave her a lascivious look and said, “There, I just saved yore ass. Now why don’t you meet me behind my carpentry shed for a little bit of לְהִשְׁתוֹבֵב) ?לְהִשְׁתוֹבֵב is ‘frolic’ in Yiddish, as per Google Translate).

Actually Jesus didn’t say that at all. I confused him with Bill O’Reilly. Instead he told her, “Go and sin no more.” The woman was never mentioned in the Bible thereafter, so I am reckoning she never committed adultery again.

Listen, nuclear war may break out any moment with North Korea and here I am, whiling away my time, dwelling on whether Mary’s first name was Virgin.

Hail Mary, mother of God, what will I think of next?

Collective Euphoria

A jubilant American sailor clutching a white-unifo

Collective euphoria? Or pardonable sexual assault? I say ‘pardonable’ since you can see even the other women in the image smiling. (Pic courtesy: Life Magazine)

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On the morning of Aug. 14, 1945, 21-year-old Greta Zimmer reported to work as a dental assistant and nurse on Lexington Ave, New York City.

All morning, Greta had been hearing rumors that the Japanese had surrendered after being hammered by those two atomic bombs, ending World War II. And then the announcement came over the radio and businesses across New York (and in fact all over America and the world) downed their shutters and countless men and women spilled into the streets in a giddy and chaotic release – a cathartic revelry that gave vent to the pent-up anxieties, fears, sorrows of not only the six years of brutal warfare but also the bottled up anger of the previous three decades of economic meltdown that the Great Depression had brought.

Greta Zimmer’s joy was sobered by her past – she had landed in America as a Jewish refugee who escaped Austria in the nick of time in 1938, leaving her parents behind. As of that euphoric day in the photo, she hadn’t heard from them and presumed they didn’t survive. Nevertheless she took off and for an hour, simply wandered aimlessly west toward Time Square, which was – as it is even now – the go to place for spontaneous celebrations.

At the very moment when Greta Zimmer was wandering into Time Square, 21-year old US Navy Ensign, George Mendosa was inside a cinema with his date, Rita, watching a war movie with Robert Mitchum in it. All of a sudden the show was halted and the lights came on and over the theater’s PA system came the announcement that the war had ended. Those inside the theater, George and Rita included, sprang up and rushed out into the street.

They couldn’t find a bar that wasn’t jam-packed, so the couple decided to simply mingle into the crowds that meandered around Time Square and just soak up the historic moment. George had been enjoying the last few days of his shore leave and now he was overjoyed that he wouldn’t be redeployed in the Pacific.

If you were a woman on Broadway or Times Square that day, chances were good that you too would be scooped up and kissed by random strangers and most likely you wouldn’t mind it even a bit. Still, Greta Zimmer was shocked when she suddenly found herself jostled and then before she could gather her wits, grabbed and kissed by a brawny young man in a sailor’s uniform, George Mendosa.

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Every man was kissing every woman, so George’s date, Rita, wasn’t even a bit ruffled when he scooped Greta up and gave her a huge sloppy kiss. In fact if you check out the photo closely, that’s Rita, visible over George’s right arm, with a grin on her face.

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I am sure the feeling among most women in America that day must have been one of gratitude, like they owed the men in uniform a debt. Letting themselves be grabbed and kissed (aka sexually assaulted) was seen by them as a gesture of that appreciation perhaps.

Meanwhile, unbeknownst to the two kissers, noted Life Magazine photographer, Alfred Eisenstaedt, had captured the moment. The photo was published a few weeks later but both, Zimmer and Mendonsa, would go decades without knowing about “the photo that ended the Second World War” and of their newfound status as icons.

The sailor kissing nurse photo has since spread around the world, as an iconic representation of the power of collective euphoria. I recall feeling that feeling once, in 1983, when India won the cricket World Cup. The whole city of Pune had gathered on the Lakdi Pul and girls were letting themselves be  squeezed and cuddled openly, by total strangers. Of course, straight-laced as I am, I found all that open rub-a-dub very very gross.

Historic moments seem to bring out the basest bacchanalian instincts in us humans. I am sure that would hold for even impending events of historic proportions. Like for instance, just suppose an asteroid, the size of ten city blocks, was a week away from wiping out all life on earth and any hope that it would pass us by had evaporated. I am certain you would be able to walk out into the streets and make love to just about anybody right then and there, wouldn’t you?

Rita and George later married and stayed that way until 2012, when George passed on, at 90. Greta meanwhile lived to be 92, passing away in September 2016. Folks who knew both are unanimous that they lived happy and healthy lives.

But don’t get carried away thinking the moral of the story is – ‘grab and kiss any random woman and you’ll live a happy and healthy life’. It works only if there’s been a World War and your side won or the world is coming to an end. Other times you’ll end up with a slap across your cheek and a knee in the nuts.

The Everlasting Etiquette

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When Saddam Hussein was finally caught cowering inside an underground bunker in 2003 and later sentenced to die, many nations in the EU opposed the decision to execute him. India too suggested that there were other non-violent ways to mete out justice and that violent vengeance wasn’t moral, specially since the invasion of Iraq was itself based upon a lie.

But India’s stance was ironic, since it has an opposing ethical precedent…..

In the great epic, Mahabharata, when a defenceless Karna’s chariot wheel get’s mired in the mud in the middle of the battle of Kurukshtra, he tries desperately to extricate it, but fails. Noting that the Pandava hero, Arjuna, is getting ready to slay him, Karna asks him to hold his fire and give him a hand.

Coming to an adversary’s assistance in those days was a component of what was known as battlefield etiquette, which required that when a fighter had been placed unwittingly in a position of disadvantage, his antagonist had to hold further fire until he had recovered and the playing field was levelled. Something similar plays out in boxing today, I understand – punching a fallen opponent is against the rules.

But back in 5561BC (the date that vedic scholars think the Battle of Kurukshetra happened), battle etiquette was a very important component of the Indian ethos. In fact it was common all over the ancient world. In Homer’s epic, The Iliad, the Athenian fighter, Ajax the Greater, chucks a huge stone at the Trojan hero, Hector, with such force that it dislodges Hector’s helmet and crushes his horse. Since he is still on his own steed and has his helmet on, Ajax deems it unfair to continue. He dismounts and pauses to let Hector gather himself together and they fight hand to hand, until he is killed by Hector. In today’s world, Ajax would be a stupid sucker, but not in 850BC.

