Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

I’ve been playing a lot of internet chess lately: you know, Covid.  I play on Lichess.com, mostly, but also on Chess.com, where I play in an international team league.  Compared to the average player, I am decent, with a rating that fluctuates between 1900 and 2000.  I have drawn a National Master (NM) in over-the-board chess, had a postal win (!) published in ChessLife, and beaten a grandmaster (GM) in a simul online (Jacob Aagaard).  But of course I am nowhere near the level of an NM, much less an IM or GM.  Nonetheless, I have a lot of experience with chess players.  I estimate that I have played upwards of 50,000 internet chess games in my life, much of it bullet chess (with a 1 0 or 1 1 time control).  I have a LOT of experience with blitz and bullet.  And there are 10 main kinds of internet players that ANNOY THE CRAP OUT OF ME.

1. The Fred

Sometimes you play a game and crush someone.  They want a rematch.  You accept.  And then, as White, they open with 1. f3 followed by 2. Kf2.  (The Fred defense 1. e4 f5 has a similar feel to it.)  Basically these players are saying, “You’re not any good, that win was a fluke, look, I can beat you with this garbage.”  It’s an insult.  Such players have no self-awareness, and aren’t willing to admit that they are fallible.  They’re sociopaths.  I usually just resign when people do this.  Why bother playing these fools?  [Caveat: If you’re with friends, it’s OK to goof around and play such things.  The bong cloud opening (e4 followed by Ke2) or its derivatives have been played by Nakamura and by Carlsen against other GM’s.  But as far as I know they don’t play such things against peons like me.  If they did, they would be punks.]

May be an image of chess and outdoors

2. The “Idiot”

Maybe this belongs with the “Fred”, I am not sure.  Every once in a while you’ll encounter some joker who plays a3/b3/c3/d3 etc. moving all the pawns up one square.  This infuriates me.  It’s like starting a pickup game of basketball with someone, and all they do is shoot underhanded.  No thanks.  Why are you playing chess?  Go back to playing Halo in your parent’s basement.

3. The “Sacker”

I sense a theme here.  A lot of people can’t handle losing, but on the internet there’s not really any way to BE a bad loser (especially when, as I do, chat has been disabled).  Without an outlet for poor sportsmanship, internet chess players get creative.  They play the “Fred”, or the “Idiot”, or….just sacrifice every piece on the board.  Ever win a knight in a blitz game, only to have some fool subsequently “sacrifice” every other piece?  What does this prove?  I suppose they could argue that they’re going for stalemate, but it really just means that they’re having a tantrum.  To see what I do in such situations, see the next note…

4. “People who don’t resign”

If you’re playing in a tournament, or for money, or for some other stakes, then fine…play it out.  Or if you’re up 45 seconds in a bullet game, play it out.  But in an unrated game, if you are down on time, AND down a Queen, AND the position is dead, with no possibility of a tactic…then RESIGN.  Not doing so shows an utter lack of respect not only for your opponent, but for the game of chess itself.  In these situations I usually try to recreate the opening position (by promoting pawns to Knight, Bishops, Rooks, etc.) against the opponent’s bare king.  It’s an attempt to shame the opponent into resigning.  It never works.

You Resign Now! |  YOU RESIGN NOW! | image tagged in queens gambit,queen's gambit,netflix,chess,chess opening,you resign now | made w/ Imgflip meme maker

5. The “Time Adder”

This is a weird one, but common on Lichess.  I’ll get a winning position, and instead of resigning, the opponent does not move, but instead keeps incrementally adding time to my clock.  (Some chess servers have this option so that if someone is about to lag out, you can have mercy and give them more time).  Is this some form of protest?  What’s going through these people’s pea brains?  My favorite thing to do is go eat a sandwich, taking advantage of the time they’ve given me….then coming back and delivering mate with less than 10 seconds my clock.

6. The “No Move” gambit

Another annoying way to have a tantrum is simply…not to move.  I don’t mean disconnecting in a lost position (which probably happens 20% of the time in any game I play) but to let the clock run down.  In bullet this is meaningless, but in a 10 minute rapid game, when I get a winning position against someone and they have 9 minutes left, it’s a real childish move.  So in this unrated, meaningless game, which is supposed to be just for fun, you are really going to make me wait 9 minutes, staring at my +11 position, just to get the “win”?  Nope.  I will just resign and play someone else.  And maybe that’s their point: they can say they “won”.  Good for them.  I’d rather play chess.

7. “Asking for a takeback”

This one just shows that the player has no online chess experience.  If you’re playing a stranger, then you NEVER ask for a takeback.  Ever.  It’s that simple.  Drop a piece on move 3? Then you RESIGN.  Maybe if I am playing a friend and we’re contesting the same opening 30 games in a row, and my friend makes an obvious mouse slip, OK.  But if I don’t know you?  And it’s a bullet game?  Mouse slips are a PART OF THE GAME, especially in bullet.  Sorry.  Resign, biatch.

