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@AP: RT @AP_Sports: America’s major professional sports leagues are split on how to get a piece of the action from legal sports betting spreading across the nation. by @wayneparryac https://t.co/WKC3Ym5aAv
@AP: RT @AP_Sports: America’s major professional sports leagues are split on how to get a piece of the action from legal sports betting spreading across the nation. by @wayneparryac https://t.co/W0Pyb1wVDa
Investors who have flooded into the oil markets to bet on a rebound in crude prices are risking big losses, say commodity specialists, as the exchange traded funds they use are swept up in the current market turmoil. The United States Oil fund, the largest oil ETF known as USO, saw inflows of about $1.5bn last week, as US crude prices hit their lowest levels since the early 2000s on plunging demand. Professional traders said retail investors, in particular, were trying to pick the turning point for oil, betting that the market will recover quickly once coronavirus-fighting measures are eased. But prices had further to fall. On Monday, West Texas Intermediate, the US benchmark, crashed below zero for the first time in history, dropping as low as minus $40 as traders dumped the contract for delivery in May. The June contract, where most of USO’s investments currently sit, lost 15 per cent to about $21 a barrel. Investors are not just at risk of placing a wrong-way bet, traders say, as oil contracts do not trade like equities. Instead, they expire monthly so the underlying crude can be delivered to buyers — something specialists fear could be poorly understood by greenhorn investors. “Investment in ETFs currently harbours high risks to investors who might be tempted to passively invest in oil due to ultra-low prices,” said Michel Salden, head of commodities at Vontobel Asset Management. Losses can occur when tracker funds have to “roll” their exposure when contracts expire, Mr Salden said. If the oil market structure shifts into “contango” — an industry term for when spot prices are trading below contracts for future delivery — then an ETF might have to sell its contracts at the lower price, then buy the next month’s contract at a higher price just to maintain its holdings. Ole Hansen, Saxo Bank’s head of commodity strategy, said that the largest long-only oil ETFs had seen their net holdings rise by 400 per cent in the past month. These ETFs, he warned, “are predominantly positioned at the front of the futures curve and will be exposed to rolling losses every month until the market fundamentals eventually stabilise”. That process “could take several months,” he added. USO was the fourth most actively traded ETF in the US on Monday morning, with more than half a billion dollars changing hands before lunchtime in New York, as the WTI spot price plummeted. Investors’ move into USO is reminiscent of 2009, when many investors bought the ETF as crude prices slipped to near $30 a barrel, before almost tripling over the next 12 months as the world economy emerged from the depths of the financial crisis. Investors found their ETF returns did not match the oil-price gains, as they had lost a large chunk of their investment each month through the process of rolling contracts. The USO fund, launched in 2006, typically absorbs cash from investors when crude prices hit bottom. Inflows previously peaked in early 2009 and in early 2016, just after oil-price crashes. Since March, the number of shares outstanding in the fund has doubled as new cash comes in. As of Friday, the fund held the equivalent of 146.5m barrels of WTI crude futures for June delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange, a division of CME Group. That was more than a quarter of the total open interest in the contract, exchange data showed. Nymex market rules impose “accountability levels” of 10m barrels equivalent for most US crude futures contracts, above which traders can be ordered to reduce their position. CME declined to comment on whether it had communicated with USO. The US Commodity Futures Trading Commission, a government regulator, has proposed a 6m-barrel limit on individual fund positions in US crude on the brink of delivery, but refrained from setting caps for positions in contracts for delivery later on. Some traders say the USO fund is big enough to exacerbate price moves between different contract months as it rolls out of one position and into another. “That definitely can put downward pressure on the market,” said Joe Raia, a former senior executive in energy futures at Nymex and Goldman Sachs. USO announced last Thursday that it was moving 20 per cent of the WTI contracts it holds into later months, in a move widely believed to have been influenced by the blowout in the spread between crude prices. The position “just got to the size where it makes sense to spread it out,” said John Love, chief executive of US Commodity Funds, which runs the USO fund, on Friday. The USO next rolls its contracts on May 5 to May 8. The fund extended that process to four days early last decade to make it harder for other traders to front-run its moves. Additional reporting by Gregory Meyer in New York
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. ———————————————————————— 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 Cavalierlatifundias. 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. ———————————————————————— 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.
I know what you’re thinking. It’s 2020. Who the hell still uses fax machines? You’re right obviously. There can’t be many people who are still using them in this day and age, but apparently, my office is one of them. They don’t actually use it of course , but it sits there in the printing room, unplugged and gathering dust. For some reason, nobody ever dared throw it away. My guess is that nobody from management ever took enough interest, or were worried one of the old guard would throw a hissy fit if it disappeared one day. I suppose it’s one of those relics people keep around “just in case”. Whatever the reason, we’ve got one. And despite working in coding, whenever something electrical breaks in the office, I get asked if I can help fix it. (Here’s a life lesson - never show anyone at work you’re good with computers. Suddenly you’ll be working two jobs for the price of one.) Since I’m a sucker for a pretty woman, and too polite to say no, about four months ago when a pretty woman asked if I could fix the fax machine, you bet your ass I quit scrolling on reddit and headed to the printer room. Turned out to be an easy fix - it was just out of ink. But, since pretty much all our cartridges are those rip off branded ones that only work with a specific printer, sourcing new ink meant I had to order some online. After searching the cubicles I finally found the girl to let her know it should be working in a couple of days. I was hoping for “My hero” and possibly a bit of light swooning, but she didn’t even look up from her phone and all I got was a “K, thanks”. She’d just been asked by her manager to do an inventory check and passed it down the line to me. Great. This was back when Covid-19 was still just a rising trend on twitter, before the world went into full blown panic mode. Despite my best efforts to ignore current events, I still got sucked into the standard water cooler conversations that everyone was having, and I forgot all about the fax machine until the ink arrived the next week. Even after filling the fax machine up, one of its little lights was still flashing. The machine was so old, whatever symbol had been placed directly under the electric diodes had long since faded. Despite the missing symbols, I realised it was trying to print something but had no paper. Ink and paper. Heroic fix, right? The moment I loaded it with A4, this ancient little machine snatched the paper and began churning out page after page. It was that archaic nineties sound, when you could hear the ink plotter whirring back and forth. Just printing one page seemed to take almost a minute, but the pages soon piled up and just kept on coming. I supposed that even though the fax machine had been off all these years, it had just instantly resumed whatever print queue was still in its internal storage. If the fax number had been live all this time, it could well be processing every single file that had been sent to our company fax number since nineteen-ninety-whenever. Looking down at the pages it had spat out, I could see how it ran out of ink. The pages were full black and white pictures. The resolution was terrible though. I hovered around for a minute, but this machine would not stop printing. Flicking through the images, I checked to see if someone had accidentally punched in too many zeroes when they chose how many copies to print, but each page was different. They all followed the same format though, a full black and white image, and a big number in the top right corner. I puzzled over it, trying to make patterns out of the numbers, but they were all over the place. 2 782 45 99999999999999 1.315 800 The images didn’t seem to form any sort of logical grouping either. They weren’t adverts or presentation materials. They didn’t look professional or creative. They were just random. People. Things. One was just a weird floaty ball thing; it looked like a space hopper, but for aliens. I let the pile of paper flop back down and scrolled on my phone. Eventually it would print everything, surely? I was getting a little bit too distracted by the girls of ‘GoneMild’ when an abrupt halt to the fax machine’s endless whirring made me look up. It had finally stopped printing. When I moved closer to look, the light was flashing again. Out of ink.... Grumbling to myself, I headed to the supply cupboard to grab the bottle I’d bought. Luckily, I’d had to buy in bulk, so still had plenty left. Since the fax machine was running low on paper, I topped that up too. Knowing I couldn’t spend the whole day standing next to this fax machine looking at abundant cleavage, I scooped up the images, set them to one side and let the fax machine do its thing. Just before I left for the day, I went to go check on it. It had stopped printing, but only because it had run out of ink. Again. Cursing whichever moron had sent an entire graphic novel collection to the fax machine twenty years ago, I tried to see if I could somehow clear the print queue, but the buttons didn’t do anything and there was no display panel, just lights that blinked when it needed something. There’s a joke about my ex-girlfriend there somewhere, but let’s not go there. Figuring maybe it would finish overnight, I moved the fresh stack of printed pictures - still just numbers and images - next to the previous pile and reloaded the fax machine with ink and paper. It dutifully resumed whirring and spitting out new images. It wasn’t a surprise the next day to find that the fax machine’s thirst for ink (and my time) had not yet been quenched. It almost seemed proud of its new collection of prints, and I quickly flicked through to see if this pile was any different, but it was just as nonsensical and bizarre as the rest. I could - and probably should - have left it. But I was curious to see how much longer this queue would last before I reached the end. Without sitting there and counting them, there must have been easily three hundred pages of weird images. How many more could there be? Besides, the ink I’d bought wouldn’t be compatible with any of the other printers our company owned, so I might as well use it. I topped up the machine again and left it humming and chewing through a fresh pack of A4. Halfway through the day, there was a knock at my office door, and an extremely pissed off woman from upper management asked me what the hell I was printing on company time. She practically dragged me to the printing room, whilst I did a less-than-spectacular attempt at explaining the situation. “Look at this!” she said, gesturing wildly at the fax machine. The light was blinking again, as if to taunt me. On top of the fresh stack of paper was the number ‘84’, and an image of a man’s face, close up, clearly in pain. Agony might have been a better way to describe it. Even with the pixelated and crappy monotone quality of the printer, you could see the man’s facial muscles contorting, eyes clamped shut, teeth bared. “I haven’t printed any of this,” I said quickly, holding up my hands, “this is just whatever is left from the last time it was on.” “Even so, you can’t just leave them lying around,” she hissed, splaying the pages and pulling them out to show me. I’d just been looking for patterns, but she was searching for offensive images, and in the stack of hundreds, there were plenty to choose from. Images of fire and blood, people wearing sinister masks, dead bodies just lying in the street. When she pulled them out and lumped them together, it didn’t look good. “This is completely unacceptable! Get rid of them.” She picked up the rest of the papers and dumped them in my hands. As she scrambled around, the only thing I could think to mutter was “it’s still not finished printing.” “Just leave it,” she snapped, pulling out the plug and sticking the fax machine on its old dusty shelf, “it’s 2020, who still uses these things?” She was right, of course. I’d known the only reason they’d wanted it turned on was for an inventory check. Nobody actually wanted to use it. But I guess programmers are naturally curious about how things work. Or I am, at least. I still wanted to see how deep this particular rabbit hole went, but it wasn’t worth losing my job over. I’d not really noticed how bad some of the images were. I turned the pages upside down as I walked back to my office, to avoid anyone else seeing them. Hovering over the bin, I was half tempted to keep them. They were kind of cool, in a weird way. But what was I going to do with hundreds of random images and numbers? I dropped the whole stack into the bin, and forgot about it. I browsed reddit, and when my colleague came in we talked about how crazy this whole coronavirus thing was. That was before the lockdown. We started working from home before the Government shut down the country. It’s been a weird few months - like living in a really boring movie - but I was actually kind of glad to get back to work. I’m a creature of routine, I guess. Not everybody was as eager