This Celluloid Dream…

Where is the line? A question often asked and yet never answered. Personally most people know where and when to draw a line in the sand and say enough is enough. But when it comes to matters that have potentially political ramifications we often have no idea where to draw that said line and say we’ve gone way too far. Recent international events have people up in arms over all sorts of issues that may or may not really have any impact of effect upon their lives. We’ve spoken about victimhood chic in a previous blog but it’s in times of tragedy, loss and of pure evil that we see it come out more and more. Fingers are pointed and everyone has someone or something to blame for the event or issue. With the evolution of the internet we have given a platform or soapbox for everyone with access to a computer or smartphone.

Despite all of that we’ve somewhat had a change of heart, well more a change in topic that we are way more interested in. Well maybe not so much interested but more peaked our interest in the premise behind it. We’ve never been forwards and going backwards here at a Mind of Its Own. We are a bunch of geeks, we love sports, we love comics, we love video games and we love books. After all knowledge is power and who is to say that a comic or graphic novel can’t provide you with information? There is something to be said for fiction that is based around a premise that potentially could become real at some point in time. One of the biggest things about providing something to the masses whether it be a book, video game or other source of media is its ability to appeal and the more likely that it could become real the more it tends to sell.

By now you’re once again asking where the hell we are going with this weeks blog. How outside the box is it going to be and what crazy theme if any will the bunch of clowns hiding behind their keyboards like chairborne commando ready to take Normandy give us? Well we are glad you asked because yeah there is some cray, cray as the kids say in this week’s edition of the nation’s number one outside the box, thinking blog. We aren’t just saying that for shits and giggles. As we dive down this weeks rabbit hole it had us asking some serious questions about what we’d do if the following events ever became reality. In some ways it pays to be a poor writer. Read on to see what we mean by that as this weeks piece come to life thanks to the brains in the office of craze, the wonder writers at a mind of its own blog. Coming soon to internet compatible device near you. (Yep shameless plug!)

As we stated before the team here are a little on the geeky side, we find beauty and creativity in things like comics and video games that some people would look at and go that’s a little childish. To each their own we say. The premise of this weeks blog comes from the story sitting behind a video game franchise. Despite the beautiful open world game that allows the player to explore the city they are in while completing missions. Behind the beautiful graphics and three-dimensional rendering there is a story that would have a massive impact on the world’s population if it were ever to come true. Ladies and Gentlemen we are talking about Tom Clancy’s the Division. Yes for those asking it is the guy that writes books. He’s had a few books adapted into video games and a few games that will adapted into books and movies.

To get to the crux of the story we first need to look at the condition of the world as it currently is. If we were to swear we could sum it up in one word but as it is every week this is a family friendly blog. Where to start is a good question, some people believe that we are overpopulating the world. We aren’t saying they are wrong or right but as our population grows so too does the demand for resources. Put simply our prediction is that future wars will be fought over fresh water and food sources rather than oil, land or religion. In calculation models prepared by the United Nations we are predicted to grow from 7.71 Billion people in 2019 to 9.7 billion people by 2050 and further increasing to 11.2 billion by the end of the century. Some of you are probably sitting there thinking that’s not a lot of people however you need to think outside the box for a second and what that increase could potentially mean.

In order to ensure their survival certain countries could take population control into their own hands. We’ve seen version of it in China through their one child policy or the holocaust during world war two as Hitler tried to exterminate the Jewish as part of his new world order in which the Aryan race was the only pure blood line. Population control has always been a concern for the worlds governing bodies and yes it sounds like a super villain from a Bond film is going to step into the limelight and ensure population numbers are controlled through some heinous crime but in reality that’s pretty much all it would take, one person or a group of people taking matters into their own hands to cause a worldwide problem that we may not recover from. There are no doubt those out there that will say we ruined the earth so we deserve whatever we get however our children and our children’s children did not have anything to do with crimes we’ve committed against the earth.

Let’s start with the story behind the hit game series Tom Clancy’s The Division and you’ll start to get a feel for where we are going with this weeks blog. Black Friday is the busiest shopping day on the American calendar and fastly spreading around the world as a day of sales where shops can clear out old stock before Christmas. The one thing all countries have in common is money and when it comes to sales there is always plenty of it around. If you wanted to control population what better way to do so than spread a virus amongst money to be circulated in the worlds largest day of sales. This is the premise that the Division is based on. A professor creates a smallpox like super virus that not only incubates faster but also spreads and takes effect quicker. The super virus is created with six separate pathogens: Dengue, Ebola, H1N1, Hantavirus, Marburg and Swine Flu.

