Tuesday, December 29, 2015

A Star Trek-Star Wars Crossover Story

(Note: This is a work of fan fiction for non-commercial purposes.)

I am a pretty big fan of the two largest sci-fi franchises in history: Star Trek and Star Wars. Though there is a bit of a war between the two among some factions, and there's the general idea that you can't be a fan of both, I say "Nonsense!" 

When I was around 12, I had an idea for a crossover story that would bring the two together under a single universe and story arc. So, my interest in coming up with such a story goes back a long way. When Star Trek was rebooted, I started thinking about the subject again and in 2012 I came up with what I think is a plausible overall outline. And since Star Wars: The Force Awakens has been a smashing success, pulling in nearly $800 million in just 10 days, and with Star Trek Beyond coming out in July 2016 (for the 50th anniversary of the franchise), I thought now would be a good time to share my little idea with everyone.

This isn't an alternate universe or some weird time travel tale of Kirk defeating Vader. Both "universes" actually happen in OUR, real universe. In short, Star Trek is the distant past to Star Wars. I've tried to do my research and take into consideration the main canonical events of both worlds as well as official expanded stories. To help my story make sense, I've added two "official" timelines, one for the associated events in Star Trek and another for Star Wars. But while I've paid attention to the "history" of the two, my tale takes place far after any Enterprise and long before the Millennium Falcon

"Journey to Skyriver" 
A Star Trek – Star Wars
Crossover Story

Jacob Bogle - Nov. 28, 2012
Revised Dec. 29, 2015

tl;tr basic idea:
The Federation leaves the Milky Way galaxy after a new war between the Borg and Species 8472 destroys much of the galaxy. After using stolen Borg technology to open up a hyperspace (transwarp) corridor, the remnants of humanity, along with other species, find their way to a new galaxy…far, far away. Over many years, the humans and Vulcans intermingle and accelerate their “spiritual” evolution, incorporating ancient ideas used by the inhabitants of the new galaxy. In time, the remnants of the Milky Way convoy splits into two factions as they spread throughout the new galaxy (what will become the Sith and Jedi). One faction turns into a trade federation (fulfilling the previous economic role of the United Federation of Planets) and the other helps to spawn the Republic. At some distant point in the future, while humans remain physically similar, their enhanced evolution allows them to tap into the Force and use it very well. This then begins the history of the Republic, the Jedi/Sith conflict and in time the canonical story found in the Star Wars films and Expanded Universe.

Both franchises have several common technologies and themes:
Warp drive/ hyperspace (light speed)
Cybernetics/ Cyborgs
Tractor beams
United Federation of Planets/ Galactic Republic
Space stations are spheres / federation ships spherical
Humans and multiple alien races
Species with advanced mental powers

Cannon Star Trek Timeline: (using "real" dates, not "stardates")
2063 AD – First Contact with Borg (Picard)
2151-2161 – Star Trek Enterprise Series
2161 – Founding of the UFP
2233-58 – Star Trek (2009 film, Kirk)
2266-69 – Star Trek (The Original Series)
2273-87 – Original series films
2293/2371 – Film, “Generations
2364-70 – Next Gen Series
2369-75 – Deep Space Nine
2371-78 – Voyager
2379 – Nemesis film

Cannon ST General Events Timeline:
c. 4 billion years ago – a humanoid civilization seeds the oceans of many worlds. (Possibly the “Founders” re: Changlings of Deep Space Nine)
c. 1 million years ago – Sargon’s people explore the galaxy and colonize various planets, possibly including Vulcan.
c. 8,000 BC – The Dominion founded in the Gamma Quadrant by the Changlings in a different form.
c. 4th century AD – The Vulcan “Time of Awakening” begins, led by Surak.
c. 4th century AD – The Dominion are founded in their current form.
c. 9th century AD – Kahless unites the Klingon people.
1871 – The Cardassian Union is established.
2032 – Zefram Cochrane is born.
2063 – First warp test (First Contact film).
2103 – Earth colonizes Mars.
2111 – Jonathan Archer is born.
2151-55 – Enterprise series.
2161 – United Federation of Planets forms (Earth, Tellar, Andoria and Vulcan).
2230 – Spock is born.
2233 – Kirk is born.
2268 – The Andromedan “Kelvan Empire” reaches the Milky Way
2266-69 – Star Trek: The Original Series
2305 – Jean-Luc Picard is born.
2364-70 – Next Generation series.
2369-75 – Deep Space Nine
2371-78 – Voyager
2472 – According to "Q," humans would be in the Delta Quadrant by this time.
26th century – The Federation now includes the Klingons, Ithenites and Xindi.
27th century – The Tox Uthat is created. It’s a device that can halt all nuclear fusion in a star.
29th century – Time travel. (VOY: Futures End, Relativity)
31st century – Time travel is commonplace.
123rd century – Radiation levels in the Andromeda galaxy become intolerably high.