or as willing to go back to the office as I was, so the place was pretty deserted when I got to work. I did a little bit of catching up with the few faces I saw and knew, then sat down at my computer. No word of a lie, it actually had cobwebs on it. I grabbed some tissues from my drawer and wiped the screen, then as I slid across to throw it in the bin - I froze. The papers from the fax machine. In all the lockdown craziness, I’d forgotten all about them, but even the cleaners had been sent home when it all kicked off. The papers were still in my bin. The top page was still the one that I'd been yelled at for. The pained face, twisted in an excruciating grimace. Only there was a difference now that made the skin on my arms tingle. I recognised the face. The whole world recognised that face now. On a four month old piece of paper, printed in monotone black, was George Floyd. When I’d first seen this image, I had no idea who he was. It wasn’t the face the TV was showing though; the normal photo of him looking into the camera, alive and well. It was the face that you had to go on internet videos to see. Pinned down. Knee on his neck. Dying. For a moment, me and George just stared at each other. Then I reached down and slowly pulled all the papers out of the bin, shaking my head. Was I remembering things wrong? Had George died before lockdown? Even if he had, why was a fax machine printing pictures of his death? I pulled up google, and checked. George Floyd died May 25th 2020. We left the office the first week of March. I just sat there, slowly spinning in my chair, completely unable to process the image in front of me. Then I remembered there were hundreds more pages underneath. Scattering them around the table, my mouth hung open as I began to recognise things I didn’t know the last time I saw them. The weird blob that had just looked like an alien space hopper, my eyes now instantly saw it was the coronavirus, viewed under a microscope. If I’d have been paying more attention at the time, I’d have probably known. There were riots and protests, a police officer with bullet wounds in his chest, a black teenager hung in a noose, the dead bodies in the street were wearing face masks. A shiver wrapped its way around my entire body as cold realisation spilled over me. Only a few images made any sense to me, but every single one had happened after it had been printed. It couldn’t be right. Someone must have changed the pictures. They were so low quality, I must just be seeing things. I snatched the picture of George up. It was him. There was no denying it. It was him. My eyes flicked to the ‘84’ at the top right corner. Should I put them in order? I slid the papers around, searching for an ‘83’ or ‘85’, then I paused. He died almost three months after this was printed… Pulling up the calendar on my computer, I started counting backwards from May 25th. As my finger moved closer and closer to the week we’d left the office, I forced myself to count out loud, but each number just came out in a strangled whisper. “Eighty-one, eighty-two, eighty-three…” My finger pointed to March 3rd and fell away. I couldn’t physically say the number. But it was the same as the one printed in black above George Floyd’s final moments. Casting my mind back, I tried desperately to remember what day I printed off these pages. I knew I got the ink delivery on a Monday, and I was printing for one more day before I got told to stop. March 3rd was a Tuesday. The fax machine hadn’t just printed the future. It had told me how many days until it happened. As if it had been trying to warn me. In that moment, I became extremely aware of how cold it was in my office, and how quiet. My hands slid by themselves to the pile of papers, rummaging around until I could find another to verify. All the rioters were too vague; I needed something more specific. At first I passed straight over an image of Big Ben and empty London streets, but then I realised that it could represent the UK going into lockdown. Only when I pulled out the paper did I see the number. 31080 I couldn’t remember exactly how many days had passed between printing and lockdown, but somehow that seemed a little high. Maybe my day theory was just a coincidence with George. Still, here I was surrounded by hundreds of images that the fax machine had somehow known would happen before they did. I was just about to go and check the machine was still in the printing room, when my eyes landed on a page that made me pause. It showed a man in an untucked shirt and jeans carrying a large box. One that looked a lot like the fax machine. And the man looked a lot like me, even down to the clothes I was wearing. Despite the cold air, I was starting to sweat. Both my arms were trembling with faint shivers, and I puffed out a deep lungful of air, half to hear something familiar and natural, half to break the silence that was digging under my skin. I ignored the man who looked like me as best I could, and concentrated on the number. 128. Frowning, I turned back to the calendar and counted the days. One hundred and twenty eight days from March 3rd would be tomorrow. So, tomorrow I’d grab the fax machine? In the clothes I was wearing today? If I’d not seen the image, I would have gone to grab it and bring it into the office right now. Looking back at the picture, it was impossible to tell where I was going or even where I was. The background might as well have been a snowstorm for all the grainy blots and faded ink. Why was it printing pictures of me, or at least, someone who looked like me? And why such a mundane event? Fighting the urge to rip that page into little pieces, I decided to go to the printing room and see if the fax machine was still there. Weirdly, I was sort of relieved when I saw it was. Maybe I was worried someone might have taken it, and the mystery would be over. Raiding the supply cupboard for the remaining bottle of ink, I scooped the fax machine up in one arm and headed back to the office. I didn’t want to hold it like the man in the picture was, but because of its awkward shape and weight, I ended up doing exactly that. Placing it down on my desk, I unravelled the cord and plugged the fax machine in, topping it up with ink and paper. Almost immediately, it resumed screeching and chewing through the paper. Mind racing, I looked at all the printed images and numbers, spread chaotically all over my desk. Snatching up the image that looked like me, I clutched it in both hands and stared at it so hard, my eyes must have been close to boring holes right through it. It didn’t look like me. It was me. There was no denying it. Desperately glancing back and forth at the number and my calendar, I realised that most of these pages had been printed on Monday 2nd March, not Tuesday 3rd of March. By searching through them like a frantic idiot, I’d mixed them all up. If this one of me had been printed on the Monday, the number was accurate. 128 days until it had come true. The machine had predicted exactly what I’d do, and even though I saw the image, I still did it. I threw up into the bin. Some part of my brain had still been holding onto the possibility that somebody was messing with me, but the page clutched in my shaking hands was proof that this was something else entirely. The fax machine was printing the future. Hundreds of pages of events that happened after they were printed. I threw up again, dry heaving until there was nothing left in my stomach. Wiping my mouth, I screwed up the image of myself and the fax machine and tossed it in the bin. It wasn’t like the others, and I had to wrestle with myself not to grab a lighter and set the thing on fire. George Floyd and the others had been creepy. The image with me in it - that I’d literally just fulfilled - took my soul and shook it. I was sweating so much I began to stain the other papers as I ruffled through them. All the images I recognised seemed significant for one reason or another. The kind of events that history would document. How was I included? Fumbling through my colleague’s drawers, I found what I was looking for. His cigarettes. I normally only smoke when I’m drunk, but needed something to stop my brain racing. As I lit it and took a deep drag of hot vapourised tar, I dimly realised I’d never had a cigarette sober, and there was a reason for that. Puffing out thick plumes of foul tasting smoke and biting down a cough, I searched through the other images. How many had happened? How many were still to come? Were there any that were wrong? Since I’d already messed up the divide between Monday and Tuesday, I decided to take out the ones I knew had happened. It helped a little bit, and stacked together I could see my theory about the numbers equalling days needed some refinement. Images of the riots following George’s death had all sorts of digits on, ranging from 2.6 to 7862027. Since I knew they’d definitely happened, I played around with the numbers a bit, and realised that if I treated the big numbers as seconds or minutes, they would fit the timeline much better. The small numbers generally worked out as months or weeks. Except for some that I could tell were actually days. It didn’t take long for my head to start hurting, and I didn’t think it was the cigarette. So the image showed what would happen, and the number referred to when, in varying time formats. I was trying to think how I could organise the remaining images when the fax machine stopped printing. Out of ink again. God dammit. The top page was just money on a counter, and I noticed something that had eluded me on the other images. The fax machine didn’t print text. Other than the number in the corner, there were no letters or symbols of any kind on the image itself. The bank notes were blank, with Queen Elizabeth’s face the defining feature that let me know it was currency. The top left number on this one was very small. 0.0329 Placing the stack neatly on my colleagues desk - I did not want to mix these up with the others - I reached for the bottle of ink and my heart sank. It was practically empty, with only a few dribbles of black ink at the bottom. Immediately, I jumped online to buy more. With delivery times, I’d likely have to wait a couple of days to print more of the future. I bit off a laugh. What was I thinking? I couldn’t just sit on this, this was more important than some office schmuck waiting for a parcel. I needed to tell someone. The government needed this, or the UN or something. Someone who wasn’t me. Pouring the last remnants of ink into the fax machine, I took out my phone. Who to call? My boss? The police? My local councillor? My fingers hovered over the numbers, wondering how I’d prove it. All my proof had already happened. Only that angry upper management woman had seen them beforehand, and she didn’t exactly seem like someone who I could get easily get on board. I didn’t even know her name. Paralysed, I looked back at the papers, as if they might help me. The one with the money. That was a small number. It should be happening soon. The currency was British. That meant I’d got both space and time within at least some close proximity. But what did it mean? Money on a counter. That could be anything. Everybody in the country had money. I could reach into my wallet right now and put money on the- I took out my wallet and opened it up. Two fivers and a twenty. Comparing the size and the pictures didn’t take long to see that the image showed the same. There were coins on the counter too. I unzipped my wallet and began to dig out my coins. I had four, and the image only had three. Relief washed over me as I figured it was likely just an extreme coincidence. Then, as I pulled out the coins to check closer, one slipped from my fingers and clattered to the floor, bouncing and rolling away. I lurched after it, but it disappeared underneath a filing cabinet. Cursing, I examined my remaining coins. They were identical to those in the image. The one under the filing cabinet wasn’t there. This was my money. The fax machine sputtered to a stop and I leapt out my chair, half in shock, half spurred to action. It was my money in the picture. The fax machine was predicting what I’d do again. I placed my money on the table and stepped back, waiting for something to happen. Nothing did, of course. I even tried rearranging it, to closer match the image. Nothing. Looking at the fresh papers, it hadn’t even finished printing the latest one. It was still half stuck in the machine. I carefully pulled it out, and my blood went cold. At the bottom of a set of stairs, was a tangled heap of limbs. The face hadn’t been printed yet, but I recognised the untucked shirt. The trainers too, I recognised, even underneath the blood. And tauntingly, just on the edge of the image, was the fax machine. This was me. Dead. Swallowing, I became painfully aware of the number printed above the image. 6. Six? Six what, days? Years? Minutes? Seconds? If I’d had anything left to vomit, it would have come out. I needed to get out of here. I needed to take this machine and prove it was real to someone else or smash it to bits and throw it in a river or burn it or - Forcing myself to take long, deep breaths, I studied the image. What if seeing this image made me panic and leave with the fax machine? What if, in my blind panic, I slipped on the stairs, and that’s what made the image come true? Calming down a little, I realised I could just wait. There were no stairs in my office. If I just didn’t leave for a little bit longer, that ruled out seconds and minutes. I still had seven hours of my shift left, so I could rule out hours too. That just left days, weeks, months and years to worry about, right? And I could worry about them later. So I sat still for a few minutes, sickly smile growing on my face. After what could well have been six minutes, one of the lights on the fax machine lit up, blinking red. That particular LED had never lit up before, and I found myself wishing I could have some idea what symbol would have been underneath it. I decided it was because I’d beaten it. I’d not followed the future it had predicted for me, and so it wasn’t happy. Jokingly, I fed the paper back to it. “Want this back?” I said out loud with a smile. My smile shattered when the fax machine took it. It snatched the paper out my hand and garbled it in reverse, spitting out a clean white paper back into the feed tray. There was the briefest pause, and then it began printing again. Once more, it ran out of ink before finishing, and the image came out incomplete. It was almost identical. A mangled body wearing my clothes, blood covered pages scattered all around, and a fax machine lying on its side. Instead of stairs, skid marks of a tyre ran underneath the pages and my body.. My face hadn’t printed this time either, and the number 0.00476 hung ominously above me. Part of me wanted to immediately run the numbers, to see how long I had to avoid roads to stop this becoming true. But part of me knew the truth. The similarity of the images was too striking. The exact same prediction, just a different cause in a different place. Same death, just slightly later. The fax machine was apparently convinced this was my destiny. On my computer, I closed the calculator and opened a Word document. This Word document. In a moment I’ll save it and email it to you. Please note the timestamp. I’ve managed to push back my destiny once. The fax machine has shown me what to avoid and roughly how long for. The blinking red light even tells me when it’s safe. I’ve got a few strategies to survive, but this is my failsafe in case I’m wrong. It’s not like I can stay in this office forever. The pictures are important, and I’m amongst them, which means my actions are important. I can’t sit in my office hiding away, whilst the literal future of humanity sits in my hands. I’m going to get more ink. *** [ error code 54 ] (846) [ highlighted for retrieval and clean up ]