As with all viruses it rapidly mutates making it highly difficult for conventional drugs or antibodies to identify and exterminate the virus. It also makes it extremely difficult for virologists to create a proper vaccine against the disease. Through distributing the virus via infected bills during Black Friday sales it ensure a rapid spread of the highly infectious disease. Initial symptoms of the virus display as new strain of flu that is extremely contagious and spreads rapidly. Given the premise of the game is for you to help a virologist find samples of the virus while fighting off factions of criminals, military, law enforcement and military contractors who have turned outlaws and are trying to wrestle control of the city from you and the other members of a joint task force you start to see the knock on effects of population control. Two words…

Civil unrest… They say the first rule of treating a virus is containment. Anyone that shows signs of the virus goes into isolation or quarantine as it’s better known when referring to infectious diseases. In the case of our man-made super virus what better way to contain it than section off part of the city and shove all the sick, dying and symptomatic people in there to fight it out over the little supplies dropped in each week. We’ll build some walls perhaps we’ll use Trump’s Mexican wall contractors. Outside that wall we’ll have guarded checkpoints manned by healthy or immune military or law enforcement. No one gets out and really who in their right mind would want to go in? Oh us as we hunt for clues on how to stop the virus and fight all the factions trying to take over the city that’s who’s stupid enough to go into the contamination zone or Dark Zone as it’s referred to in the game.

It’s at this point we start to realise that it wouldn’t take a huge stretch of the imagination for us to actually see this type of thing in the real world. Poisoned water supplies, food, air-conditioned offices, money. Basically anything touched by another human being could be a potential place for some crackpot scientist or world leader who seeks to cement their place at the top of the new world order to contaminate with a virus and watch it spread. Heck the TV show the Last Ship is pretty much based around a virus that decimates the world’s population and trying to not only survive but find a cure. There have been plenty of examples throughout history where biological agents or warfare have been used by armies. It might be a little stretch to say by an individual hell-bent on world domination but then again we’ve had some rather disgusting people throughout history who thought they could create a better world or were that dilussional that they thought they knew what was best and should rule all humanity. See what absolute power does kids, it goes to people’s heads, that’s why we have checks and balances on our governments. No one wants to live under a dictator. For all that’s wrong with democracy it’s doing a lot of things right.

The fact that the United States Government has simulated and war game this type of outbreak is a little scary to say the least. The code name giving to the mock bio-terror attack was also a little on the bleak side. In June of 2001 the United States carried out a mock attack of weaponized smallpox code-named Operation Dark Winter. While the operation was designed to create preventative measures against such an attack it also outlined just how inadequate the national services response would be to such an attack. With a localised attack on one city the mock attack showed just how quickly events could spiral out of control. Concerns of such an attack would spark pandemonium in the communities and in all likelihood spread quickly through continental United States rapidly. The sheer logistics required to contain a virus had the team somewhat mesmerised thinking about all the things you’d need to do. The transportation industry would grind to a halt, travel industry, well as we think about it most of the industries would stop while medical and law enforcement attempt to get containment protocols in place.

Here in Australia I don’t think we would even be prepared to contemplate such an attack or outbreak let alone contain it and start the search for a cure. If there is a government contingency for such an attack or outbreak unlike our American friends it’s not broadcast to all and sundry. All hell would break loose we’d have the Cronulla riots times ten. Imagine all the Southern Cross tattoos that would come out then. Heck you’d see more bogans than usual looting the local chemist. We are an isolated country yes but we are also allies with the world’s most hated country and we aren’t doing ourselves any favours by letting Jim Henson’s creations govern our great land. The fact that we’ve sat and not only thought about it but contemplated what would or could happen in the event of a virus, man-made or otherwise is a little concerning. It shows we are in a great time of uncertainty in the world.

It also has the team thinking that great Minds being the Division might be onto something and we as Australians should be training up a batch of sleeper Agents to be activated in times of emergency to bring peace and order to our great nation because let’s be honest without order there is chaos and chaos uncontrolled is just pure mayhem waiting for someone to come along and organise it. So why not have a group of dedicated individuals both men and women with the skills to rebuild a nation hidden away for when you need them. Or for when our neighbours to the north finally decide to invade after they bought up most of our land and primary industry. A little like a resistance against the anarchy and chaos that would no doubt ensue after a virus wiped out half the population. Heck our hospitals are already bad enough can you even imagine the trouble and outbreak would cause for the Australian Health system. Safe to say the last thing we are prepared for is a major viral outbreak man-made or not.

As you can see ladies and gentlemen whilst the premise of the video game might be fictional it doesn’t take much of an imagination to see the real world application for the use of a man-made virus to control the world’s population or take over another country through biological warfare. There is a big fear the next war will be nuclear but in our eyes it’s the things you don’t see that you really should be watching out for. With Man’s incessant need to mettle, manipulate and tinker with everything in an attempt to make it better or perfect we have created some absolutely horrific viruses or weaponised strains of viruses that occur naturally in nature. We are in a sense our own worst enemies. Only humans have the ability to create death and destruction in a vial all in an attempt to get the upper hand over each other. Safe to say we are somewhat always attempting to wipe ourselves off the face of the earth through our own attempts to discover, to learn, to be better, you could say we found a way to tie in our opening paragraph. Where is the line and where do we draw said line when it comes to trying to play god.

