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General Election Polling Discussion Thread (June 2020)

Introduction

Welcome to the /politics polling discussion thread for the general election. As the election nears, polling of both the national presidential popular vote and important swing states is ramping up, and with both parties effectively deciding on nominees, pollsters can get in the field to start assessing the state of the presidential race.
Please use this thread to discuss polling and the general state of the presidential or congressional election. Below, you'll find some of the most recent polls, but this is by no means exhaustive, as well as some links to prognosticators sharing election models.
As always though, polls don't vote, people do. Regardless of whether your candidate is doing well or poorly, democracy only works when people vote, and there are always at least a couple polling misses every cycle, some of which are pretty high profile. If you haven't yet done so, please take some time to register to vote or check your registration status.

Polls

Below is a collection of recent polling of the US Presidential election. This is likely incomplete and also omits the generic congressional ballot as well as Senate/House/Gubernatorial numbers that may accompany these polls. Please use the discussion space below to discuss any additional polls not covered. Additionally, not all polls are created equal. If this is your first time looking at polls, the FiveThirtyEight pollster ratings page is a helpful tool to assess historic partisan lean in certain pollsters, as well as their past performance.
Pollster Date Released Race Trump Biden
Yougov 6/26 National 39 47
Marist/NPPBS 6/26 National 44 52
HarrisX 6/26 National 39 43
KFF 6/26 National 38 51
Climate Nexus 6/26 National 41 48
Fox News 6/25 Texas 44 45
Fox News 6/25 N. Carolina 45 47
Fox News 6/25 Georgia 45 47
Fox News 6/25 Florida 40 49
CNBC/Hart/POS 6/25 National 38 47
Hodas (R) 6/25 Michigan 38 56
Hodas (R) 6/25 Wisconsin 39 55
Hodas (R) 6/25 Pennsylvania 42 54
Redfield & Wilton 6/25 Wisconsin 36 45
Redfield & Wilton 6/25 N. Carolina 40 46
Redfield & Wilton 6/25 Arizona 39 43
Redfield & Wilton 6/25 Michigan 36 47
Redfield & Wilton 6/25 Pennsylvania 39 49
Redfield & Wilton 6/25 Florida 41 45
Siena/NYT Upshot 6/25 N. Carolina 40 49
Siena/NYT Upshot 6/25 Florida 41 47
Siena/NYT Upshot 6/25 Michigan 36 47
Siena/NYT Upshot 6/25 Pennsylvania 40 50
Siena/NYT Upshot 6/25 Arizona 41 48
Data for Progress 6/24 National 44 50
PPP (D) 6/24 N. Carolina 46 48
Ipsos 6/24 National 37 47
Quinnipiac U. 6/24 Ohio 45 46
Siena/NYT Upshot 6/24 National 36 50
Morning Consult 6/24 National 39 47
Marquette LS 6/24 Wisconsin 42 51
PPP (D) 6/23 National 43 52
PPP (D) 6/23 Texas 48 46
Trafalgar (R) 6/22 Michigan 45 46
Echelon 6/22 National 42 50
Gravis 6/20 Minnesota 42 58
SurveyMonkey 6/20 National 43 53
Gravis/OANN 6/20 N. Carolina 46 43
Saint Anselm College 6/18 New Hampshire 42 49
Fox News 6/18 National 38 50
0ptimus 6/18 National 44 50
Civiqs (D) 6/18 Kentucky 57 37
Quinnipiac U. 6/18 National 41 49
UCLA/Democracy Fund 6/18 National 39 50
Change Research 6/17 Arizona 44 45
Change Research 6/17 N. Carolina 45 47
Change Research 6/17 Michigan 45 47
Change Research 6/17 Wisconsin 44 48
Change Research 6/17 Pennsylvania 46 49
Change Research 6/17 Florida 43 50
Change Research 6/17 National 41 51
Civiqs (D) 6/16 Arizona 45 49
PPP (D) 6/16 Georgia 46 48
PPP (D) 6/16 New Mexico 39 53
TIPP/Am. Greatness (R) 6/16 Michigan 38 51
TIPP/Am. Greatness (R) 6/16 Florida 40 51
NORC/AEI 6/16 National 32 40
EPIC-MRA 6/16 Michigan 39 55
Scott Rasmussen 6/15 National 36 48
Abacus Data 6/15 National 41 51
SelzeDMR 6/15 Iowa 44 43
Hendrix College 6/14 Arkansas 47 45
Remington Research (R) 6/13 Missouri 51 43
Meeting Street Insights 6/12 National 38 49

Election Predictions

Prognosticators

Prognosticators are folks who make projected electoral maps, often on the strength of educated guesses as well as inside information in some cases from campaigns sharing internals with the teams involved. Below are a few of these prognosticators and their assessment of the state of the race:

Polling Models

Polling models are similar to prognosticators (and often the model authors will act like pundits as well), but tend to be about making "educated guesses" on the state of the election. Generally, the models are structured to take in data such as polls and electoral fundamentals, and make a guess based on research on prior elections as to the state of the race in each state. Below are a few of the more prominent models that are online or expected to be online soon:

Prediction Markets

Prediction markets are betting markets where people put money on the line to estimate the likelihood of one party winning a seat or state. Most of these markets will also tend to move depending on polling and other socioeconomic factors in the same way that prognosticators and models will work. Predictit and Election Betting Odds are prominent in this space, although RealClearPolitics has an aggregate of other betting sites as well.
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Script for "History of the entire world I guess" by Bill wurtz