Cannon Star Wars Timeline: (dates used are fictional "in-universe" dates)
13 billion BBY (Before the Battle of Yavin) – The Galaxy is formed.
c. unknown – The Celestials or “Architects” were an ancient civilization who were present long before the Infinite Empire and may have had a role in guiding the balance of the Light/Dark sides of the Force.
5 billion BBY – Life first emerges on Goroth Prime.
2, 006,200 BBY – The Columi first evolve.
2 billion BBY – The Columi achieve interstellar travel for the first time. The Wookiees and Sullustans evolve.
1 billion BBY – The Corellian system is formed by the Celestials.
100,000 BBY – Coruscant is now entirely covered by its principle city, later known as Galactic City.
 - The Celestials had contact with or co-existed with the Gree, Kwa, Sharu, Columi, Killiks, Humans, and Taung.
- The Sith race begins to develop their culture on Korriban.
57,000 BBY – Utapau is colonized.
36,435 BBY – Philosophers & scientists from several systems gather on Tython to mystical knowledge. The Force is discovered. The Je’daii Order is founded.
35,000 BBY – The Infinite Empire of the Rakata is formed. They use the Dark Side.
30,000 BBY – The Infinite Empire reaches its peak and constructs the Star Forge.
27,500 BBY – Human colonists land on Alderaan.
25,793 BBY – Tythan scholars begin to use their knowledge of the Force to pursue power, a conflict arises which devastates Tython.
25,783 BBY – The Jedi Order forms from the ashes of Tython’s Force Wars.
25,200 – Due to a major plague the Infinite Empire collapses.
25,053 – The Rakatan Hyperdrive is adapted and widely distributed by the Corellians.
             The Galactic Republic is founded and Coruscant becomes its capital.
25,000 – Jedi Knights found a school on Ossus, modern hyperdrive is developed.
24,953 – The Jedi Order swears loyalty to the Republic.
24,500 – The first war between the Jedi occurs when some are drawn to the Dark Side.
20,000 – The Inner Rim is settled.
7,003 – The Second Great Darkness (Hundred-Year Darkness) begins when Dark Jedi’s create monstrous armies to battle the Jedi Order.
6,900 – The Dark Jedi’s lose the war, are exiled and found the Sith Empire which remains unknown to the rest of the galaxy for almost 2,000 years.
5,000 – The Great Hyperspace War begins when Gav & Jori Daragon accidentally lead the Sith to the Republic. The War ends with a Republic victory.
- Tatooine is discovered by the Republic.
4,995 – The Klatooinian Trade Guild is founded on Klatooine.
4,050 – Lorell Raiders are defeated by the Jedi resulting in their hatred within the Hapes Consortium.
4,019 – Four Jedi Masters establish the Jedi Temple over the Force Nexus on Coruscant.
4,015 – Old Sith Wars begin.
4,000 – Great Sith War begins.
3,959 – Jedi Civil War begins. Ends in 3,956.
3,956 – Sith Civil War begins.
3,955 – First Jedi Purge.
3,681 – Great Galactic War begins.
3,653 – Great Galactic War ends with the sacking of Coruscant, Cold War beings.
3,641 – Cold War ends and the Second Great Galactic War begins.
2,000 – New Sith Empire formed, New Sith Wars begin.
896 – Yoda is born on an unknown planet.
867 – Naboo joins the Republic.
850 – A 10,000 year old lightsaber is discovered on Ossus.
350 – The Trade Federation is created
232 – The Jedi notice that the Force is in “flux” and fear the Dark Side is growing again.
124 – The Galactic Senate declares the Outer Rim to be a free trade zone.
121 – The armed conflict between the Human settlers and the Gungan natives of Naboo comes to an end.
112 – C-3PO is created on Affa.
92 – Qui-Gon Jin is born.
82 – Darth Sidious is born on Naboo.
65 – The Hutts take control of Tatooine.
60 – The Millennium Falcon is contructed over Corellia.
57 – Obi-Wan Kenobi is born.
46 – Padme Amidala is born.
41 – Anakin Skywalker is born on an unknown world.
32 BBY-0ABY – The Star Wars film series.

Issues to overcome: (some of my ideas and thought processes)
--- Origins of humans: the Star Wars "Celestials" are the same group of aliens we learn about in Star Trek Next Gen: The Chase episode, who “seeded the primordial oceans of many worlds”. Humans are thought to have originated on Coruscant, but this is only because they've been there for so long (at the time of the Star Wars films) and were there long before the emergence of the Jedi. Plus, they were indeed created by the Celestials. 