While we pray to the heavens or in our case a thunder-cloud as the rain engulfs the house we are currently writing from as we don’t believe in God or religion. Again each to their own, we certainly hope that this all stays fiction and no one tries to control the world by releasing a deadly pathogen. We are certainly thinking all those crazy preppers around the world might be onto something. Perhaps we should build a mind of its own shelter, an inner sanctum in which we can continue to spread the word on all things no one else wants to. But in saying that the internet might be down. Maybe investing in an old print machine might be an idea. We could make paper out of hemp this time instead of cutting down trees.

Who would have thought a guy running around in a flannelette shirt, pants and some hiking boots

Until next week we’re going to wander off into the waste land that has become Washington D.C and attempt to restore some order to the good ole US of A and cure a virus. Hopefully we won’t have to fight a super Oompa Loompa who’s looking to build walls around things and makes saying China sound more like Vagina. Although in saying that his Space Force isn’t ready so it is a fight that we might win beside our fellow agents at the Strategic Homeland Division (SHD) or simple The Division. Adios amigos and stay tuned we’ll continue releasing a new edition each and every Friday just in time for your weekend incase you get bored, sick or stuck on public transport.

Everything Must Go…

The one thing traveling certainly creates is the opportunity to meet new and interesting people from all walks of life. People that you may not interact with on a daily basis. People who you normally wouldn’t consider your type of people. People who challenge you to step outside of your comfort zone and try something a little different. The other thing travel does is create an opportunity to collect stories and ideas as you go. Everyone has a story to tell and if you give them enough time they will tell your their story/stories over a coffee or alcoholic beverage. Well at least that’s what the team tends to do when they begin tell stories of their endeavours to complete strangers in attempts to pass the time.

Having travelled a lot over the last couple of months, the team at A Mind of Its Own has had the opportunity to sit and listen to a lot people share their stories, experiences and knowledge. Whether it be in direct conversation or through the ancient are of active listening and people watching. Yes we know it is a little creepy but you should really try it some time. Sitting there, over hearing people talk in cafes, bars, restaurants or the airport lounge. Like we did you will hear thousands of stories that range from the believable to the downright insane but there is always someone there sharing with friends or family. By sharing our stories we ensure they are passed on from generation to generation or captured for time eternal when someone takes the time to write them down.

For centuries human beings have shared stories whether it by to pass on history or for entertainment purposes. Humans have always been fascinated and intrigued by the storyteller, from the days of cavemen sitting around a fire grunting their history to children to modern-day parents taking their children to the local library for storytime. Before books, magazines, movies and social media we told each other stories ranging on true to flights of fantasy. From the day we are born till they day we move on from this world we continue to listen to and tell stories whether it be by recounting a memory or moment in time or creating something fictional from the creative recesses of our minds.

Mystery, Horror, Science Fiction, Thrillers, Action and Adventure, Western, Romance and Drama are all categories born from the imaginative minds of storytellers, from everyday people who found an idea and expanded upon it creating and building each scene, each character in their mind like a picture while they recount their story to those who were willing to listen. Even as you recount a memory to family or friends you can’t help but see it moment by moment in your mind, clear as the day it actually happened. As technology advanced and humans developed we were able to take down accounts of those stories. Firstly on stone, then papyrus, finally paper and now digitally to forever live in the cloud (Some guys computer and server in India or the Philippines).

Your favourite writers, artists are great storytellers who have earned a living out of using their wonderful ability to charm and create a story in the minds of their readers, listeners, viewers or even on a blank canvas. Yes each painting, drawing, sketch, doodle tells a specific story in the mind of its creator, yet the person looking at it may see a completely different story in their head. It is their ability to draw in an audience that allows them to craft their art and become masters in their chosen field. Even the guy at your local bar, you know the one we are talking about. The one with his favourite stool that no one else sits in (Well no one who’s a regular anyway), no matter what day it is he’s there sipping on his mid strength sharing a yarn or two with anyone who is willing to listen.

By the time you’ve had your third beer you are enthralled by the man’s life and the things he has seen. The pictures floating through your mind are reminiscent of a motion picture, you give faces to the people, colour to the picture and create life all within the recesses of your own mind. Like a wizard casting a spell, the storyteller has you once again has you entranced and under his spell. Instead of worrying about the outside world for the first time in a long time you find yourself present in the moment. Sharing a drink, a laugh and a story with someone you might not necessarily take the time to stop and talk to on an ordinary day. But you’ve sat there enough and overheard enough of his stories that it’s piqued your interest.