hi, you're on a rock floating in space. pretty cool, huh? some of it's water. fuck it. actually, most of it's water. i can't even get from here to there without buying a boat. it's sad. i'm sad. i miss you. HOW DID THIS HAPPEN? a long time ago... actually, never. and also now. nothing is nowhere. when? never. makes sense, right? like i said, it didn't happen. nothing was never anywhere. that's why it's been everywhere. it's been so "everywhere," you don't need a "where." you don't even need a "when." that's how "every" it gets. forget this. i wanna be something. go somewhere. do something. i want things to change. i want to invent time and space. and i know it's possible because everything is here, and it probably already happened. i just don't know when to start. and that's exactly where it started. big bang— pause woah. i paused it. i think there's a universe now. what's it made of? quarks and stuff. ah, that's a thing! in a place! don't like it? try a new place, at a different Time™. try to stick together, because the world is gonna get bigger and emptier. but it's not empty yet! it's still very full, and about a kjghpillion degrees. about no seconds later great news! the quarks are now happily married in groups of three, called a "proton" and a "neutron." and there's something else flying around that wants to join in, but can't cause it's too HOT. ten minutes later great news! the protons and neutrons are now happily married to each other! some of them even doubled up. about 380,000 years later great news! the electrons have now joined in. congratulations! the world is now... a bunch of gas in space. but it's getting closer together... ten million years later and it's getting closer together... 500 million years later and it's getting closer togeth—star is born it's a star new shit just got made! some stars burn out and die. bigger stars burn out and die with passion! and make some brand new way crazier shit. space dust! which allows for newer and more interesting stars to be made, and then die and explode into even crazier space dust! so now, stars have cool stuff around them, like rocks, ice, and funny clouds, which can make some very interesting things. like this ball of flaming rocks, for example. meteor hits earth holy shit, we just got hit by another ball of flaming rocks. and it kind of... made a mess. which is now the moon weather update: it's raining rocks from outer space. weather update: those rocks might've had water inside of them and now there's hot steam in the sky. weather update: cooler temperatures today and the floor is no longer lava. weather update... it's raining. severe flooding alert, the entire world is now an ocean. volcano alert. that's land! there'slifeintheocean what? something's alive in the ocean oh, cool. like a plant, or an animal? no! a microscopic speck. it lives in the bottom of the ocean and eats chemical soup, which is being served hot and fresh, made from gnarly space ingredients left over from when it was raining rocks or whatever. microscopic speck asexually reproduces oh yeah, and it can do that. reproduces three more times it has secret instructions written inside itself telling it how to build another one of itself. so that's pretty nifty, i would say. tired of living at the bottom of the ocean? now you can eat sunlight! using a revolutionary technique, you can convert sunlight into food. taste the sun! side effect, now there's oxygen everywhere and the sky is blue. then the earth might've been a snowball for a while. maybe even a couple of times. it's a sponge... it's a plant... it's a worm, and some other types of weird strange water bugs and strange fish. it's the Cambrian explosion: "wow, that's animals and stuff" but we're still in the ocean. hey, can we go on land? NO why? the sun is a deadly laser oh okay. not anymore, there's a blanket now the animals can go on land. come on, animals, let's go on land! "nope, can't walk yet." "and there's no food yet, so i don't care." 100 million years later okay, will you learn to walk if there's plants up here? "maybe," said some bugs. and fish. fish gasps for air five million years later okay, so i can go on land, but i have to go back in the water to have babies! idea: learn to use an egg. "i was already doing that" use a stronger egg. put water in it. have a baby, on land, in an egg. water is in the egg. baby, in the egg, in the water, in the egg. works for me. bye bye ocean 50 million years later and now everything's huge. including bugs. wanna see a map of the land? sure. Permian extinction oh, fuck, now everything's dead. just kidding, here are the survivors. keep your eye on this one, because it's about to become 75 million years later the dinosaurs. here's another map of the land. yeah, it broke apart. don't worry about it, it does that all the time. here comes a meteor. meteor strikes and the dinosaurs are gone it's mammal time, here come the mammals. look at those breasts. now they're gonna dominate the world, but one of them just learned how to grab stuff. and walk. no, like, walk like that. and grab stuff at the same time. and bang rocks together to make pointed rocks. "ouch" and set things on fire. "yeouch" and make crazy sounds with their voice: "gneurshk" which can mean different things. that's a human person! and now they're everywhere. almost. ice age! what? you can walk over here? cool. not anymore well i guess we're stuck here now. let's review: there's people on the planet. and they're chasing their food. fuck it. time to plant some grass. look at this. i get to control the food now. now everyone will want to be my friend and live near me. let's all build houses, except mine is bigger because i own the food. this is great! i wonder if anyone else is doing this. tired of using rocks for everything? use metal. it's underground. better farming was just invented in a sweet dank valley right in between these two rivers, and the animals are helping. guess what happens next? more food. and more people, who came to buy the food. now you need people to help make the food and keep track of the sales. and now you need houses for people to live in and people to make the houses and now there's more people and they invent things which makes things better and more people come and there's more farming and more people to make more things for more people and now there's business, money, writing, laws, power, Society coming soon to a dank river valley near you. meanwhile, out in the middle of nowhere, the horse is probably being tamed. why is all my metal so lame and lumpy? tired of using lame, sad metal? introducing: bronze. made from special ingredient tin from the far lands of Tin Land. i dunno, my dealer won't tell me where he gets it. also, guess what? egypt meanwhile, out in the middle of nowhere, they figured out how to put wheels on a horse. now we're getting somewhere. also, china and did i mention indus river valley civilization society count: 5 ... norte chico the middle east is getting more complicated. maybe because it's in the middle of the east. knock knock, er, clop clop. it's the... people with the horses? and they made an empire. and then everyone else copied their horses. greeks! ah look, it must be the greeks! er, a beta version of the greeks. let's check in with the indus river valley civilization: they're gone. guess who's not gone? china. new arrivals from india... maybe it's those horse people i was talking about... or their cousins or something... and they wrote some hymns and mantras and stuff... you could make a religion out of this. there's the bronze age collapse. now the phoenicians can get down to business also, can we switch to a metal that's a little easier to find? thanks. look who came back to israel, it's the twelve tribes of israel. and they believe in God just one though, and he's got like a ten-step program. here's some huge heads. must be the olmecs. the phoenicians make some colonies. the greeks copy their idea and make some colonies. the phoenicians made a colony so big it makes colonies. here comes the assyrian empire. never mind, it's the babyloni— media—it's the Persian Empire: "wow, that's big" enlightenment ah, the buddha was just enlightened. who's the buddha? this guy, who sat under a tree for so long that he figured out how to ignore the fact that we're all dying. you could make a religion out of this. oops, china just broke. but while it was breaking, confucius was figuring out how to have good morals. enlightenment ah, the greeks just had the idea of thinking about stuff. and right over here, alexander just had the idea of conquering the entire persian empire. it's a great idea. he was... great. and now he's dead. hopefully, the rest of the gang will be able to share the empire evenly between them. knock knock, it's chandragupta. he says "get the hell out of here. will you get the hell out of here if i give you 500 elephants? okay, thanks, bye" time to conquer all of india er most of india but what about this part? that's the tamil kings. no one conquers the tamil kings. who are the tamil kings? merchants, probably. and they've got spices! who would like to buy the spices? "me!" said the arabians, swiftly buying it and selling it to the rest of the world. hey, china put itself back together again, with good morals as their main philosophy. actually, they have three main philosophies: confucianism: have good morals taoism: go with the flow legalism: fuck you, obey the law out here, the horse nomads run wild and free, and they would like to ransack your city. nomads ransack china let's check the greekification levels of the greekified kingdoms: greekification overload. bye, said the parthians. bye, said the jews. hi, said the parthians, taking over the entire place. heyyyyy, said the romans, eating the entire mediterranean for breakfast. "thanks for invading our homeland," said the jews, who were starting to get tired of people invading their homeland. "hi, everything's great," said some guy who seems to be getting very popular and is then arrested and killed for being too popular, which actually makes him more popular. you could make a religion out of this. want silk? now you can buy it from china. they just made a brand new road to the world. conquers vietnam or you can get there on water "sick! new trade routes!" said india, accidentally spreading their religion to the entire southeast. hmm, that's a good place for an epic trading kingdom. there goes buddhism, travelling up the silk road. i wonder if it'll reach china before it collapses again. remember the persian empire? yep, said the persians, making a new one. axum is getting so powerful, they would like to build a long stick. has anyone populated madagascar yet? let's do it together. china is whole again... ...then it broke again still can't cross the sahara desert? try camels. "hell yeah! now we've got business," said the ghana empire, selling lots of gold. and slaves. "hi, i'm a member of the roman empire, and i was wondering is loving jesus legal yet?" "no" "actually, okay sure," said constantine, moving the capital way over here to be closer to his main rival. don't worry about rome, it won't fall. it's the golden age of india there's the gupta empire, not chandragupta, just gupta. first name chandra. the first. guess who's in rome? barbarians. what's a barbarian? "non-romans," said the romans, being invaded by non-romans. r.i.p. roman empire. actually just half of it, the other half is just fine, but it's not in rome anymore, so let's give it a new name. the mayans have figured out the stars oh, and here's a huge city, population: everyone. the göktürks have taken over the entire eurasian steppe. great job, göktürks. how's india? broken. how's china? back together. how's those trading kingdoms? bigger, and there's more of them. korea has three kingdoms. japan has a kingdom, it's the sunrise kingdom. intermission deep in the arabian desert, on the top of a mountain, the real god whispers in muhammad's ear. so, he goes down to the cube where everyone worships gods and he tells them their gods are all fake. and everyone got so mad at him that he had to leave town and go to a different town. you could make a religion out of this, and maybe conquer the world as well. the roman empire is long gone, but somehow the pope is still the pope. plus, there's new kingdoms all over europe. i wonder if there's room for moors. here's all the wisdom. in a house. it's the baghdad house of wisdom! just in time for the islamic golden age! "let's bring stuff to the coast and sell it, and become the swahili on the swahili coast," said the swahili on the swahili coast. remember this tiny space you have to go through to get from here to there? someone owns that now. wanna get enlightened in the middle of nowhere? the franks have the biggest kingdom in europe, and the pope is so proud that he invites the king over for christmas. "surprise! you're the new roman emporer!" said the pope, pretending to still be part of the roman empire. then the franks broke their kingdom into what will later be called france and not-france. the northerners, er, just "norse" if you don't have much time, are exploring. they go north, from the north to the northern north. and they find some land— two types of land!— and they name them accordingly. prankd they also invade some other places and get called many names, such as "vikings." there's the rus! the kievan rus! are they vikings? "i don't think so," said the kievan rus. okay, fair enough. the pope is ready to make some more emperors of the roman empire. the holy roman empire! it's actually germany, but don't worry about it. new kingdoms—CRISTIANIZE ALL THE KINGDOMS!! which brand would you like? "mine's better" "mine's better" "mine's better" "time to conquer england," said william. it's a bird! it's a plane! it's the seljuk turks! "aah!" said the byzantine empire, who's getting so small and almost doesn't exist anymore. "we need help!" they need help! so they call the pope. "hey pope, can you help us get rid of the seljuks? maybe take back the holy land on the way? come on, i know you want to take back the holy land." "yes, i do actually want to do that. let's do a crusade." crusade! they did many crusades. some of which almost didn't fail. but at least the italians got some sweet trade deals. goodbye mayans. hello toltecs! goodbye toltecs. hello mississippi! look at those mounds. there's the pueblo. i always wondered how to build a town in a cliff. guess who's here? khmer. where? here! and pagan is there. vietnam unconquered itself, korea just became itself, and japan is so addicted to art that the military might have to take over the government. china just invented bombs, and typing. and the mongols just invaded most of the universe. nice going, genghis! i bet that will last a long time. some of the islamic turks were unaffected by the mongol invasions because they were busy invading india. is it tonga time? i think it's tonga time. i just figured out where the swahili gets all of their gold. look at this chad! it means "lake." there's an empire there! right in the middle of africa! the king of mali is so rich, he's going on tour to let everyone know. "wow, that guy's rich," everyone said. the christians are doing a great job reconquering iberia, which will soon be called spain and not-spain. please remain christian. we will check in later to see if you're still christian when you least expect. whoops, half of europe just died. ming! china's back, yay! hey, khmer. time to share. new kingdoms, here and there. oh, look who controls all of the islands. it's the mahajapit. majahapit. mapajahit. mahapajit. mapajahit. ma-ja-pa-hit? oh, italy's real rich. time for them to care a lot about art and the ancient classics. it's kinda like a rebirth. here's a printer. let's make books! so you think you can conquer the byzantine empire? yep, said the ottoman turks. nice job, ottoman turks. oops, you missed a spot. don't forget to ban europe from the indian spice trade. "what? that's bullshit," said portugal, spiceless. "well i guess we'll have to find another way to india" "wait!" said christopher columbus, probably smoking crack. "if the world is round, let's go this way to india." "nah, don't worry, we already got this," said portugal. so chris goes to spain. "hey spain, wanna hire me to find india by going around back of the world?" "no" "please?" "no" "please?" "wtf" "no" "please?" "...okay" so he sails into the ocean, and discovers... more ocean. and then discovers the indies, and japan! let's draw a line to decide who gets which half of the world. the aztec and the inca empires are off to a great start. i wonder if they know that europe just discovered their continent. the hapsburgs are marrying into so many royal families, they might have to start marrying each other. move over, lithuania, here comes moscow. ivan wants to make russia great again. move over, timurids, maybe go invade india or something. persia just made persia persian again. let's make it the other kind of islam. the one where we thought the first guy should've been the other guy. hey, christians! do you sin? now you can buy your way out of hell! "that's bullshit. this whole thing is bullshit. that's a scam. fuck the church. here's 95 reasons why," said martin luther, in his new book which might have accidentally started the protestant reformation. "you know what would be magnificent?" said suleiman wearing an onion hat. "what if the ottoman empire was... really big?" which it is now. "what if russia was big?" said ivan, trying not to be terrible. portugal had a dream that they controlled the entire indian ocean, including the spice trade. and then that dream was real. and spain realized that this is not india, but they pillaged it anyway. "damn," said england and france. "we gotta start pillaging some stuff." then the dutch revolt, and all the hipsters moved to amsterdam. "damn," said amsterdam. "we gotta start pillaging some stuff." question one: can you get to india from north america? no, but at least there's beaver. question two: steal the spice trade. that's not a question, but the dutch did it anyway. and sugar... guess where all of the sugar is made? in brazil! stolen! in the caribbean! and it's so goddamn profitable, you might forget to not do slavery. the next thing on russia's to-do list is to get bigger. britain and france are having a friendly discussion about who should control the entire world. more specifically, ohio. then it escalates into a seven-year discussion, giving prussia a chance to show austria who's boss. but what about britain and france, did they figure out who's boss? yes they did! it's britain. guess who's broke? also britain! so they start taxing the hell out of america. "fuck you!" says america, declaring their independence and fighting for it, and france helps them win. now france is broke, and britain will have to send their prisoners to a different continent. wait, if france is broke, why do the king and queen still wear such fancy dresses? "let's overthrow the palace and cut all their heads off!" said robespierre, cutting everybody's heads off until someone eventually got mad and cut his head off. you could make a rel— no, don't. haiti is starting to like the idea of a revolution, especially the slaves, who free themselves by killing their masters. "why didn't we think of this before?" wait, who's in charge of france now? "me," said napoleon, trying to take over europe. luckily, they banished him to an island. but he came back! luckily, they banished him to another island. there goes latin america, becoming independent in the latin american wars of independence. britain just figured out how to turn steam into power, so now they can make many different types of machines and factories with machines in them so they can make a lot of products real fast. then they invent some trains. and conquer india and maybe put some trains there. "hey, china!" said britain. "buy stuff from us!" "nah, dude, we already got everything," says china. so britain tried to get them addicted to opium, which worked, actually. but then china made it illegal and dumped it all into the sea. so britain threw a hissy fit and made them open up five cities and give them an island. britain and russia are playing a game where they try to stop the other person from conquering afghanistan. also, the sultan of oman lives in zanzibar now: "that's just where he lives." india just had a revolution, and they would like to govern themselves now. "nope," said britain, governing them even harder than before. incoming telegram: HI I JUST SENT YOU A MESSAGE THRU A WIRE technology is about to go crazy! the united states finally figured out whether slavery is good or bad. it's bad, they decided, and then they continued manifesting their destiny, which is to kill the rest of the natives and take their land and maybe kick out the mexicans too. "i know! let's rape africa!" said europe, scrambling to see who could rape it the fastest. they never got ethiopia... britain and france are still hungry. they never got thailand... the united states ran out of destiny to manifest, so they're looking for more: hawaii! cuba! wait, spain controls cuba. well, blame something on them and go to war! what should we blame on spain? u.s.s. maine sinks "let's blame the maine on spain." so they blame the maine on spain. now we're in business. to celebrate, they kick panama out of panama and make a canal, connecting the two oceans. britain just found oil in the middle east. it makes cars go... china is so tired of being bossed around that they delete their old government and make a new, stronger government, which is accidentally weaker and is controlled by a guy from the previous government. europe hasn't had a war since the last war, so they start world war one. look at those guns! it's gonna be a great war, so great we won't need a second one. after it's over, they blame germany. russia went on strike, and the workers overthrew the government. now, everyone's paycheck is the same. communism in the soviet union... the arabs revolt and britain helps. now the ottoman empire is gone, so we can give the jewish people a place to live. hopefully the arabs won't mind. "let's cut the cake!" said sykes and picot, carving up the remains of the not-so-ottoman-anymore-empire. except turkey! turkey makes a brand new turkey! and then the saudis conquer arabia. it just seemed like the right thing to do. phone rings hello? yes, it's the 1920's calling. let's get to a car and drive to a party and listen to jazz on the radio and go to the movies. the economy is great and it will probably be great forever. just kidding. germany's back, featuring hitler, the angry mustache model, and he's mad at the jews for existing. japan is finally conquering the east, and they're so excited, they rape nanking way too hard. they should probably just deny it. hitler's out of control, so the international community tackles him and tries to explain to him why killing all of the jews is a bad idea. but he kills himself because they could explain it to him. that's world war two! bonus round! pacific showdown united states vs. japan FIGHT!! united states drops two extinction balls on japan FINISH HIM! let's unite all the nations and have some world peace! seems legit. "hi, im gandhi, and if britain doesn't get the hell out of india, i'm going to starve myself in public." britain leaves "wow, that worked?" bonus! now there's pakistan. actually two pakistans, one of them can be bangladesh later. the jews and the arabs finally figured out which one of them should live in the holy land. "me!" they both said at the same time. let's divide up the lands so we're both happy. SIKE! they both get angrier! look out, china! there's a new china in china. what's on the menu? communism! no thanks, said the other china, escaping to an island. i wonder which one is the real china...? there's the korean war. korea versus korea! nobody wins, then its on pause forever. let's meet the sponsors. oh, it's the two global superpowers. they're having a friendly debate over which economic system is good and which one is an evil virus of satan. and they both have atom bombs. FIGHT!! wait, no, that would be the end of the world. let's just keep it cool and spy on each other instead. and make sure we have enough atom bombs. "i'll race you to space." united states plants a flag on the moon now let's make more countries fight themselves. europe is tired of pillaging other continents, and the continents they were pillaging are tired of being pillaged. so here's a new map with new countries. now you can't tell who they're being pillaged by. the united states finally decided whether racism is good or bad. they decided it's bad, and the world agrees. south africa might need another minute to think about it. let's check the world population! woah. okay. technology is better too, that might keep happening. the soviet union decides to relax a little, and accidentally falls apart. europe makes a union, so now they can all use the same money. except britain, because they don't feel like it. let's check the mail... surprise! it's on the computer! whoops, someone just attacked america. i bet they'll remember that. phone call! surprise! it's in your pocket! wanna learn everything? surprise! it's on the computer! now your phone's a computer, which is in your pocket! whoops, the economy just crashed. don't worry, the big banks won't fail, because they're not supposed to. surprise!... flying robots. with bombs. wanna print a brain? some people have no friends. some people have no food. the globe is warming, and the ocean is full of plastic! "let's save the planet!" said everybody, not knowing how. "let's invent a thing inventor," said the thing inventor inventor after being invented by a thing inventor. that's pretty cool. by the way, where the hell are we? thanks for watching history i hope i mentioned everything
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I Read It So You Don't Have To: Little Kids, Big City (by Alex McCord and Simon van Kempen)