--- Access to Star Wars Galaxy: The Star Wars “Galaxy” (called "Skyriver") has a hyperspace disturbance which prevents travel into or out of the Galaxy. However, in 132 ABY (After the Battle of Yavin) the Yuuzang Vong found “Vector Prime” in the Outer Rim which acted as a path through this disturbance. The "Federation Remnant" stumbles across this region (c. post 31st century real time – pre-100,000 BBY).

--- Time line: the Battle of Yavin can be the same as "Year Zero" for story purposes, with humans coming to Skyriver in 150,000 BBY, or approx. 150,000 years after they left the Milk Way which will be set in the year 3,324 AD. Thus 150,000 BBY is 153,324 AD. It will take humans approx. 20,000-25,000 years to reach Skyriver.

Map of NGC 1232, annotated with fictional Star Wars titles. Click for larger view.

--- Location: The Milky Way is 100,000 light years across; it is in the Local Group within the Virgo Supercluster. I propose that Skyriver is actually a known galaxy, NGC 1232, located 60 million light years away in the Eridanus cluster. It has a satellite galaxy, NGC 1232A, which could be "Companion Besh" aka "Firefist" in Star Wars.
At Warp 9.6 it would take 20,345 years to reach to reach NGC 1232.

Working Draft Synopsis:

Before the Great Journey
The Milky Way and the Star Wars “Galaxy” are really two galaxies in the same physical universe. The “Galaxy” will be referred to as “Skyriver” which is the name of the galaxy given by the Nagai people of the satellite galaxy Firefist

Skyriver is actually one of countless galaxies given life by the Celestials (the same race as the “Founders/Changlings” in Star Trek) and has a technical name of “Galaxy 274”, denoting that it is the 274th galaxy to be given life. Further similarities between the Star Trek Changlings and Star Wars Celestials is that both used other races as slaves and clients: Changlings had the Jem'Hadar & Vorta, the Celestials had the Rakata. Additionally, Wookipedia relates that Thuruht, the oldest of the Killik hives, claimed to remember seeing "The Ones", a group of Force wielders apparently related to the Celestials, coalescing out of a geyser - Changlings evolved from "solids" into a liquid
changeable state, and from whose home world (during DS9) they would coalesce out of a great ocean of Changlings into single individuals. 

In the distant past, some 5.5 billion years BC, a race of ancient beings, known as Celestials/Changlings, originated from an unknown galaxy and embarked on an immense journey across the known universe. They were the first multi-celled, intelligent, beings to evolve as a manifestation of midi-chlorians and the will of the Force which pervades the universe. They discovered the ability to travel faster than light long before any others, and set about seeding countless galaxies with a unique mixture of matter and energy, called the Primordial Primer, which could adapt to the wide-ranging environments of planets and in time, evolve into divergent life-forms. One group, carried by their “Living starships”, came to Skyriver in 5,300,000 BBY. Another made their way to the Milky Way c. 4,000,000 BBY.

I propose that Midi-chlorians are actually dark matter life forms that helped to build the framework of the universe and bind it together. They helped turn Skyriver into a place that serves as the ultimate will of the Force and as such they can only be visually detected in Skyriver, thus unknown to the rest of the universe's civilizations.
The Celestials returned to a series of primary galaxies, Skyriver being one of them, leaving the Milky Way and most others to undergo more natural “hands-off” development.

The Milky Way
(Interim time period: match real world Earth history to cannon ST and cannon SW history)
By the year 3,025 (647 years after the events of Star Trek Voyager), the Federation includes nearly all eligible planets in the Alpha and Beta Quadrants with extended outposts in the Gamma Quadrant, and multiple probes and small trading/scientific posts in the Delta Quadrant. 

Following the devastation wrought by Capt. Janeway in the Voyager episode "Endgame", and continued problems caused by an internal conflict resulting from "VOY: Unimatrix Zero", the Borg are just a remnant of their former power and reach. Largely relegated to the Delta Quadrant, the Borg were generally left alone, with contact between the Borg and the Federation being sparse until the Second Temporal War. (background - Enterprise Series: Temporal Cold War)

A Second Temporal War between the Federation against the Borg Remnant and their anti-Federation allies, along with various other cybernetic life forms, has left the galaxy full of temporal fractures. These fractures make time-travel very dangerous and offer too many variables for accurate predictions of the outcome of actions taken. Thus, an unprecedented treaty was signed between the Federation and the new "Borg Alliance", putting an end to the war and to time travel.