Day One Here Day Two Here JULY 3RD A FEW HOURS AFTER MIDNIGHT The night fighting on Culp’s Hill was slow and torturous. The Confederate assault from Johnson’s division had to cross rough terrain and a river before it even started going uphill, which at night was an incredibly miserable task even without Union troops firing at them. Union skirmishers played hell with their progress, and after brushing them aside, Johnson bumped into a defensive line that his Union counterpart Geary had spent all day perfecting. As mentioned yesterday, their only success was to grab tiny footholds on the Union side of Rock Creek, which ran between the two hills. As the fighting died away and the bone weary soldiers on both sides crashed asleep hard, Lee plotted. He smelled blood; on July 1st, they’d carved up the Union men good and drove them from the field. Yesterday, on the Union left, they’d wrecked a Union corps under Sickles, smashed into the Union center and almost broke it (damn those blue belly reinforcements showing up in the knick of time), and even gained a toehold on the Union right. The men’s morale was high. Lee decided to repeat yesterday’s plan, but better executed. Simultaneous attacks on both flanks should overwhelm them, and J.E.B. Stuart could make it up to all of them by chasing down the shattered Army of the Potomac to scoop up all the heavy guns and supplies and wounded that could not retreat rapidly. To which end, Lee sent Stuart on a super wide flanking attack around the Union right so as to be in position to strike at the right moment. Lee generated the orders in written form and sent them off by messenger to his corps commanders. Meanwhile, Meade had another war council face to face with his generals. They decided to stand pat, to neither attack the Confederate positions nor retreat back towards Washington. The terrain massively favored them and Lee would (more likely than not) walk into their gunsights again. A defensive stance, however, doesn’t mean pure passivity. A few hours after the Confederate assault petered out and Lee’s decision was made, the Union started a counterattack on a small scale. ———————————————————————— DAWN At dawn, the Union right flared up. Fresh troops had marched in overnight and Meade wanted his damn hill back. The extreme end of the Confederate left flank (which is of course opposite the Union right) found itself getting hammered in front of Culp’s Hill by artillery from the Baltimore Pike. Clearly, such a bombardment was meant to be followed up with an assault to retake the bridgehead. Johnson, having received his orders from Lee and being under the impression that Longstreet was attacking in tandem a mile and a half away on the other side of the hills, attacked Culp’s Hill again before the Union could attack him first. The plan was what the plan was; pressure here, successful or not, was needed for someone to break through somewhere. But Longstreet wasn’t attacking. Later on, Longstreet would claim to have never received the order to advance, but the sources I have assert this is untrue- he received the order, he just didn’t do anything about it. Instead of spending the night getting his troops on line to attack Little Round Top and the southern chunk of Cemetery Ridge, he just sat tight and did nothing. Oceans of ink have been spilled over the years speculating as to why. The Lost Cause narrative asserts that Longstreet was a Yankee-loving turncoat who deliberately sabotaged Lee’s plan and lost the battle on purpose. Others think that Longstreet's conviction that attacking here was insane and that they should fall back and look for battle somewhere else on more favorable terms had been strengthened by the results of July 2nd, and as such was dragging his heels trying to not attack again. Or maybe it was just the general haze of Civil War era incompetence taking its toll again. ———————————————————————— MORNING As Johnson’s men gamely attacked the untakeable Culp’s Hill and were cut down by accurate rifle fire and close range cannon fire, Lee hunted down Longstreet to demand an explanation for his borderline insubordinate refusal to attack. Longstreet pitched his idea again. He’d spent all night scouting the Union line. The enemy line was unbreakable. They shouldn’t try to attack them here. They should slip around the Union left, south of Big Round Top, to threaten the Union supply lines. Do that, they would make the Union respond to them, fight them on more equal terms. That’s the plan Longstreet had been preparing for all night, not a suicidal- Lee cut him off with a raised fist. There would be no tricky maneuver around the flank. They would assault the Union line under the present conditions. To the north, Johnson was still getting his teeth kicked in. Lee sent orders to call off the assault, but it would take a while for the messenger to get there and for Johnson to get word to his brigades to stand down and fall back. Meanwhile, across the way on Cemetery Ridge, Meade stalked his line, double checking all the positions for any confusions or errors to correct, emitting confidence and good cheer. Lee scoped out the Union center personally, being in the area anyway. His complex double flanking maneuver wasn't working. A new plan was needed. Lee figured that Meade had reinforced Little Round Top and the surrounding area yesterday, and that those troops hadn’t gone anywhere since. The Union defense at Culp’s Hill has been similarly fierce that morning, fierce enough to threaten Johnson with an offensive. If both flanks were strong... the center must be weak. Yesterday, a small Confederate brigade had crossed the Emmitsburg road under fire and smashed into the Union line on Cemetery Ridge, just south of Cemetery Hill. They had straight up routed the enemy- had there been more men available to back them up and follow through, that small brigade might have won the battle outright instead of being pushed back as they’d been. Lee was satisfied. The Union center was brittle, undermanned, and the best point to hit it was at that same place. Meanwhile, J.E.B. Stuart was stepping off on his flanking ride. ———————————————————————— LATE MORNING Johnson’s last big push up Culp’s Hill was heroic. By that time, all of them knew how strong the Union position was. They surely walked into this with their eyes open. A three brigade front set up for a shock attack, backed up by four more to exploit the hoped-for opening. Among them was the famous Stonewall Brigade, Jackson's old unit that he’d raised up and trained personally before being tapped for higher command. The Stonewall Brigade was, arguably, the elite of the Confederate army. The year before, they’d outmaneuvered and outfought a Union stab at Richmond coming through the Shenandoah valley. The charge was cut down and butchered like all the others, and Johnson fell back. Williams, whose batteries on the Baltimore Pike had kicked things off that morning, got a little overexcited and counterattacked without orders. His orders to attack the Confederate flank left his subordinates sickened with dread, but were obeyed nonetheless. Once the Union counterattack was butchered in retaliation by the entrenched Confederates, combat on the Union right ceased after six straight hours of gory, hopeless combat. Meanwhile, Confederate artillery under the command of Colonel Alexander set itself up on a mile wide front, all carefully sited and positioned both for protection and for good lines of sight on the Union center. A brief but fierce artillery duel kicked off as each side tried to knock out the other’s firing points before the big moment, but was soon cut off to preserve ammo. Lee mustered his available forces, bringing in troops that were only now straggling in and combining them with some units that had fought the day before. It was a haphazard and frankly half-assed piece of staff work- veteran units who hadn’t fought at all in the last two days were left in reserve, while exhausted troops who’d already suffered 50% casualties were included. Many of the brigades who were to charge Cemetery Ridge had green colonels in charge because their generals had been killed or wounded the day before. The gap between the northern half of the assaulting force and the southern half was four football fields long, and nobody seemed to notice or care. The division commander to lead the north side of the assault, General Pettigrew, was selected not for any rational consideration or advantage, but because he happened to be standing nearby when the decision was being made. Longstreet, who by this point wanted nothing to do with any of it, was placed in overall command. It took a few hours to organize this clusterfuck into something resembling a coherent unit- three divisions spread over a mile wide front, with Pickett on the left, Pettigrew on the right, and Trimble behind them to provide some depth to the big push. There is no particularly good reason why the upcoming Pickett’s Charge is known as “Pickett’s Charge”. Pickett was not actually in charge of it, or even in charge of most of it. He was a division commander who had never seen proper combat before- in every battle since 1861, his unit had been held in reserve or absent. This was to be his first chance to get in this war. I suspect it’s known as Pickett’s Charge because he and his men were Virginians, and it was fellow Virginians who would pour over the battle to find out why the wrong side won. Accordingly, they conceived of it as being a Virginian affair, overshadowing the Tennesseans, Alabamans, North Carolinians, and Mississippians who formed the other two-thirds of the attack. I was surprised to learn that we have a hard time figuring out how many men were actually involved in Pickett’s Charge (this being a basic narrative history, I am sticking with the common name for it despite the inaccuracy); I attribute this to the confusion involved in organizing it. I’ve heard as low as 12,500 men and as high as 15,000. I’m going with 14,000 men because it’s a nice even number that is approximately midway between the upper and lower limit, so don’t mistake my choice as being accurate or even evidence-based per se. Regardless, the agreed upon number of Union defenders is 6,500. The Confederates would outnumber the Union by about 2-1 or greater at the point of contact. These days, a lot of people show up at the battlefield and stare out from Cemetery Ridge at Spangler Woods where Pettigrew would have emerged from (or stand in Spangler’s Woods and stare out at Cemetery Ridge, same difference) and wonder what the hell was going through Lee’s head. The ground there is now flat and devoid of cover, the exact kind of terrain that time and time again had proven to be a death sentence for infantry assaults. The answer is that the ground changed between 1863 and today. Just before World War One ended in 1918, the field over which Pickett charged was artificially flattened for tank training. Before that, it was the kind of rolling terrain that Buford’s skirmishers had exploited on day one- an observer from a distance would see the troops disappear and reappear as they went over and down each gentle slope. The 14,000 attackers would have some cover as they advanced- not perfect terrain to keep immune from artillery and bullets, but not explicit suicide either. ———————————————————————— EARLY AFTERNOON By 1 PM, Alexander had his guns set up the way he liked them. What followed at his command was the single largest coordinated artillery mission that the Western Hemisphere had ever seen. In the south, cannons at the Peach Orchard suppressed the Union firing point on Little Round Top. All along Seminary Ridge from whence the charge would spring, cannons lined up practically wheel to wheel for a mile, aimed at wrecking Cemetery Ridge. Longstreet was in what you might call a high stress kind of mood. He was having second, third, fourth, and fifth thoughts about attacking, but orders were orders and he was in charge of this damned charge. As the guns began their bombardment, Longstreet did something that frankly goes beyond the pale of any command decision I’ve ever heard of. The film Gettysburg and the novel it’s based on cast Longstreet in a very sympathetic light, as a kind of deliberate pushback against the reductive myth that Longstreet was personally responsible for losing the battle and by extension the war, leaving Lee off the hook to stay firmly in the saintly canon of the Lost Cause. But here, Longstreet indisputably abdicates any pretense of the responsibility of command. He fired an order off to Colonel Alexander, telling him:
If the artillery fire does not have the effect to drive off the enemy, or greatly demoralize him, so as to make our effort pretty certain, I would prefer that you should not advise General Pickett to make the charge. I shall . . . expect you to let General Pickett know when the moment offers.