But I digress… getting back to the Mahabharata, on hearing Karna’s plea for help, Arjuna immediately pauses and begins to dismount from his chariot to go give Karna a hand – when all of a sudden Arjuna’s charioteer, the revered Lord Krishna – instead of commending his sense of chivalry – reminds him of Karna’s own lack of etiquette when he killed Abhimanyu and participated in Duryodhana’s insulting of Draupadi. Krishna convinces Arjuna that it is not against battlefield etiquette to kill a man who has supported evil all his life. Arjuna immediately turns back, takes aim and kills Karna.

What do y’know. Under his beatific smile, Krishna was a calculating, Machiavellian God.

And no thanks to Krishna, battlefield etiquette still makes its presence felt – albeit sporadically – in the unlikeliest of places…….

Spring, 2009

A hamlet, 20 miles south of Spin Boldak

Afghanistan

The night had been so brilliantly moonlit, it was almost like day. They would have waited for the next new moon but there was no time.

Abu Salam was leading a TTP (Tehrik-e-Taliban) squad that had bivouacked for the night in the bushes surrounding the hamlet, just north of the border with Pakistan. The hamlet was nestled inside a cleared circle on a vast terrain covered by a dense thicket of waist-high shrubs that seemed ideal for concealment from a ground-based adversary, but completely exposed to an aerial attack by fixed-wing ground attack aircraft like the AC-130 and Warthogs or choppers like the Apache or Black Hawk.

There was big game tonight and the Emir, Baitullah Mehsud, himself was by his side, toting a Stinger missile launcher to deter aerial support interference. The Stinger’s dull black mat finish hadn’t been scratched yet. Although it was an older version that Raytheon had stopped making a long time back, it was still brand new. It had been stowed away unused, in an Islamabad warehouse operated by Satan’s own rep on earth, Pakistan’s intelligence agency, the ISI.

The Stinger was a remnant of American largesse of the 80s and today it would be used to kill Americans. Salam smiled grimly at the irony. Raytheon didn’t know – Raytheon didn’t care.

The group lay there, forming a neat circle round the hamlet, a battle-hardened TTP fighter every five yards or so. The fight with the Russians and the training from the ISI had taught them discipline. The Americans inside that outhouse might have drawn some consolation from the fact that they were about to be annihilated by a fighting force that paralleled their own professionalism. What this bunch didn’t have, in terms of equipment and technology, they made up for – in commitment to a cause.

Inside the hamlet were two dwellings – one a large mud and brick home with a courtyard in the middle and the other a small outhouse which had three Delta Force operatives and an Afghan interpreter inside it. The owner of the compound, a grizzled Pashtun who had fought the Soviets with Salam, had been a notoriously fickle-minded guy who had first decided to side with the Americans on receipt of a bagful of $100 bills and then, after taking the money, he had changed his mind. The Delta Force had been dispatched along with an interpreter with orders to either get him back on their side or finish him off.

As Abu Salam felt the discomfort of the ground – still hard and cold from the winter, two of the Americans came out of the outhouse and started walking toward the bushes, possibly to take a leak. That’s when all hell broke loose. The landscape around the unsuspecting Americans got peppered by 7.62mm rounds from the fanatics’ AK47s. The two Americans slumped, lifeless.

That was the moment that Abu Salam recognized why the Emir deserved to be called – the Emir.

The two fallen Americans had momentarily stopped moving and a lull set in, followed by a sudden deafening silence.

As Salam stared at the scene below, suddenly another American emerged from the outhouse. He walked resolutely toward his fallen comrades, his steps unhurried – as if he was on an evening stroll. He reached one of the prone Americans, the one closest to him. He calmly slung him over his shoulders, hefted him with a huge shrug and started back toward the lee side of the outhouse. He was a target that begged to be taken down.

For a moment, Abu Salam’s Talib colleagues, including the Emir, were dumbfounded by the bravado. By the time they could gather their wits, the American had disappeared behind the adobe wall of the outhouse.

The Talib weren’t even done releasing the breaths they had been holding, when the shape appeared once again.

This time, the American walked in an even more measured pace, covering ground the way only someone who believed completely in himself would. He stopped in front of the other fallen comrade and the process repeated itself – the Talib staring, their faces aghast and their mouths gaping open.

One fighter – no one knows for sure who – let out a burst. The American stumbled and fell. He still had a few yards to cover, before he got to his fallen comrade. That was when the Emir let out one single shout – wadrega! (stop!)

As the firing fell silent, the Talib gunmen watched astounded as the American, mortally wounded, started crawling toward his buddy. Their eyes unbelieving, they watched him reach his pal and come to rest right next, his one good arm now engulfing his friend in a hug.

Abu Salam raised his AK – just to finish the infidel off, but suddenly he felt the muzzle shoved aside.

It was the Emir. ‘Enough,’ said Baitullah Mehsud, ‘Don’t ever forget. We are all fighters and this is a brave one. Let him die – in peace.’

After some time, when the American hadn’t moved for a while, the Talib cautiously climbed down from their perch and approached the two fallen Delta Force men, lying there in a macabre embrace.

The Emir reached down and held his finger under the American’s nose and felt his breath, coming out in short ragged bursts. Given the extent of his wounds, the Emir estimated he had seconds, to die. The American looked almost serene – like as if this was how he had always hoped he would die. In a flash, the Emir realized that maybe the total victory that he had dreamed of wouldn’t happen so easily.

“Leave them alone,” Mehsud called, “Leave the infidel the chance to take him away. He has earned the right. We shall return, for another fight, another day…”

Then, as he turned to rise, the Emir’s eyes fell on the dog tag. He stared it a while and then gently removed it from the American’s neck. It said –

David F. Dornberger

697-012-8326

RH Negative

Catholic

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Today that dog tag rests inside a beautifully hand crafted teak and glass jewelry box on top of a TV cabinet in a small town called Lawrence, mid-way between Topeka and Kansas City in the United States. Somehow it had found its way from a dusty hamlet 12 time zones to the east, via an Islamabad army installation and then finally to America on a C130 Hercules transport aircraft.

I just found out what a gig is.

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I am in the bowels of the Lucien L’Allier metro and commuter train hub.

Musicians who play in Montreal’s metro stations are usually students at McGill University’s Schulich School of Music or from any one of the other schools in the city’s downtown core, like the L’Academie or the Lambda.

If they have graduated, they could be aspirants to the Montreal Symphony – out of work musicians, doing what they love ta do and earning some pocket change at the same time (note the little black basket that the girl has laid out in front of her).