Inspired by the overwhelmingly positive response to my previous 'book report' on Ramona Singer's Life on the Ramona Coaster (seriously, thank you all -- truly supporting other women 🙏🙏), I decided to try my hand at writing up yet another of the embarrassing number of Housewives books in my personal collection: Alex McCord and Simon van Kempen's Little Kids, Big City: Tales from a Real House in New York City with Lessons on Life and Love for Your Own Concrete Jungle.
After reading just the title of this book, I'm already exhausted. It's pretentiously long and awkwardly phrased while somehow still managing to be entirely devoid of meaning. In other words, a perfect encapsulation of Simon and Alex. The summary on the back cover describes the pair as the "breakout stars" of RHONY, an assessment that I would charitably call 'debatable,' before going on to inform me that I can look forward to "informative and often hair-raising stories of life in the urban jungle," and that "Alex and Simon use their own hard-won experience as a springboard to discuss a host of parenting topics." I anticipate that this content will be quite useful to me, the guardian of four cats that I spoil endlessly and treat like my actual children.
One of the pull-quotes on the back cover allegedly comes from our very own Bethenny Frankel. I say 'allegedly' because I refuse to believe that the following passage would ever come out of Bethenny's mouth (or keyboard or whatever):
Alex and Simon don't take themselves too seriously, which seems to be essential to parenting. Their fresh 'he said, she said' perspective on parenting is both humorous and insightful!
Please, take a moment and do your very best to picture mention-it-all, betting-on-horse-races-at-age-five Bethenny unironically using the phrase "fresh 'he said, she said' perspective." To describe Simon van Kempen and Alex McCord. Right, didn't think so.
My experience reading Little Kids, Big City started on an unexpected high note when I opened the front cover to find that my copy (purchased used through Better World Books for the low, low price of $5.31 with shipping) had been signed by Ms. you-are-in-high-school-while-I-am-in-Brooklyn herself, Alex McCord! Truly a gift I do not deserve. Samantha and Debbie (whoever and wherever you may be), thank you for your service. I am forever in your debt.
Unfortunately, as would soon become painfully clear to me, after starting off on such a promising note, I would have nowhere to go but down.
The book, which is written in alternating passages from Alex and Simon, begins its introduction with a chronicle of Alex's "fashionably nomadic" early adulthood. Ever the proto-edgelord, she recalls, "I did all those things our mothers warned us about and had fun doing them." We switch to Simon's perspective to hear the deeply embarrassing story of the couple meeting through a dating app while Simon was on a business trip in New York City. No, there is absolutely nothing embarrassing about meeting someone on a dating app. But there absolutely is something embarrassing about using the profile name "Yetisrule" to meet someone on a dating app. To clarify, this was apparently Alex's username, and I remain hopeful that we will get a more thorough explanation of her connection to the elusive Yeti as this book continues.
Alex tells us that, while she and Simon hadn't initially planned to have children, they eventually started to have "clucky feelings." I have never heard this phrase in my entire twenty-five years of life, but based on context clues and also a Google search, I learned that it means they wanted to have a baby. Don't worry, though! As Alex tells us, "You can be eight months pregnant and wear a leather miniskirt." Personally, this is life-changing news -- I had always believed that I couldn't have kids unless I was willing to compromise my 90s goth aesthetic! Maybe I'll rethink this child-free thing after all.
The next bit of advice seems like it actually could potentially be sort of helpful. "No one is a good parent all the time -- nor is anyone a bad parent all the time," they reassure the reader. "You can become a parent without losing yourself." Unfortunately, as soon as I catch myself nodding along, the modicum of goodwill I'd built up is promptly trashed by a gag-worthy line from Simon: "If you take nothing away but a wry smile after reading our little tome, then we've done our job." I immediately vow not to smile until I'm finished reading this book. Excuse me, this little tome.
The book starts in earnest with Chapter 1: "Does a German Shepherd Need a Birth Plan?" To be perfectly honest, I was not expecting a riddle at this juncture, but I am nevertheless excited to hear Simon and Alex tell us "why childbirth is not an intellectual activity." First, however, we get a passing reference to "Park Slope, home of the ParkSlopeParents.com message board made famous in 2007 with a so-ridiculous-it-got-headlines discussion on gender-specific baby hats and where feminism can be taken to extremes." And despite the lame alarmist allusion to ~*XTREME feminism*~, this line did manage to lead me down an interesting Internet rabbit hole, so thanks for that, I guess?
Jesus Christ, I am on PAGE 4 and I am already so done with Simon. Presented without comment:
With the Park Slope OB-GYN, we had the first sonogram and saw the little blip on the screen -- our child-to-be. They say seeing is believing and as nothing was happening inside me, seeing confirmation on the video monitor that indeed my spermatozoa had penetrated and infiltrated one of Alex's ova made me aware that my days as a footloose and fancy-free guy might be coming to an end.
Y'all, I am currently working on my PhD in Molecular Biology. Which, if you were not previously aware, gives me the authority to decree that Simon is never allowed to use the word "spermatozoa" ever again. And so it is.
I was about to say that Alex's passages are at least more tolerable, but it appears I spoke too soon.
The stats they quoted referenced a 40 percent cesarean section rate in the city, and I wonder how that can be acceptable? Are we heading toward Brave New World, where babies are scientifically created in petri dishes and gestated in artificial wombs? Oh wait, we're already there. Are we heading towards a Wall-E existence, where we ride around in carts everywhere and do nothing for ourselves so that our bodies break down and we're all fat, oozy blobs drinking protein from a straw? Somebody slap me, please!!
Truly, Alex, it would be my pleasure.
As a Type-A person, just reading the story of Alex's first pregnancy and delivery gave me anxiety. She says that she just never really "felt the need to establish a birth plan" and that she "gave in to any craving [she] felt." Don’t worry, though -- "If I had suddenly craved chalk, ecstasy or Elmer's Glue, I'd have thought twice." I feel like there is some symbolism here to unpack (Could the Elmer's Glue be a metaphor for the childlike spirit of connection and unity???). Simon describes himself as "a learn-on-the-job guy" and tells us that he and Alex "failed to attend the last couple of [birthing] classes as by then we both just wanted to let instinct take over when the time came." As someone who has never trusted my instincts even once in my entire life, I cannot relate.
Twelve days after his due date, baby François is born. Except it turns out that he actually was born right on time, but Alex "didn't keep regimented track of [her] periods" and miscalculated. What a bummer that modern medicine hasn't advanced to the point where doctors can guide you about that sort of thing.
I don't even know what to say about this next bit, but God help me, I still have 215 more pages of this book to go.
Although the final stages of labor were very, very painful, I [Alex] never used our code word (tin can) for "game over, give me drugs." I definitely recommend using a code word, because it was kind of fun to scream, "I want drugs, give me drugs" through a contraction and have the midwife, nurse and Simon all know I wasn't serious. Once he [François] was finally out of my body, I experienced a tsunami of endorphins that was almost orgasmic, and I understand completely the stories other women have written about ecstatic birth. Simon was sitting behind me at the point of birth, and later when we untangled ourselves he discovered he'd actually ejaculated though hadn't felt any of the normal lead-up to that. It may seem distasteful to some, and definitely neither of us was thinking of sex at the time, but with the rush of emotion and my lower nerve endings going crazy, it's not too far a stretch to say that it's a profound experience.
Johan is born two years later, although it's unclear from the text whether either parent reached orgasm during the event.
The chapter ends with a top-ten list entitled "10 Things We'll Remember That Happened During Pregnancy." These include useful tidbits like
  1. Best advice I heard: men's genitals grow and change shape regularly, then go back to the way they were before. Don't worry about your female delicate bits being able to retract.
Which is…a lovely sentiment. But one that is slightly undermined by phrasing the first part in the grossest way possible, as well as by the use of the phrase "female delicate bits." I do like the idea that they "retract," however, because I think it's very cool to imagine the vagina as an SUV sunroof. By the grace of God, Chapter 1 comes to a close.
In Chapter 2 (titled "No Sleep 'Til Brooklyn, What's My Name Again? and Who is This Alien?" -- seriously, were they padding their word count with chapter titles?), we get more questionable parenting advice from the McCord-van Kempens. They glibly dismiss concerns about co-sleeping ("Simon and I both slept with cats and dogs our whole lives without squishing them"), which I honestly would be more annoyed about if I hadn't immediately gone on to read Simon's account of "the midnight race to the 24-hour pharmacy to buy a breast pump as Alex's breasts were seemingly engorged with too much milk and she thought they were about to explode and fly off her chest." As it stands, I'm truly too defeated to care. Again, just to be perfectly clear: no shade to having issues breastfeeding, all shade to using the word 'engorged.’ And also for giving me the mental image of Alex's breasts desperately struggling to flee from her body (though to be fair, who could blame them?).
Proving that she does not inhabit the same world as the rest of us mortals, Alex tells us that she expected that her state of sleep-deprivation as she raised two young children would "spur [her] creativity with graphic design." For some reason, this does not seem to be the case. Alex is puzzled.
Finally, we've come to this chapter's top ten list ("Top 10 Memories of Random Things We Did While in the Post-Birth Haze"). While these lists have so far been utterly irredeemable, they also mean the chapter is coming to a close, so I can at least take some solace in that. This particular list ranges from the irritating…
  1. We subversively took sleeping babies to as many non-child-friendly places as possible to prove the point that children can be seen, not heard and not bothersome, such as dinner at the Ritz in London, the Sahara Desert, shopping on Madison Avenue, Underbar in Union Square and film festivals.
…to the truly unnecessary.
  1. While changing François' diaper on day one or two, we both stood mesmerized by the changing pad as meconium oozed out of him. It was really the most bizarre and fascinating thing I'd seen to date.
With the couple's general backstory and credentials now under our belts, Chapter 3 ("The Screaming Kid on the Plane is NOT Mine! (This Time)") focuses on advice for traveling with children, which Alex admits "can be a complete pain in the you-know-what." I cannot describe the rage I feel at the fact that she has -- in no fewer than 50 pages -- forced me to read about both her newborn son's excrement and her husband's ejaculate, but cannot bring herself to use the word "ass." Alex, we're really far beyond that at this point, don't you think?
Not to be outdone, Simon shares a conversation he had with François that is remarkable not for its content, but for the fact that one of Simon's nicknames for his son is apparently "F-Boy." Thanks, I hate it.
This chapter's list ("Alex's Top 10 Travel Memories") includes the entry:
  1. Both boys charging down Saline Beach in St. Barths like something out of Lord of the Flies.
So, like a horde of primal sadists? I'm wondering if Alex and Simon have inadvertently confused Lord of the Flies with the hit 2007 reality show Kid Nation. I really hope that's what's going on here.
Chapter 4 ("'Mommy, Johan is Gone!'") promises to teach us how to handle accidents. I'm not sure how comfortable I feel taking emergency advice from the authors of this particular book, but (in large part due to the fact that I have slept since reading the previous chapter, giving the pain a chance to dull somewhat), I am willing to at least hear them out.
After relaying a story of François needing emergency surgery after a foot injury, Alex tells us that at one point, she and Simon realized they had spent "nearly $5000 on Indian takeout" in the past year. For the mathematically averse, this works out to a monthly budget of roughly $100 worth of Indian food per week, making my quarantine Uber Eats habit seem downright quaint by comparison. The chapter-ending list walks us through the "Top 10 Things We Do in a Crisis," and fortunately, the tips seem pretty benign.
  1. Knowing what calms the children down, such as making silly faces or reciting Shel Silverstein poetry backwards.
Wait, hang on. What?
reciting Shel Silverstein poetry backwards
I'm sorry, please forgive me if I have missed some recent, paradigm-shifting development in the field of early childhood education, but what?? As in, "ends sidewalk the where?" "Sdne klawedis eht erehw?" I am truly befuddled.
Maybe the next chapter ("'Is Today a Work Day or a Home Day, Mommy?'") will have some applicable wisdom for me, as I will, in fact, be working from home every other week for the foreseeable future. And, I cannot stress this enough, I am a psychotically overinvested cat mom. Alas, we are instead treated to an unnecessarily detailed breakdown of how important it is to delegate, and specifically that Simon cleans up vomit and Alex cleans up "feces in the various forms that come out of children's bottoms at appropriate and sometimes inappropriate times such as the middle of Thanksgiving festivities." As if we needed another reason to consider Thanksgiving problematic.
The chapter takes a brief commercial break…
When an everyday product can do double duty such as Dawn Hand Renewal with Olay Beauty, a dish soap that seals in moisture while I'm tackling cleanup, sure, I'll buy it.
…before closing out with a list of the "Top 10 Things We Do Because We Were Here First." I am happy to confirm your worst suspicions and tell you that item number one is indeed "Have passionate sex."
In Chapter 6 ("I Saw Your Nanny…Being Normal?"), I find myself actually sympathizing with Alex for the first time in this book. Which is mostly just because the chapter starts by talking about all of the awful, catty parental competitions that seem endemic to a certain crew of white Manhattan moms, and it makes Alex come off at least slightly less irritating in comparison.
That is, at least until a few pages later, when she starts to complain about a previous au pair:
She was sullen, melodramatic and kept a blog about how she hated Americans, hated France, hated us and the children but loved New York. I think she must have thought we were idiots, and when she asked us to leave early we were only too happy to get her out of our home.
I would love to meet this woman. I think we could be great friends.
This chapter's list is even more difficult to parse than previous ones, because while it's titled "Top 10 Things Caregivers Have Inadvertently Done to Amuse, Annoy or Thrill Us," it's not at all clear which descriptors apply to which points. When a babysitter "accidentally used a household cleaning wipe when changing a diaper," were the McCord-Van Kempens amused? Annoyed? Thrilled? The world may never know.
In Chapter 7 ("'Putting To Death Is Not Nice,' a Duet for Two Boys and A Guitar"), Alex and Simon share some of their hard-earned childrearing wisdom with us. Which basically amounts to Alex telling us that, while normally misbehavior from the kids incurs a warning followed by a time-out, she has also developed an ingenious new strategy where she actually steps in to intervene when the stakes are higher. Let's listen in:
A third permutation is when there's a behavior that has to stop immediately, say if Johan has a big blue indelible marker and is running through a white hotel suite. I swoop in and grab the marker as to risk a three count [warning] would be to risk decoration of the sofa.
Take the marker from the toddler immediately instead of trying to reason with him? Groundbreaking.
Side Note: At this point in my reading, I am incredibly satisfied to report that I have discovered my first typo in the book, and in one of Simon's sections no less! ("These toads secret [sic] a poison…"). This is wildly pedantic of me and proof that I am a deeply sick person.
We run though a list of "Top 10 Things We Never Thought We Would Have To Explain" ("10. Why hot pizza stones do not like Legos.") before moving right along into Chapter 8, "Don't Listen to the Well-Meaning Morons." Strangely, I have a very vivid memory of Alex saying "I have a chapter in my book called, 'Don't Listen to the Well-Meaning Morons" in some distant RHONY episode or reunion. I guess she was telling the truth.
The chapter opens with a series of passages in which Alex and Simon respond to various comments that have been made about their parenting over the years. I think this device is supposed to be a bit of lighthearted snark on overbearing strangers, but instead just comes off as weirdly defensive and passive-aggressive. A few examples:
"My daughter is perfect. Her table manners are excellent, she never speaks unless spoken to and we've always had white sofas at home since she was a child, with no staining."
-A woman with one preteen daughter, no sons
Your daughter sounds boring. I wouldn't want my sons to date her..
Zing!
"Why are you outside?" - A bagel seller in Montreal, in February
I'm hungry and the stroller is well protected under the plastic cover. Johan is warm and cozy, the others are asleep in the hotel and I'm going stir-crazy. Is that enough, or should I buy my bagel from someone else?
Got 'em!
"Excuse me, your baby is crying." -- Someone said to Simon as they peered into the stroller to try and determine the cause of said noise.
You don't say! Do you think, you stupid idiot, that I don't hear that? Do you think I think it's just loud music? Do you think I don't want him to stop and that I like it???
Sorry, did I say 'passive-aggressive'? Let's change that to just 'aggressive.'
But despite bristling at being the recipient of unwanted advice, far be it from Alex to shy away from giving her opinions on the shortcomings of other parents.
There was a mom at another table who wore all black and told her hyperactive daughter that they had to have a family meeting to decide what to do next. The type of woman who might ask her daughter to "process her feelings" about which color to choose. The type of woman who wanted make [sic] a big huge hairy deal about including her daughter in the decision-making process and "negotiating" the next best step for the family to take in the pottery shop. Pardon me while I shoot myself.
I'm sorry, but I just cannot respect this take coming from a woman who calms her sons by reciting comedic children's poetry backwards.
We next learn that there are "many websites out in cyberspace," some of which offer child-rearing advice. Simon summarizes their useless "vitriol" as such:
They say that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, whereas for the 21st century surely hell no longer hath fury, as it's all been hurled at the belittled and scorned Internet mom.
I'm honestly not entirely sure what this is supposed to mean, and my confusion continues all the way through this chapter's "Top 10 Ways We Make Ourselves Feel Better When It's All Getting To Be Too Much." We begin reasonably enough…
  1. Check to see whether the person offering advice has children. How old are they?
  2. Do they have a point? Are they right? It is entirely possible.
…before quickly losing all sense of self-awareness and flying completely off the rails.
  1. Will we ever see this person again? If not, can we get away with unleashing our fury on them? Note, if you're reading this and decide to try it for yourself, go big or go home.
The last few chapters have been a bit Alex-heavy, but never fear -- Simon pops back up in Chapter 9 ("If I Wouldn't Eat That, My Kid Won't Either") to tell us a charming story about how the family refers to his Bolognese sauce as "Dead Cow Sauce," and this is because his children are incredibly enlightened and understand the circle of life and where food comes from. Or something along those lines.
This chapter also provides a lot of really incontrovertible proof that, even though you may swear that your kids say the most hilarious things all the time, you are wrong. I love kids. I can play cool aunt with the best of them. But this "recipe" for "Johan's Concoction" tries so hard to be cute and funny ("whisk violently -- making sure to spill a little out of the top") that I could barely stifle my groans. For anyone who happens to frequent RebornDollCringe, I am strongly and inexplicably reminded of Britton.
A list of "Top 10 Things We Don't Like About Children's Restaurants" culminates with
  1. Where would you rather be? A bistro devoted to race-car driving, with 1950s toy cars on the walls, or T.G.I. Friday's?
Excuse me, ma'am, you must be unfamiliar with the concept of Endless Apps®.
The title of Chapter 10 is "You'll Give in Before I Do!" and although the subtitle lets me know this is referencing "the art and warfare of bedtime," it's hard not to take it as a personal taunt from the authors. Most of this chapter is just transcriptions of 'cute' things François and Johan have said to try to avoid going to bed, but we do get this gem:
Slaying the dragon is our family euphemism for using the toilet (drowning the dragons that live in the sewer) and is fun for the boys to talk about, though probably not forever.
Before giving us a chance to adequately process this revelation, Alex goes on to reflect:
Hmm, perhaps I should delete this -- I don’t want obnoxious classmates getting hold of this book in 10 years and asking the boys if they need to slay the dragon in the middle of geometry class.
Alex, I assure you, you truly have nothing to worry about. Any self-respecting bully will be far too focused on the fact that Simon ejaculated at the moment of his son's birth to pay this comparatively trivial factoid any attention.
The authors shake things up and end this chapter with lists of both "Top 20 Bedtime Stories" and "Top 10 Lullabies," both of which are thankfully inoffensive.
In Chapter 11 ("Children Like Shiny Objects"), we follow Alex and Simon as they purchase the townhouse we see them renovating on RHONY. Although other (read: lesser) parents might store breakables out of reach or limit children's toys to playrooms and bedrooms, Alex and Simon were blessed with two boys whose aesthetic sensibilities are already quite developed:
One kind of funny thing that I noticed recently is that the toys the boys tend to leave upstairs in our red and black living room often tend to be red and black as well. I'm not sure whether that's intentional, but it's funny that the room always seems to match regardless of its contents.
The list of "Top 10 Craziest Places We've Found Objects" is mercifully absent of any orifice-related discoveries.
After reading just the title of Chapter 12 ("Raising Baby Einsteins"), I'm bracing myself for the self-satisfied smugness to come. This preparation turns out to be duly warranted. Baby sign language is dismissed as "a scheme dreamed up by ASL experts who wanted to sell classes to easily influenced new parents," Mommy and Me classes are "not really for teaching anything," and we learn that Alex and Simon have instituted a bizarre family rule that "if a talking toy came into our house, it had to speak a foreign language or speak English in an accent other than American."
We learn that Simon apparently does not know what antonyms are (for the record, Simon, the word you're looking for is homophones) and that New York City is replete with "wailing, nocturnal, type-A obsessed harridans willing to sleep with persons not their spouse if they think it will help their child get into THE RIGHT SCHOOL." Uh, yikes. After a tediously long description of François' pre-school admissions process, Alex informs us:
As a former actor, I've always gotten into play-acting and dressing up with my children. Perhaps a little too much. But I've taken the opportunity to show off a few old monologues, complete with bounding around like a puppy. If you have knowledge, why not share it? If you happen to know Puck's speeches from a Midsummer Night's Dream by ear with tumbling and staged sword play, why the heck don’t you share that with your boisterous boys, who love it and run around shouting, "Thou speakest aright!"
I am suddenly compelled to call my mother and thank her profusely for never making me put up with anything like this. Maybe I'll also get her thoughts on one of the tips listed in "Top 10 Favorite 'Developmental' Things To Do": "if they want something that you want to delay giving them, make them ask in every language they can before giving in." To me, this seems like an effective way to encourage your children to learn how to say "Fuck you, mom" in French as early as possible.
In Chapter 13 ("Urban Wonderland"), Alex and Simon promise to share their unique perspective on "taking advantage of raising a child in the urban jungle." But mostly, we just get a rant about how everyone thinks their kids have weird names, and that makes Simon mad. This chapter's "Top 10 Reasons New York is the Center of the Universe to a Kid" list reminds us what truly matters: "there are more songs with NYC in their titles than any other city."
Immediately after telling us how great it is to live in a city (excuse me, urban jungle), Alex and Simon switch tack and spend Chapter 14 ("'Daddy, a Cow! And It's Not in a Zoo!") expounding on the importance of exposing kids to nature. Sounds great, I'm on board. Unfortunately, we almost immediately take a hard left turn into a story from Simon's childhood where he and his brother are "befriended by this old guy, Dick, who lived on the outskirts of town in a small tin shed." We hear that Dick "occasionally pulled out an early Playboy magazine back from the days when the lower regions were airbrushed out," and that "there had been pretty strong rumors of pedophilia," before promptly returning to the main narrative with no further explanation. I can only describe the transition as 'jarring.'
I can tell how exhausted I am at this point in the book by how hurriedly I skimmed the list of "Top 10 Differences We've Noticed Between City Kids and Country Kids." To be honest, I'm almost annoyed when a particularly bizarre quote manages to catch my attention, because that means I have to think about it for the full amount of time it takes me to transcribe from the page. I'm beginning to think that my initial hope that I could glean some useful cat-rearing advice from this experience may have been overzealous.
Chapter 15 ("You're Such a Great Parent, You Should Be on TV (LOL)") is the only chapter to directly address the family's time on RHONY. It starts with this (attempted) comedy bit in which Alex and Simon pretend to be hilariously self-aware and self-effacing (Alex: "Look up 'Mommylicious' in the dictionary and you will see a photo of me in a ball gown, breast-feeding an infant while making Osso Buco and directing carpenters to build a bookcase for my Dickens and Shakespeare."). This posture would be infinitely more believable if I hadn't spent the previous 205 pages watching these two take themselves deadly seriously.
But rather than share any juicy behind-the-scenes tidbits (or, indeed, convey anything of substance at all), Alex and Simon spend exactly 3.5 pages blustering about how it wasn't harmful for their children to be on TV before giving us a list of "Top 10 Hilarious Things The Boys Have Done While Filming or at Photo Shoots." Spoiler alert: none of them are 'hilarious.'
Chapter 16 is literally titled "The Light at the End of the Tunnel," which makes me feel like this whole experience may have just been Alex and Simon playing some sort of twisted game with me. Alex tells us this is "the chapter of hope," but given that she then tells us about a time when she "spent one full hour discussing why magic markers cannot be carried around with the caps off, particularly in a hotel suite with white couches and walls," I'm not sure exactly where this hope is coming from. Also it seems like this markers-in-a-hotel-room thing happens weirdly frequently. We are then treated to Alex and Simon's "Top 10 Moments of Getting It,'" which includes
  1. Apropos of nothing, Johan said, "You give us time-outs because you are teaching us to be good grown-ups."
This is a thing I'm sure Johan said completely organically and not in response to hearing his parents say "we're giving you a time-out so that you learn to be a good grown-up" approximately seven zillion times.
This brings us to the book's Epilogue (a mercifully short two pages) featuring the line "If you made it to the end of this book, we salute you." Honored to accept this hard-earned accolade, I can finally close the book and start figuring out a way to erase the memory of Simon busting a mid-childbirth nut from my aching brain. Wish me luck!
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How to Survive Camping: Senior Camp Rule #8 - don't make us throw you down the hill