Sitting around the office we began to banter around some of the more out their stories of people we had heard or had recounted to us over the past couple of weeks. There were stories of tragedy, stories of pain, stories of growth and great triumph, stories that made us laugh till a little bit of wee came out and then there were the stories that just had us scratching our heads and asking if that had really just happened. After bantering about the stories we began to storyboard them in what would later be known as the Travel Diary of Deviant Men and Women. We wondered if taking the names and places out could we share some of them with our faithful followers. After a quick google search around proprietary information and copyright laws it became quite clear that as long as we didn’t claim them as our own we were good to go and able to share them with you we just had to ensure that we included a disclaimer..

The following is a collection of storytellers we’ve gathered from around this beautiful country during our travels over the last couple of months. We have tried to recreate events, locales and conversations from our memories of them, In order to maintain their anonymity in some instances we have changed the names of individuals and places. We may have changed some identifying characteristics and details such as physical properties, occupations and places of residences. Google told us we should include a disclaimer so that no one sued our backsides. We are in love with Google here at A Mind of Its Own, it’s like an all-knowing prophet that provides us with much-needed free legal advice. Could google be the fabled Cyberdyne Systems of the Terminator franchise? Oh and that isn’t us saying if you have legal issues just google everything. If you are in trouble go and see someone who went to university studied law, passed the BAR or whatever we call it in Australia and is practicing law as a paid professional

Trying to choose our stories and their storytellers is like you trying to pick your favourite children, yes you all say you don’t have a favourite but deep down we all know you do!. We ummed and ahhed amongst the team as to who should be included and which stories. There was also the element of what was safe and what wasn’t safe for publication after all we are a family friendly blog who never posts anything that is Not Safe For Work (NSFW). At the end of the day it came down to the coin toss, stories and their tellers pitted against one another in the ultimate decision-making process. Heads versus tails, two on a Wednesday outside of the Anzac period is frowned upon but look we aren’t gambling with any money, just people’s ability to tell share their stories on our esteemed platform.

Some of the stories we’ve heard over the years have been better than others like the guy who’s sister arrested him for public urination off a bridge in the wee hours of the morning (pun intended). Or our first story-teller the ‘sausage king of Canberra’ as we came to calling him, had us in stitches with his self-proclaimed status of King, but his realm is not one that most people would want to rule over particularly in this day and age given the #metoo movement and push for greater equality and rights for women. Just all round treating woman better, well not just women, treating everyone in general better.

So SKOC for short is one gentleman that certainly had us somewhat baffled and enthralled at the same time by his stories. He works with some pretty high up and influential people in the country who would be pretty shocked to hear that his hobby and so-called Kingdom was collecting pornography. Not only did he collect it but then he also categorised it and saved it. The kid had over 3 terabytes of porn and growing, safe to say he was also a virgin who doesn’t have a girlfriend. But nevertheless he had us mesmerised by the stories he told, in such detail that we knew then they weren’t a lie. But to be safe we often fact checked his stories just to be on the safe side.

The second cab to pull away from the curb contains our next story and it’s teller. Riding in the backseat while pecking away at some document to ensure is employer doesn’t get screwed in some major deal. Joey, Joseph or the law as he is better known to his friends and family has become someone we trust, admire and perhaps even look up to a little. A self-proclaimed trendetarian he’s always working on some diet he’s read up on the internet and happy to share it with any and everyone including his wife and kids. Most of his stories though if he’s not recounting something legendary his kids have done come from time before all that.

A time when we was young and wild and free thanks Snoop you are still a great rapper even if you now have to collaborate to make a decent song. Back to the law, he’s a bit of a storyteller in general but once he’s had a couple of the finest low carb beers available there is no stopping. There are stories from his misspent childhood through to his university days and even some of the nights out we’ve had out with him over the last couple of years when things have become a little hazy. As some of his mates may remind him frequently when they get together and he gets on a low carb beer induced roll ‘we’ve heard this one before’.

Being a father it’s no wonder he’s a good storyteller and we can’t wait till the day he can sit back with his son’s or daughters, we can’t remember how many he has or what sex they are (Ok we know how many, their sex, ages and names, we are trying to protect his anonymity), and recount his youth with them over a nice cold tinnie or two, no doubt it will be low carb but we’ll never get him on full fat frothies. Regardless of his poor choice in beer we’ve had a good yarn or too and shared some stories with him over time and hope to share many, many more.

Our third and final storyteller is the greatest of them all, a man who had seen it all, done it all and was made out of solid stone. Tough as nails and yet compassionate and caring at the same time. He was a man that books should be written about, a man that in our eyes was a hero, a legend and an all round great man. Yes before we go on, we acknowledge that we have haven’t been very equal in our choosing of storytellers and for that we apologise. We have nothing against women or women who tell a good yarn, in this case they just lost out to luck. That simple toss of the coin excluded them from making the cut.

A husband, father, brother, grandfather and son, he was the best of men always there with an anecdotal reference, a story or to lend a hand. He was a many that told many a story both fact and fiction, from the times they’d finish work and ride their horses down to into, and yes you didn’t read that wrong, into the bar to the times he played football for Fitzroy. He would sit with you listen and then tell you a story that would put everything back into perspective.He was always ready with an example of the good old days, of a time simpler before technology began taking over our lives and the lives of those around us.