Montreal’s mass transport system, the STM, has earmarked over 50 locations in its metro system (usually at the bigger junction stations), available free of charge to musicians. These locations are identified by wall signs depicting a lyre. Musicians divide performance times among themselves by mutual consent.

If you’re interested in performing in a metro station, you just go over to one of the designated locations and if there’s someone already there playing, you fix it with him so you can come back when he’s done and take his place. It’s all peaceful and friendly like. Stoned folks are generally friendly folks. Get stoned on weed and you’ll go straight ta heaven, no sweat.

When I came upon her, Cecilia was replicating Mark Knopfler’s guitar work in ‘Once upon a time in the west’ from the Dire Straits 1982 album ‘Communique’, one of my favorites. So, I paused. She is Jamaican and has that typically Jamaican wicked grin. Bob Marley too is in her repertoire, she says.

Currently Cecilia is doing a ‘gig’ with two other Jamaicans at a downtown night club, three days a week. A gig is a stint – a short engagement, to perform a certain number of nights a week at an establishment such as a bar, night club, restaurant, strip joint, casino, festival or wedding. Waiting to be discovered performers are always looking for gigs. If you’re a pole dancer, you are doing a gig a Club Wanda.

Cecilia just got a gig, starting next week, at Club Soda, a venue for music concerts where bands that open for bigger bands or bands that are tribute bands (meaning bands who play a particular famous band’s music, eg: Elvis Tribute, Pink Floyd Tribute, etc) come ta play. Don’t get me wrong, they are awesome – they just didn’t get the breaks, that’s all. Club Soda has an adjoining bar and restaurant that is always overflowing with musicians and music aficionados.

Cecilia is excited and thrilled because Club Soda is a much sought-after gig. Notice the happy anticipation in her face. Meanwhile, the gig at the metro gives her the space and solitude to practice, she says.

I have gigs too – 128 gigs to be exact, but those are different – they are on my Iphone. Har Har Har.

Shit Scared Shinzo & Kama Sutra

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The Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, shit scared Trump will pull the American security umbrella from Japan and leave it at the mercy of North Korea. (photo courtesy: The Independent)

Doesn’t Shinzo look like he just pooped in his pants? Right at that moment, if Trump had told him to get down on his knees and blow him, trust me – Shinzo would, right in front of the TV cameras.

So, l’il Shinzy Shoo is trembling, while Trump is enjoying not only Shinzy’s naked terror, but he’s actually eyeing the interpreter’s boobs. Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to a demagogue’s world.

How did we get this low? Is God punishing the world with Trump, in some weird Biblical way, for our collective degeneration over the ages? Like, are we now the citizens of Sodom? or is it Gomorrah? Heck, the Bible has so much BS, I couldn’t care less which.

But if the Almighty Lord (the Christian one) is indeed disappointed, I want ta tell ‘im, ‘Big Guy, I’m a Hindu and Hindu Gods don’t punish, period’. While the Christian God floats around in heaven in flowing white chiffon, striving ta look ethereal, Hindu Gods are mostly buck naked – morning, noon and night. I know one, the chief himself (Shiva), who smokes hash and while he’s blown, his female groupies worship his engorged ‘linga’.

Hey, Hinduism legalized marijuana in 300BC. Three decades after, in 270BC, a horny guy called Vatsayana couldn’t stand it no more. The spirit was willing but the flesh was weak. He was a perverted shriveled old ugly introvert. No woman would give him even a first glance, let alone let him touch her even with a barge pole. So Vatsayana did the only thing that he could – he wrote. He wrote the treatise on sex called ‘Kama Sutra’, an ‘all-you-need-ta-know kinda book, a body of work that has never ever been disputed.

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Ahem, a Kama Sutra tip. It might save your marriage and you’ll thank me for this one.  (Photo courtesy : Vatsayana the Horny)

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Reading it…wait, one doesn’t ‘read’ the Kama Sutra……. I was informed that women liked being penetrated anally more, than the regular way. But would that leave her poop on the tip of my ding-a-long? The Kama Sutra fails ta clarify this and I hate ‘loose ends’.

If you stop ta really think of it, the Kama Sutra is to sex what Obamacare is, ta healthcare. It just won’t go away.

The Outlaw (Part-3 Final Part)

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Never worry about a wolf in sheeps’ clothing. A wolf that needs clothes is a wimpy schmuck of a wolf. Beware instead, of a wolf in wolves’ clothing….

– Spunkybong

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Remember the traps I had set around Oka Lake in the fall of 1938, right after I got the contract? I spotted blood on one of them, one frosty morning that December.

It could have been anything but I knew it was the Outlaw. Well, he got his foot caught in one of the traps but he had somehow managed to extricate his foot and flee. I hadn’t been watching that particular trap, so I didn’t know what exactly went down out there, but I found blood around the trap.

It is understandable that traps will have blood on ‘em, but these spring-loaded steel jaws are vicious, sharp and jagged. Step on one and for sure, you can kiss your ankle goodbye. I couldn’t for the love of me understand how the Outlaw had managed to get out of it, but he had, so that’s that. He had obviously been hurt, though how badly I could never know, but I knew that his being hurt didn’t bring me a better chance to get him. Wild animals have this immense capacity ta ward off infection, heal their wounds and continue on with their lives.

Don’t ask me how I knew it had been the Outlaw’s blood on that trap. I just knew. Another thing – you might not be able ta recognize any one particular wolf, since they all look pretty much alike to you, but me – I can identify ‘em. And the Outlaw was special. He was humongous, over six and a half feet in length and four, in height. He had an angel-white diamond-shape on the otherwise dark grey fur on his forehead, right between the eyes. That still could be on another wolf but one of his ears had lost a tendon, maybe in a fight when he was hot-headed young brawler. That made the ear stick out horizontally, even when he perked his ears up ta listen. That ear was the giveaway.

I finally got the Outlaw on June 12th. I remember that afternoon clearly. Days were long that time of the year. It must have been around eight in the evening and still bright as day. I was in the thickets, surrounded by some pretty tall oaks, at the edge of a large mom and pop poultry farm that also grew Mackintosh apples and strawberries – the Quinn Farm. They grew so many apples that, come fall, they opened their doors to the public to come pick as many apples as they could, for just five bucks.