I run a private campground. While I’m not safe, life has at least been better now that Jessie is dead. Again. The horse-eater has been quiet so I’m not too worried about its presence on my land yet. I mean, it’s a problem, but it’s not an urgent problem. I’ve been able to relax a little and enjoy the holiday weekend. The old sheriff even invited me out to his place to shoot off some confiscated fireworks and if you're like wow, dick move there, yes, that's the sort of company I keep.
Anyway, if you’re new here, you should really start at the beginning, and if you’re totally lost, this might help.
We have people that have been camping here for a long time, especially for our big events. I’m not sure where the senior camp stands in relation to the entire campsite during these events, but I believe they are one of the oldest in their area. Their seniority isn’t just age, however. Some of our problematic camps have been here for a while, after all, and that’s resulted in an unfortunate tendency to think they’re above the rules.
Not the rules. The other rules, like digging a proper fire pit or what time we close check-in for the evening. You know, the ones that just annoy me instead of anything supernatural.
The senior camp may argue with me every year about the incline at the front of their camp, but for a long time that was about it. Not causing trouble and following the rules is not enough to warrant being placed next to the thing in the dark, however. That sort of proximity to something so dangerous requires an understanding of the unnatural, a sense of the larger patterns, more than what I lay out in my rules.
I moved them to their current location shortly after I took over as the manager. Their area was growing crowded as camp sizes grew and I needed to either move someone out (which would make people unhappy) or move a camp into the area next to the thing in the dark’s lair. It’s a nice spot. There’s shade from the trees for most of the day, but it’s still open enough for a breeze and close enough to the road for easy unloading. We’ve had people try to move into that space without permission in the past, with predictable results. Most of the nearby camps were content to stay in their assigned land as a result, but I knew it would be an issue if I started moving people around without utilizing that land at all. We get enough new campers in a season that someone would cause trouble.
I contacted the senior camp’s land representative and asked if they’d be interested in moving to a better location. Still in the same area, I said, just a bit over. Next to where rule #10 lived.
Their representative was quiet for a bit and then said they’d talk it over. A few days later they got back to me and said they’d agreed. It’d keep other people out of that space and besides, it was a really nice spot.
And it wasn’t like they had no experience with unnatural things.
For a long time, they were unremarkable from any other returning camp. Then, during my freshman year of college, something happened to change that.
We have transient things pass through our land. The ancient creatures come and go as they please, of course. There are lesser creatures that are able to leave, however. I think there is something about their nature that allows this. Perhaps they roam as a rule and thus cannot be bound to one location. Or perhaps their hunting grounds are larger than my campsite and they can pass through boundaries easier. The one in particular that came to the campground that year was the sort that attached itself to one person in particular, until they were dead, and then moved on to another.
I think that is why it could come and go. It didn’t hunt in a particular area. It hunted people with no regard to where they were located.
To merely call it an incubus would be inaccurate, but that is a good starting place. It is called a lidérc. It is drawn to those who have recently lost their spouse or lover, a devil taking on the form of the lost beloved. It sneaks into the victim’s room while they sleep, removes the one boot that it wears on its human foot and sets it by the door, and then sits on the person’s chest and drinks their life away.
They do this until their victim is wasted away to death and then find another.
Similar to an incubus then, in that it causes nightmares and the feeling of suffocation at night. Different in its powers, in the victims it seeks, and its appearance. Keen readers may notice that I specified singular when I said it removed its boot from its human foot. What, then, is the other?
Lidérc are shapeshifters. They have association with one animal in particular.
The chicken.
Their other foot is a chicken foot.
The inhuman world has always been a little weird.
This is only one form of the lidérc. The other can be created. Don’t try this. It is a useful thing but… it will destroy you unless you are clever enough to escape doom, and in my experience, none of us are nearly as clever as we believe we are.
The summer of my freshman year was when the lidérc came to our land. Someone in the senior camp broke up with her boyfriend within the first two days of their two-week trip. Bad timing, I know, but I guess when you’re done, you’re done. Now, at the time the senior camp was up against the hill. They’re still close to the hill, but it wasn’t as handy as it was at their old spot. My campground isn’t in a mountainous location, but we’ve got some variable terrain and there’s a few areas where the hills are especially steep.
The children with ice wagons will rope themselves to the wagon like oxen with two pulling in front, two pushing from the back, and two stabilizing on either side to get up this hill. Seriously, tip them, they work hard.
One of my parent’s staff at the time responded to reports of a commotion in the area one night. They took a golf cart (we only had a handful of four-wheelers at the time and the family used them) down that way to see what the problem was. They arrived just in time to find the boyfriend being forcibly ejected from the campsite. Her campmates were carrying his stuff out of the camp and dumping it on the road.
When he tried to re-enter their area despite this subtle clue that he wasn’t welcome, they threw his belongings down the hill.
The camp employee decided not to intervene in what was clearly a properly handled domestic dispute and left.
Near the end of their trip, the camp representative stopped in to drop off their “yes we cleaned up after ourselves and filled the fire pit back in” paperwork. (I only require it for the big events where we have a lot of people) They told us about what had happened after that break-up, thinking it was best if my parents knew about it in case the thing came back. They didn’t know what it was, but my father was able to identify it later once he had his books and notes.
The senior camp has perfected this particular story. I do not think they’ve embellished it as much as my uncle did to his stories. I think they just have a flair for telling it that they’ve honed through repetition. It’s a useful story, after all. It teaches camp newcomers one of their own, internal, rules.
I don’t remember the full text of the rule. Some stuff about trying to get along and resolving arguments, getting an intermediary if you have to, and not being a “flaming asshole”. I know how it ends, however.
Senior camp rule #8: Don’t make us throw you down the hill.
I’ll tell the story as I heard it when I was a freshman.
The boyfriend didn’t try to come back after spending most of the night picking his socks and underwear off of tree branches. Some other camp was dumb enough to take him in and the senior camp lost track of him after that, because who really cared? But a few days later, the lidérc showed up. No one realized anything was amiss, as it came late at night after everyone was asleep. The young lady was exhausted during the day and attributed it to not sleeping well at night. She had nightmares, she said, and it felt like she was suffocating. She hadn’t suffered from sleep paralysis in the past, so while this was worrisome, she wrote it off as being a result of a nasty break-up.
As the days passed, she grew steadily weaker. Her campmates noticed and began to theorize what the problem could be. Stress, perhaps, and suggested she take more naps. Maybe she was having a bout of anemia and someone drove into town to buy red meat and vitamins. Finally, near the end of the trip, she was so lethargic she could barely rouse herself during the day and fell asleep in the middle of dinner.
Her campmates decided she should go home early and contact her doctor. They’d break down her tent and pack up for her in the morning. She’d go to bed early that night and get enough sleep to make the long drive home. Then, once she was out of earshot, the camp agreed to take turns periodically checking in on her through the night.
They didn’t know what was happening. They just felt that something was amiss. Some of the people in the nearby tents were having nightmares too, after all, of a dark presence that settled over them and made it feel like they were being crushed under the weight of their own blankets. They didn’t have the sort of knowledge my family does, but we have all heard stories, and the sense of being prey for something dark and terrible is etched into the human subconscious. None of them wanted to admit it out-loud, but they felt the unease of being hunted.
The lidérc didn’t come until the 2 AM shift. The person that took that shift usually got back to camp around that time, so it was no issue for her to check in on their campmate before going to bed herself. She arrived back to their camp just in time to see a large black chicken approaching the tent. She paused where she was, bemused by the absurdity of the situation. A chicken. There was farmland nearby, so perhaps it’d wandered off and made its way here. Should she catch it? Try to get it home in the morning?
Then the chicken stopped at the front of her campmates tent and its body began to grow. Its torso swelled, its head inflated like a balloon, and the feathers rippled and melted together and became clothing. Its skin grew pale and smooth and its comb deepened to crimson-black and became hair. It was a man, dressed in plain clothing and wearing a single cowboy boot on one foot.
Its other foot was still that of a chicken. The claws gleamed in the moonlight.
The camper crouched down between the tents. She was well hidden from view, but still she trembled in fear, for even where she stood she could feel the malice coming off this creature. An aura that gripped at her throat and made her blood run cold, nearly paralyzing her in fear. She felt her heart would simply stop if it turned its gaze on her, so she could only watch helplessly as it quietly unzipped the tent and crawled inside, pausing only to remove its one human boot and set it just outside the tent.
The camper had read the rules. This was not on them. She didn’t know what it was, other than it was something unnatural, and surely to blame for her friend’s growing weakness.
This was before smartphones. There was no way for her to quickly google “chicken footed monster” and hope the search results provided a solution for her predicament. She didn’t dare wait until morning to go searching for answers, either, as her campmate’s growing weakness suddenly had an explanation and she wasn’t sure if the young woman would survive until the dawn.
She decided to create a distraction and then hopefully wake her friend up and get her out of there before the lidérc came back. Carefully, she stole over to the tent. The tent flap had been only half-zipped back up, leaving a slit barely wide enough for her to see the lidérc kneeling on the young woman’s chest. His hands were around her neck and her skin was pale and sweat beaded on her forehead as she tossed and turned weakly, struggling to breathe.
The sight of her friend’s suffering strengthened her resolve. She crept close, trembling with fear. It felt like she was pushing through a cold fog, one that repulsed her and crawled along her skin, making her nerves scream that she should run, she should flee, she should abandon her friend to her fate and save herself.
Then, she stretched out one hand, and carefully grabbed hold of the cowboy boot and dragged it towards her.
If an unnatural thing leaves behind anything, assume it’s important to them. That’s just how these things work.
She retreated as quickly as she dared and hurried over to the edge of the hill. The road was close by and to either side were trees, the underbrush rife with thickets and poison ivy.
“Hey asshole!” she yelled at the top of her lungs, waking up most of her nearby campmates. “I got your fucking boot!”
Then she yeeted the boot down the hill.
God I love that word.
The lidérc burst out of the tent and his eyes blazed like fire in the darkness. His hands were curled like claws and he dug his chicken foot into the earth, scoring it deep. Then his gaze fixed first on the hill where his boot had been thrown and then snapped to the camper.
She realized she’d miscalculated. As her fellow campers stirred, sleepy and confused, she realized that the creature wasn’t going to go after his boot first.
It was going to go after her.
She turned and ran. Down the road, veering off at the bottom and into the woods, aiming for some thick trees that grew in a cluster. She dove behind them as the lidérc came stalking down the hill, walking with a limp as it dragged its human foot behind it. The gravel cracked under its claws as it clutched at the dirt and stones.
“Where are you?” it hissed. “Come out and help me find my boot. And then once it is found, I’ll tear your heart out and eat it.”
Its words were spoken in a low voice, beguiling. The camper’s legs stirred before her mind could realize what was happening, stretching to rise, to bring her out of her hiding spot. Entranced by the lidérc’s request. She clasped her hands onto the tree she hid behind, digging her fingers into the rough bark, the muscles in her arms straining to hold the rest of her body still.
The lidérc paused. Only a few feet away now, his back half-turned towards her. There was a soft sound, the inhalation of air. He was trying to catch her scent. Hunting her out. She remained where she was, heart pounding so loudly she felt he’d be able to hear it soon enough.
Then the sound of a vehicle’s engine hummed from the top of the hill. Headlights flooded the road, painfully bright in the darkness, and one of the camp staff golf carts turned down the nearby road.
The lidérc let out a soft cry of surprise - and anger - and his body collapsed in on itself in an instant. Gone was the human frame, gone was the clothing, and gone was the bare human foot. In its place stood a small black chicken that quickly trotted away through the underbrush, flapping its wings and squawking with dismay.
The golf cart drew to a stop.
“Did I hear… a chicken?” the driver said to himself in confusion.
Only then did the camper rise from her camping spot. She waved to get his attention.
“Sure was,” she said. “It went that way. I was trying to catch it as I thought it belonged to a local farm.”
“Well damn. Probably does. I’ll see if I can round it up.”
The camper didn’t know what became of the lidérc after the camp employee left, but they like to tell the story that it spent the entire night being chased by people on golf carts, intent on corralling and dragging it back to some random farm, until they finally cornered it near dawn and carry it off by its legs to dump in a random chicken coop. The truth is that the employee radioed in to keep an eye out for a chicken and no one saw it and assumed it eventually found its way home on its own. Or was eaten by something unnatural.
It’s awfully hard to see a black chicken in the dark.
The camp stayed up the rest of the night, after their campmate told them what had happened. A handful took flashlights and went searching along the hill until they found the boot. The lidérc thankfully wasn’t willing to confront a group of people. The young lady was able to get a full night’s rest and went home the next morning. When she came back the next year, they set watch for the first few nights until they were convinced that the lidérc wasn’t coming back. My father stopped by as well, to tell them what he’d found out from his research and assure them that the theft of its boot was enough to keep it from ever returning.
Then, after my parents died and I took over, I realized that they had the instincts, the cooperation, and the willingness to deal with these unnatural things. I offered them the campsite closest to the thing in the dark and they accepted.
I wouldn’t say I’m friends with them. I check in periodically to make sure everything is okay and then I have to hear about how the incline at the front of their camp isn’t actually campable (it is) or complaints about their neighbors, but honestly, that’s a small price to pay for having someone competent taking up that plot of land and keeping people out of it.
As for the lidérc… I think it’s still out there. It’s never been seen again on our land. There were a few sightings from the locals after it vanished, but it didn’t seem to be hunting anyone. It was searching.
Trying to find its boot, limping through the fields, leaving behind a trail of footprints with one bare foot and one foot being the imprint of a chicken.
I know where the boot is hidden. One of the senior campers took the boot home with them and buried it in the backyard. My campground is an eight hour drive for him. I don’t think the lidérc is going to be finding his boot anytime soon.
I’m a campground manager. I feel it’s important to elaborate on the senior campers this time because I’ve asked for their help. You see, if I’m going to rescue and/or stop the lady in chains, I need to know how. Cutting off the chains is a risky endeavor and I’d like to know it’ll even work before I try. For a while I’ve been at a loss, but then I thought back on my previous rescue attempts and realized there was a source of help I haven’t consulted yet.
The dancers.
The senior camp is going to help secure their aid. It’s not without a price, however. They demanded that I mark that damn incline at the front of their camp as ‘uncampable land’ and I grudgingly had to agree. I’m sure it’ll cause problems when I tell their neighboring camp that they’re getting shifted a handful of yards, but the senior camp really is my best bet for this. They’ve got a great cook who also brews and she’s “got 10 kegs and can run 4 taps” and they’ve got enough manpower to man the bar and then some.
That’s right. I’ve asked the senior camp to throw the dancers a party. [x]
Read the full list of rules.
Visit the campground’s website.
submitted by fainting--goat to nosleep [link] [comments]