During the War, the Borg Alliance rebuilt a large portion of their Delta Quadrant  transwarp conduit network that was destroyed by Voyager nearly 700 years prior. The Borg had shifted their primary objective from constant and total assimilation, to a mix of assimilation and cooperation with like-minded species (perhaps the Na'kuhl from "ENT:Storm Front"). During this change and build-up, the Borg Alliance once more tried to open a gateway into fluidic space, the domain of Species 8472. Their purpose was not to engage 8472, but to harvest the rich organic materials found in fluidic space. This material was difficult to assimilate and so it was thought that if it could be brought into the new Borg Collective, that the Collective in turn would become more difficult to be destroyed by the Federation, and, in time, should they engage 8472 again, would be better able to defeat them.
Their plans were interrupted by the results of the Second Temporal War, which lasted 147 linear years. Although the war ended in a treaty, the Borg were once again left in a highly vulnerable state. So in a desperate bid to protect themselves, they opened up a quantum singularity into a region of fluidic space they thought would be uninhabited and began to harvest the organic compounds.
The Borg remained undetected for four years and was somewhat successful at adapting the compounds to their own desires. However, they were discovered. The ensuing war between the Borg Alliance and Species 8472 brought total chaos to the galaxy, eventually engulfing the Earth itself, and putting an end to most life after 125 years of war.
The remnants of the Federation included Humans, Vulcans, Betazoids and others. In 3,328 AD, they combined their resources and set off to find a new home. This would lead them to Skyriver after drifting through space for more than 20,000 years; a wondering extra-galactic civilization had finally found peace.

Leaving the Milk Way
A vast armada of ships from dozens of worlds departed the Milky Way galaxy for parts unknown. Each species’ remaining population is fewer than 10 million. Through the over 20,000 year journey, some decide to leave the armada and find homes in one of the many dwarf galaxies surrounding the Milky Way, while other refuse, owing to their proximity to the ravaged Milky Way. Others still end up staying behind as the armada passes Andromeda. The core ships (Humans, Vulcans and others) remember the story of the Kelvans from Andromeda who stated the galaxy would become uninhabitable within 10,000 years, so, they carried on, encountering other nomads, fighting off extra-galactic scavengers, searching for materials, fuel, etc., and generally maintaining an average speed of Warp 7 (although going faster at times and stopping for periods of rest etc). After 25,000 years they enter the far outer reaches of Skyriver in the year 28,328 AD (or 178,328 BBY).

The Hyperspace Barrier
Once they make it to Skyriver, their resources are drastically low and they decide to enter the galaxy. Having met nomadic peoples, they have heard that entrance into Skyriver via warp/hyperdrive is impossible and they know that approaching the galaxy at sub-light speeds would take thousands of additional years. They send out multiple probes to survey as much of the galaxy as they can, trying to find a weakness in the barrier. After a period of searching they find what will be known as “Vector Prime” (Yuuzang Vong) and name it “the Sky River,” after its properties. This “river” is an opening in the barrier that acts like a vortex, pulling in energy, matter and other substances from the wider universe and enriching the galaxy. The river’s gateway also moves, tracing the diameter of the galaxy once every million years. This is why it is so difficult to find and why so few, if any, inside the galaxy knew about it. It was originally devised by the Celestials as a way to help refresh the galaxy and keep it connected to the outer universe via the Force, while protecting the "Prime Force Nexus". Knowledge of this gateway would soon be forgotten, but its name would remain as the informal name of the galaxy.
The armada is then swept in and passes through the companion dwarf galaxy Firefist, where the name "Sky River" would be exchanged and the people of Firefist would one day be given credit for the name’s invention.
Once inside the galaxy, the “river” slows and incorporates itself into a network of force nexūs. The people, unaware of the Force, would simply follow what they saw as an energy river to their final destination deep in the Core, to Coruscant.

Inside the Galaxy
Slowly following the river they would encounter many species. They would eventually intermarry and introduce force-sensitive genetics into this new Human race that developed over thousands of years of travel (90% human, 5% other Federation races, and 5% Skyriver native). The other Federation species likewise underwent a similar change as humanity. They have now forged a new beginning and will make possible the story of Star Wars. 
By 100,000 BBY, they have colonized Coruscant and begin to spread throughout the galaxy. 

Begin driven by different factors and old "Milky Way" instincts that have become a sort of genetic memory among all the survivors, some groups of people split off and are drawn toward either the Light or Dark side of the Force over the millennia. These instincts also help in the development of the Republic and Trade Federation.

Copyright info: This is a work of fan fiction for non-commercial purposes
The original idea for Star Trek came from Gene Roddenberry, and Star Wars from George Lucas.The names of organizations (like the United Federation of Planets or the Galactic Empire), names of species (like Vulcans and Wookiees), names of planets (like Andoria and Utapau), and the events that happened within the movies, TV series, and published printed materials all belong to their respective copyright owners: Paramount, Disney, etc. 
The only thing that I've created was the story that connects the two "universes" and whatever personal interpretation of events/possible connections that I've made to make the crossover work. However, it is still heavily derivative of the original source works and, to my knowledge, aren't eligible for copyright. In short, I don't own Star Trek or Star Wars and this is just a random story created by a random fan! 