An accomplished horseman watching him work with stock whether it be sheep, cattle or other horses was reminiscent of watching the man from snowy river. He could hunt, fish and camp with little to no supplies. A true man of the land, a true cowboy a man with many tales to tell, a man who died with many of those stories still in him. Someone that the team here will always hold dear to them he was a true storyteller and someone who lived a long full life that allowed him to gather his own stories and those of others around him to pass on. An inspiration that helped start this blog he was always someone who told you to follow your dreams no matter how many times you stumble and fall. If you keep getting up you will eventually get what you want. They can take everything from you but they can never take the fight. Not a truer word could be said. Not a truer more genuine storyteller will ever be found.

So as we close our blog on the storytellers, on the men and women who have inspired, encouraged, educated and often distracted from the day-to-day worries of life we take our hats off to the Kings, Cusslers, Rowlings, Lees just to name a few and other storytellers of the world who have inspired us and future generations of storytellers, artists, poets and musicians to continue telling stories whether they be fact or fiction the power of a story is stronger than we realise. The power of a story can often be the thread holding society together, a dream a mere idea that can give power to bigger things. From that one little spark of an idea grows into something to be shared throughout time, from generation to generation.

So from the team here at A Mind of Its Own, if you find something that inspires you to create, to inspire, to share, to dream! Do it, if it makes you happy, if it makes you stop and think and want to inspire others then we encourage you to do whatever it is that makes you want to share your story and stories through your passion whether it be a hobby or your job. As we bid you another farewell until next week, stay safe and be good to your parents, they’ll share the most stories with you throughout your lives.

With Friends like you, Who needs Friends…

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, there’s toys in every store if you head to the toy section all year round not just at christmas and if we go to the butcher we can guaranteed unless you are going to play with your Christmas Ham they aren’t going to have toys so the song is doing a little false advertising but that’s ok. Like Easter though as soon as one major event is over it’s time to roll out the next. In this case most shopping centres have been rolling out their christmas decorations since October. Christmas tunes are blasting our years as of November and come the start of December there is no escaping the fact that Christmas is well and truly upon us, followed very closely by new years and then before you know it Australia (Invasion) Day. After Australia/invasion Day you can finally relax and enjoy some down time until easter but you will start to see easter eggs as of the 27th of January.

We’ve lit the candles on another cake and started the macarena in order to celebrate in style. The padlock has come off the drinks fridge and someone has said it’s time to party like it’s nineteen ninety nine. Does that mean we should all hide and worry about the Y2K bug or channel our inner Prince throw on our best purple velvet suit and rock out? Who knows but for the team here it’s GO time and time to celebrate all the good things that came with the year. Time to let the hair down and time to throw the rule book out the window along with all our cares in the world. So tip your head back, throw back a drink or two and settle in with us to celebrate. By the way the title has nothing to do with the Blog as per usual and we are still waiting for someone to tell us what they all have in common…

So with the year creeping rapidly towards a close and A Mind of Its Own reaching yet another major milestone with this post. We thought why not look back on the best of the blog through 2018. With the half century now posted on the scoreboard we are waving our bat and saluting the crowd unlike the Australian cricket team who are still suffering from the ball tampering incident earlier in the year and are coping it from the Indian’s currently tourning. As we salute the stadium and our fans (that’s you guys) from being such good sports and being so patient with us throughout the year. We thank you for providing us with some great feedback, your continued support and your viewership on a weekly basis. Without you guys this blog wouldn’t work and we certainly wouldn’t have managed to write about some of the more stranger topics that we have covered over the year like Trump’s Space Force which we are still super excited about if it ever grows legs. It’ll be the best thing he’s done since the apprentice.

We also wouldn’t have entered contests like shit blog weekly and dunny readers anonymous or the Australian Blog awards. Saving that last one for our 2019 debut into the blogosphere. Truth be told we’ve loved every minute and every edition on of A Mind of Its Own in 2019. We’ve grown the family and added two office dogs who do very little to contribute other than tearing up the cease and desist letters we fail to receive on a weekly basis as our mail clerks seem to spend more time chewing them, than reading them. In some ways we are lucky that we are a totally digital platform otherwise I can guarantee a lot of these blogs wouldn’t have made it to print with those to furballs.