History of the entire world I guess

hi, you're on a rock floating in space. pretty cool, huh? some of it's water. fuck it. actually, most of it's water. i can't even get from here to there without buying a boat. it's sad. i'm sad. i miss you. HOW DID THIS HAPPEN? a long time ago... actually, never. and also now. nothing is nowhere. when? never. makes sense, right? like i said, it didn't happen. nothing was never anywhere. that's why it's been everywhere. it's been so "everywhere," you don't need a "where." you don't even need a "when." that's how "every" it gets. forget this. i wanna be something. go somewhere. do something. i want things to change. i want to invent time and space. and i know it's possible because everything is here, and it probably already happened. i just don't know when to start. and that's exactly where it started. big bang— pause woah. i paused it. i think there's a universe now. what's it made of? quarks and stuff. ah, that's a thing! in a place! don't like it? try a new place, at a different Time™. try to stick together, because the world is gonna get bigger and emptier. but it's not empty yet! it's still very full, and about a kjghpillion degrees. about no seconds later great news! the quarks are now happily married in groups of three, called a "proton" and a "neutron." and there's something else flying around that wants to join in, but can't cause it's too HOT. ten minutes later great news! the protons and neutrons are now happily married to each other! some of them even doubled up. about 380,000 years later great news! the electrons have now joined in. congratulations! the world is now... a bunch of gas in space. but it's getting closer together... ten million years later and it's getting closer together... 500 million years later and it's getting closer togeth—star is born it's a star new shit just got made! some stars burn out and die. bigger stars burn out and die with passion! and make some brand new way crazier shit. space dust! which allows for newer and more interesting stars to be made, and then die and explode into even crazier space dust! so now, stars have cool stuff around them, like rocks, ice, and funny clouds, which can make some very interesting things. like this ball of flaming rocks, for example. meteor hits earth holy shit, we just got hit by another ball of flaming rocks. and it kind of... made a mess. which is now the moon weather update: it's raining rocks from outer space. weather update: those rocks might've had water inside of them and now there's hot steam in the sky. weather update: cooler temperatures today and the floor is no longer lava. weather update... it's raining. severe flooding alert, the entire world is now an ocean. volcano alert. that's land! there'slifeintheocean what? something's alive in the ocean oh, cool. like a plant, or an animal? no! a microscopic speck. it lives in the bottom of the ocean and eats chemical soup, which is being served hot and fresh, made from gnarly space ingredients left over from when it was raining rocks or whatever. microscopic speck asexually reproduces oh yeah, and it can do that. reproduces three more times it has secret instructions written inside itself telling it how to build another one of itself. so that's pretty nifty, i would say. tired of living at the bottom of the ocean? now you can eat sunlight! using a revolutionary technique, you can convert sunlight into food. taste the sun! side effect, now there's oxygen everywhere and the sky is blue. then the earth might've been a snowball for a while. maybe even a couple of times. it's a sponge... it's a plant... it's a worm, and some other types of weird strange water bugs and strange fish. it's the Cambrian explosion: "wow, that's animals and stuff" but we're still in the ocean. hey, can we go on land? NO why? the sun is a deadly laser oh okay. not anymore, there's a blanket now the animals can go on land. come on, animals, let's go on land! "nope, can't walk yet." "and there's no food yet, so i don't care." 100 million years later okay, will you learn to walk if there's plants up here? "maybe," said some bugs. and fish. fish gasps for air five million years later okay, so i can go on land, but i have to go back in the water to have babies! idea: learn to use an egg. "i was already doing that" use a stronger egg. put water in it. have a baby, on land, in an egg. water is in the egg. baby, in the egg, in the water, in the egg. works for me. bye bye ocean 50 million years later and now everything's huge. including bugs. wanna see a map of the land? sure. Permian extinction oh, fuck, now everything's dead. just kidding, here are the survivors. keep your eye on this one, because it's about to become 75 million years later the dinosaurs. here's another map of the land. yeah, it broke apart. don't worry about it, it does that all the time. here comes a meteor. meteor strikes and the dinosaurs are gone it's mammal time, here come the mammals. look at those breasts. now they're gonna dominate the world, but one of them just learned how to grab stuff. and walk. no, like, walk like that. and grab stuff at the same time. and bang rocks together to make pointed rocks. "ouch" and set things on fire. "yeouch" and make crazy sounds with their voice: "gneurshk" which can mean different things. that's a human person! and now they're everywhere. almost. ice age! what? you can walk over here? cool. not anymore well i guess we're stuck here now. let's review: there's people on the planet. and they're chasing their food. fuck it. time to plant some grass. look at this. i get to control the food now. now everyone will want to be my friend and live near me. let's all build houses, except mine is bigger because i own the food. this is great! i wonder if anyone else is doing this. tired of using rocks for everything? use metal. it's underground. better farming was just invented in a sweet dank valley right in between these two rivers, and the animals are helping. guess what happens next? more food. and more people, who came to buy the food. now you need people to help make the food and keep track of the sales. and now you need houses for people to live in and people to make the houses and now there's more people and they invent things which makes things better and more people come and there's more farming and more people to make more things for more people and now there's business, money, writing, laws, power, Society coming soon to a dank river valley near you. meanwhile, out in the middle of nowhere, the horse is probably being tamed. why is all my metal so lame and lumpy? tired of using lame, sad metal? introducing: bronze. made from special ingredient tin from the far lands of Tin Land. i dunno, my dealer won't tell me where he gets it. also, guess what? egypt meanwhile, out in the middle of nowhere, they figured out how to put wheels on a horse. now we're getting somewhere. also, china and did i mention indus river valley civilization society count: 5 ... norte chico the middle east is getting more complicated. maybe because it's in the middle of the east. knock knock, er, clop clop. it's the... people with the horses? and they made an empire. and then everyone else copied their horses. greeks! ah look, it must be the greeks! er, a beta version of the greeks. let's check in with the indus river valley civilization: they're gone. guess who's not gone? china. new arrivals from india... maybe it's those horse people i was talking about... or their cousins or something... and they wrote some hymns and mantras and stuff... you could make a religion out of this. there's the bronze age collapse. now the phoenicians can get down to business also, can we switch to a metal that's a little easier to find? thanks. look who came back to israel, it's the twelve tribes of israel. and they believe in God just one though, and he's got like a ten-step program. here's some huge heads. must be the olmecs. the phoenicians make some colonies. the greeks copy their idea and make some colonies. the phoenicians made a colony so big it makes colonies. here comes the assyrian empire. never mind, it's the babyloni— media—it's the Persian Empire: "wow, that's big" enlightenment ah, the buddha was just enlightened. who's the buddha? this guy, who sat under a tree for so long that he figured out how to ignore the fact that we're all dying. you could make a religion out of this. oops, china just broke. but while it was breaking, confucius was figuring out how to have good morals. enlightenment ah, the greeks just had the idea of thinking about stuff. and right over here, alexander just had the idea of conquering the entire persian empire. it's a great idea. he was... great. and now he's dead. hopefully, the rest of the gang will be able to share the empire evenly between them. knock knock, it's chandragupta. he says "get the hell out of here. will you get the hell out of here if i give you 500 elephants? okay, thanks, bye" time to conquer all of india er most of india but what about this part? that's the tamil kings. no one conquers the tamil kings. who are the tamil kings? merchants, probably. and they've got spices! who would like to buy the spices? "me!" said the arabians, swiftly buying it and selling it to the rest of the world. hey, china put itself back together again, with good morals as their main philosophy. actually, they have three main philosophies: confucianism: have good morals taoism: go with the flow legalism: fuck you, obey the law out here, the horse nomads run wild and free, and they would like to ransack your city. nomads ransack china let's check the greekification levels of the greekified kingdoms: greekification overload. bye, said the parthians. bye, said the jews. hi, said the parthians, taking over the entire place. heyyyyy, said the romans, eating the entire mediterranean for breakfast. "thanks for invading our homeland," said the jews, who were starting to get tired of people invading their homeland. "hi, everything's great," said some guy who seems to be getting very popular and is then arrested and killed for being too popular, which actually makes him more popular. you could make a religion out of this. want silk? now you can buy it from china. they just made a brand new road to the world. conquers vietnam or you can get there on water "sick! new trade routes!" said india, accidentally spreading their religion to the entire southeast. hmm, that's a good place for an epic trading kingdom. there goes buddhism, travelling up the silk road. i wonder if it'll reach china before it collapses again. remember the persian empire? yep, said the persians, making a new one. axum is getting so powerful, they would like to build a long stick. has anyone populated madagascar yet? let's do it together. china is whole again... ...then it broke again still can't cross the sahara desert? try camels. "hell yeah! now we've got business," said the ghana empire, selling lots of gold. and slaves. "hi, i'm a member of the roman empire, and i was wondering is loving jesus legal yet?" "no" "actually, okay sure," said constantine, moving the capital way over here to be closer to his main rival. don't worry about rome, it won't fall. it's the golden age of india there's the gupta empire, not chandragupta, just gupta. first name chandra. the first. guess who's in rome? barbarians. what's a barbarian? "non-romans," said the romans, being invaded by non-romans. r.i.p. roman empire. actually just half of it, the other half is just fine, but it's not in rome anymore, so let's give it a new name. the mayans have figured out the stars oh, and here's a huge city, population: everyone. the göktürks have taken over the entire eurasian steppe. great job, göktürks. how's india? broken. how's china? back together. how's those trading kingdoms? bigger, and there's more of them. korea has three kingdoms. japan has a kingdom, it's the sunrise kingdom. intermission deep in the arabian desert, on the top of a mountain, the real god whispers in muhammad's ear. so, he goes down to the cube where everyone worships gods and he tells them their gods are all fake. and everyone got so mad at him that he had to leave town and go to a different town. you could make a religion out of this, and maybe conquer the world as well. the roman empire is long gone, but somehow the pope is still the pope. plus, there's new kingdoms all over europe. i wonder if there's room for moors. here's all the wisdom. in a house. it's the baghdad house of wisdom! just in time for the islamic golden age! "let's bring stuff to the coast and sell it, and become the swahili on the swahili coast," said the swahili on the swahili coast. remember this tiny space you have to go through to get from here to there? someone owns that now. wanna get enlightened in the middle of nowhere? the franks have the biggest kingdom in europe, and the pope is so proud that he invites the king over for christmas. "surprise! you're the new roman emporer!" said the pope, pretending to still be part of the roman empire. then the franks broke their kingdom into what will later be called france and not-france. the northerners, er, just "norse" if you don't have much time, are exploring. they go north, from the north to the northern north. and they find some land— two types of land!— and they name them accordingly. prankd they also invade some other places and get called many names, such as "vikings." there's the rus! the kievan rus! are they vikings? "i don't think so," said the kievan rus. okay, fair enough. the pope is ready to make some more emperors of the roman empire. the holy roman empire! it's actually germany, but don't worry about it. new kingdoms—CRISTIANIZE ALL THE KINGDOMS!! which brand would you like? "mine's better" "mine's better" "mine's better" "time to conquer england," said william. it's a bird! it's a plane! it's the seljuk turks! "aah!" said the byzantine empire, who's getting so small and almost doesn't exist anymore. "we need help!" they need help! so they call the pope. "hey pope, can you help us get rid of the seljuks? maybe take back the holy land on the way? come on, i know you want to take back the holy land." "yes, i do actually want to do that. let's do a crusade." crusade! they did many crusades. some of which almost didn't fail. but at least the italians got some sweet trade deals. goodbye mayans. hello toltecs! goodbye toltecs. hello mississippi! look at those mounds. there's the pueblo. i always wondered how to build a town in a cliff. guess who's here? khmer. where? here! and pagan is there. vietnam unconquered itself, korea just became itself, and japan is so addicted to art that the military might have to take over the government. china just invented bombs, and typing. and the mongols just invaded most of the universe. nice going, genghis! i bet that will last a long time. some of the islamic turks were unaffected by the mongol invasions because they were busy invading india. is it tonga time? i think it's tonga time. i just figured out where the swahili gets all of their gold. look at this chad! it means "lake." there's an empire there! right in the middle of africa! the king of mali is so rich, he's going on tour to let everyone know. "wow, that guy's rich," everyone said. the christians are doing a great job reconquering iberia, which will soon be called spain and not-spain. please remain christian. we will check in later to see if you're still christian when you least expect. whoops, half of europe just died. ming! china's back, yay! hey, khmer. time to share. new kingdoms, here and there. oh, look who controls all of the islands. it's the mahajapit. majahapit. mapajahit. mahapajit. mapajahit. ma-ja-pa-hit? oh, italy's real rich. time for them to care a lot about art and the ancient classics. it's kinda like a rebirth. here's a printer. let's make books! so you think you can conquer the byzantine empire? yep, said the ottoman turks. nice job, ottoman turks. oops, you missed a spot. don't forget to ban europe from the indian spice trade. "what? that's bullshit," said portugal, spiceless. "well i guess we'll have to find another way to india" "wait!" said christopher columbus, probably smoking crack. "if the world is round, let's go this way to india." "nah, don't worry, we already got this," said portugal. so chris goes to spain. "hey spain, wanna hire me to find india by going around back of the world?" "no" "please?" "no" "please?" "wtf" "no" "please?" "...okay" so he sails into the ocean, and discovers... more ocean. and then discovers the indies, and japan! let's draw a line to decide who gets which half of the world. the aztec and the inca empires are off to a great start. i wonder if they know that europe just discovered their continent. the hapsburgs are marrying into so many royal families, they might have to start marrying each other. move over, lithuania, here comes moscow. ivan wants to make russia great again. move over, timurids, maybe go invade india or something. persia just made persia persian again. let's make it the other kind of islam. the one where we thought the first guy should've been the other guy. hey, christians! do you sin? now you can buy your way out of hell! "that's bullshit. this whole thing is bullshit. that's a scam. fuck the church. here's 95 reasons why," said martin luther, in his new book which might have accidentally started the protestant reformation. "you know what would be magnificent?" said suleiman wearing an onion hat. "what if the ottoman empire was... really big?" which it is now. "what if russia was big?" said ivan, trying not to be terrible. portugal had a dream that they controlled the entire indian ocean, including the spice trade. and then that dream was real. and spain realized that this is not india, but they pillaged it anyway. "damn," said england and france. "we gotta start pillaging some stuff." then the dutch revolt, and all the hipsters moved to amsterdam. "damn," said amsterdam. "we gotta start pillaging some stuff." question one: can you get to india from north america? no, but at least there's beaver. question two: steal the spice trade. that's not a question, but the dutch did it anyway. and sugar... guess where all of the sugar is made? in brazil! stolen! in the caribbean! and it's so goddamn profitable, you might forget to not do slavery. the next thing on russia's to-do list is to get bigger. britain and france are having a friendly discussion about who should control the entire world. more specifically, ohio. then it escalates into a seven-year discussion, giving prussia a chance to show austria who's boss. but what about britain and france, did they figure out who's boss? yes they did! it's britain. guess who's broke? also britain! so they start taxing the hell out of america. "fuck you!" says america, declaring their independence and fighting for it, and france helps them win. now france is broke, and britain will have to send their prisoners to a different continent. wait, if france is broke, why do the king and queen still wear such fancy dresses? "let's overthrow the palace and cut all their heads off!" said robespierre, cutting everybody's heads off until someone eventually got mad and cut his head off. you could make a rel— no, don't. haiti is starting to like the idea of a revolution, especially the slaves, who free themselves by killing their masters. "why didn't we think of this before?" wait, who's in charge of france now? "me," said napoleon, trying to take over europe. luckily, they banished him to an island. but he came back! luckily, they banished him to another island. there goes latin america, becoming independent in the latin american wars of independence. britain just figured out how to turn steam into power, so now they can make many different types of machines and factories with machines in them so they can make a lot of products real fast. then they invent some trains. and conquer india and maybe put some trains there. "hey, china!" said britain. "buy stuff from us!" "nah, dude, we already got everything," says china. so britain tried to get them addicted to opium, which worked, actually. but then china made it illegal and dumped it all into the sea. so britain threw a hissy fit and made them open up five cities and give them an island. britain and russia are playing a game where they try to stop the other person from conquering afghanistan. also, the sultan of oman lives in zanzibar now: "that's just where he lives." india just had a revolution, and they would like to govern themselves now. "nope," said britain, governing them even harder than before. incoming telegram: HI I JUST SENT YOU A MESSAGE THRU A WIRE technology is about to go crazy! the united states finally figured out whether slavery is good or bad. it's bad, they decided, and then they continued manifesting their destiny, which is to kill the rest of the natives and take their land and maybe kick out the mexicans too. "i know! let's rape africa!" said europe, scrambling to see who could rape it the fastest. they never got ethiopia... britain and france are still hungry. they never got thailand... the united states ran out of destiny to manifest, so they're looking for more: hawaii! cuba! wait, spain controls cuba. well, blame something on them and go to war! what should we blame on spain? u.s.s. maine sinks "let's blame the maine on spain." so they blame the maine on spain. now we're in business. to celebrate, they kick panama out of panama and make a canal, connecting the two oceans. britain just found oil in the middle east. it makes cars go... china is so tired of being bossed around that they delete their old government and make a new, stronger government, which is accidentally weaker and is controlled by a guy from the previous government. europe hasn't had a war since the last war, so they start world war one. look at those guns! it's gonna be a great war, so great we won't need a second one. after it's over, they blame germany. russia went on strike, and the workers overthrew the government. now, everyone's paycheck is the same. communism in the soviet union... the arabs revolt and britain helps. now the ottoman empire is gone, so we can give the jewish people a place to live. hopefully the arabs won't mind. "let's cut the cake!" said sykes and picot, carving up the remains of the not-so-ottoman-anymore-empire. except turkey! turkey makes a brand new turkey! and then the saudis conquer arabia. it just seemed like the right thing to do. phone rings hello? yes, it's the 1920's calling. let's get to a car and drive to a party and listen to jazz on the radio and go to the movies. the economy is great and it will probably be great forever. just kidding. germany's back, featuring hitler, the angry mustache model, and he's mad at the jews for existing. japan is finally conquering the east, and they're so excited, they rape nanking way too hard. they should probably just deny it. hitler's out of control, so the international community tackles him and tries to explain to him why killing all of the jews is a bad idea. but he kills himself because they could explain it to him. that's world war two! bonus round! pacific showdown united states vs. japan FIGHT!! united states drops two extinction balls on japan FINISH HIM! let's unite all the nations and have some world peace! seems legit. "hi, im gandhi, and if britain doesn't get the hell out of india, i'm going to starve myself in public." britain leaves "wow, that worked?" bonus! now there's pakistan. actually two pakistans, one of them can be bangladesh later. the jews and the arabs finally figured out which one of them should live in the holy land. "me!" they both said at the same time. let's divide up the lands so we're both happy. SIKE! they both get angrier! look out, china! there's a new china in china. what's on the menu? communism! no thanks, said the other china, escaping to an island. i wonder which one is the real china...? there's the korean war. korea versus korea! nobody wins, then its on pause forever. let's meet the sponsors. oh, it's the two global superpowers. they're having a friendly debate over which economic system is good and which one is an evil virus of satan. and they both have atom bombs. FIGHT!! wait, no, that would be the end of the world. let's just keep it cool and spy on each other instead. and make sure we have enough atom bombs. "i'll race you to space." united states plants a flag on the moon now let's make more countries fight themselves. europe is tired of pillaging other continents, and the continents they were pillaging are tired of being pillaged. so here's a new map with new countries. now you can't tell who they're being pillaged by. the united states finally decided whether racism is good or bad. they decided it's bad, and the world agrees. south africa might need another minute to think about it. let's check the world population! woah. okay. technology is better too, that might keep happening. the soviet union decides to relax a little, and accidentally falls apart. europe makes a union, so now they can all use the same money. except britain, because they don't feel like it. let's check the mail... surprise! it's on the computer! whoops, someone just attacked america. i bet they'll remember that. phone call! surprise! it's in your pocket! wanna learn everything? surprise! it's on the computer! now your phone's a computer, which is in your pocket! whoops, the economy just crashed. don't worry, the big banks won't fail, because they're not supposed to. surprise!... flying robots. with bombs. wanna print a brain? some people have no friends. some people have no food. the globe is warming, and the ocean is full of plastic! "let's save the planet!" said everybody, not knowing how. "let's invent a thing inventor," said the thing inventor inventor after being invented by a thing inventor. that's pretty cool. by the way, where the hell are we? thanks for watching history i hope i mentioned everything
submitted by TruLiterature to DecreasinglyVerbose [link] [comments]