Allow me to reiterate in case you were reading this on autopilot. Longstreet, the man in charge of the whole offensive, was telling a lowly artillery colonel that the decision when and if to attack was on him and no one else. Alexander was a subject matter expert on artillery and not infantry for a reason. This order hit him from out of left field. He wrote back for clarification, and the professional in him mentioned that since the plan is to use every single artillery shell they can spare, if there is any alternative plan to charging Cemetery Hill at the end of the bombardment then they’d better tell him before he runs out of ammo. And Longstreet reiterated his first order. He told Alexander to advise General Pickett whether or not to attack. And with that on his shoulders, Alexander gave the order to open fire. All told, somewhere between 150 and 170 guns opened up at the same moment. The 75 Union cannons they had on hand briefly engaged in counter-battery fire, before being ordered to go quiet and save ammunition for the infantry assault to come. For about an hour, the Union troops just had to sit still and take what the Rebel had to give them. What Lee was doing was classic Napoleonic tactics. Massing artillery against the weakest point on the enemy line was literally by the book soldiering. The problem, as was noted here before, was that technology had changed. Napoleonic could bring his cannon close to the frontline with the reasonable expectation that they wouldn’t be shot, since smoothbore muskets are basically harmless from 200 yards away. But that was no longer the case. The long stand off distance that the enemy rifles dictated meant that the cannonfire was proportionally less accurate and devastating. The smoke covering the field concealed the truth from the Confederates- their artillery fire was off. Most of the shells flew high overhead and exploded behind Cemetery Ridge. Some shells hit the target area- Union men did die screaming by the score. But the positions on Cemetery Hill were only lightly damaged, and the units manning them were intact and cohesive. Most of the damage done was to the rear echelon types- surgeons, supply wagoneers, staff officers, that kind of thing. Such men were massacred as the shells aimed at men a quarter mile away arced over and found marks elsewhere. Meade, of course, was on hand, showing a brave face and cracking some jokes about a similar moment in the Mexican-American War 15 years back. Throughout the hour, as his line endured the steel hailstorm, Meade’s engineer mind was working. He’d already suspected that Lee was about to hit his center- he’d predicted as much the night before- and now the shot placements confirmed it. He was already ordering troops into position, getting ready to reinforce the line on Cemetery Ridge if needed. He hedged his bets, putting them in a position to relieve Cemetery Hill as well, just in case. Little Round Top became somewhat less defended as men marched out, using the high ground to mask their redeployment. Irresponsible and insubordinate though Longstreet was at that moment, he was right. Lee’s improvised plan had already failed, though it hadn’t happened yet. Pickett’s Charge wasn’t going to slam into a fragmented and demoralized Union line. It was heading into a mile long, mile wide kill zone backed up by a defence in depth. ———————————————————————— Pickett’s Charge Confederates were getting mangled before the charge even started. Union artillery fire reached out and touched out them in Spangler’s Woods, rolling solid iron shot and explosive shells into their huddled ranks. Longstreet rode the line, exposing himself to the artillery fire to set an example of courage. The men didn’t need such an example- or rather, they’ve seen such examples in a dozen battles over the last two years and have already learned valor as a second language- but there’s something to be said for showing the groundpounders that their boss is in the wrong end of the shooting gallery the same way that they are. Just before 2 p.m., Alexander decided if it’s gonna happen, it’d have to be now. He needed at least a small reserve of shells to function after the battle and he’s running out fast. He dashed off a note to Pickett telling him to step off. In keeping with the standard of Confederate comms thus far, Pickett then took Alexander’s note to Longstreet in person for confirmation, because nobody had told him that Longstreet was trying to dodge the responsibility of command. Longstreet was desperate for an out, and in one crazed leap of illogic he thought he found one. Alexander was low on shells, with only a tiny reserve of ammunition left over for self-defense! Longstreet issued orders to halt in place and delay some more, so that they could replenish their ammo chests from their strategic reserves. I really feel for Alexander, man. I've had bosses like that too. Alexander had to break the news to Longstreet that there was no strategic reserve, he already told him, they were shooting every round they got. Longstreet was shocked- apparently nobody on Lee's staff had been paying attention to how fast they'd been burning through their artillery rounds. (Meade's staff paid attention to such banal details- that's why they now had tons of ammunition standing by their guns on Cemetery Ridge, patiently waiting for something valuable to shoot at). Even then, Longstreet couldn’t bring himself to actually say the words to order the attack. He just nodded, mute and numb. At 2 p.m., the attack started. 14,000 men rose up and walked forward, a giant line of infantry one mile across. In lieu of specific instructions about where they were going and how to get there, the order was to aim for a copse of trees on the objective- an easy visual marker that was easy to remember. As long as you kept the trees in sight and kept moving forward, you were right. (Miles and miles away, J.E.B. Stuart’s flanking maneuver was being countered by an equal force of Union cavalry. Their clash had one of the few cavalry-on-cavalry battles of the Civil War; fun fact, this was one of the fights that put Custer’s career on the map, until getting killed off by the Cheyenne at Little Big Horn 13 years later. The battle was intense, but a draw; Stuart couldn’t break through. Even if Pickett’s Charge worked, there’d have been no way to follow up and finish Meade off for good. Lee’s plan was well and truly fucked.) Things immediately stopped being clean and neat, as per the usual. The center of Pickett’s Charge sprang up and walked before the flanks did, but the brigades on the south and the north of them set off late, leading to a kind of droopy effect where the center bulged out unsupported. When the Union soldiers manning Cemetery Ridge saw the Confederate advance begin, they began to chant “Fredericksburg! Fredericksburg! Fredericksburg!” Just a little “fuck you” from one set of veterans to another; at Fredericksburg eight months before, Union General Burnside had ordered several such suicidal attacks on prepared defenses which the Confederates had gleefully blasted into chunky salsa. 70 odd guns opened up on them all. To give a sense of the skill involved, the artilleryman in charge of the Union guns, Colonel Hunt, had written the book on artillery- literally, because his work Instructions for Field Artillery was the go-to manual for the US Army- and at West Point had personally taught most of the Confederate artillery officers across the way everything they knew about the big guns. One must not mistake this as just plopping down the cannons and pointing them in the right direction. Hunt was an artist with his weapon systems, and the pattern of explosions that snaked into the advancing infantry had been painstakingly designed by a master craftsman. At the distance of a mile, it was iron shot and shell that carved bloody little holes into the line. The Confederates took the beating, closed ranks, and pushed on. On the south, the cannons on Little Round Top delivered particularly hideous effects from the flank, driving their line into disorder; some brigades cut in front of other brigades, and what should have been a line became a muddled column. On the north, a brigade under General Brockenbrough bumped into a small detachment of 160 Union men who were jutting out north of the road. The Union men fired a small but devastating volley that raked them from the side and broke their nerves. Brockenbrough’s men ran- the first to break, but not the last. Similar small detachments of skirmishers dotted No Man’s Land between the armies. Between their vicious little ambushes and the massive shock of massed artillery, Pickett’s Charge slowed down. Slowing down just left them in the kill zone for that much longer. When Pickett’s Charge reached the Emmitsburg Road, they were further delayed by the stiff fencing that lined it. As they clambered over it, Union infantry opened fire at long range. The casualties skyrocketed as the Confederate line absorbed the fire. If you want to know what it was like under fire, picture the start of a rainstorm. The water droplets go taptaptaptaptaptaptaptaptaptaptaptaptaptaptaptaptaptaptaptaptaptaptaptaptaptaptaptaptaptaptaptaptaptap... that's how the survivors described the musketry that pelted the fence they were trying to climb over. One small contingent of Davis’ brigade (you recall how roughly they were manhandled on July the 1st) accidentally got ahead of everybody else and found itself standing right in front of the Union line all alone. The guys closest to the Union defenses surrendered as one; the rest got shot up bad and ran for their lives. Pickett’s Charge was pure chaos by then- their mile wide front that had surged forth from Spangler’s Wood had shrunk down to about a half mile, partly from taking casualties, partly from brigades running away after the shock of massed fire, and partly from bridges shifting north away from flanking fire from their right side. From the fence line on the Emmitsburg to the stone wall that protected the Union defense was about two hundred yards. This is a long shot for a rifle, especially under pressure- that’s the whole point to volley fire, so that everybody shooting at once will create a sort of probability cloud of danger even at long range. Some Confederates, desperate to hit back after enduring hell, shot anyway. Their fire was ineffective. It is a very, very short shot for an artillery piece, even under pressure. A battery of cannons placed just behind the Union line switched to canister and blasted massive bloody holes in the bunched up Confederates. A lot of Confederates huddled up behind the fencing and stayed put. It is marginally safer than moving two feet forward past the wooden railings, and the spirit had been knocked out of them by the mile long charge and the mile long shooting gallery they’d been subjected to. The left side of the attack had been stopped dead and turned back; the right side pushed on, disregarding any thought but closing distance. 1,500 men blitzed those last 200 yards to the stone wall Scores of them died from rifle fire as the cannons reloaded. The surviving Confederates, running on pure adrenaline, reached the stone wall at a place called the Bloody Angle. The Union line was disjointed, with the Northern section slightly back from the southern section. The Angle was the little joint that connected the two walls; it was also right by the copse of trees that everybody was racing towards. A fierce firefight broke out once the Confederates reached the wall. Most of them stayed behind the wall; like their buddies to the west still behind the fence on the Emmitsburg pike, they’d finally found a few square feet that was sorta kinda safe, and every instinct they had in their brains screamed at them to stay there. The Union troops were outnumbered at the point of impact, and backed off in good order. Reserve regiments were already marching up to plug the gap that didn’t exist yet. Units north and south of the Bloody Angle shifted in place to fire at the beachhead. Behind the Confederates on the Angle, there was a small ocean of blood on the ground and a mile long procession of silent, mangled dead and writhing, screaming wounded... but no follow on reinforcements to help exploit the breakthrough. General Armistead, the only Confederate General there still on his feet, still believed in all that chivalrous Walter Scott romantic nonsense, still thought that raw valor and heart could somehow beat a superior enemy. He stuck his hat on his sword as a makeshift battle flag and rallied his men to leave the safety of the Bloody Angle and close distance. Just as the pitifully few Confederates got on the east side of the wall, the cannons shot canister again and puked metal death all over them. After shooting, the artillerymen ran back to safety before the rebels could stagger up to them. Hundreds of men surged forward by inertia; hundreds out of the 14,000 that they’d started with. They drove off the understrength Union regiments with the bayonet and capture those hated big guns, turning them around to use against the inevitable counterattack. This failed; there was no more ammo left for the guns. Colonel Hunt had measured out the number of rounds needed for the job at hand with the utmost precision. The counterattack was messy and bloody for everybody involved, for the brawl saw everything available used as a weapon- bullets, bayonets, rifle butts, pistols, knives, rocks, boot heels, bare hands. But the Confederates all just dissolved after a short while. Nobody ordered a retreat; nobody was alive and of sufficient rank to order a retreat. Thousands just plopped down where they stood and waited for Union men to come out and collect them. They were too numb and exhausted to walk anymore. Others streamed back to safety in ones and twos. For every Confederate who died, four more were maimed and crippled. For every wounded man, another was taken prisoner. It was an unmitigated disaster for the Confederate cause, and correspondingly it was a triumph of humanity as the stalwart defenders of the slave plantations died in droves. Remember, like I said, we’re rooting for the Union. The battle wasn’t over, not really. Not was the campaign. But it certainly was decided. ———————————————————————— RIGHT SO Interestingly, at first it was kind of ambiguous who won. Meade got fired from the job after Lee got the Army of Northern Virginia home intact. Lincoln was seething that Meade hadn’t shown some aggression and had failed to destroy Lee’s army as he had been ordered. Meade, however, didn’t have much of an army at that point, just a diverse collection of units that had suffered 50% casualties and were in no condition to do anything. Moreover, there had been no way to bring the retreating Lee to battle without taking a lot of risks that might see all the good done at Gettysburg undone. Still though. Meade was out, and Grant, riding high after his conquest of Vicksburg, was in. Lee initially claimed victory in the Richmond papers, and it was hard to gainsay him at first. He had indisputably invaded north and thrashed the living shit out of the Army of the Potomac so bad that they could not invade again in 1863, which was indeed partly the point of the strategy. But soon the facts of life made themselves clear. Lee had holes in his ranks that simply could not be filled anymore. Southerners didn’t want to die in a losing war, and coercing in them into the ranks through State violence only gave him shitty recruits who would desert the second they were put on guard duty. In contrast, tens of thousands of men poured into training depots across the nation, all armed and clothed and fed by the grandest industrial base in the world. Thousands of experienced veterans re-upped their contracts in Gettysberg’s wake to become these new recruits’ NCOs and commanding officers. Lee has gone north to break the will of the Union to continue the fight. Gettysburg had, if anything, demoralized the Confederacy and reinvigorated the Union instead. I do not believe that Gettysburg started this trend, but I do think it sped it up significantly. Patterns that might have taken a year to come to fruition instead took months. Gettysburg, in my opinion, is significant not because of any great gains or losses on the material level, but because of its effects on the minds of voters and soldiers and politicians in the North and the South. To crib C. S. Lewis really quick, what matters was not whether a given action would take a specific hill, or seize a certain road; what matters is whether a given action pushes people to either dig their heels in and seek victory at any personal cost, or whether it pushes them to back down and seek a safer compromise. Gettysburg pushed all of the American people in the directions they were already heading down, that’s all. Any conclusion beyond that is on shaky ground, I feel. Having said that, I shall now irrationally contradict myself; Gettysburg can also act as a Rorschach test with symbols and images and stories in lieu of the ink blots. Like I said, it’s a place of religious significance to me to an extent far beyond appreciation for its historic value. I just don’t think it’s possible for that many people to die in such a short period of time, in so compact an area, and with such blunt contempt for the foreseen probability of violent death, and not leave an indelible and ineffable mark on the land itself. Like, if humanity went extinct and Earth got colonized by Betelgeusians a hundred years after, I am certain that the aliens would somehow feel a chill in their exoskeletons when they walk over the soft leaves and through the bare trees of Herbst Wood, or tromp around the south side of Little Round Top, or poke about on the steep slope of Culp's Hill, or splash across the Plum River in the Valley of Death. I’m not saying I’m right, of course. But I am saying how I feel.