Sunday, December 20, 2015

'Privilege' and What I Want the Government to Do

I'm a white, Christian male living in America. According to many on the left I have been the beneficiary of special privileges and whatever I have accomplished in my life is primarily a result of that privilege. They also hold that if you're not a white, Christian male, you have lacked privilege and whatever troubles may have befallen you were caused by that deficit and you're blameless.

Let's examine my life and that of my family. 

Me in the 5th Grade.

My mother grew up in poverty along with six other siblings. My grandmother married more than once and never had a college education. My mom and siblings had friends who didn't even have electricity, and my mom and siblings often went hungry. 

She married my brother's father at a young age but they ended up divorcing. She remarried the man who became my father and he deserted us when I was two years old. Like her mother, my mother didn't have a college education. I grew up poor, there were times when a full three meals a day was in question, there were times when the ability to pay electric, phone, and mortgage payments were also in doubt.

We moved around several times and I changed schools several times too. Some of this was due to the moves but others were due to bullying. In the end it was decided that I be home schooled, but my mother had to work too. I largely taught myself. I wanted to go to college early but the only way I could was to technically drop out and get my GED - which I did. I've been able to study architecture, theology, and pharmacology - all while working and never earning more than $8/hr. I've worked temp jobs, I worked at Walmart for a while, two fast food restaurants, two gas stations, and one job I could only work at during the summers and made less than $6/hr. 

I was finally able to become a contract employee at the local Veterans Admin. hospital as a pharmacy technician. Earning $13.85/hr, it was the best paying job I had ever had. In less than a year, however, it became clear something was wrong. My back and shoulders starting hurting, I passed out several times at work, my stomach would end up in agony, I lost 30 pounds and still haven't recovered my original weight. After a few years of tests and a blur of different doctors I was diagnosed with degenerative disk disease, IBS, and an unspecified autonomic neuropathy. On top of that, I have migraines which have actually caused lesions in my brain, and both of my rotator cuffs are damaged. The medications I was originally placed on resulted in me now facing roughly $10,000 in needed dental work.

Some might say my "privilege" ran out and that I could be forgiven for having emotional, or drug, or criminal problems. But that's the thing...

Despite my disadvantaged childhood and disadvantages today: I have never been arrested, I have never been addicted to drugs, I am not in debt, while I was healthy I was able to hold down steady jobs for years (even if they pay wasn't great), I was able to get some level of education, I have been in a stable relationship for nearly 9 years, and while I have struggled with severe depression and anxiety, I have been able to rise above that and turn my various hobbies and interests into something meaningful. I've been blessed to have worked on and volunteered with nine political campaigns, I've been able to use the Internet to reach millions of eyes with my blogs, websites, and contributions to other websites, and I'm slowly working on a few books.

How is this possible? 

It's possible because despite whatever issues there were growing up, my mother never left me. She worked her ass off to provide the best she could. She did without so that I might have a little more. She always encouraged me emotionally, even if she wasn't sure how to help me rise higher educationally or in other ways. She made sure I went to my church youth group so that I could have some level of a social life, even if I never had many real friends. And when I told her I was gay at the age of 16, even though we fought some and yelled some, at the end she said "you're my son and I will always love you."

She had disadvantages too, but she also made bad choices. She knew this and used herself as an example so that I and my brother might do better. Despite everything, she has never stopped trying to better herself and even went to college when she was 50. Like most people, she went through a period of letting her emotions and fleeting desires govern her life. But she stopped that and is now in the most secure and happy time of her life, despite not earning $1 million a month.

I too have had disadvantages and made bad choices from time-to-time, but I know that it is through MY efforts, and MY desire to become better, with the help of God, that I will succeed. I may never become a millionaire, I might not be the sexiest man, or the most educated, but even if I have to accept the situation I'm in now, I know that there is no limit to wealth - and that wealth doesn't just mean vast sums of cash. I know that if I keep working and keep making good choices as best I can, that I will die in a better state than that to which I was born. None of us have a choice in the situation we're born in, but we all have say in the world in which we die.

I know many who were in similar circumstance to my own and some who were in far better ones. Some of them have done well, others have all but destroyed their lives. Yes, circumstances can have an effect, but none of us are immune from the consequences of our actions. It is not Walmart's fault that you stay an employee for decades. It is not Bill Gate's fault that you decided to drop out of high school. I can only imagine the struggles and choices others are faced with, but I've seen so many rise above unprivileged circumstances and unforeseen problems. You are not a statistic, you are a unique and capable individual who must take charge of your life. You have to be the one to love your children and sacrifice your life for them, even if your parents didn't do that for you, so that they can rise above the station they were born into. However, while things may be incredibly difficult, you can still find enjoyment in life, fulfillment, an education, and so much more. 