I Don’t Think I Killed Myself

I grew up a skinny little introvert in the suburbs. I had a few friends but usually just got lost in books. I went to summer camps, took piano lessons and enjoyed playing soccer. I did OK at school and the 4th, 5th and 6th grades all passed by as I grew into larger clothing and shoe sizes. My reality would splinter into unfixable fragments one summer when I was ten years old.
I was playing soccer at the park with Jason, the one friend from school who seemed to take a liking to me. He was a stocky redhead who couldn’t get enough fart jokes and videogames. He had some crazy system that was very advanced, but I can’t recall the name. I had to twist his arm to actually get outdoors to play soccer with me.
One day, Jason and I were out kicking the ball for about twenty minutes before he hunched over out of breath. He complained about being tired of playing and punted it hard and it soared over my head. “Asshole!” I shouted and I ran to get it, watching as it bounced high and barreled towards the road.
I ran fast enough to catch up to it before it went into the street, but I tripped. By the time I heard the loud music, it was too late. I saw the chrome fender of a fast-approaching black car that was about to hit me. There was no way to avoid its course. Time slowed as I soared into the street and in front of that speeding car.
There was an awful crunch and my ribs and skull pulsed with a shocking amount of pain. I felt a pressure inside my head, it felt like it had burst. I never felt such agony, and I wanted it to end. The world went black, and screams erupted before it all clicked off with a snap.
I awoke to a telephone ringing, I was confused as to where I was. I was in a small strange room I did not recognize, and the stink of stale cigarette smoke and bourbon made me wrinkle my nose.
“Jesse, take out the fucking trash!” The booming, gruff voice slurred the consonants. I sat up on the couch, feeling my head with my small fingers in confusion at the length and texture of my hair. I thought I must’ve been in a weeks-long coma. But I was alive.
“Jesse, I said TAKE OUT THE TRASH you idiot!” I felt a sharp smack on the top of my head and yelped. I held my throbbing head and locked eyes with the strange man looming over me. He was talking to me.
“Where am I, who are you?” I asked, feeling tears glaze my eyes. The red-faced man with gray-peppered stubble smirked an awful smile as he stooped to look into my eyes. His were bloodshot, bulging orbs above a bulbous nose and yellow-toothed grin.
“You want me to put you back in a cast you little shit?”
I rose and quickly scanned the interior of the trailer I found myself in, soon finding the overflowing garbage which was filled with crushed PallMall packs, empty flasks and styrofoam containers. I kneeled to the stained carpet and brushed stinking cigarette butts and food debris into the bag, twisting the top as I made my way outside the flimsy door.
The sun was oppressive in the circle of old trailers rusting away. Was I kidnapped? I thought maybe there’d been a mixup at the hospital, and my mom was devastated and looking all over for me. I dumped the reeking trash into a dumpster buzzing with flies and then looked around. I needed to get help. I decided I was going to make a break for one of the other trailers to ask for a phone when I caught a glimpse of myself in the pane of a door window. I stopped dead in my tracks.
There, staring back at me, was the face of a child who looked nothing like me. A shaggy-haired kid with freckles and scared eyes. I held up my hands as my brain swirled in confusion. I tried to think of my mom and only saw a chain-smoking woman with blue eyeshadow who was yelling at the red-faced drunk in the trailer. My head hurt as I struggled to remember what she looked like in the suburban house I grew up in. I could see her blonde ponytail, but her face was a blank oval of flesh. The house was a faint memory that degraded with each detail I fought to remember, like some dissolving recollection of a dream.
My last name—previously on the tip of my tongue—slipped away from me entirely. I couldn’t remember it. All I could remember was the name Nelson. My name; Jesse Nelson. I then remembered trips with my drunk dad to the lake to go fishing, and Christmases with I.O.U’s written in folding cards under a plastic tree. Every sliver of clear memory was lost in a hazy cloud; fine brushstrokes of details lacking the big picture or even the canvas beneath.
I kept a journal as I transitioned into this childhood as another person. I tried to recollect as many details as I could, thinking if I could piece it together, I might be able to get home. I endured my father’s endless insults as well as the negative attention from kids at school. I quickly learned if you can’t afford name brand clothing, you are a magnet for bullies.
The insults were endless; Trailer trash. Thrift store reject. Redneck. Hick. School was hell, and home life was not much better. No video games, no TV. This new dad would bet on horses, and he’d usually lose. He’d then get really angry, and I quickly learned to leave and take walks along the highway to avoid getting hit.
I struggled in school. The school system I was enrolled in was teaching different courses than my previous one. Despite the difficulty and distraction, I managed to do alright in high school. Flashes of a previous life would still occasionally come at odd moments. Memories of the metronome’s ticking as I sat still for piano lessons, or ice cream Sundays with a smiling set of parents. A grinning man behind a steering wheel. Each time the memories flashed into my head they would burn out, soon replaced with the new ones. Fresher memories of throwing rocks at beer bottles and my pop’s shouting matches with Mr. Nash; the nasty man at the end of the trailer park. They both argued about a woman. My missing mother, I presumed.
Still, I learned to enjoy what I had in my new life. I even grew accustomed to my new face and modest new home. The bullying also became less intense the less I seemed to care.
I developed different sets of interests which grew as time passed. I knew a bunch more about cars than I thought I did, as if the memories of this child and my own had merged in some slurry that was slowly taking form. I graduated from high school, and with a sweaty hug from my pops, I knew that was as far as my education would go.
My grades were not good enough for a scholarship and dad was dead broke. I picked up a job at the gas station. That’s where I met my maniac of a best-friend; Ron. He was a few years older, a metalhead with a ratty mustache and a hilariously twisted sense of humor. He made life there manageable, actually pretty fun a lot of the time.
I would drink beers with him and his buds on the weekend and worked hard, making my fingers calloused as I removed stripped bolts and struggled to save money. I eventually moved out of my pop’s place and into a small, cockroach-riddled apartment in the nearby town. I grew into a young man, having fun and enjoying my freedom as I saved up for a car.
Something drew me to it, but I couldn’t quite say what. Its sheen and luster, the black powerhouse was in my sights for months before I put down that initial payment. “You get the car then you get the girls,” Ron always said. I soon was at the dealership shaking hands with a smiling salesman. I hopped into the new vehicle and smelled the fresh leather interior. I turned her on and my heart purred with the revving of the engine. My new black Mustang.
I shouldn't have been drinking, and I know that. Ron had won $1000 from a scratch-off card, and I was now 21 and had my very own car; he wanted to party. I picked him up and we drank at a new spot downtown where he insisted all the ladies frequented. He was slurring, wagging a finger at the bouncer until we were kicked out. It was only around four in the afternoon and we were tanked.
I was driving too fast, metal blasting as Ron shouted “RIGHT, take this RIGHT!” and the tires skidded as I pulled past a park. He lit a cigarette and I yelled at him, screaming not to smoke in my car. A glowing ember hit my arm as he tried to toss it. I didn’t see the kid tripping into the road before it was too late. I saw his face. A face I recognized immediately.
My heart broke into a thousand pieces before the impact. I knew as soon as I stepped out of the car and saw his bloody head and twitching, broken fingers. He was pronounced dead at the scene. The sirens approached and I wept into my hands before the cuffs twisted my arms behind my back. It was me dead on the street. The real me.
I’ve been in prison a few weeks now. Every day is the same. It’s rough here, but if you act tough and fight back, you don’t get eaten alive. But I can't unsee my own youthful face staring up at my fast-approaching car. I swear to it, just before the impact I saw it. That little boy was grinning a wicked little smile at me like I'd just lost a bet.
submitted by mrmichaelsquid to nosleep [link] [comments]