I had just about given up and was preparing ta call it a day and go home, when the Outlaw came into view, having emerged into a clearing around twennie feet from where I was perched. He didn’t seem in a hurry and when I trained my Bushnells on ‘im I realized why. He had stepped into one of my traps, probably the one I had laid out by the water’s edge. This time the trap had gotten a good grip on him and held. He had obviously tried ta break free, but he had only managed ta break the swivel of the trap. Realizing he couldn’t get it off him he must have decided ta simply run on with it.

So there the Outlaw stood, his rear left foot firmly inside a trap, his fibula stripped off flesh, the skin peeled off and hanging loosely over the jaws, covered in naked muscle and tissue, frighteningly bloody, the magnificent charcoal grey mane under his chest heaving at the effort of having ta lug that 25-lb trap around. I said ta myself, Jesus, that must hurt like a bitch. But strangely his eyes were still cold, blue and scornful – just the way I had always seen them. His lips were pulled back over his jaws, his teeth bared in a snarl.

One thing became clear – there was no way that the Outlaw would get rid of the trap and there was no way he could run with it for long. Did he know this was it, the end of the road? Was he programmed ta take defeat as calmly and stoically as he would take the sensation of a kill? Do wild animals know the moment they are about ta die? What goes through their minds? Defiance? Anger? Resignation? Satisfaction – of a life well fought and lived?

Probably all of the above, but the Outlaw’s emotionless eyes let on nothing. I didn’t wait to debate how he felt. I had a job I was being paid ta do. I rose from my crouch and took my time picking my way through the underbrush, making no effort ta crouch or be silent. The Outlaw wasn’t going nowhere.

He was still there, in the middle of the clearing, now sitting on his rump, his front legs straight. Like the dog on those old HMV vinyl records. The heaving had stopped, so I reckoned he had got his breath back. When I emerged out of the brush and approached him, I noticed that the snarl was gone. Somehow, at the point of death, one rids himself of hate and maybe this happens with wild animals as well.

The Outlaw regarded me silently as I came and halted five feet from him. A widening pool of blood was forming where his mangled foot rested inside the trap. As I waited, he raised his magnificent head up at the sky and let out a long moan that in the end died out in an agonized splutter.

I took that as a signal. The Outlaw wished to tell me something, maybe…‘what are you waiting for, now get it over with’. I retrieved Buster from my shoulder holster. It is illegal ta have a handgun on you when you’re out on a hunt, but I still toted one anyway. Hey, its my ass, okay? And I intend ta see it doesn’t get chewed off, that’s all.

I held the muzzle an inch from the side of the head just below the ear that wouldn’t straighten up. I didn’t want ta mess up that snow white diamond on his forehead. His eyes had dulled a bit as he stared up at me unflinchingly, looking me directly in the eye. He just sat there and waited, awareness writ large over his every sinew, every hair, that this was the end of the road. Perhaps it is the feeling a batsman in cricket has, when he has been trapped, LBW – he knows, if he is out or he isn’t.

Anyone will tell you that the cocking of a .357 Magnum is the loudest of all handguns. In the eerie silence of the woods, Buster cocked with a loud Crraack! The cocking was so close to his ear, the Outlaw visibly flinched, but he remained sitting where he was, the blood now in a pool all around his butt. For no reason, in my mind I said to him, “Pity it had ta end this way, bud…”

I pulled the trigger.

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Ps: I am an occasional hunter myself but I have never killed a wolf. I have seen many in the wild, though. Once, a big charcoal grey m—her f–ker walked right up to the SpyPoint camera I had installed on a wedge in a tree trunk and craned his neck to sniff at it. I could have had him then, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. He was so magnificent. And cute.

The Outlaw (Part-2)

“Aren’t we all baying for the moon?”

Édith Piaf

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Which is correct grammatically – ‘Baying for the moon’ or ‘Baying at the moon’?

I googled this, but couldn’t find an answer. I’d go for ‘baying for the moon’

Whatever. Who gives a f—k anyway?

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Qannik

In the end it took nine years to kill the Outlaw. They began by offering a $100 reward and trappers from far and wide rode in. A hundred dollars could take you a long ways in those days.

The trappers tried everything –packs of dogs, traps baited with poisoned bait, deer distress calls – but the Outlaw was nowhere to be seen. He seemed ta lead a charmed life. Year after year, they raised the bounty higher and higher, till by the time the great war began in ‘39, the newly created Canadian Wildlife Service had pegged the bounty at $1000.

In the eighth year of the hunt they located a hunter name Darth Strickland. That’s your’s truly. I am expensive but I am the best. My instructions were simple – track and stay with the Outlaw until he is killed, no matter how long it takes. My fees were sizable, enough for me ta retire on, but I won’t tell you how much. I don’t need no computishun.

With my new contract, I set off into wolf country. Sheriff Doug Hooser of Custer County was my point man in the hunt and he told me there had been lambs missing out at the Wilson range. I went over there and nosed around a bit. I was looking for fresh tracks but didn’t find any. I buttonholed old man Lamarr Wilson as he was getting into his buggy to go over to his alfalfa spread and he told me he lost two lambs and some chickens the night before – but he hadn’t found any spoor, so he had given up.

I sensed that the Outlaw had been around and would probably shack up in those rocky dens around the Oka Hills, so I drove over in my old Chevvy and laid out a string of traps in fifty foot intervals, along the Oka Lake shoreline. Other trappers like ta lace their traps with poison but my traps are clean. Poisons seem kinda sneaky to me.

The whole time that I was busy setting traps, I had a sense that I was being watched and I knew that the Outlaw was on my trail, some place just beyond my line of vision. The next day I got my first glimpse of him, but I didn’t see the coyotes. I reckoned maybe they had fallen out and parted ways. (If you have been paying any attention, in Part-1 the Outlaw had acquired two coyotes as sidekicks, after his missus got killed).

I already had my .22 Rimfire Ruger in my hand, having unslung it a while back. Among small calibres, the Ruger is the deadliest, lightweight – just 5lbs, no kidding. You can grip it in one hand and fire, no sweat. Pull the trigger and a Nosler Partition dual-core round will leap out, it’s two lead-alloy cores separated by a couple of millimeters, encased inside a tapered copper alloy jacket.

Departing the muzzle, the round will gulp up 4225 feet every second, until it enters the target, the front tapered lead alloy core continuing forward, making a neat hole, until it exits from the other end, it’s kinetic energy barely impeded. Meanwhile the rear cylindrical core, blunt and slug-like, will blossom outward, ballooning in diameter as it slams into flesh, bone and tissue, pulverizing everything in it’s path.

partitionbulletcutout

The Nosler Partition

If you want ta eat the prey after you kill it, the Nosler Partition is not the bullet I’d recommend, because the havoc it wreaks is kinda uncontrolled. The rear core might accidentally rupture a whitetail’s entrails, bladder or windpipe – tainting the meat, rendering it inedible. But if you just want ta whack a beast because he’s public enemy#1, there’s nothing even close to a Nosler Partition.