MARK was the most chosen stock so here is the DD for it. Bagholders will like this. TL;DR at the end. Catalysts: https://finance.yahoo.com/news/remark-holdings-sets-first-quarter-203000891.html During the conference call, their management will be discussing other topics apart from financial results. They will be providing updates on their AI businesses in Asia and the U.S. Thermal and security screening will also be discussed. Since there corona cases are spiking, there is potential for them to announce a partnership with other companies. Some rumors have been going around about a possible partnership with an airport but those are all rumors. Their thermal cameras will be of great help to any business that has a constant flow of people so the possible partnerships are limitless. The AI news could be huge. MARKs AI Thermal cameras are amazing for the Asia Market especially since China has recently reported a lot of corona cases. Their thermal cameras are perfect for dense countries so China could be a big client for MARK. https://finance.yahoo.com/news/remark-tech-combat-covid-19-100245088.html Their thermal cameras are in very high demand right now and they are closing deals with business left and right. MARK has made a deal with China Mobile to provide all of its 17,800 stores with AI technology enabling “facial-ID, traffic counting, and smart queue management.” This data will allow the company to streamline and optimize traffic flow in its stores by giving customers information about the nearest stores and number of customers in each one, and it allows them to get in line for a customer service agent before they arrive, via an online ticketing system. Such technology can significantly improve customer service, making for happier customers and a more successful brand. Additionally, by reducing foot traffic, these solutions can slow the spread of coronavirus and help companies operate smoothly with reduced physical capacity in stores. The potential revenue on this deal would be massive. Considering that the thermal cameras aren't the cheapest, it would cost China Mobile millions of dollars to equip all their 17,800 stores. MARK is going to have their wallers filled with straight-up cash which they will be using to further expand their business and technology. https://finance.yahoo.com/news/remark-stock-pandemic-proof-bet-145421478.html Their app Sharecare has already been launched and will be providing users with virtual healthcare. Sharecare offers AI-enhanced healthcare and it’s had a lot of attention from celebrities like Oprah Winfrey and Dr. Oz. Celebrity. Virtual healthcare offers a cheaper alternative to visiting healthcare professionals, which is an important factor in the Presidential campaign in which healthcare costs will once again be a big thing. Plus, the pandemic forced people to use remote healthcare services. As there are more cases, more people will be using Sharecare which will further improve revenues and publicity for MARK. TDOC is a powerful example of how growing interest in virtual healthcare was accelerated by the pandemic. The company said that the number of virtual visits it facilitated at the start of April was more than 100% higher than in March. Demand for virtual healthcare will likely continue to be strong going forward. If MARK can successfully pull off what TDOC is doing, the stock will skyrocket with their revenues. Financials: https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgadata/1368365/000136836520000038/a12b-25forform10xq2020q1.htm I'm very surprised to say this but MARK has not reported any financials at all for this year. I will not be basing any financials on their last year's financials form since it does not accurately represent the financials that the company has today. There could be multiple reasons for not reporting any financials, I do not know which one it is but I do know that not reporting financials negatively affects the company and reduced the number of people willing to invest. https://finance.yahoo.com/news/remark-holdings-sets-first-quarter-203000891.html They are currently planning on releasing some financials very soon but still, not reporting financials at the right time is never good. Date: Monday, July 6, 2020Time: 4:30 p.m. Eastern time (1:30 p.m. Pacific time)Toll-Free Number: 866.548.4713International Number: 323.794.2093Conference ID: 1160760 This doesn't necessarily mean the financials will be bad especially with all the catalysts. I actually expect their financials to be somewhat good. Fundamentals: https://finance.yahoo.com/quote/MARK/profile?p=MARK Here's a description of the company: Remark Holdings, Inc., technology-focused company, develops and deploys artificial intelligence (AI) products and AI-based solutions for businesses in various industries worldwide. It operates through two segments, Travel & Entertainment, and Technology & Data Intelligence. The company operates KanKan, a data intelligence platform that offers AI-based vision products, computing devices, and software-as-a-service products for the financial, retail, entertainment, education, and workplace and public safety industries. It also owns and operates various digital media properties that deliver content in various verticals, including travel and entertainment, such as lodging, air travel, show tickets, and tours through Vegas.com and its related Websites comprising LasVegas.com, as well as mobile applications and retail locations; and young adult lifestyle that includes Bikini.com, an e-commerce Website, which sells swimwear and accessories. In addition, the company sells financial-technology products and services, as well as advertising services through its Websites. The company was formerly known as Remark Media, Inc. and changed its name to Remark Holdings, Inc. in April 2017. Remark Holdings, Inc. was founded in 2006 and is headquartered in Las Vegas, Nevada. Their Address: 3960 Howard Hughes ParkwaySuite 900Las Vegas, NV 89169United States702-701-9514http://www.remarkholdings.com They have no full-time employees. It's good that they are located in the U.S. this opens up a lot of potential clients. Technicals: Stock Info: - Usual 10-day volume of 8.23M. - Usual 3-month volume of 34.32M. This is a very good volume for a penny stock, it provides easy buying and selling of the stock and it ensures that there will be movement in the stock price. - Shares outstanding are 99.38M. - Float is 85.71M. It would be better to see a lower float since the lower the float the easier it is to move up the stock price, but this isn't a bad float. Not that many benefits from a float like this other than it's harder to push down the price but the same goes for trying to push up the price. - 26.23% of shares are being held by insiders. - 14.19% of shares are being held by institutions. So many insiders holding the stock could cause a massive dump in the stock price if they decided to sell-off. It isn't all bad though, this also shows that the insiders are confident that the stock price will go up since it is part of their paycheck. A good number of institutions hold the stock, institutions usually invest in stocks that will increase in price. - Short % of float is 15.43% - Short % of shares outstanding is 14.52%. This is both good and bad. The good is that there is potential for a big short squeeze which will force many people to start mass buying the stock, this will of course boost the stock price by quite a bit. The bad part is that this shows that a good part of investors aren't confident that the stock price will go up. The lower the confidence the more paper hands traders there will be which will make the price fall. Indicators: These are based on the 1-day indicators. Moving Averages: - Candles above 5 SMA, buy rating. - Candles below 10 SMA, sell rating. - Candles below 20 SMA, sell rating. - Candles below 30 SMA, sell rating. - Candles above 50 SMA, buy rating. - Candles above 100 SMA, buy rating. - Candles above 200 SMA, buy rating. - Candles are neutral on IC, hold rating. - Candles are below VWAP, sell rating. - Candles are above HMA, buy rating. Moving Averages give MARK a buy rating. MARK is in a short term downtrend but an overall uptrend. Oscillators: - Stock is neutral on RSI, hold rating. - Stock is positive on R%S, buy rating. - Stock is neutral on CCI, hold rating. - Stock is neutral on ADI, hold rating. - Stock is negative on AO, sell rating. - Stock is negative on Momentum, sell rating. - Stock is negative on MACD, sell rating. - Stock is neutral on SRF, hold rating. - Stock is neutral on WPR, hold rating. - Stock is neutral on BPP, hold rating. - Stock is neutral on UO, hold rating. Oscillators give MARk a sell rating Overall, indicators give MARK a sell rating. Support And Resistances: - Hourly support of $2.31. - Hourly resistance of $2.44. - Daily support of $1.08. - Daily resistance of $3.56. TL;DR: MARK is a sort of short term play, I recommend selling it off when they announce their financials and other plans on July 6. With cases rising, MARK will be a hot stock, their thermal cameras are in very high demand all across the world and potential partnerships and deals are limitless. China Mobile has made a deal with MARK to equip their 17,800 stores with thermal cameras. MARK will be making bank on this deal and will use the money to improve its technology which will further potential revenue. MARKs app Sharecare could become a big success. Most people will not be leaving their houses and Sharecare will take advantage of that by bringing virtual healthcare to people. The potential revenue on this one is massive. The conference will hopefully boost the stock price by quite a bit considering that they will be discussing so many things. TL;DR;DR: These are some quick buy and sell points. - Buy point is if MARK rebounds to around $2.33-$2.29. - Instant buy point is if MARK breaks the $2.61 hourly resistance with some buffer. - Sell point is if MARK falls below the hourly 50 SMA. - Instant sell point is if MARK falls below the hourly $2.13 support. Remember, this is not a very short term play, July 6 will be a big day for the stock. Please take everything with a grain of salt, markets are being volatile. These points are more suited for the volatility of the market and should work better than before. This is not financial advice, I'm not a financial professional. Do not buy this stock just because of this DD. I'm not to be held liable for any losses or missed out gains due to this DD. I do not currently hold any shares of this stock. Please trade responsibly and take days off when your account is falling.
I Can Make You Hot!: The Supermodel Diet (by Kelly Killoren Bensimon) -- Part Two
I hope you all have taken full advantage of the past 48 hours or so to regain some sense of normalcy after our adventures through Part 1 of Kelly Killoren Bensimon's I Can Make You Hot!Without further ado, Part Two: I resume my journey through the truly incomprehensible mind of Kelly Bensimon with a chapter entitled, "Thursday: Tricks of My Trade." Now that we've learned about the basic building blocks of hotness, Kelly promises to share even more hard-earned advice to help us really kick things up a notch. And, as she reassures us:
I'm actually glad for the mistakes I've made because anyone who doesn't make mistakes doesn't learn, and if you don't learn, you're boring!