Things may not be equal for you, but income mobility is a saving grace. According the the US Treasury, 80% of taxpayers had income quintiles as high or higher in 2005 than in 1996. Indeed, those born in the higher quintiles are actually twice as likely to do worse than those born in the lowest. In 2014 there were 500,000 new millionaires in the US and there are twice the number of American millionaires today than in 1996! There are certainly problems, but those at fault aren't what we've been led to believe. 

Looking upon my life, this is what I want the government (federal and local) to do to make things better for us all. (This is in no particular order)

1. I want the government to enable people to use their own talents and rise above based on their own efforts by getting the heck out of the way.

2. I want the government to stop piling on regulations so that starting a small business becomes a nightmare many would rather avoid.

3. I want the government to stop shutting down the lemonade stands of 6 year old kids, thus discouraging them from trying to stand on their own.

4. I want the government to stop creating safety nets that trap people into the cycle of poverty and instead, reform them to allow families and individuals leave poverty behind without punishing them for getting a job.

5. I want the government to stop placing entire generations of people - particularly minorities- in jail over non-violent drug offenses while all but ignoring mental health and rehabilitation programs.

6. I want the government to stop treating people differently because they're poor, and instead treat them like equal citizens and valuable human beings.

7. I want the government to put an end to predatory and flat out immoral court fee & probation programs that destroy lives; programs that ensure that those who need help end up in prison, lose their families, and that crush their chances of getting a job in the future.

8. I want the government to stop wasting countless billions of dollars and thousands of lives on illegal, endless wars.

9. I want the government stop profiting off college students and creating the tuition problem to begin with.

10. I want the government to end their dangerous and corruptible practices of crony capitalism - the thing that directly led to the 2008 meltdown, to soaring healthcare and education costs, and to banks practically being immune from justice.

11. I want the government to get out of the way of the market system which will then ensure tuition rates decline, medical costs decline, food and energy prices decline, and would result in the innovations of millions of citizens reaching the marketplace and making all of our lives better.

12. I want the government to stop destroying our monetary system via the Federal Reserve and our $18 trillion in debt.

13. I want the government to stop creating an environment of fear by spying on us all, by killing unarmed men and women, by using the threat of force to steal homes, and by confiscating money and property without due process.

14. I want the government to stop ignoring or dancing around the Constitution. If something needs to be changed or if the government wants more power, it should be done the ONLY legal way - by amendments. Otherwise the rule of law means nothing and the people become nothing but chattel.

Finally, I want the government to recognize and remember that it's the individual that makes the community. That without the individual (and his/her contributions & innovations) there is no family, no community, and no nation. That we are all capable of succeeding in our lives, and that by suggesting that we can't without the help of government, you are causing the very problems of inequality and racism we face today. In short, I want the government to give us all the privilege of succeeding by own our hands, and the privilege of knowing that we are all capable of it.

--Jacob Bogle 12/20/15


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

A Few Inconvenient Facts About the Civil War

With so much debate, fear, hate, sadness, pride and many other emotions swirling around the Confederate flag controversy now (again) enveloping South Carolina, and the related calls to remove the Confederate Battle flag from a Confederate Monument, I would like to offer some facts.

What little we learn about the Civil War in public schools often follows the victorious government's approved cannon: the war was wholly about slavery, the North fought to save the Union and end slavery, the South wanted to destroy America, nearly everyone in the South owned slaves, and President Abraham Lincoln was a paragon of tolerance; a staunch defender of racial peace and equality.

Below are little known facts about the North and South. My hopes is that this will force you to question what you have been taught (and the beliefs that teaching demanded), so that you can look at the whole issue and realize it was far more complex and nuanced than most like to think. 

On Lincoln and the North

* Lincoln married into a slave-owning family.

* In 1847 Lincoln said, “Any people anywhere being inclined and having the power have the right to rise up and shake off the existing government, and form a new one that suits them better.”

* During the 1858 Lincoln-Douglas debates, Lincoln said “I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races, that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And in as much as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race.

* During Lincoln’s first inaugural address in 1861 he said, “I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so.” He continued by saying he fully supported the Fugitive Slave laws and that he has never recanted his views but has repeated them many times over.

* Various Union Army reports, including those from Gen. Sherman, talk about the total destruction not only of Southern property but of the Southern people themselves. Gen. Sherman remarked, “to the persistent secessionist, why, death is mercy, and the quicker he or she is disposed of the better.”

* Racism was alive and well in the North. New Jersey banned African Americans from voting in 1807, Connecticut in 1814, Rhode Island in 1822, and Pennsylvania in 1838.

* The New York riots of 1863, which saw the deaths and injuries of over 2,100 people, were the largest civil and racial insurrection in American history aside from the war itself.