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Turns out I was wrong about the coyotes. The one behind was actually further back, maybe fifty yards. Soon as I tried ta close in on the Outlaw, the ‘rear admiral’ started yelping. The Outlaw was ambling along when the ‘rear admiral’ took off, flashing past him and he took off as well. The last thing you enjoy as a hunter is being outed by the prey. You just got ta turn around and go home then.

I would have to shoot the coyotes if I wanted ta get the Outlaw, that was clear. Having them hanging around with him was not going ta help. I don’t have any feelings either way, about killing coyotes. They are like cockroaches. You don’t have pangs of conscience when you squish a cockroach, do you? Even though it did you no harm, you would kill a cockroach without compunction. Same thing with coyotes – they have been stereotyped in our minds as pests that need to be exterminated, period.

Killing coyotes is not exactly a cinch, but just follow some simple rules and you can get a coyote or two, easy. Trust me, I’ve killed hundreds over the years. If you are crouching in the brush, just make sure you can see at least 75 yards ahead. Chances are you won’t see a coyote easy. They are cautious m—ther f—kers, they really are. Look for movement, like a sudden swaying of undergrowth. If it’s late December to early March, that’s the coyotes’ mating season – have a good mating call handy. If it’s not, a nice injured lamb bleat will do fine. You can download calls from the Apple app store anytime, no sweat. Bring along a bluetooth enabled 50-watt speaker, stick it in a tree trunk and you got a call that will carry 80, maybe 100 yards.

And listen, have some patience. A coyote likes ta be sure before it breaks cover and steps into an open clearing. So, he may take a while before he appears in your cross-hairs. Just be still and lie low. He’s agile, so be ready.

Most importantly – and this applies ta hunting anything, not just coyotes or wolves – remember ta acquire a sense of detachment. If you stare too hard at the prey and think of letting him have it with both barrels, he somehow senses it – it’s like telepathy. Are human thoughts carried by brain waves? Do these vibes let out a silent alarm that the prey picks up? I don’t know, but trust me on this – at the point where he is in your sights or about ta come into your sights, do not think of killing him and do not stare at his eyes.

I never think, after the prey sails into my field of vision, about shooting the animal. I let my thoughts remain in a sort of levitating, neutral, idling mode and force myself ta think of something else. I try ta engage my mind on my next blog post or whether I need ta clean out my basement this weekend or something. I never look into the prey’s eyes and allow it ta feel my presence. When I pull the trigger, for me the prey is just an aiming point, like a target at a shooting range, not a living breathing animal.

Think of it this way – when you’re making love, if you allow yourself ta think of what you’re engaged in doing, you’ll come way too soon. But if you force your mind to think of something else – like maybe the sales presentation you need ta submit the next morning to your client – trust me, you’ll last way longer and your woman will take you to be fookin Don Giovanni. Try it, but don’t go overboard and think of really heavy stuff, like the Holocaust or something. You’ll end up with a wimpy limpy twiddledidum then.

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So, I killed Abbott and Costello. But alas, it didn’t make getting the Outlaw any easier. He continued the cat and mouse game. He made a kill at the Fournier farm – a lamb that had somehow managed ta step outside the barn alone in the dead of the night. He was maybe expecting ta find a ewe named Rosy or something and instead he bumped into the dreaded beast. The Outlaw sank his jaws into the lamb’s neck but it was already dead by then, from sheer fright.

The Outlaw didn’t sit there in the open ta eat. He zig-zagged his way through the brush, until he could camouflage himself completely and only then did he start chomping on the lamb. I’ll be honest with you – I wasn’t there that night and I’m simply supposing that’s what happened.

A month went by after the Fournier range attack and I didn’t set my eyes on the Outlaw all that time even once, leading me ta wonder whether he had moved to Oka or Mont St. Hillaire or some place else. Wolves are known ta move around quite a bit, sometimes over hundreds of miles. If he had in fact moved to another county, then my contract was redundant and I could just collect my fee and go home.


(to be continued…..)

ps: Hang around. Lie still. Breathe evenly. Part-3 is where it all goes down.

What if your boss was a robot?

robot

The world’s largest hedge fund, Bridgewater Associates, is dabbling with artificial intelligence that will go beyond the already existing financial algorithms that guide trade in the financial markets. The firm is building a piece of software to automate the day-to-day management of the firm – including hiring, firing and other strategic decision-making.

Bridgewater has a team of software engineers working on the project at the behest of it’s billionaire founder, Ray Dalio, who wants to ensure the company can run according to his vision, even when he’s not there.

The ‘manager’ algorithm is being built by identifying those managerial functions that the software aims to take over. Ray Dalio has prepared a 123-page manifesto, titled ‘The Principles’, as a guideline for building the software. The basic principles by which the algorithm shall work will be the same as those that talented managers operate by, namely…..

1. Have clear goals.
2. Identify and don’t tolerate the problems that stand in the way of achieving your goals.
3. Accurately diagnose these problems.
4. Design plans that explicitly get you around your problems and on to your goals.
5. Implement these plans

Each step is further fleshed out in elaborate detail in his manifesto. An app, dubbed ‘The Contract’, gets staff to set goals they want to achieve and then tracks how effectively they follow through.

A team of coders is building ‘PriOS’, the software that is aimed at making three quarters of all management decisions within five years. To build the logic underlying the software, vast amounts of data are being constantly collected. Meetings are recorded and people are encouraged to challenge and grade each other constantly, which shows up as their strengths and weaknesses. Dalio is investing the brute power of his financial empire to make this dream a reality. People would be rated based on a million data points. The software will make managerial decisions that the subordinates (real people) shall have to execute.

Ray Dalio believes that there is an impediment to a complete switch-over to robots in managerial decision making – human emotions. If only human emotions could be left out of the workplace, it would make it possible to run an organisation most efficiently. He further foresees that since people will resist taking orders from a machine, a human manager will have to be hired only to convey the machine’s decisions to the employees, for execution.