8. “The absurd draw offer”

I don’t mean when a player in a lost position offers a draw…after all, we might evaluate the position differently.  I actually mean something much more specific.  It’s like when you’re up 8 minutes to 1 minute in a 10 minute game without increment, in a roughly equal position, and…they click DRAW?  No, you imbecile, you’re going to lose on time.  Play it out.  You might even win…you’re a daisy if you do.

9. The “’Good game’ robots”

Bad sportsmanship isn’t reserved just for losers.  Winners can do it too.  To whit: automated “Good game” messages are as annoying as popcorn kernels stuck in your teeth.  Now, I get it.  They’re TRYING to be nice.  But when you lose a piece on move 7, and then resign (as you should in a non-bullet game), no one wants to see “Good game! :)” or “Well played!”  It comes across as condescending and insincere.  If you really want to be a good sport, type an ACTUAL message after the game, that proves you’re a human being.  Of course I disable chat, so never mind.

10. The “Obvious blunder!” morons

My final category is the worst of all, and doesn’t even involve PLAYING online chess.  It has to do with WATCHING online chess.  Nowadays, you can watch any major GM tournament from the comfort of your home, on sites such as chessbomb.com.  And of course, everyone now has a computer engine on their smartphone that could crush a GM.  It’s like this: Svidler is playing Aronian.  And Aronian makes a move that swings the evaluation bar from +0.4 in favor of Svidler to +1.7.  Someone comments, “Obvious blunder!”  Of course all they’re doing is looking at their engine.  They have no idea WHY the move is a blunder.  It boggles the mind.  It’s a form of trolling.  If you’re going to spectate, watch GM commentators that know what they’re talking about:  Tania Sachdev and Peter Leko, for example, or the team of Seirawan, Shahade, and Ashley.  Even when they consult the engine, they put the move(s) in context.  If Aronian’s move was so “obvious”, dude, why aren’t YOU a GM?   

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Macbeth on 2020

The unicode number for a dagger (†) is 2020. How appropriate:

Macbeth- dagger soliloquy. Macbeth, Act II, Scene 1 | by Cory Howell |  Bites of Bard | Medium

“Is this a 2020 which I see before me?” –Macbeth

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Green Raven

In the era of Covid-19, everyone has to get their side hustle on.  My amazing wife has started selling artistic thingys here:


Meanwhile I have made a goal to post more often this fall.  See you soon!

Common Raven | Audubon Field Guide

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There’s something strange about Mounds bars and Almond Joy bars (both made by Mars. Inc.)

For those not familiar with these candies, Mounds is dark chocolate over coconut, whereas Almond Joys are milk chocolate over coconut and almonds.  But it seems to me that there are two permutations that are missing.


Consider this table:

Type of chocolate Almonds? Name
Dark No Mounds
Dark Yes ?
Milk No ?
Milk Yes Almond Joy

Is there something about milk chocolate that makes it preferable if almonds are present?  Do almond-haters prefer dark chocolate?  The logic of having only two choices (not four) escapes me.

Now, it turns out there actually is a milk chocolate candy bar with coconut and no almonds: the Bounty.  So the table should be:

Type of chocolate Almonds? Name
Dark No Mounds
Dark Yes ?
Milk No Bounty
Milk Yes Almond Joy

But Bounty bars are hard to find here in the USA; I have found them at World Market.  They are common in the UK and Canada.


I prefer dark chocolate and love almonds.  So c’mon, Mars Inc.  Get with the program and offer Dark Chocolate Almond Joys!

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You are as you do.

I’ve been watching BoJack Horseman lately.  (Great show.)  Recently, a quote from Diane Nguyen struck a chord with me: “I don’t think I believe in ‘deep down’.  I think all you are, are the things you do.”  (The exact quote may be slightly different.)  It dawned on me that this quote encapsulates everything that is wrong with Far-Right Christianity as practiced in the world today.

Here’s the thing.  Many Far-Right Christian devotees (let’s call them, arbitrarily, “Trumpers”) claim to believe in Jesus.  That wrap themselves in self-righteous armor of their own device, and act as if a simple declaration of belief makes them immune to criticism.  “God this, Jesus that, blah blah blah, therefore I’m right and you’re wrong.”  No religion is immune from this sort of one-upmanship, but Trumpers have honed this sort of argument to a very fine point.  And therein lies a festering immorality.

They claim to believe in Jesus.  But do they agree with him?

I can’t read minds (not yet, anyway).  So the only way I can verify their “belief in Jesus” is to see how they act.  And I don’t think there can be any doubt among rational people that Trumpers don’t act like they believe in Jesus.

If you say you believe in Jesus but don’t act like it, do you really believe in Jesus?

Do you?

Image result for corrected jesus painting

Now you might think I’ve fallen into a version of the no true Scotsman fallacy.  “Real Christians would behave in this way, not that way…”  Actually, no.  I am using a radical definition of what it means to be a Christian.  And that radical definition is this:

A Christian is someone who emulates Jesus.