In what was a big year we managed to make a mockery of the Commonwealth Games, attack the plastic fantastics on the Gold Coast on more than one occasion, Harass Trump on several occasions, find the infamous owl statue in Canberra that looks more like a penis, no we are not joking about that just google owl+penis statue+Canberra and laugh continually at the bosses run of misfortune when it came to travelling for the job that keeps the doors open to this fine establishment. The writing was superfluous, we handed over the reigns on more than one occasion and even let the office pooches have there say or two. We put ourselves at the edge of our comfort zones and pushed our bodies to the limit to give you what we call life in a nutshell. There were diets and fads, gym sessions and drinking, fashion and travel. There wasn’t a topic too big or too small that couldn’t take on A Mind of Its Own…

From bumper stickers to ball tampering we covered it all and gave it that special twist that you’ve come to love and respect from the team. There have been heartfelt moments, tears, more than a few tantrums and on the odd occasion a little blood in our endeavour to bring a voice to the topics our fans want covered. A lot pain goes into finding things that people don’t want to talk about. We are raw, open and honest with our thoughts, feelings and often criticism as we poke fun and holes in things throughout each blog. Inspiration has been found through various different mediums whether it be an event, a situation or a person, something has inspired us to write the 49 blogs that have come before this one and the however many that will certainly follow. The team are not done yet unravelling the mysteries of the world around us. With a new year there will certainly be a whole heap of new topics coping our no holds bar approach.

So what did we cover over the year? We started out with Music and discussing everyone’s theme songs before moving onto Arsegate The Commonwealth Games greatest shame, the bunnings sandpaper bonanza, a look at Australia’s most favourite and endeared bird that should replace the emu on the coat of arms. We touched on questionable tattoos, athletes decisions, man’s need to fuck things up. There wasn’t a topic that didn’t make it to the drawing board in the office before some bright spark in legal told us it was a big no, no to write about that or unethical, in fact the works politically correct were used on more than one occasion forcing us to stop, look and listen like we were crossing a mental road. We continue to advocate that it is ok to talk about mental health issues particularly if you are a man and we even reviewed a video game or two.

We’ve renewed our free subscription to Google in order to search for any information we don’t have on hardfile or can’t get off the streets or our trusty informants who continually drop knowledge bombs like red spots specials at your local supermarket. We are also entering into the PodCast arena with a sweet little doozy that will be called ‘Blankety, Blank, Blank powered by A Mind of Its Own’ Your favourite blog gets a real voice unfortunately both James Earl Jones and Morgan Freeman were way too expensive and also unavailable so you’ll be stuck with the not so dulcet tones of the boss as he nasals his way through a different topic each week with hopefully some special guests and hosts otherwise it may not be a long living podcast that you will all grow tired of fairly quickly.

From year to year we’ve set goals, this year was all about discovering our style and setting up a fan base. In the new year we’ll set some big goals and like Buddy Franklin wheel around to our left and let fly from fifty through the middle. Why will we achieve our goals? That’s simple because of the people that read this blog week in week out. It’s you guys that make this blog, it’s you guys that we’ll continue to write for and continue to work hard at bringing you the topics that really matter both home and abroad. So with our 50th blog we thank each and everyone of you for taking the time to read our weekly post. Our fans are our biggest source of inspiration.

Without further adieu happy 50th blog post to us, at the beginning of the year had someone asked us if we’d write almost a post a week we probably would have said NO, but it’s become a religious thing for us by which we feel extremely bad if we haven’t posted for the week. We have some amazing fans who continually leave us comments on the website or for those that know the writers and personally comment to them about one of the posts or a specific line. Again we thank all of the fans from the casual readers to the die hard never miss a post fans.

To the next milestone we are thinking we’ll do it in quarters but who knows we might just let you all know once we’ve cracked the ton and can wave the bat around for the second time proudly knowing we’ve achieved another major milestone. But like they say you have to celebrate the wins no matter how big so we’ll celebrate when we can. In the office we’ve cracked open a nice bottle of scotch shared a dram or two and stumbled out to celebrate with friends and family. Or in some cases on our own or with the office hounds.

Until next week and another new post we bid you farewell and hope you’ve cracked a can or two in our honor. If you don’t read next week blogs we wish you a Merry Christmas or whatever you celebrate or don’t celebrate this time of year. It’s a time for family and friends. And as a side note we don’t condone drinking, we do condone celebrating, enjoying yourselves, having fun and by all means being safe! As long as it’s in moderation! Adios Amigos!

Fire for Effect – Teaser 2

Chapter Fifteen

Ibrahim glanced at his phone for what was the second time in the space of a minute. He willed it to vibrate once again. Struggling to contain his excitement Ibrahim paced around the living room of his penthouse apartment. With views of downtown Chicago, he was able to look out over the sprawling cities skyline all the while thinking of what was to come. The message he’d received two minutes earlier had lit a fire in his belly. Ibrahim had been waiting for years to receive this particular message. As soon as he’d received it he’d opened up a second secure texting application to send off several messages to members of his cell. Inviting them to his residence, they would be briefed on the mission to come. Surrounded by his fellow warriors he now impatiently waited for further instructions to be sent via the encrypted messaging application installed on his smartphone..