Welcome to Gettysburg (Day One)

Day Two Here
Day Three Here
Gettysburg is by far my favorite battle of all time.
First, it is an all-American battle in an all-American war, and myself being an old school nationalist it carries significance that other battles simply don’t; I may find Austerlitz or Stalingrad nifty, but nobody there was my people.
More, it was an extraordinarily clean fight. At any point, a soldier on either side could hurl down their rifle and grab some sky and be reasonably assured of having their surrender accepted without reservation, and for that matter their captor could rely on their new POWs to trudge back to the rear under light guard in good faith. Even though much of the fighting took place in an urban environment with embedded civilians, only one civilian died in the fighting. Let me tell you, the more military history you read up on, the clearer it is that massacring civilians before, during, and after a rough fight is par for the course. One might even say that butchering unarmed men, women and children of the enemy tribe is the de facto military objective more than half the time; it might be some weird, half instinctual, proto-game theory going on: “We told them to surrender or else. They didn’t surrender, we won anyway, and now there’s gotta be an ‘or else’ to persuade the next batch of holdouts that we mean business.” In the long run, butchering the first village usually made it morelikely the next three villages would get the message and surrender without a fight, saving the invaders men, materiel, and time. Or perhaps it’s that killing civilians has always been pure bloody-mindedness. But not at Gettysburg. Gettysburg is where the American platonic ideal of soldiers fighting soldiers and leaving the civilians be actually happened.
Another aspect to the battle that fascinates me is how utterly unplanned it was. Neither army had intended to fight there, and between the scale of the brawl, the rapidity of developments, the intransigence of their subordinates, and the communications lag, neither the Confederate general Lee nor the Union general Meade had a grip on the situation at all until the second day of the battle, and neither could enact their ideal plans until the third day. It was something of a clusterfuck for both sides, and the course of the battle depended on the initiative and guts of small unit commanders with little idea of what the big picture was.
Gettysburg tends to be remembered as the turning point in the war, when it stopped being a gallant passage at arms between roughly equal powers and started being a slow, painful inevitable grind towards Union victory. This is not exactly accurate; only with years of hindsight could anybody construct a narrative that framed this fight as the turning point, for at the time Gettysburg was seen as just another grisly slaughter yard in a long series of them. Still, between this fight and the conquest of Vicksburg out west, this does appear in hindsight to be the high watermark in terms of Confederate progress towards successful seccession. Certainly it was the last time any Confederate army went on the strategic offensive. For diehard secessionists (both during the war and in the years after), this was the last hurrah before the war started being truly hopeless.
It is also, I should mention, a place of spiritual significance for me. Myself being secular humanist with a vaccination against Protestantism from my younger days, I don’t have much in the way of codified religion. But when I was a youngin’ visiting relatives out east, I got to visit the battlefield. I found myself standing in front of a monument on the field on the north end of Herbst Wood (where the right flank of Iron Brigade stood and charged on the first day of the battle). It described how a Michigan regiment of about a thousand men stood on that spot and suffered two thirds casualties over the course of the day. I read the details on the monument, and stared up at the mustachioed rifleman staring defiantly to the west.
Looking left and right, I saw more monuments every fifty yards or so in a straightish line, spreading out to mark where a human line had once stood and bled. And I turned my back on the monuments to face away, and behold, I saw an opposing line of Confederate monuments stretched out horizon to horizon about a hundred yards away. Two lines, violently opposed but unmoving; courage and horror frozen into place forever. And the world there seemed very big, and very grand, and I felt very small and unworthy. The air was at once colder and hotter than any air I’d ever felt. The wind cut through my clothing and reminded me that flesh was mortal but spirit was eternal. This was holy ground, soil consecrated by blood. Shi’ite Muslims have Karbala. Catholics have the Road to Calvary. Australian aboriginals have Uluru. I have Gettysburg.
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BACKGROUND
A brief note- I will be including maps periodically to show the progression of the fighting. These maps must be taken with a grain or three of salt. They are intended to show relations between the armies and the terrain, not to mark the exact positions or dispositions of the units, nor to show an exact proportion of numbers involved. This is because I am not an expert mapmaker, and I thank you in advance for your understanding. First, a map of the northern part of the battlefield. Note how many roads lead there, and note the high ground of Cemetery Hill and Culp's Hill to the south of the town.
The Battle of Gettysburg happened because Lee needed to go on the offensive, and Lee needed to go on the offensive because of the big picture. I shall cover the broad outline just so the significance doesn’t pass anybody by.
The Confederacy in the Spring of 1863 was in a terrible dilemma. The leadership had two urgent problems, either one of which could (if unaddressed) destroy their enterprise, and to make things worse they didn’t have the resources to solve either of them alone without a miracle.
One, the Union was fixing to shove yet another army down Richmond’s throat. Two years of failed invasions into Virginia had been brutal to both sides, but the North had immense reserves of cash, food, industrial output, and manpower with which to replenish themselves, and the South simply didn’t. The Army of Northern Virginia on which every invasion thus far had broken was underarmed, underfed, and undermanned, and if these issues were not fixed then they’d be seeing Union soldiers in the Confederate capitol before Autumn. There had already been a push that year, which Lee had staved off at Chancellorsville. There was plenty of time left before winter for a second attack.
And two, Vicksburg, the railway hub that sat on the Mississippi River, was under dire threat. The Union had already grabbed New Orleans at the south end and pushed north up the river, and had been pushing south down the river since day one of the war, but Vicksburg prevented the whole river from falling in to Union hands. Vicksburg alone let the South shift resources and information from its Western half to its Eastern half. Losing it could be a death blow. The garrison of Vicksburg was also underarmed, underfed, and undermanned.
The fresh crops taken off the farm and the fresh host of new recruits also taken off the farm were middling at best. Even throwing all the resources they had at either problem and letting the other develop as it would might mean losing on both fronts. Splitting the resources in half to prop up both didn’t seem promising either. Lee, being something of a strategist, developed a third option. There was no point (he reasoned) in trying to prop up Vicksburg at this point- it would take weeks to shift reinforcements that far west, and by then it would be midsummer. If the siege lasted that long, either the garrison would fold or disease would rip through the Yankee army and drive it back home, as it had the last two years running. In either scenario, further support would affect nothing. Therefore, he proposed a bold plan- don’t sit around waiting to get hit in the face. Invade north. Take the fight onto their turf.
The more the Confederate leadership considered it, the better it sounded. Northern land hadn’t been ravaged like Virginia had- it would be easy to live off of the enemy’s food for once, thus lessening the headache of their constant supply problems. It was also an election year, and the anti-war Democrats were raging at the ocean of blood and gold being wasted on bringing States back into the fold who very clearly wanted to go their own way. One good, solid victory on Northern soil could tip the balance, drive home the point that that war was unwinnable. Get the Black Republican warmonger Lincoln kicked out of the White House, get a reasonable Democrat in, and next year they just might get a negotiated peace that would lead in time to true and recognized independence.
To which end-
Lee snaked his newly reinforced army of about 75,000 men up through the Shenandoah Valley, using the mountain range to mask his movements instead of using to well-worn direct route that the Union was camped on. He would end up north of the bulk of the Army of the Potomac, simultaneously threatening Washington D.C., Pittsburgh, Baltimore, and Philadelphia, which for a guy trying to score a symbolic victory to discourage the enemy voters put him in a pretty nice spot.
Lincoln freaked out, told Hooker and his Army of the Potomac to go out and beat Lee, to utterly destroy his army, and also not leave any weak point undefended, which are just the kind of orders one enjoys receiving. Hooker, having a bit of an ego and a poor history of getting his ass kicked by Lee, got into a feud with Lincoln’s advisors and impulsively offered his resignation as Commander of the Army of the Potomac following some stupid spat with the bean counters back in Washington. Lincoln called his bluff and fired him three days before the battle, putting General Meade in charge of the whole damn army with almost no prep time.
I should cut the narrative here to cast moral aspersions right quick. The Union were the good guys, and the Confederates were the villains. That said, the North made for really terrible heroes, and the South had more than its fair share of virtues. This was not a grand crusade of freedom-loving Yankees tearing down the moral abomination of human bondage. This was a brutal, no holds barred death struggle between the efficient new urban Industrial Revolution and the rural Cavalier latifundias. Only a smallish segment of New England Puritans and bleeding heart Quakers hated slavery on moral grounds- the rest of the North either hated it on financial grounds, didn’t give a fuck one way or another, or were actively supporting racial slavery. And on the flip side, most Southerners who fought in the war perceived quite accurately that outsiders were coming into their world to demand submission, and had decided to give these invaders the William Wallace treatment. This is a normal and admirable response that every healthy society should have in its toolbox, and in my not-even-slightly humble opinion it is a damn shame that so many people endured so much agony in support of so un-American a cause.
For you see, when Lee’s army reached Pennsylvania, they kidnapped every black person they could find, free or not, and sent them all south in chains. There was no attempt to ascertain their status by some legal due process, no splitting of hairs. The bare skeleton of Confederate ideology, the great Truth that would have snuffed out by continued political loyalty to the Union, had been that all men were not created equal. To be more precise, men had white skin, and anyone with black skin was not a man and did not have the rights of man. As such, anyone with black skin was to be sold into slavery and threatened with torture and death if they refused to labor in the cotton fields. The army that invaded the North was, in practice, the biggest slave-hunting gang that had ever set foot on American soil.
The side wearing grey were staunch defenders of a country based on the Ideal of Ethnic Supremacy, and the side wearing blue were fighting for a country based on the Ideal of Equality. There were a million nagging features of material reality in the South and the North that challenged both of these Ideals, but there were no Ideals to challenge these Ideals, save only for each other. We know that this is true, because as the war shifted away from a Federal attempt to rein in wayward states to an all out assault on the institution of slavery, more and more Northerners balked at the idea of dying to set niggers free; men who had fought for years to bring the rebels into the fold again threw down their rifles and went home in disgust after they heard of the Emancipation Proclamation. And as it became clearer that poor whites who never owned slaves were expected to die for plantation owners’ right to stay rich, fewer and fewer Southerners were willing to jump into the meat grinder feet first; many of them deserted to go home and form Unionist bushwhacker gangs instead. Speaking of the draft, a higher percentage of southerners dodged the Confederate draft than in Vietnam, yet Vietnam is remembered as a deeply unpopular war while the Lost Cause has painted the South as a unified bloc striving as one against the Yankee oppressor.
Also, the Confederacy had a draft imposed upon the states by its federal government. So, yeah, State's Rights. Tell me how that worked out.
To reiterate. Both sides are not the same. We are rooting for the Union. Slavery. Etc.
Pushing on-
The two armies surged northward, on parallel tracks with Lee on the west side of the Appalachians and Meade on the east side. Being critically low on recon drones and spy satellites, the only ways to find the enemy army was to send guys out on horseback to physically look at them before riding back, and to talk to locals whether they’d seen anyone wearing the other team’s uniform recently. Clouds of skirmishers, cavalrymen, and small detachments of infantrymen from either side scattered themselves in all directions, straining to catch a glimpse of the other army. The first side to locate the enemy, amass sufficient force, and maneuver against them would probably win, without regard for right or wrong.
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JULY 1st, 1863
Early Morning
General John Buford had a 2,500 strong brigade of cavalrymen patrolling southern Pennsylvania, being one of dozens of detachments sent out to find the enemy army. Using human intelligence from locals in Gettysburg, he learned that there was a column of rebel infantry marching down the Chambersburg Pike.
And indeed there was. Advance scouts from Buford’s brigade made visual contact with a column marching south towards Gettysburg. The ball was now rolling.
The story goes that the Confederates were looking for new shoes and heard that there was a stockpile in Gettysburg. As far as I can tell, this is a baseless legend- inspired by the true fact that the rebel army didn’t have enough shoes, but baseless nonetheless. The three Confederate commanders marching towards Gettysburg (Archer and Davis with a brigade apiece and Heth as division commander coordinating them), were simply doing what their counterpart was doing- reconnaissance in force, hoping to develop a lead for the rest of the army to follow. 7,000 infantry under Archer and Davis were about to pick a fight with 2,500 cavalrymen under Buford. The currents of this morning fight would provide the grooves for the next three days to follow.
Buford’s men fought as dragoons; the horse let you scoot around to where you need to go, but you got off it and fought on foot. They Union cavalry broke into tiny little four man teams to bloody the approaching Confederates’ noses. The terrain was a bushwhacker’s paradise- plenty of rocks and trees to hide behind, and plenty of low, rolling hills to speed off behind to break line of sight. One man would hold the horses while the other three crouch-ran forward under cover to pop off rounds into the enemy column from the sides of the road. When the enemy infantry redeployed from a fast moving but harmless column formation into a slow moving but dangerous line, the three shooters would run back to their buddy to mount up and retreat to a new position.
The cavalrymen were outnumbered nearly three to one, and their carbines had less range and power than the rebel rifles; then again, the terrain was working for them and their breechloading carbines could shoot much faster than the enemy’s muzzleloading long rifles. It was very close to being an fair fight, as long as the cavalry could stay mobile and keep their distance. Buford and Heth both had unclear, contradictory orders- “Push forward aggressively to locate the enemy, but do not enter into a general engagement until we know what we’re up against.” It was an order that must have made sense in the tent when Lee and Meade sent their own versions off. You wouldn’t want to force a battle until you knew the enemy’s location and disposition and the terrain you were going to be standing on, any more than you’d want bet it all on a poker hand before looking at your cards. But to the guys on the front line, it meant “charge forward, but do not charge forward. Attack, but do not engage. Show some initiative, but don’t pick a real fight.” Heth decided they were up against a skeleton crew of skirmishers, and he had orders to check out Gettysburg. He send riders back with a quick report and a request for reinforcements. Buford decided that if the whole damn rebel army was heading his way, he needed to delay their advance for as many hours as he could to give the rest of the Union army time to get to Gettysburg- the high ground south of the town looked like ideal terrain to fight from and he wanted his buddies to get there before the rebels. He too sent riders back with calls for help.