And if you're boring, you're not HOT! I think I'm starting to get the hang of this! One of Kelly's most important life lessons came at her first horse show, when she made an unbelievably devastating misstep: "I decided to have an egg on a bagel from the food-service van." What kind of unimaginable ripple effects did this poor decision set off? I continue on to learn that Kelly "did all right in the competition." And…that's literally the whole story. Kelly legitimately refers to this as "one of my biggest lessons," as it taught her "to never eat more than I normally would." If life-changing breakthroughs were this easily sparked in my own life, I can't even begin to imagine how self-actualized I would be at this point. At this point in my reading, I have reached the book's first insert, which contains about a dozen glossy color photos from various phases of Kelly's life. Unfortunately, I am far too preoccupied by this picture, in which a carefree, wind-swept Kelly clenches her infant daughter under one arm with all the grace of an NFL wide receiver, to pay the rest of the spread much mind. We continue on as Kelly introduces new dimensions to the basic tips she's previously introduced. For example, you may have had some vague idea that water was important, but Kelly -- always there to help us learn and improve -- digs into the specifics to make sure we're up to date on the HOTtest tricks of the trade:
Staying hydrated is important no matter what you're doing, so I always try to drink eight glasses or about a liter of water a day. Soda isn't water. Coffee isn't water. Water is water. Drink throughout the day; don't try to get it all down at once. You wouldn't drown an orchid, so don't drown yourself.
I am putting in my formal request for a Public Service Announcement in this format, but using the last line of that passage. Also, Kelly clearly does not know how poorly I tend to my houseplants. The next page informs us that, "hot isn't just caliente; it's also spicy and sultry." Kelly promptly launches into yet another list of miscellaneous grocery items, this time focused specifically on "red-hot foods." Except it includes entries like "popcorn with sugar and cinnamon," and "Mike and Ike candy," so I'm not convinced Kelly didn't just lose track of the thread entirely by the time we got a few items in. However, this does seem like an appropriate time to introduce this picture, from the book's second photo insert, which clearly depicts the sleep paralysis demon that has haunted my dreams for the past several nights. We're also treated to this chapter's first "hot button issue" panel, in which Kelly pulls back the curtain on the shadowy, pro-salt cabal trying to control us all with their anti-sodium legislative agenda:
We keep reading about how bad sodium is for our health, but if you eat fresh foods that you prepare yourself, you can determine and control the amount of salt you want to use. I, Kelly Killoren Bensimon, am perfectly capable of deciding how much salt I want to put on my food. I don't need anyone else to salt my food for me. I know that the amount of salt I choose to sprinkle on my food is not going to hurt me.
I read on to find a two-page spread in which Kelly expounds, in rhapsodic praise to rival that of Song of Solomon, upon her ardor for her beloved dehydrator -- "I though I was in love with coffee, but now I think my dehydrator is my truest love." Most of the passage is taken up by an unstructured list of the various things Kelly has attempted to dehydrate ("cucumber," "mangoes," "avocado") but she does manage to squeeze in a few infomercial-ready lines -- "Really, you should buy one; I promise you won't be sorry." Since repetition is the key to reinforcing new concepts, I appreciate that Kelly's next list (of "a few more lean tricks I've learned along the way") repeats a note she originally relayed to us just a few pages ago:
Drink water throughout the day (not all at one sitting).
She's also been thoughtful enough to provide a list of resources for us to use as we soldier on along the perilous journey to HOT. After all, as Kelly says, "I don’t expect you to carry this book wherever you go -- as much as I would love that." As someone who has never before ventured into the wild world of cyberspace, I really appreciated Kelly introducing me to so many fun, useful websites that I might want to check out! In case you, too, just haven't figured out how to navigate this whole Internet thing, I've included a few examples below:
www.amazon.com One-stop shopping for just about any book, periodical, or product you might want to read or buy in order to get HOT.
www.espn.com Everything you need to know to stay up to date on any sport.
www.webmd.com Useful, up-to-date, trustworthy information on medical and health issues.
Can't wait to check these out later! That Amazon one sounds super cool! I'm reminded quickly just how inelegant the transitions in this book are as we move directly from that list into the following:
I suggest that you take a picture of yourself every day…Some days when you're feeling your fattest, you may be surprised to see that you really look great.
Okay, so fat is NOT HOT. Except being comfortable in your body is HOT. And trying to be skinny is NOT HOT. But being skinny is HOT. Thank goodness I still have a few more chapters to go -- I clearly still have a ways to go before I truly understand the logic of HOTness. As it stands, I must admit that I'm a bit baffled. Of course, returning to the previous bit of advice, Kelly doesn't actually have to worry about taking her own pictures like us plebeians -- "Having been photographed so often has provided me with a permanent retrospective catalogue of my life." The chapter closes with these words of wisdom:
The best kind of vanity is being vain about what you put in your body.
Friday's chapter promises to introduce us to the world of "Hot Couture," and I am excited to see what tips and tricks Kelly has managed to accrue over her lifetime in the cutthroat world of modeling . But first, we abruptly transition to a story about Kelly meeting Madonna shortly after both women had given birth. Kelly had "gained a healthy fifty pounds," which I am led to believe, from the context of the anecdote, is NOT HOT. Madonna, on the other hand, was "flat-stomached" and therefore "HOT and cool." Of course, Kelly reassures us hurriedly that she lost all the weight within the following six weeks and was "actually thinner than I'd been prepregnancy." I am at an utter loss as to what the point of this story could possibly be, but -- blessedly -- Kelly is gracious enough to explain:
So what's the lesson here? That Madonna had personal trainers and chefs to whip her back into shape, and I didn't -- and still don’t. I shouldn't have been comparing myself to her in the first place. My advice to you is: don’t compare yourself to anyone else, only to your own personal best.
This is a perfect example of something Kelly does throughout this book, which is to present a completely reasonable piece of advice (don’t compare yourself to others), but couched within such a bizarre and logically disorganized narrative that by the time I reach the ultimate moral of the story, my brain feels like it's been run through a series of meat grinders, and I'm reduced to just nodding along in bemused acceptance. We get a "Kelly's Cardinal Rule" reminding us to "let your body be what your body is and be happy with what you've got." I'm starting to wonder if there is some sort of Dr. Jekyll / Mr. Hyde thing going on behind the scenes here, in which two versions of Kelly are frantically grappling over control of the book's body-positivity dial. I'm literally don't even have to flip the page to see Kelly commiserating with us that "we all have days or occasions when we feel fat" and quipping about her "go-to fat outfit." But also:
Stop praying for what you don't have and be grateful for what you've got.
This amount of cognitive dissonance is truly proof that Kelly contains multitudes. Or has recently acquired some sort of debilitating short-term amnesia. Nevertheless, we continue:
But whatever your shape, show it off. Don’t try to hide it. Hiding is not hot.
Kelly next walks us through figuring out which "season" we are, based on the wisdom extolled in "Color Me Beautiful, the groundbreaking book that was so wildly successful in the early 80s." It's no surprise to me that Kelly, who earlier encouraged us to make our lives easier by using our PDAs, finds this to be an exciting new trend to share. Also, in case you weren't aware, "hair color is also important. You can lighten it or darken it or cover the gray." Lighten it or darken it? The boundaries of my mental universe are truly expanding. Some more fashion tidbits:
Scarves are hippie chic, cool, and always HOT.
If you're narrow, show off how narrow you are with a monochromatic palette.
Ankles are the new cleavage!
Narrow ankles only, I presume. Kelly's selfless, giving nature is highlighted yet again in the following passage, in which she explains:
All these celebrities have stylists who pull the clothes, accessories, and shoes that make them look the way they do. They charge a lot of money for what they do, so why not get some free advice based on my experience.
And what, pray tell, is this coveted advice that Kelly is so lovingly sharing with her readers, free of charge?
Save sweatpants for the gym.
Save PJs for the bedroom.
Dress as if you were the boss.
Remember what Carrie Bradshaw says: "Nothing is casual anymore, even when it says so on the invitation."
Manolo Blahniks are a girl's best friend.
Okay, so far be it from me to complain about the quality of free advice. But. Out of the five pearls of wisdom that make up the "KKBStyle Rules," two of them are rudimentary instructions to wear somewhat-situationally-appropriate clothing, and the other three are the kind of cute sayings that you would find on a piece of poorly bedazzled wall art in the clearance aisle of your local TJMaxx. I'm not impressed. Kelly next tells us how important it is to eat well and exercise, even "when you're premenstrual or having your period." That way, as she continues on, "you'll feel better because your endorphins will be flowing while your body is sloughing off unwanted endometrium and mucus." To be fair, Unwanted Endometrium does sound like a sick band name. Thankfully, the mental image of Kelly's mucus slough is promptly booted from my mind by a careening diatribe about the color red (HOT!):
I even painted my nails red the minute I started writing this book. I wanted to see my short red nails tapping away on my Macbook Pro. Almost every red dress is smokin' HOT, and I've never met a guy who doesn't think a woman in a red dress isn't hot. He's a liar if he denies it.
To repeat, Kelly says she's "never met a guy who doesn’t think a woman in a red dress isn't hot." Poor dear got a bit carried away with her negatives, but I'm sure she'll redeem herself in no time:
When I was sitting in the front row of a Marc Jacobs fashion show a few years ago, I wore a full, red short skirt, a tight red sweater, and red open-toed shoes. One of the editors from The New York Times was sitting across from me, and as we were waiting for the show to begin I kept crossing and recrossing my legs to make him laugh.
Sure, Kelly. To make him laugh. I can only assume she must have written some kind of hilariously clever joke on the gusset of her underwear to have had this editor so tickled pink red.
It was a long wait and after a while some guy I didn't know who was at the other end of the row, leapt towards me and screamed that he was obsessed with my feet. How crazy is it that red open-toed shoes and red toenails could create such a reaction. Red is HOT, even stalker HOT. Yikes!
I'm not clear where "stalker HOT" fits into this whole complex web, but it's reassuring to know that a wise soul like Kelly has such a nuanced appreciation of all of the different ways to be hot. She also gives us some "HOT tips for heating up your image." Like,
Put on a pair of jeans and a white tee shirt.
Put your hair in a ponytail.
Put on a pair of hoop earrings.
Wear your jeans a size smaller instead of a size larger.
For some reason not entirely clear to me at this moment, wearing jeans in your actual size does not seem to be an option. The chapter continues with a reminder to "remember what's on top of your head!"
There's nothing hotter than a HOT head of hair (unless it's a hunky bald guy).
Kelly follows up by offering a list of what she calls "HOT healthy options." Based on the preceding paragraph, you might assume that these tips would have something to do with haircare and hair styling. However, you would be wrong. Instead, we're instructed to:
Enjoy as much watermelon as you like.
Pack a picnic lunch of dehydrated fruit, chamomile iced tea, and mini pizzas made with corn tortillas, cherry tomatoes, and mozzarella cheese. Eat your picnic in the park.
Come up with something fun you want to try and do it!
Personally, it seems like a bit of a cop-out to make one of the items on your list of fun things to do "make up your own fun thing to do." But who knows? Maybe cop-outs are HOT! Before my faith in our fearless leader starts to waver, however, I read on through the end of the chapter, and my surety is promptly restored:
Besides my hair and my legs, the one thing people always ask me about the way I look is how I keep my teeth so white. And yes, that's also a matter of genetics. I'm blessed with the whitest teeth on the planet, and, no, I've never had them professionally bleached.
The weekend begins as I turn the page to the penultimate chapter -- "Saturday: Heat Up Your HOT Image with Healthy Options Today." Saturdays, as Kelly tells us, are for fun activities. For example:
If you're in the mall, go to different stores and figure out which looks will make you HOT. Ask other shoppers for advice.