Throughout houses, mosques, churches, apartments and secreted rooms all over America men and women of both Russian and Arab descent sat doing the exact same thing Ibrahim and his cell were doing. As they received orders they memorised them before deleting the message or burning the piece of paper that it had been transcribed onto. Some of the orders were directions for weapons caches buried outside major cities, others included targets and some were cryptic that only those closest to Yuri and Fatima would understand. Plans that had been decades in the making were now being kicked into gear all over continental United States.

By 9:00 that evening Ibrahim was standing over a map of Illinois placing pins across the state as the cell members crowded the trouble. Each person in the room had been given a specific task to complete.Three sets of different coloured pins were dotted around the state of Illinois, each time a pin went in the map Ibrahim referred to the copy of the Koran he had carried with him since entering the country 6 years ago. There were only 3 red pins dotting the map, while the rest were either green or yellow. The majority of the pins sticking from the maps surface had a green head. The green pins were safe houses or exfiltration points for the cell members who would not become martyrs on their missions for Allah. The yellow pins indicated weapons drops dotted all over the state and the surrounding boroughs of Chicago.

His group of Holy warriors sat reading reports, looking at surveillance footage, youtube videos taken by tourists and websites dedicated to travel blogs around Illinois. They jotted down notes and conferred with each other on approaches and exit strategies to locations, weapon drops and safe houses throughout Chicago before screwing them up and throwing them into a steel trash can that would later be set alight destroying all evidence of their meeting. They would file out of the building one by one over a period of several hours. Some would leave through the front of the building while others would leave through the parking garage at the rear of the building.

The plan for Ibrahim and his followers was to head through the great lakes into Canada where they would hide out for months if needed before hopping a flight back to the middle east where they would be greeted as heroes of the war against the infidels. Ibrahim knew in his heart that none of them would make it home they would die on foreign soil taking the fight to the infidels as Allah had intended for each and every one of them.

Over in New York, Pravin spoke to his cell with passion and commitment to the cause as he pointed at photos pinned to the wall behind him of his garage. A white sheet hanging from the ceiling acted a screen while he showed showed video footage of major tourist attractions that had been taken by members of his cell on a projector borrowed from his work. Like an army general he pointed out their ingress and egress routes. Discussed response times of the NYPD and the likely weapons they could expect. Each man and woman sat before him was to memorise their role in the operation. They were given an alias and told to learn it before the next time they met.

In Washington D.C and Los Angeles two more cells worked on the finer details of the plans that had been slowly evolving since the late 1980’s. In years to come when the world looked back over the events of the next couple of weeks they would slowly, come to realise that the Russians had indeed won the cold war. They had created an alliance that would serve them well into the next two decades bringing terror and fire to their enemies doorsteps. All the while they would publicly denounce the actions of such terror groups while behind the former iron curtain they were rejoicing at the destruction of the western world and their cold war enemies.

The six cells were spread across the United States and operated independently of each other. They were all tasked with their own missions and whilst each mission was similar in nature. Yuri and Osama had been specific in their wishes before they had passed on their vision to their son and daughter. Each of the six cells would split their cell into two teams, one of the teams would cause maximum terror attacking a major landmark while the other team would take out a designated infrastructure target. Yuri Junior had picked out the infrastructure targets while Fatima had picked the tourist attractions that would be hit, her sadistic nature being fed with each location she picked and the thoughts of lives that would be taken from the world..

It had taken Fatima’s father years of meticulous, careful planning from his safe house in Pakistan. He had sought Yuri’s council on several occasions. After the success of the 9/11 plans in which they had hijacked several commercial jetliners to use as missiles by piloting them into the twin towers and the pentagon. Since 9/11 the US had beefed up their homeland security presence in all major cities quite significantly. Planning often ground to halt as intelligence gathering exercises stalled for months on end as it became increasingly harder and harder for the members of the cells who were of middle eastern appearance to move freely around the cities without scrutiny.

The majority of intelligence gathering was then left to the Georgian and Russian members of the cells. There caucasian appearance allowed them to move freely around the cities, often playing the role of tourist as they snapped photos in front of targeted landmarks or hours of footage walking through the cities. Each cell was comprised of 10 couples or 20 twenty people in total, once the cells split into the fire team for their separate missions they each had 5 women and 5 men who were all highly trained in the use of explosives, small arms and long arms. They had been trained by former special forces soldiers in the woodlands, deserts and tundra of the American landscape.

Across the other side of the world Yuri and Fatima sat watching the small monitor as Catherine slept in her cell. Still under the influence of drugs pumping around her system. Slowly they would either break her in interrogation or she would become addicted at which point they would stop injecting her until her body craved it. Most people would then sell their deepest, darkest secrets just to get their next fix. Over the last couple of days they had changed strategies and started injecting her with heroin instead of the truth serum. Her body was becoming addicted as they increased the dosage with every interrogation session. Fatima stared menacingly at the screen before turning to Yuri and pulling him closely. ‘What is it my dear you look worried? she said.