Over the next decade, managers could become dinosaurs (and maybe they will), but still there may remain managerial functions that require human emotions and this is why……

The role of a manager has always been part science and part art. While the algorithm will take care of the science part of the conduit manager’s tasks, the other part (the art) will still have to be performed directly by the manager – persuading employees to go above and beyond, something that no machine can imbue in a human (at least not in the near future). Two managers can convey the same performance rating to the same employee and have very different outcomes. One manager can leave the employee devastated, convinced he is a loser, while the other manager can leave the employee fired up with the motivation to excel.

At least as of now it looks as if the machine is going to take a long time to learn one simple fact – that in the end, performance is forged in the fire of emotion. Will that change and if so how soon?
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The above piece is based on source material from google as well as the following write-up :
Author : Abhijit Bhaduri / Blog : Just Like That (IndiaTimesBlogs Jan 2017)

 

The Outlaw (Part-1)

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“If you live among the wolves, you have to learn to be one…”

– Nikita Krushchev

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The Outlaw is dead. I killed him. He was the master criminal of the world. Well, maybe not the world, but certainly the Monteregie, an 11000 sq.km region in southwestern Quebec where we have built our home.

The Monteregie is paradise on earth. In summer, it is nothing but rolling farmland, lush with crops of all kinds. Where I live, everyone is either growing or breeding something. And lakes, my God the lakes and their sheer number. You cannot drive ten minutes without bumping into a lake that takes your breath away.

Where we live, a 200-meter sprint in summer brings you to a field sown with barley that stretches to the horizon. Beyond that, for miles and miles right up to the edge, where the earth curves and you can’t see no more, lie the Cascades (rapids), where the Lac St-Louis duels for supremacy with the St. Lawrence. All that land is farmland – alfalfa and soya swaying in the breeze.

I was telling you I just killed the Outlaw and my brilliant mind got waylaid with the beauty of the Monteregie. I do tend ta go off on a tangent when I write. But hey, this is my blog and I’ll write about any fookin thing that comes to my mind, okay?

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Where there is great beauty, there is also great cruelty. So did the Monteregie have it’s own measure of senseless killing and criminal masterminds, one of whom I crossed paths with in the late fall of 1930, a time when vast stretches of Quebec were still wild and untamed.

The Outlaw was that criminal genius and his cruelty surpassed only his cunning. Here tonight, he could show up fifty miles on the far side of Dorion tomorrow and devastate a range there. Sometimes the Outlaw killed for the mere sake of killing, often targeting wounded cattle. He would bite and break their legs, chew off their tails and mutilate them in unspeakable ways. He hadn’t attacked a human but still, there was not a farmhand who didn’t feel a prickle down the middle of his shoulder blades, if he happened ta find himself alone and in the dark Monteregie countryside.

If I had been a poetic dude, I would see a bit of Byron or Dante in the Outlaw and if I dug all that classical BS, he would be my Wagner. He loped through every trap and spurned them all and he sniffed at the subtlest poison and knew enough ta pass it by. The Outlaw lived an enchanted life, he was invincible.

The Outlaw was a wolf that was damned good at being a wolf. And this was the Monteregie, where a consensus by the Parks Service the year prior had estimated the wolf population at 280,000. If there were any boys here with the name ‘Peter’, trust me, he would mean it every time he cried ‘wolf!’

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The Outlaw had a mate but four years ago she was killed by a suitor. I wasn’t there then but Gaetan Brosseur of the Brosseur Range told me all about how she died. Here’s Gaetan’s story……

Gaetan Brosseur’s story

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“I gave the Outlaw’s mate a name – Dorothy because she looked like a Dorothy to me. Wolves named Dorothy are docile and friendly and so I called her Dorothy, even though she had done nothing ta convince me she was friendly and docile, mind you. It was just the look in her eyes, I guess.

Don’t you attach persona ta women’s names? Maybe you’ll call me a sexist but I do it all the time. You have no idea how accurate I could be sometimes. For instance, Sonyas or Sonjas are almost invariably blonde and long-legged and Suzannes are big chested and easy. Marthas are matronly and wife material while Marias are slippery and smart. If you want wholesome sex, morning, noon and night, go for a Ziggy or a Lola. And if you’re looking for more action – someone who’ll exhaust you so you have ta take the next day off, a Delilah or Dolores is a sure bet. Know what I mean? To all my male friends, try it, you’ll thank me later.

Listen, can you stop thinking of names so I can get back to my story?

I was there the day Dorothy died. I could have had the Outlaw then, but I was so mesmerized I forgot I had left the .22 Ruger bolt action by the tree trunk beyond my reach and I didn’t dare turn to grab it. There wouldn’t be enough time. If you get your throat torn off, it still takes a while ta die, y’know – five minutes, maybe ten, with your heart pumping ever faster and your blood spurting spasmodically out through your two carotid arteries. I didn’t want any of that. There’s stuff I still haven’t done in life. Like date Scarlett Johanssen.

I just lay still in the brush and stared at the mayhem unfolding in front of me.

The other male had been slinking in and out of my field of vision all through the fall, at the start of the mating season. I named him Shaman, don’t know why. Relax, with males you can name ‘em anything you like, I don’t care. To my women friends looking for a hunk, I don’t know, just go for a Spunky, I guess. I know first hand you won’t be disappointed.

It was a vicious fight. Shaman jumped the Outlaw just when he was trying ta slip his long red richard into Dorothy. But long story short, Shaman got his neck torn off by the Outlaw’s outsized canines. Dorothy didn’t make it either, having been too badly mauled by Shaman.

The Outlaw never took another mate after that, though two coyotes attached themselves to him immediately after, correctly sensing he was alone and there might be a benefit in an alliance, for them all.

Together, the two coyotes could have taken the Outlaw down if they wished, but they were coyotes, trapped inside their no-we-can’t psyches. Besides, the Outlaw was their meal ticket. From the very beginning, everything was settled between them and the Outlaw – they could never be his equals and definitely not his friends. They could eat from his kill, but only after he was done eating.

And they were funny, boy were they funny. The way they scooted out of his way when the Outlaw wanted ta pass on through, was hilarious. They were like a comic act, Abbott and Costello, with a fawning, ready ta please demeanor on them. They had to be. Somewhere along the way, evolution had decided it for them – that there were masters and there were servants.

And the coyotes were the Outlaw’s servants, period.”

———————

Hi, it’s me again. I hope you enjoyed reading Gaetan’s story, the one with the slightly chocolaty colored text above. And yeah, Gaetan is a funny and interesting guy. I like ta surround myself with funny and interesting guys.