Parks are great for people-watching. Who looks fit and healthy?
I sincerely hope that any and all of my friends would give me a stern talking-to if I informed them that my weekend plans consisted of going to a park and…pointing out people I think aren't healthy enough? Kelly then warns us against overindulging on late-night snacks or alcoholic beverages, lest we wake up Sunday feeling "bloating, sluggish, and with deep regrets." Presumably, Kelly then proceeded to rail a massive line of cocaine and hammer out the following frenetic spiel:
You're not going to get fat from having a few drinks a week. You will get fat if your routine is to drink, eat late, and then lie around watching television the next day, eating and making bad food choices. Going out is fun, but when you sacrifice the next day, it's never fun enough. Don't have regrets; enjoy every day. This is a life plan, and yesterday isn't coming back ever again.
The chapter comes to a close with a reminder to "wrap up every day with a great big bow and be ready for your next adventure. But before we close out our week of HOT, we're provided with what I anticipate will be an incredibly useful reference material for us all, the "KKBfit HOT Quiz." If you'd like to take the quiz yourself, you can find it here. However, I'm not entirely sure I would classify it as a "quiz," since it seems to be mostly a set of questions followed by Kelly's feedback on various possible responses. For example:
How Kelly Green are you?
I had a Kelly Green Juice -- Wasn't it yummy? I had a smoothie from the health food store with a splash of spinach -- Great choice! I had kale chips, spinach, and quinoa for dinner last night -- I bet you woke up feeling great this morning! Other?
I presume that the lack of response after the "Other?" choice is supposed to represent Kelly staring at me in deranged disappointment for a few painfully protracted seconds. Some questions, like the one above, don't seem to have any wrong answers at all. In contrast, other questions have clear wrong answers, which Kelly wastes no time in making apparent:
Are you getting enough protein? How many days did you eat chicken, fish, or meat for at least one meal?
I had a grilled chicken salad for dinner on three different days -- That's good, but I wish you'd get a little more adventurous in your choices.
How KKBfit are you?
Haven't had a meal since last night, but I'm going to skip breakfast and go on a run. I won't eat anything until lunch. -- Sorry, but starving your body is not KKBfit.
Are you drinking enough?
I drink when I'm exercising but that's about it -- Not good enough! Try harder next week.
The quiz ends, leaving me entirely unsure of whether or not I've actually made any forward progress towards my HOTness goals, but the next page does promise help for those who "still need more inspiration." Here, it seems that Kelly has compiled a loose assortment of quotes, most of which (I have a sneaking suspicion) were found by searching the keyword "hot" on BrainyQuote.com. Also, this masterpiece from Kelly's ex-husband, noted fashion photographer Gilles Bensimon:
HOT-- It is not about the look, It is not only about the charm, It is the perfect combination: Sweet and tough, Sexy and reserved, Fragile and powerful, And definitely smart. -- Gilles Bensimon
Move over, Rupi Kaur! I hope with every fiber of my being that Gilles Bensimon has published his collected poetry in some kind of volume that I could purchase, read, and have, I'm sure, nothing but positive things to say about. After about a dozen similar quotations, Kelly continues:
Now, as you get ready for Sunday Funday, take a few minutes to think about how you define HOT. Has your definition changed or evolved since you started reading this book? If so, I'm doing my job.
In all honesty, my definition of HOT has definitely been…affected by this experience. So we'll call that a win! Kelly tells us a few stories about times when her friends and family members have come to her for guidance on how to be hot. She explains:
I'm not the food police, but I've made myself the Sven-arbiter (as opposed to Svengali) of what's HOT and what's not.
Case in point:
It's just not hot to belong to the clean plate club.
The chapter closes with a list titled "Why Don't You," which I believe is supposed to be a list of fun activities we can try during a Sunday Funday. Or possibly a list of terrible life hacks for stoned college freshmen:
Use an electric teapot as a clothing steamer.
Make grilled cheese sandwiches or press wraps using a hot clothes iron.
There are very few things sadder to me that imagining someone taking Kelly up on this last bit of advice as a fun way to liven up what must be the most preternaturally boring existence possible. If your idea of fun is white bread and Kraft Singles getting slowly warmed over on your clothing iron, I can only imagine the fit of hysterics that you'd be thrown into by a passable Minions meme. And that brings us to the end of the week. But not -- lucky you! -- to the end of this book. Au contraire -- the remaining 100 pages or so of I Can Make You Hot! feature dozens of unique recipes from the culinary mind of none other than the indomitable Kelly Bensimon herself. In her intro, however, she makes it clear that
No one on earth would ever call me a chef.
Of course not, Kelly -- they'd call you a cook. Otherwise, it's creepy. This portion of the book begins, reasonably enough, with Breakfasts. These include such thoughtfully named delicacies as "My Favorite Cereal" and "My Favorite Pancakes." The recipe for the latter begins with the following introduction:
I'm not the greatest pancake maker, and I probably never will be. But what I am very good at is thinking of unusual things and doing them.
Frankly, I can't argue with that. As she continues:
When in pancake doubt, have fun, add fruit, and see if pancakes can be a vehicle for creating great memories for your family.
Next time I'm in pancake doubt, I'll know just what to do! We move right along into the Soups and Salads section, and are promptly introduced to Kelly's "Jimmy Achoo's Chicken Soup." Which is apparently a play on Jimmy Choo and also described by Kelly as "filled with veggie exploitation," which sounds terrifying. Of the next recipe, "Rich and Skinny Cauliflower Soup with Kale Chips," Kelly reflects:
I adapted this recipe from one I found on the Internet. I wish I could tell you exactly where, but I can't.
The recipe calls for kale chips, which Kelly goes out of her way to inform us can be purchased "at health food stores and many well-stocked supermarkets." We also get a few general "HOT salad tips" that can be applied to many of the recipes throughout this book, such as
There are so many different types of lettuces available today! Try different ones to see which you like best
When you order a salad in a restaurant, ask for the dressing on the side. You're a grown-up and you should get to decide how much you want to use.
With that under our belts, the grown-ups among us move on to "Meat, Chicken, and Fish." In her recipe for "Grilled Rib Eye with Herbes de Provence", Kelly tells us about meeting the famous chef who inspired this dish:
When I met Eric, who was still in his thirties at the time, he still had dark hair. I was caught off guard because I thought all chefs were older, had gray hair, and smelled like garlic.
So perhaps Bethenny should have taken it as a compliment? Kelly continues,
He's since invited me many times to go into his kitchen and cook with him, but my fear of losing a finger by being overzealous has prohibited me from accepting.
It's unclear to me exactly what this means or why Kelly would even be particularly worried about this possibility. Does she have habit of excitedly snatching vegetables out from other people's knives? Does Eric have a reputation for slicing anyone who dares to get in his way? Before I make any headway with this particular mystery, we're introduced to the next recipe, the "Pencil-Thin Skirt Steak." As we learn, "Everyone looks slim in a pencil skirt, so it's only fitting that skirt steak is one of the leanest cuts of beef you can buy." We get a recipe for "Sultry Roast Chicken" in which Kelly shares with us that "in fact, chicken without ginger doesn't taste like chicken to me anymore." This would be more believable if we weren't, a mere two pages later, introduced to a notably ginger-free recipe for "Second-Chance Chicken." As Kelly explains,
I hate the idea of leftovers. To me, eating leftovers means you're too lazy to start over, and I've never wanted my girls to think that we weren't starting fresh.
In the introduction to the recipe for "Bad Girl Wings," Kelly gives us yet another poignant insight into her life as a mother:
These chicken wings are Sea's favorite. I'm sure she loves them because she knows I love wings (she's a cutie like that).
It would obviously be ludicrous to assume that Sea actually enjoys chicken wings authentically. Much more likely that she just loves them because Kelly does. HOT! In a segment labeled "hasta la vista taco bell," Kelly recounts a traumatic experience in which she "discovered that my favorite food choices [at Taco Bell] added up to 580 calories." To me, this seems like a perfectly reasonable amount of calories for one daily meal out of three, but according to Kelly, I am embarrassingly off the mark. Rather, she sighs, "I guess that means my Taco Bell days are over -- unless I decide to chance [sic] Sunday Funday into Fatso Food Day." Not HOT. Kelly tells us about the creative process behind the development of the next recipe, "Spicy Sultry Shrimp and Mango Stir-Fry" (which, for the record, is the second recipe to have the word "sultry" in its title).
This was one of the first dishes I made when I started to cook -- as a science experiment. My "method" was to think of foods I loved and which ones I thought would go well together.
Fascinating! Think of ingredients you like and combine them into a dish that you will then likely also like! The next recipe, for "Kelly's Kalamari," features the following introduction:
I still love fried calamari, but it doesn't love me. Whenever I eat it, it goes right to my stomach and makes a little pooch -- eww!
As a reminder, this is the same Kelly Bensimon who told us that loving our bodies is HOT and dieting is die + t. But also, eww! We trek along into the next portion of the recipe book, succinctly titled "Pizza, Pasta, Potatoes, Grains, Vegetables, and Sides." We get a recipe for "Pizzzzzzzza!," which instructs the reader to obtain pizza dough, pizza sauce, mozzerella cheese, salt and pepper. Spread out the dough, add sauce and cheese, and cook! This is yet another time I'm glad Kelly told us early on in this book to take detailed notes -- these kinds of nuanced culinary creations can only come from the mind of a true master. The same kind of true master who would, as we soon learn, conceive of this particular travesty -- "Pink Pizza." Imagine with me, for a moment, that a dear friend invites you over to their house for dinner. I'm making pizza! they implore you. Come over -- we'll hang out, have a couple beers, catch up on old times! Excited for a chance to relive the glory days, you eagerly accept, only to be met -- upon your arrival -- with this abomination.I thought you said we were having pizza? you sputter nervously. This is pizza, your friend intones, as their eyes slowly fade to black and their hands reach out to wrap themselves around your throat. Kelly goes on to share a recipe for an "Asian-flavored noodle dish" that she has christened (and it truly pains me to type this), "Me Love You Springtime Noodles." Somewhere, the last ember of hope for humanity quietly fizzles out. The following recipe, for "Pasta with Oddkavodka Sauce" begins with a warning:
When you make this (especially for children) just be sure you cook off the alcohol so that you aren't serving vodka to minors or have to assign a designated driver for your guests.
This seems like reasonable and conscientious advice. Until I read on and learn that the recipe calls for 1/8 cup vodka, and makes four servings. If your guests need a designated driver after consuming a half-tablespoon of vodka each, I would strongly encourage them to seek medical advice forthwith. I am reminded once again how different Kelly's and my worlds are with the following exclamation:
Try using quinoa in this recipe instead of the rice -- I call that having your cake and eating it too!
Oh, to live a life in which your most selfish indulgence was quinoa. I suppose this should have prepared me for a few pages later, when Kelly remarks:
Both hummus and guacamole make great toppings for steak or fish. They're my version of béarnaise sauce.
I love hummus. Hummus is great. But there is no possible existing parallel universe in which hummus and béarnaise sauce are interchangeable. One of the final recipes in this section is cryptically titled "Have an Impromptu Pepper Party" and instructs the reader to scoop out the insides of a bell pepper and stuff it with "whatever ingredients suit your fancy." Again, I feel like this fails to meet the definition of an actual recipe, per se, but it is supposedly "quick, fun, and satisfying." We're nearing the book's end (for real this time) with a section on "Breads and Desserts." This includes an inspirational passage in which Kelly shares a personal anecdote:
On Season 4 of the Real Housewives of New York City, I made a mixed fruit pie for my kids with what was left over in the fruit bowl…Don't be afraid to try new things, make mistakes, and have fun doing it.