Sighing deeply he turned back to the screen before speaking, ‘My father warned me of this, of the Americans and their stubbornness. We may kill her before she spills her secrets my that troubles me. We need this to work! I promised my father and your father that I would see their plan through even if it killed me’. His voice was mixed with both anger and worry.

‘My dear you think too much, by this time tomorrow the American whore will be begging for her next hit and will do anything for it. That includes betraying her much loved country, I promise you’ Fatima said before kissing him passionately and leaving him with his thoughts as she began preparing herself for bed. Sitting there for a moment longer staring at the screen, Yuri removed a piece of paper from his pocket. He had carried it with him for the past 5 years, it was always on his person no matter what he was doing. Over the years he’d thought of destroying it but everytime he come close he’d look at the words on the page and pocketed it before he could go through with it. Today was no different, he stared at the page before him knowing that he had memorised every line but Yuri could not bring himself to part with the page until the mission was complete.

The page was split in 6 sections within each section there were two dot points under a major location and a name. The first of the dot points was a major infrastructure target like a power plant or water purification plant, the second item was a major tourist attraction. Scribled at the top of the of the page in chicken scratch were two words that had only been spoken in selected circles over the years in Yuri’s home.

Operation Awakening

California – Los Angeles – Vladimir

  • Double Canyon Power Plant
  • Universal Studios

New York – New York – Pravin

  • Nine Mile Point Power Plant
  • The Intrepid, sea, air & space museum

Illinois – Chicago – Ibrahim

  • Jardine Water Purification Plant
  • United Center

Nevada – Las Vegas/Boulder City – Mishka

  • Hoover Dam
  • Nellis Air Force Base

Virginia – Washington D.C – Natalia

  • Possum Point Power Plant
  • National Air & Space Museum

Texas – Houston – Asif

  • Lyondellbasell Refinery
  • Space Center

It was all there before him on the page as it had been written years earlier with Fatima, the two of them had painstakingly researched their targets to cause maximum damage and fear in the hearts and minds of the infidels. They would strike a blow for mother Russia and Osama’s AQ, forever forging a relationship that had been created all those years ago in Afghanistan.

Across the hall Anatoly stared at the roof thinking of his father, his mind wandered forever questioning whether he was doing the right thing, What would his father think if he could see him now, would he agree with the choices he’d made, the friends he was keeping and more importantly his unrelenting urge to help his uncle’s crusade against the West.

His thoughts soon drifted to the woman in the cell below them, he imagined her without the bruises and cuts that dotted her body. He had seen her naked and knew she kept herself fit, she had a great figure and reminded Anatoly of the women he used would chase in bars when he was a much younger man on the streets of Moscow. It had been years since he had enjoyed the warm embrace of a woman. His tour of Afghanistan and now his uncle’s mission had put a stop to life as he knew it.

His wife and child didn’t even know he was alive, as Anatoly saw it they may never know he was alive. He knew his uncle’s plans would be seen out and if he didn’t agree to participate he may likely be killed like all those he had seen brought before his uncle who had refused. As he thought he knew he needed to talk to the American woman. It was her only way to survive and she could also be his only way out from under his aunty and uncles spell. Smiling he closed his eyes and found a peaceful place as a plan formulated in his mind.

Forcing her eyes closed as her body began to tremble as it went into the first stages of withdrawal. She’d watched Fatima smile every time she tapped a vein and depressed the plunger on the syringe. Euphoria washed across her body as the drug threaded its way through her veins into the nervous system covering her with a warmth like a blanket leaving Catherine feeling relaxed and carefree. She would feel her brain slowing down along with her breathing and in those moments she would step into another realm as her brain drifted away from the reality of the world.

With withdrawal effects began to wreak havoc on her mind and body, Catherine knew it would not be long before she gave in to Fatima and Yuri telling them all they wanted to know about the CIA’s mission to uncover what they had dubbed the ‘The Bin Laden Connection’. Weeping to herself the nausea finally became too much as she rolled over the side of her cot vomiting violently into rusty tin bucket that had been placed next to her bed. Catherine looked down seeing a plastic water bottle, whilst her mind was clouded with the effects of heroin there were moments of clarity. In this particular moment she knew it wouldn’t be long before they realised she was awake and escorted her off to another session of torture and interrogation.

She would get her next fix, in the recesses of her mind a dark whisper found its way out and hoped that with the next fix she would overdose or her body would simply shut down before she spilled her secrets with the new Bin Ladens. Catherine had lost all track of time and days, she no longer knew how long she had been kept prisoner nor what time of day it was. It was only the brief outings where she was chained up like a dog that she got to see the sun or moon high above the castle.

The castle remained quiet in the early hours of the morning as the waves crashed against the cliff face that protected Swallows Nest from a direct attack from the sea. Yet tonight something stirred in the seas surrounding the castle. The men on guard could feel the cold sap through their clothes entering their bones as though death were approaching on the wind. Search lights combed the darkness for threats lurking amongst the blackness that seemed to be enshrouding the castle more and more as night wore on.