Okay, here’s some things that you should know about coyotes and wolves, even though you might be wanting ta get on with the story …..

Coyotes are way smaller than wolves. The largest coyote won’t go over 50lbs and 4 ft in length , while a wolf like the Outlaw can top 150lb and reach six and a half feet. The coyote has a narrower more foxy snout, while the wolf has a broader more huskyish head. A coyote’s cry is a series of short shrill yelps, while a wolf lets out a very long, low-pitch howl.

A coyote gives you the sense that he doesn’t what he is doing, sniffing here, nuzzling there, scampering around aimlessly sorta. Like those vultures in Jungle Book, it seems ta say to it’s mate,’I dunno, what you wanna do?’ . On the other hand, a wolf will growl, ‘C’mon baby, light my fayah.’

The wolf is way cuddlier than the coyote, though I won’t recommend you try ta cuddle one, no. That’s a very bad idea. Somewhere along the evolution chain, nature made the wolf stone cold and emotion-free, while the husky turned out to be a friendly easily domesticated koochy koo. Doesn’t mean you won’t come across a pet wolf or two over here. I saw one on the riverside last summer. A blonde was hanging on to his strap. Looked like a mean son of a bitch. Not the blonde, silly, the wolf. Wolves are strictly one-master pets.

More importantly, coyotes and wolves have very different temperaments. Coyotes are sneaky lily-livered nogoodniks, yeah. They don’t hunt – they are scavengers and they forage, in pairs or threes at the most. They usually won’t kill ta eat, preferring to wait and gorge on leftovers instead, stuff like entrails, hooves and heads that wolves don’t touch. Coyotes are very much like hyenas, but better looking.

Wolves, on the other hand, hunt in large packs that can number twennie-twennie five and they will form an ever tightening circle and keep coming at you even if you are firing into the pack. In short, if you find yourself alone with a wolf pack closing in on you, you had better have something heavier than a Remington .306, something that’ll make a lot of noise. Strong light too works sometimes, if the beasts aren’t too hungry.

I once shooed away a pack with the flash on my Iphone in one hand and a large flashlight in the other and The Doobie Brothers’ “Jesus is just alright with me” blaring from the little two-in one I always carry to a hunt. It is the perfect emergency noise maker, the two-in-one.

That time, fortunately the beasts must have just had supper. With all that light and rock music, they mumbled and growled at each other, as if ta say,” Fuck it, let’s go get some sleep. That whitetail was a bitch, making us run like that. Leave this dude alone, we’ll get ‘im another time.” And they turned and melted into the brush.

Getting back to the Outlaw and his new found coyote pals, Gaetan told me they formed the Outlaw’s wingmen, one always up front twennie paces to the left and the other twennie paces behind to the right, looking out for any ambushes, keeping the Outlaw warned. In exchange, he let them have the scraps after he was done eating. He never got friendly with them and if they got any closer than twennie feet, he bared his four inch canines and snarled at ‘em and they hastily retreated. He didn’t trust them coyotes, plain and simple.

All in all, it was an arrangement that suited the Outlaw and his coyote sidekicks. Until the time came when I had ta kill ’em both.


(to be continued…)

Coveting Thy neighbor (Part-4)

russ-6

At 2am EST, November 9th 2016, the most successful subversion operation in history came to an end.

Events progressed swiftly thereafter. First came the tying of loose ends at both sides. In Russia, three men vanished without a trace. The first, General Sergei Mikhailov, Deputy Director (IT Security Center) of the FSB, was in the middle of a meeting in his 15th floor office when two burly men barged in and grabbed him. They slipped a black hood over his head, dragged him down the stairs to a waiting black Lada Kalina and drove off.

The second man was also an FSB officer, a recent recruit named Dmitry Dokuchaev, a former hacker who had wreaked the havoc that shut down Barclays and Standard Chartered. For a period of six months, starting April 2016, his hacker call sign ‘Forb’ drew shivers through the financial institutions that thronged London’s Lombard Street. Dokuchaev had orchestrated the hacking of the email account of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair – John Podesta, whom the emails had revealed to be a slimy toad of a man who had it coming for a long long time.

The third man to disappear off the face of the earth was 30-year old Ruslan Stoyanov, Incident Response Chief at one of the world’s largest internet security firms, Kapersky Lab. Some time in May 2016, he had at the behest of the FSB, hacked into the email system of the Democratic National Committee, at it’s South Capitol Street headquarters, Washington DC and revealed the vicious duplicity of the DNC head – a perfidious, back stabbing woman by the name of Debbie Wasserman Shultz. In the world of cyber security, Ruslan Stoyanov was revered and went by the moniker ‘Guccifer 2.0′.

On the other end, the hack and the choice of targets were coordinated by a man named Paul Manafort, a smooth talker who had been thrust upon the then candidate Trump as his campaign manager, by the Kremlin. The recruitment of Manafort had been orchestrated through a shadowy figure named Sergey Mikhailov who was rumored to be the head of Russia’s largest organized crime syndicate, Solntsevskaya Bratva. Manafort knew too much and had to go and he did, soon as the hacking operation was wound down in the fall of 2016 and his services were no longer needed.

No traces can be found of any of the above gentlemen. Not that anybody is shedding a tear over them.

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Meanwhile, the gradual annexation of North America went into Phase-2. Wall Street shut down in the fall of 2018, as the big three – JP Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs and Bank of America Merill Lynch moved their assets to St. Petersberg, where they merged with the 61% Russian state-owned Vneshtorgbank, which on paper was run by a man named Igor Storsky, who used to be Vladimir Putin’s hairdresser in the 1990s.

The merger formed a new behemoth named Bank Bol’shoy Rossii with combined assets in excess of $ 6.7 trillion. After the merger, the Russian government’s stake in the Bol’shoy Rossii was reported to have reached 89%, the other 11% being personally held by the barber himself.

It didn’t take long for the other three Wall street giants, Morgan Stanley, Citigroup and Wells Fargo to down their shutters and move to Moscow, where another Putin henchman marshaled them into yet another merger, this one with the giant Moscow-based Sperbank Rossii.

Within two years of the inauguration of Donald J.Trump, the American economy had shrunk 80%, leading to a free fall in the value of the American dollar, so that by the spring of 2019 America’s per capita GDP stood somewhere between the western African dictatorship, Gabon and the eastern European dictatorship of Bulgaria. By that autumn the plunge in per capita GDP was expected to stabilize to a  few rungs below Iraq, at $16200.