* Economics and the fear of lost revenue was a driving factor in the North's invasion of the South. 

* Slaves who came under the control of the Union Army were often impressed (forced) to fight and engage in back breaking manual labor, such as in the construction of fortifications.

On the South

* Less than 5% of Southern white men owned slaves.

* The Confederate Constitution explicitly banned the importation of slaves from other countries – the US Constitution did not.

* The first Jewish person to hold a cabinet-level position in any North American country was the Confederate Secretary of State, Judah P. Benjamin.

* The last Confederate General to surrender was Gen. Stand Waite, a Cherokee.

* Thousands of American Indians, African Americans, and other minorities served and fought for the Confederacy, many of whom volunteered.

* There were multiple plans to end slavery after the war was over, indeed, in 1865 the Confederate government officially allowed blacks to serve in the military.

* There were over 260,000 free blacks in the southern states in 1860.

Yes, the Confederacy and the many different Confederate flags are part of our past. However, that past influenced an entire century and in some ways it continues to influence our present. Without the past we would not have our present. The past gives us a foundation and guides our future. Ignoring the past only serves to damage our future. Not recognizing that our past was far more complicated than taught in government funded schools or promoted by the media leads us all down a dangerous path.

People see the American flag as a symbol of freedom and peace. Others see it as a symbol of oppression and war. Likewise, people see different things in the flags of the Confederacy. The racial problems that we face today began over 400 years ago and were ingrained in American life with the adoption of the US Constitution. The Civil War was fought for many reasons, but the idea that every Northerner was fighting to end slavery and bring about true equality is completely false, just as false as the idea that every Southerner was fighting to keep slavery.

Before the war began, both sides, North and South, believed they were struggling to defend the same America. The North was wanting to keep our Union, the South was wanting to keep the foundations of our system: that the people and states are sovereign.

Tens of millions of Americans are descendants of Confederate soldiers. My g-g-g-g-grandfather, Cpt. Tim Allison, died in 1862 during the middle of the night near his home after Union soldiers were given express orders to hunt him down. Pretending like the Confederacy was entirely about oppression and that if we could simply erase or suppress everything associated with it we would end racism and violence is both naive and does a huge disservice to all the brave men and women who fought – North and South.

We would not be where we are today without the most destructive and deadly conflict in American history. We should do our best to understand it, not runaway from it or demand that it was a simple affair that can only be viewed through simplistic “good and evil” terms.

Those whose hearts are corrupt and violent will act on those desires regardless of what society thinks. Allowing any act of violence to serve as an excuse to obliterate history, or to drive a wedge further between the regions of our country will not lead to more respect and tolerance (such forceful actions usually lead to the opposite). We may be one country, but we are a country made up of multiple regions, accents, religions, and peoples with different experiences and histories. Allowing for these difference and different expressions doesn't make us weak, it's exactly the reason why the United States became the most powerful country on earth, and it is precisely this unique nature that our forefathers sought to preserve - starting with the Revolution.

We can still be one nation while recognizing that people are allowed to view symbols with pride and others with disgust without requiring one view supersede and dominate the other.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Maps of the Ancient History of Israel

Ever since the partition of Palestine after WWII  and the creation of the modern Israeli state (1948), there has been controversy. In this particular post I don't want to debate the problems, but I do want to show that the land of Israel has been the historic home of the Jews and that it was the forcible removal and ethnic suppression of Jews that led to "Palestine" being predominantly Arab Muslim in modern times; that is, until 1948.

First I'd like to briefly discuss language. Hebrew and Arabic both belong to the Semitic language family. The Semitic languages originated around 3750 BC. This shared linguistic heritage proves that the peoples of Israel, Palestine, indeed all of Arabia, all have a common ancestry. While the many groups of people may have had differing political and cultural developments, the human beings themselves are all part of the same family. Not to mention that genetically speaking, the Semitic peoples predominantly belong to Haplogroup J-P209 which originated 13,000-31,000 years ago.

Of course despite these similarities, conflicts arise over religious, cultural, and political differences.

The land of Israel had been mainly Jewish until the 3rd century AD and had a substantial Jewish population until the 7th century. The political divisions of the core Israeli area, even during times of foreign occupation, also remained fairly consistent throughout history.

Map of Canaan. Borders are the red and blue lines.

Known Canaanite culture dates back to at least 3500 BC (though the area has been inhabited by modern humans for basically all of human history). As time went on, the area became dominated by small city-states with nomadic tribes interspersed. By 2240 BC, the Semitic Akkadian Empire had reached the area of Canaan. Interestingly, the first king of Babylon was the Amorite (which included part of Canaan) king, Sumu-abum. He founded an independent city-state and reigned from 1898-1877 BC.