And meanwhile, the murderous, hazardous stalking of the rebel column continued as it trudged towards Gettysburg.
Meanwhile, in the Rear with the Gear
Imagine running a marathon- 26 miles and a bit from start to finish. That’s how spread out a Civil War army is, from vanguard to rear guard. You can’t really concentrate 75,000-100,000 people together that closely. Disease starts killing people off really fast, feeding everyone is a headache, and if you have to march out, the lead element will march all day before stopping for the night, while the rear element hasn’t even left camp yet. It’s unwieldy. So they all spread out to grab some real estate and forage easier and not choke on each others’ dust and crap.
The riders from the Chambersburg Pike were spreading the word through the marathon length of the armies. Units were halting, turning around. Captains and colonels and generals were consulting maps to figure out what roads to take to get south or north to Gettysburg from where they were now. Regiments were putting their heads to together to figure out whose company oughtta go in what order.
The movements were slow and and ungainly and awkward, but they were starting up.
Mid Morning to Noon
The rolling hills on either side of the Chambersburg Pike stopped at McPherson’s Ridge, a grand place to make a stand- plenty of cover, steep incline. In any case, there wasn’t much further to retreat to. Archer and David pushed the cavalrymen, Archer on the south side of the road and Davis on the north. Thoroughly annoyed infantrymen backed up on the Pike behind them, eager to get at the enemy but without frontage to occupy.
Buford dug in on McPherson’s Ridge, and the full force of Heth’s division slammed into him. Denied their mobility by the necessity of holding territory, the fair fight turned into a meat grinder for the dismounted cavalrymen. When Confederate artillery set up on Herr’s Ridge, it turned into a bloodbath.
Buford, at last, got in contact with somebody who outranked him. General John Reynolds, second in command of the whole Union army, rode ahead of his division to get eyes on the situation.
The two struck a deal in the middle of a firefight. Buford promised to hold to the last man, and Reynolds promised to reinforce him. It was an exercise in trust; if Buford’s men held firm and Reynolds let them down, they’d be swamped and slaughtered to a man, and if Buford’s detachment broke and scattered, Reynolds’ reinforcements would march directly into a line of hills held by an entrenched enemy force of equal size. Failure on either side would be fatal. Reynolds rode south again, leaving Buford and his dwindling cavalrymen to fend off 10% of the Confederate army all alone.
Meanwhile, Buford’s thin line was cracking. Outnumbered, outgunned, and unable to advance or retreat... That which was inevitable to start with was happening now. Davis’ brigade was pressing against Oak Ridge on the Union right, and Archer's was taking Herbst Woods tree by tree. Buford’s men were giving ground they couldn’t afford to lose. Confederate artillery was blasting giant holes in the ranks of the defenders.
That’s when the relief came- two fresh brigades of infantry coming up the Emmitsburg road, under generals Cutler and Meredith. Cutler got there first, taking up positions on Oak Ridge and straddling either side of the Pike with cannons. Their massive volleys disrupted Confederate momentum and silenced some of the rebels’ big guns as everyone scrambled for cover. Grateful and exhausted cavalrymen sidled off to the flanks to safety. Meredith’s brigade is still lagging behind- that’s the problem with columns, only the guys in front can do anything.
If Buford and Reynolds expected everything to be right in the world once reinforcements arrived, they were very much mistaken. Those men out there attacking up Oak Ridge were some of the finest infantrymen in the world- dedicated, disciplined, contemptuous of death. They did not stop being efficient killers just because they now fought peers instead of the hornet-like cavalry skirmishers. Cutler’s brigade was facing a small tidal wave of battle-maddened Southern veterans, and had no time to dig in and situate themselves before the moment of impact. Davis’ men ripped into them like a pack of starving wolves. Cutler’s men fell back to safety on the top of Oak Ridge. In pieces.
Meanwhile, Meredith’s brigade was finally in position to retake Herbst Woods on the south side of the road.
Now, Meredith’s brigade were the absolute elite of the Union army. They were the grizzled veterans, the old crew, the best drilled, the most experienced, the hardest of the hard. They were nicknamed the Iron Brigade, and the Black Hat Brigade, because they were authorized to wear dashing black foraging caps to signify their status as the best of the best. With their comrades north of the road falling back, it was imperative that the Black Hat Brigade protect their left flank. To which end, Reynolds frantically snapped orders for them to line up and charge Archer’s men who were occupying Herbst Wood.
Their charge was met by a storm of musket fire that churned the Iron ranks into blood and guts. But this was the Black Hat Brigade. For them, taking ten percent casualties in a single minute was just another Tuesday. They got in close to the rebel line to return the volleys with a vengeance, and then charged with the bayonet. Archer’s men saw the distinctive black hats come for them through the musket-smoke. For the first time, they realized that these were no mere cavalry skirmishers, no half-assed militia company facing them. The best of the best of the Army of the Potomac was coming at them at terrifyingly close range. Archer’s men cracked and scattered. The ones who stood firm, died. The ones who threw down their rifles and grabbed sky were allowed to live as prisoners. The ones who ran, lived, but found the Iron Brigade hot on their heels. Meredith’s elites carved through Archer’s brigade like it wasn’t even there.
Reynolds was a good leader. A great one, in fact. He was decisive, experienced, competent. Many thought he should have gotten command instead of Meade. As his men retook Herbst Wood, he turned behind him to check on how close reinforcements were, some rebel rifleman did his cause a world of good, and shot Reynolds in the back of the head.
Now the situation got pretty weird- Davis’ brigade had kicked the shit out of Cutler’s brigade and was pursuing them on the north side of the road, and the Iron Brigade had kicked the shit out of Archer’s brigade and was pursuing them on the south side of the road. Neither victor was aware of what had happened across from them, and soon enough they would pass each other by almost touching the edges of their lines. The first one to figure out what was happening would get to win.
As it so happened, General Doubleday (in command now that Reynolds was dead) saw the danger and the opportunity first. He broke off an Iron regiment from his reserve to swoop in and protect the flank just in time, setting them up in a defensive stance facing the road. That regiment was joined by another broken off from the Iron assault, and yet another from Cutler’s brigade, who had seen the maneuvering and joined in on its own initiative. It was like a ballet, all three regiments coalescing into a single front facing north across the road, as though they’d spent the last week rehearsing. Under their protection, the rest of the Black Hats gave chase to their prey.
When Davis finally turned and attacked, they were chopped down by a mass of highly accurate fire from the newly entrenched men. Confederates died by the dozens and were maimed by the score. As they reloaded, the Black Hats were astonished to find that the whole Confederate brigade vanish into thin air, like magic. The firing stopped; no more targets. It was bizarre.
The three regiments advanced cautiously. And were gutted by a close range surprise volley by the hidden Confederates as they tried to scale the fences on either side of the Pike.
It turns out that there was a cut in the side of road, deep enough for a man to jump down into with only his head able to peek out. Davis’ men had leapt into it as a source cover when the firefight started and found it was a grand place to shoot out of. But it was also a death trap. Once the Union regiments figured it out, they got in close enough to fire blindly down at point blank range into the milling mass of men.
Davis’ men surrendered, thousands of them all at once. Unable to move, unable shoot back, it was really the only choice. And with that, the first round of Gettysburg was over. Oak Ridge and Herbst Wood had held, and about 150,000 odd soldiers were converging on Gettysburg to shift the tide of war this way and that.
AFTERNOON
The rest of the first day was not free of drama, and heroics, and mass suffering. But it was free of surprises. The iron laws of physics had decreed that more Confederate units would be on hand for the fighting in the afternoon, and so it was. Fresh rebel troops swept down from the north and from the west, relieving their exhausted comrades and preparing themselves to assault Oak Ridge and Herbst Woods. Fresh Union troops arrived from the south to reinforce what they had and to extend their line out east, protecting their right flank and screening off the town itself.
Hours passed without a shot being fired. Everybody was reorganizing themselves, resupplying, carting the wounded to the rear to let the surgeons saw their shattered limbs off. Two small things happened that delivered a Confederate victory on day one, and a Union victory on day three. Union General Barlow pushed his brigade out to occupy Blocher's hill, and Union General Steinwehr plopped two of his brigades on top of Cemetery Hill. The first created a huge gap in the Union right, and the second secured the invaluable high ground for the rest of the battle.
Meanwhile, three Confederate divisions set themselves up for a concerted attack- Heth would press into Herbst Wood on the Union left, Rodes would assault Oak Ridge at the center, and Early would swoop down the Harrisburg road to threaten the Union right. When the big push came at around 2 p.m., it was badly organized and mismanaged. Southern commanders couldn't get it together and attack at the same time. Individual units charged at Oak Ridge alone, like a mob of Hollywood henchmen attacking the hero only to be smacked around one by one. Cutler's men didn't just fight them off; it was closer to mass murder. General O'Neal's brigade swooped down off of Oak Hill only to be cut down by musketry and cannon fire, and they did it without O'Neal, because O'Neal stayed in the rear while his men died. When O'Neal's brigade fell back having suffered heavy losses, Cutler shifted his men to greet the new threat from Iverson's brigade, who also charged without their commander. Iverson's men marched in parade perfect order across open ground, without so much as a molehill for cover. The story goes that during the assault, Iverson looked out from safety and saw half his men lying down on the ground. Iverson was pissed off because he thought his men were surrendering. In fact, he was watching his brigade die in droves.
The issue wasn't morale. The Confederate troops were eager to get at the enemy. The problem was purely organizational in nature. The men in charge of telling people what to do were simply too confused and disoriented to work out the solution in real time. While O’Neal and Iverson were getting bloodied, Barlow’s men on Blocher Hill were getting slaughtered. Barlow’s desire to hold the high ground on the defense was understandable- high ground being a grand place to fight from- but he was about one mile ahead of any friendly units. This meant that it was trivially easy to flank and destroy his brigades.
Georgia men under generals Early and Rodes linked up to flank and destroy Barlow’s isolated brigades. A thick stream of filthy, bloody, and terrified Union men flowed back to the town of Gettysburg, leaving a gaping hole in the Union line and spreading their panic like the plague. Victorious Confederates whooped and hollered. As the men to the north of town trade massacres- the failed assault on Oak Ridge being roughly balanced by the disastrous dissolution of Barlow’s brigades- Heth finally attacked the Iron Brigade still occupying Herbst Wood in the west. He’d been delaying it all afternoon, stymied by the contradictory orders from Lee. Lee, who was several miles away and not at all in touch with the situation, still wanted to avoid a general engagement. But now, Heth has been let off the chain to avenge Archer’s brigade.
Heth’s full division attacked Herbst Wood. It was a slow, hot, gory fight. The attacking rebels are aggressive, but also methodical and well-organized. The Black Hats made them pay for every tree they seized. But there’s only one outcome for a fight like this.
The Iron Brigade has the ghastly honor of having the highest casualty ratio of any Civil War brigade, North or South. Out of the 1,885 men in their ranks that morning, 1,153 (61%) were be dead or maimed by nightfall on the first day. The fates of individual units from within the brigade are even more gruesome- in the 2nd Wisconsin regiment, 397 out of 496 (80%) were killed or wounded. But despite the horrific losses, they didn’t break. They gave ground slowly and in good order, but they gave ground nonetheless. Iron does not break, but it does bend.
By late afternoon, the dominoes fell as they were always going to. With the debacle at Blocher’s Knoll, any hope the Union had to hold the right was lost. The Black Hats were being ground into sawdust on the left. And Rodes has finally gotten his brigades to charge at the same time, overwhelming Cutler’s defense.
Every Union man was running now, some in a blind panic, some withdrawing in good order like professionals.
The open field battle turned into urban warfare as the Confederates chased the Union army through the streets of Gettysburg. Companies blocked the streets to hold off the enemy advance long enough for the comrades to scamper. Marksmen played sniper games in the windows, either shooting men in the back as they ran away or ambushing overly aggressive platoons, depending on the color of their uniform.
The Union men were desperate to reach Cemetery Hill, south of the town. High ground and the reinforcements already stationed there promised safety. The Confederates were just as desperate to catch them first and seize that invaluable terrain for themselves.
Nightfall
A great deal of “woulda coulda shoulda” ink has been spilled over the orders that Lee gave to General Ewell, the man in charge of Rodes and Early: “Take Cemetery Hill if practical”. But Ewell saw two brigades with a lot of artillery standing on top of what appeared to be a natural fortress designed by God to repel infantry, and his men were exhausted to boot. Ewell decided it was not practical, and so did not try. Just one of those things, I expect.
In any case, the day was a Confederate victory. Every spot on the map the Confederate troops wanted to go, they had went. They had crushed all resistance, had even gone toe to toe with the cream of the Army of the Potomac and won. Their enemies were in flight before them.
There was, possibly, a certain amount of disquiet because the enemy had merely been driven from one ridge into another ridge, one even steeper and with more cover than the last. And rumor had it the rest of the Army of the Potomac was coming at them.
But that was a problem for the next day.
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Free Horse Racing Betting Systems that Work  Speed System #1 The Best Horse Racing Strategy & Analytics (Gambling Vlog #61) Proven Horse Race Betting System Racing's Dirty Secrets starring Brian Wright, Kieren Fallon & Dermot Browne Best Sports Betting Book

1-16 of 397 results for "horse racing handicapping books" Skip to main search results Amazon Prime. Eligible for Free Shipping. Free Shipping by Amazon Betting on Horse Racing For Dummies. by Richard Eng | Apr 1, 2005. 4.5 out of 5 stars 168. Paperback $16.53 $ 16. 53 $19.99 $19.99. Get it as This book is designed for new horse race players who want to go from beginning to winning. The information contained in a question and answer format explains the basics of wagering on horses; how to place a wager; and strategies for picking winners. The author has been playing the horses for over... Best Books For Sports Betting. Top 10 Sports Betting Books #1 Scorecasting: The Hidden Influences Behind How Sports Are Played and Games are Won by Tobias J. Moskowitz & L. Jon Wertheim. ”This book attempts to overturn some of the most cherished truisms of sports, and reveal the hidden forces that shape how basketball, baseball, football, and hockey games are played, won and lost.” Books Advanced Search New Releases Best Sellers & More Children's Books Textbooks Textbook Rentals Best Books of the Month > Amazon Best Sellers Our most popular products based on sales. Updated hourly. Betting on Horse Racing For Dummies Richard Eng. 4.5 out of 5 stars 169. Kindle Edition. Horse Race Betting A Systematic Approach to Beating the BookiesLearn how to make money fro betting on horse racesThis is the book the betting industry don't want you to readLast year in the UK the British gambling public lost £12bn.

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Free Horse Racing Betting Systems that Work Speed System #1

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