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President Trump was spared the hassle of having to explain to his redneck followers what went wrong. A few yards from Tiffany’s on 5th Avenue, in front of a dilapidated 58-storey structure that was once known as Trump Tower, stands a seedy memorial. The words emblazoned on the chipped white marble would not be recognizable to most of his minimally educated constituents since they are in Russian –  Дональд J.Trump, первый президент запада России (In Memoriam – Donald J.Trump, 1st President of Zapad Rossii).

The monument appears decrepit, uncared for. Trump’s is a sad story. A year after his inauguration, rumors began to swirl about a raging affair between his Slovenian wife, Melania and the Capo-di-Tutti-Capi of Sochetanii Rossii, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin. Slavic folks are after all, clannish.

Nothing gets done in Zapad Rossii these days, without Melania Knavs’ go-ahead. Sweet justice indeed, for the way the Trump children had marginalized her and her darling Baron. Knavs has picked a retired four-star General named Michael Flynn to be her Chief of Staff.

Just as folks are still scratching their heads over who killed JFK, nobody is sure how President Trump was whacked. Zapad Rossii’s only authorized news network, Breitbart, stated that a day before that ridiculous orange hair of his fell off, his body mysteriously turned blue and his lungs exploded, the President had been diagnosed with the galloping form of an exotic flesh-eating disease which the report said he must have contracted during his recent visit to Mexico.

One underground publication, Politico, however placed the cause of death as an assassination. The day prior to his death, the President had received a heavy-set visitor from Moscow. Politico identified the man with 80% certainty as one Igor Serechensky, an operative of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, SVR, who had gained a level of notoriety within the world of intrigue that was second only to the Venezuelan assassin, Carlos. Igor Serechensky was rumored to be the man who emptied the little vial of Pu-210 into Russian ex-FSB officer, Alexander Litvinenko’s cup of tea in London, three years prior.

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Nowadays, the entire area around Wall Street – from the Brooklyn Bridge in the north to State Drive in the south and from Broadway in the west to FDR Drive on the waterfront – bears a deserted look – a shell of it’s glory days. Wall Street itself is reduced to a wind-swept wilderness, with leaves blown helter skelter by stormy winds that treat the large buildings as the funnels of venturis.

There are not many billionaires left, their wealth now reduced to worthless pieces of paper. All the small auxiliary businesses in Manhattan, like restaurants and sidewalk fast food carts, are gone. Jeremiah Johnson, proprietor of WillyDogs, a once flourishing hotdog stand at Broadway and Pine that had billionaires for it’s lunchtime clientele, has moved to Salem to live at his grandmother’s chicken farm.

Bill Gates is miffed. Barely a millionaire now, he is now only the 5468th richest man in the world. But he is careful not to show he is miffed, since dissent is frowned upon and he cherishes being able to continue living. Of course it no longer matters what Gates or folks like him think anymore. All tech businesses have been consolidated under a single Russian umbrella company named Shaltay-Boltay, a Moscow-based organisation that is known elsewhere across the world as the hacking syndicate ‘Anonymous’.

At one time the future was in Information Technology and now it is in the hacking of it. Usernames and passwords have long become passé. Perhaps it is for the best, since no one has any money anymore.

——————–

Russia is now a nation of two parts – Vostoke Rossii (the original Russia in the east) and Zapad Rossii (West Russia, the erstwhile United States of America). The annexation of Canada into Zapad Rossii is in advanced stages of planning and slated to be completed by the fall of 2020. A new circum-polar air shuttle has been launched, with it’s HQ in Moscow, to catch the sudden rush of commuters. For whites, intra-national work permits are automatic.

The heads of the five New York mob families, as also the other major mob bosses all across Zapad Rossii, have long since been poured into the fast-setting concrete foundations of major new real estate properties that originally came up under a now defunct company named Trump Global. Anyone speaking Sicilian in Brooklyn is long dead. Anybody who says he’s  Castellammarese doesn’t exist in New York anymore. The Colombians, Cubans and the Vietnamese gangs have melted away. The FSB has taken over. Russian is now the official language of the burgeoning global drug trade.

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In the east, Vladimir Putin has forged a strategic alliance with China’s Xi Jin Ping, leaving the rest of Asia outside of Russia, South Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, the Far East and Antarctica under China’s direct control and retaining the Americas, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, the Central Asian ‘stan’ republics and the Arctic under Russian hegemony.

Consequently, in a recent summit, Putin was rumored to have stated to President Xi that he had no position on a possible Chinese intrusion into sovereign Indian territory, beyond Aksai Chin and Arunachal Pradesh. Having already annexed Nepal, Bhutan and Sikkim, Chinese armored brigades rolled into Arunachal Pradesh, before spilling further into the northern provinces of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Bengal. The impoverished regions of central and eastern India and all along it’s eastern seaboard, India had been reeling under a decades long insurgency by Maoist rebels who called themselves Naxalites. These regions were a cakewalk for the Chinese invasion. On India’s western flank, China’s Pakistani quislings obliged by driving their ranger divisions and motorized artillery and armored brigades into Gujarat, Rajasthan, Punjab and Haryana.

It is said that the Indians fought fiercely. But it was all in vain. An initial estimate of the military and civilian casualties on the Indian side in the first week of the pincer assault was in 100,000s. In spite of having a stockpile of 180 nuclear warheads and bombs of 15-20 kiloton yield, India chose to fight back with conventional weapons.

The subjugation was complete when a crack team from the Chinese Airborne Special Forces unit, Leishen (Thundergod), stormed the India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi’s Race Course Road residence early in the morning of December 16, 2019. They were expecting the Indian leader to be hiding inside the underground bunker below the basement and they had brought along the explosives necessary to blast their way in, but he had chosen to remain seated in his study where they came upon him, his face calm and collected. While all the aides and servants were rounded up, one commando entered the study and put a single 9mm round from his silenced QCQ-05 between Modi’s eyes. The Prime Minister was dead before he could form the word ‘why?’ on his lips.

Soon as the dust settled, the Chinese Prime Minister, Le Kequiang, flew into New Delhi on the orders of President Xi and installed India’s second female leader, Mamata Bannerjee, turning a nation of a billion and a half souls into a satrapy.

According to a leaked report, the first words that President Xi spoke to the vain, puffed up Bannerjee on receiving her at his offices at the Zongnanhai a month later, were the only ones that his mentor, Chou-En-Lai, had taught him to say, years before…..……

’Hindi Chini Bhai Bhai’.

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(to be continued…)