Starting around 1700 BC, the historical lands of Canaan were politically controlled by Egypt, however much of Canaan's population were native tribes and peoples who had already shared a common a history for centuries. Many of the people who lived there could claim decent from Phoenicia. The Phoenicians had extensive trade routes going so far as Morocco in the west to Greece and lower Italy in the north.

Map of Phoenicia

The first battle in history to have a reliable written record was the Battle of Megiddo (located in modern day Israel) around 1457 BC. It pitted Canaanites against Egypt and Pharaoh Thutmose III.

14th century Middle East, shows Canaan under Egyptian rule.

From the 1300s BC through the 11th century BC, the lands came under the control of the Middle Assyrian Empire. It was during this time that Judaism began to develop as a distinct faith and culture. The first written record of the word "Israel" comes from the Merneptah Stele, which was created in 1208 BC.

The physical archaeological evidence of a united Kingdom of Israel (1050-930 BC) is limited, however few doubt the existence of the leaders of Saul, David, and Solomon. Saul was a Hebrew leader who lived ca, 1082-1010 BC. After the breakdown of the kingdom in 930 BC, two successor states were created, the Kingdom of Israel and the Kingdom of Judah.

Despite conflicts with neighboring states, they prospered until the northern kingdom was conquered by Assyria in 740 BC. The Kingdom of Judah survived until it too was conquered by the Neo-Babylonian Empire in 586 BC. This gives a period of at least 464 years of dominate Jewish control of the southern half of modern-day Israel (including Jerusalem), and at least 622 years of distinct Jewish identity (from the Merneptah Stele to the Babylonian Exile).

It is important to note that the Babylonian Exile was only a partial exile. The Jewish elite were driven out of Israel, but many others remained. At the fall of Babylon to Persia in 539 BC, the Jews that had been exiled began to return, though this process did take many years. The exile period is a very important one in Jewish history because it was during the exile that the canonical books of the Torah were laid out in precise writing.   

The Second Temple Period (which replaced the First Temple Period after its destruction during the Babylonian Exile) began in 516 BC and continued until 70 AD. The land of Israel (or Judea) was incorporated in several other empires, however the Jews always retained a level of local control (usually as a vassal kingdom) and territorial changes were minimal. The name "Judea" was also retained throughout Persian, Hellenistic, and Roman periods.

The Judah "Yehud" autonomous province (in pink) under Persia. 539-332 BC.

When Persia was defeated by Alexander the Great, Judea was incorporated into his empire and it remained part of the successor Ptolemaic Egyptian kingdom (ruled by Alexander's general Ptolemy I and his family) until Judea was captured by the Seleucid Empire in 198 BC. Remember, during these periods the Temple still stood and Jewish culture continued to survive. 

Then in 140 BC, the Jewish Hasmonean dynasty ruled the kingdom. 

Hasmonean kingdom, 140-37 BC.

Between 73-63 BC, Judea became a client state of Rome. The Hasmonean dynasty lost control to Herod the Great (with the help of Mark Antony's army) at the Siege of Jerusalem in 37 BC. It remained a client kingdom until 6 AD.

Herodian kingdom. 

This ended a further 146 years of direct Jewish control, and 522 years of nominal Jewish control. 
Afterward, Judea became a Roman province. 

Roman Province of Judea.

Even under direct Roman rule, the territorial region remained fairly consistent with historical kingdoms and it was still inhabited by a majority of Jews. From 1208 BC until 135 AD the area retained its Jewish identity. That's 1,343 years. In 132 AD the area was embroiled in conflict as the Jewish people struggled to regain independence. The Bar Kokhba Revolt  lasted four years and was mercilessly crushed by Rome: 580,000 Jews were killed during the revolt. This began the forced destruction of the Jewish way of life that would last 1,800 years. 

Judea was renamed "Syria Palaestina". Jews still made up the majority of the population, but from 200 AD and beyond they increasingly became the minority. With the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 AD, and the massive loss of life through a series of revolts (culminating in Bar Kokhba), the Jews were largely dispersed. The province became Christian over time and existed until 390 AD when it was changed to Palaestina Prima under the Byzantine Empire.  

Byzantine Palestine 5th century.

Jewish identity survived in some pockets, especially in Samaria. A series of revolts during the 5th and 6th centuries led to the near total destruction of the Jewish population with over 200,000 killed. Then, in 614 AD the Sasanian Empire took control. After the Sasanians were overtaken by Muslim conquests, the area was renamed Jund Filastin.  

As I hope is now clear, Israel (the children of Jacob) lasted for over 1,300 years until a series of dreadful conflicts saw their numbers reduced to a mere fraction. The population of Judea/Palestine/Israel had never been very large, only a few million at most. After the destruction of their last strongholds, Israel became diaspora.

---Jacob Bogle, 2/5/15