I can only hope to someday be brave enough and fearless enough to make a mixed fruit pie. Blessedly, the final section , titled "Beverages", looks like it might have exactly what I need in the aftermath of finishing this book. The "GIN-Ginger Beertail," for example, which "was originally made with gin, but I don't like serving gin drinks because I think it makes people mean." We also get a recipe for something called "Babylove," which (thankfully) seems unrelated to another of my favorite reality TV cesspools. It only seems appropriate to share the final recipe of I Can Make You Hot! with all of you. I will definitely be downing approximately seven of these tonight, and I hope some of you will be joining me in spirit. Cheers:
Gummi Bear Martini If you don't have a paper umbrella handy, Gummi Bears are a great way to put more fun in your drink. Makes 1 Drink 2 parts orange, grape, or other-flavored vodka 1 part Triple Sec 1 part white grape juice Splash of cranberry juice Gummi Bears, as many as you like Combine the vodka, Triple Sec, grape juice, and cranberry juice in a tall glass. Add ice and fill the glass with Gummi Bears.
ETA: I am so disappointed in myself for forgetting to include that Kelly has a ceviche recipe that instructs you to marinate raw fish in lemon juice for exactly two minutes before serving. In the interest of food safety, perhaps it was for the best that this nugget momentarily slipped my mind, but sharing this information with you all is the burden I have been cursed to bear. 🙏🏼
Reacting To Girl Defined's Deleted Video "8 reasons we aren't feminists" And Sewing My Last Nerve Back Together: A Commentary Post By Me. Warning: long.
Girl defined video re-uploaded to Youtube during March of this year but was originally published sometime around 2018, based on the times when other YouTuber's reaction videos were published. The video was re-uploaded by a wonderful soul who also has some of their other deleted content, too. Now, onward into my heavenly suffering. Bethany quotes some lady named Erin Davis, saying "If feminism is simply the advocacy for woman's rights, based on the idea that we are equal to men, then I'm a believer. In truth, feminism is the radical idea that women are God, capable of being their own authorities" No????? No, the fuck it isn't???? BRO oh my god quick confession: I used to be an edgy anti-feminist for, like, six to eight months a few years ago, you can probably find the edginess on my account here, but I was SO miserable the entire time. Thank God I came to my senses. At least mine was easily solvable, it was only based on teenage sadness and longing for identity and acceptance, but I NEVER thought this way about it. Yes, feminists believe that we should have our own authorities, but I ain't EVER seen one who thinks it's comparable to some type of Godly authority. not once, wtf. Dumbass reason #1 "YOU become your own God" "No matter how much you really airbrush feminism, no matter how good of a light you paint it in, at its core, it truly is a "religion" of sorts, its a worldview, its an ism, that is seeking to redefine womanhood on our own terms, we as woman say "We want when it comes to our sexuality, our identity, our beauty, our value, our worth, what we define in those areas is what we say, goes. Rather than saying hold up, what does God's word say?" So, we've well established that Kristen isn't aware that ideology isn't always tied to spirituality or faith. cool cool cool. Always good to have more well-established evidence that she's a dumbass. Also, that proverbs 31 women, that Mary Magdelene lady, those two seem to be biblical characters you skip over when reading his word. hmmmmmmmmmm I wonder why. Dumbass reason #2 Sexual liberation is praised. "Believe it or not, tons of feminist women used to be totally opposed to pornography, they were like "that's objectifying women, we don't want that, we have standards, we have values, we want people to value our bodies" but nowadays, as you probably know that is not the case, there are so many modern feminists who are proudly posing topless, who are proudly posing naked for the camera, saying "yes throw off the morals, throw off the boundaries, the restraints, we wanna do what we wanna do, we will proudly show off our bodies". No more morals, no more boundaries. Hey, Bethy girl? I've met several feminists who are deeply against porn, but for FAR better reasons than you are. The sex trafficking hiding in plain sight, the women who have been hurt in the industry, the outright abuse. You, on the other hand, are so sexually repressed that even seeing a tit would scare you. YOU are objectifying them yourself, by boiling it down to just them showing off their bodies being bad and how it's apparently morally bad even when they safely choose to do so. YOU are about shaming women, you don't give a shit about your own. Get fucked (but spare Dav). Dumbass reason #3 Not all lives are valued. OH BOY LADS, GET READY. "Women are the biggest proponents for life, and women's rights, and women's liberation, and all of these things, but the crazy thing about the feminist movement, and very few mainstream feminists would disagree with this, is that woman are all for abortion. Feminists are on the forefront of fighting for abortion, and Air quotes made by Kristen fighting for women"s right's, but that sad thing is that in fighting for women's rights, we are okay with killing the smalled women in our country, the smalled of women, fighting for abortion is basically saying, "if you fall under a certain age, then you're no longer worth anything, you're no longer valuable, we have the right to destroy you" and there are no rights for the smallest women in our country, and that is something we cannot stand behind" Just to get it off my chest before I dive in: FUCK YOU. babies before 22 weeks gestation is NOT fucking viable, I was born four fucking months early, even at that "viability" period I was basically on life support. A breathing tube, oxygen tube, heart surgery, whole bit. I also will be the first person to tell you that women should ABSOLUTELY have an abortion whenever she (or possibly a doctor) deem necessary. Most abortions are performed before 13 weeks, a stillbirth ain't even technically a stillbirth until around 20wks. Most first trimester abortions are self-induced with medication, so essentially an intentional miscarriage. Late-term abortions are always a tragic happening involving a baby who was wanted and loved and might even already have a nursery and everything, and they happen to babies who won't even live long enough to get to their crib. Fuck y'all for spreading pro-"life" propaganda and twisting women's arms along with it. Dumbass reason #4 Male leadership is despised. "Let's just be honest, there aren't a whole lot of women these days who are coming alongside of men-" I bet she thinks about this again during sex with Dav "encouraging the leadership, championing them, saying "yes you can do this, you've got it" No when a man steps up and takes the lead, women these days really are offended by it, it's like a personal offense, like "why are you taking the lead, what you think I can't do it? let me take the lead. It's just so sad to see how woman are not encouraging male leadership, but rather squashing it" I cannot fucking believe I stopped watching my Pluralsight courses for today to watch this shit oh my god. First off, the women in question often have to fight tooth and nail in professional industries to even nab a chance at a high-level position, and when they get there they don't need any men telling them what to do unless they directly ask them As for home life, in your culture, these are often the ladies who take care of the house, raise the kids, cook the food, do the laundry...the man does what? goes and doe a job like he's "supposed" to and doesn't contribute to the home life much at all in your ideal world. Fuck yeah, the wife should be considered the one in charge. She teaching and raising the babies and providing meals and making sure everything is in motion, he's hardly around. That's my jaded point of view, at least. No disrespect to couples set up like that, FYI, it's just funny to me how the man is the "head" when the woman is doing all the work for the family as a whole. dumbass reason #5 Women are told that we are better than men. That's such a blatant lie, Lord grant me the strength to handle this unawareness. This post is already so long please wrap it up I beg of them. "You know, we say it's a fight about equality, but when you listen to the voices of feminism, so many women aren't just saying "we wanna be equal with men" they're really saying "we're better than men, down with patriarchy, down with men, time for women to take over, women to reign, women to rule" that is the attitude you hear many women and so many bold feminists saying, in fact, we did a video interview once, and we asked girls questions about the differences between guys and girls, and across the board, every girl made a comment about "guys are stupid, guys are dumb, guys don't know anything" and it's just this attitude that it really permeates our culture and an attitude that we as women are told by feminism to embrace" It's because men are dumb A lot of these girls (like myself) have to deal with men not knowing bodily anatomy, not knowing how to respect us, and how to treat us like decent human beings. Even the encounters I've had with one or two TERFS, although I don't like them, many of the do sadly associate men with unfortunate trauma of their past and I feel so, so bad for them. That shouldn't be a "feminists are all assholes' issue, it should be a "How can we help them not associate men internally with their trauma, while also acknowledging that men do have many privileged that we don't" or something like that. Dumbasss reason #6 Homemaking isn't valued. STOP LYING OOOHHHHH MY GOOOOOOOD. "Believe it or not, but back in the day, people used to actually value homemaking, they used to actually highly value the role of a wife and the role of a mother, that whole role of homemaking, in being a wife and motherhood was upheld. But now these days it really is viewed as secondary and kind of like a lesser option, the real women, the better women, are out there pursuing their careers kind of like "eh, not too concerned about homemaking, being a wife, and motherhood, they might kind of do it but the real, valued and praised is pursuing a career that really is the most popular mindset of our culture today" Idk about y'all but anyone who can stay at home with their kiddos and get chores and dinner done earns my respect but that's just me. I wonder...do these types of people ever realize that you still do chores and the like even when you have a job? Like, yeah, she won't do the laundry until she gets home, but she still does it. She's still gonna come home and presumably cook a meal. The house can still be cleaned when she comes home, it's not gonna fly off the lot. You can still do "the duties" of womanhood and have a job. Hell, even if they homeschool younger children, there are ways to remotely work from home if it's more your role, while the kiddo does their school stuff. Do they think women with jobs come home to flies and mud in their living room or some shit? Dumbass reason #7 Unique gender differences are ignored. Oh boy fellas, get ready, mentally prepare yourself for what this mess will be. "We're honestly both really offended by this-" Oh, really??? couldn't tell "because God created men and women to be equally valuable but purposely different-" You're right I can't pee standing up "and when we look back at the book of Genesis, we see that God created a male and a female, two distinct genders, both equally valuable but purposefully different, with different strengths and different weaknesses. But what feminism is trying to do, they're saying that in order to be equal with men, in order to be equally valuable we need to erase all gender differences and pursue exactly the same things, we need to be the same in every way, we need careers and in our jobs, and our life pursuits and our actions, how we dress and how we look, so many ways feminism is really promoting this idea that in order to be equal with men, we need to be the same as men, but we find that highly offensive-" Oh god, really??? You don't say????? "Because God designed us to be women and it's a beautiful thing, and we need to get back to HIS design and embrace our unique and beautiful, feminine, differences" Notice how they never explicitly said what his design is. NEVER. Funny as fuck how that works. Dumbass reason #8 The Victim mentality is encouraged. OOHH my God, well at least this video will all be over soon. Here we are, the final lap. "Are there women who have been victims of male sin? Absolutely, and our hearts go out to them. But are all women victims? Absolutely not, but in our modern culture there is such a push that we as women are victims, just check out some of this" reading off her phone and using a slight mocking voice "Women can't go shirtless in public like men, we're victims of inequality, or, more men are breadwinners than women, we're victims of a patriarchal society, or, why should husbands be the leaders of their families? We're victims of female oppression" back to the usual condensation "You get the point, the list really does go on and on, and rather than turning to God's word, his truth, and biblical answers feminism really kinda subtly encourages us to take on this victim mentality" Y'all???? They don't even elaborate on the supposed mentality???? Also, I have experience in this area, and I KNOW why they chose the arguments they did. They chose ones that didn't go in-depth nor make them stop and think for themselves. Know what turned me over to being able to consider myself a feminist after that good old 14/15-year-old self of mine tried to claim anything just to feel something? Having my beliefs challenged. OF COURSE, when you pick the shallow, not in-depth arguments, feminism can seem "silly" or "stupid". OF COURSE, when you only go after "high-strung" feminists they all look weird. Christ. The worst part? These are grown, married, adults. Oh, look at that, I'm finally free! I hope my snark brings about good conversation from the ashes of my suffering if nothing else. Hope you enjoyed it.
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