That’s it.  Notice that there’s no mention of belief, or of worship.  By my definition an atheist who leads a humble, caring, loving, honest life is more of a Christian than someone who “believes” in Jesus and pays lip service to the worshiping of a deity, while at the same time lying, cheating, and stealing their way through life.  As Diane Nguyen would say, “you are the things you do”.

Maybe it’s a language problem that is the root of all this confusion.  I’m not sure about other languages, but in English “to believe in” and “to believe” are two very different verbs.  The first means “to have faith in the existence of” something or to “trust in the value of” something.  In both cases, saying that you “believe in Jesus” isn’t really a high bar.  You’re just saying you think Jesus was a good guy, or maybe even that he was divine.  Why should that be a barometer for how moral you are as a person?  The idea is laughable.  In contrast, “to believe” means to have confidence in an assertion (if you’re brave, consider my essay on belief here).  So in the starkest terms:

To believe in Jesus is to think that he existed, or exists, or is a god.

To believe Jesus is to think his words and teachings were (are) true.

Which of these sounds like a better recipe for moral living?  Which of these is more likely to produce good, moral human beings?  Which sounds more Christian?  I bet you know my answers to these questions.

I guess the problem that Christianity has had, of late, is that the first kind of belief is easier to do, so people gravitate to that (people are, if nothing else, lazy).  Want to go to heaven?  Just believe in Jesus.  No need to do the hard work of actually acting like Jesus, trying to be a decent person, turning the other cheek, administering to the needy, forgiving others.  Fuck no!  Do what you like—and at the end of the day, just believe in Jesus, and poof, just like Deep Magic from the Dawn of Time, you go to heaven!  Yay!  Belief in Jesus is like a get-out-of-jail-free card, a kind of cosmic scratch-off that promises eternal life rather than $50 at the Stop-and-Go.  No wonder it’s popular.  They’re lovin’ those scratch-offs in the deep South…

Image result for scratch off

Where does this mentality spring from?  Mostly, from the Bible (a book worshiped more fervently than Jesus himself).  Consider:

John 3:16     For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. [Emphasis added]

Sigh.  There’s the get-out-of-jail-free card, right there!  No need to do the hard work!  The Bible tells me so.  And yet…

What if we tweaked the Bible?  It was written by flawed humans, after all.  It’s rife with contradictions.  (Here’re a few juicy ones.)  Let’s make one little correction and save the world:

John 3:16     For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth him should not perish, but have everlasting life. [Emphasis added]

There.  Fixed it.

I don’t care if you believe in Jesus.  More importantly, do you believe him?  Are you willing to do the hard work?  Are you willing to follow the tenets of the Sermon on the Mount?  What’s more important to you, going to heaven with all the other in people, or being a decent fucking human being?

Do you believe Jesus?  Then prove it.

Act like it.

O, oracle, tell me: how much has this believe in/believe business contributed to shitty behavior through the ages?  How often have people just done whatever they wanted, secure in their sinecure, acting immorally or at least amorally, not worrying at all because hey, they have a scratch-off to heaven in hand?

As Judas says in Jesus Christ Superstar, the in people, the Trumpers, have too much heaven on their minds.

And don’t even get me started on the whole concept of blanket forgiveness…the whole idea that someone else’s suffering can somehow wipe your slate clean.  (That is a topic for another day…maybe even a book, perhaps?)  Suffice to say, why should a Trumper even worry about doing good, when the sin(s) will be forgiven?  What’s the incentive?  If Jesus died for my sins, why do I need to be good at all?

Of course, the Trumpers don’t have a monopoly on this kind of thinking.  The Catholics have confession, which acts as a sort of spiritual toilet paper, after which your sins are wiped clean, like shit from between your ass cheeks.  But the Trumpers—a particularly noxious cult of Protestantism—go a little deeper, because in their liturgy one needn’t even confess.  Praise Jesus, just confess in your heart!  Get out of jail!  Scratch-off!  Why go through all the bother of talking about your failings to another human, who might be tempted to admonish you, or give you pesky unwanted advice?


So: do whatever you like!  Pay lip service to Jesus, it doesn’t matter, you can always confess later, even if it’s just confess to yourself!  Yay!  I mean, why do I even need to be good?  We’re all sinners, so fuck it.  I’ll just be bad.  Why not?  There’re no consequences.  Jesus was the good one.  Plus, he suffered for me.  That makes me happy.  I’ll go to heaven soon enough, yippee!


So where does that leave us?  What do I, personally believe?

I don’t believe in Jesus.  I don’t think he was a supernatural being.  But I consider myself Christian—precisely because I believe him, believe what he had to say.  For the most part.  No one’s perfect.

It’s not enough to have good in your heart.  You have to act like you have good in your heart.

You are as you do.

Image result for trump humping the american flag

I’ll end with this observation: Trump recently kissed and hugged the American flag.  This wasn’t a one-off—he’s done this kind of childish thing before.  Why childish?  Because, like most Trumpers, in his childish brain Trump takes this kissing and hugging as proof that he loves America.  This is telling.  You are as you do.  Trump dry humps what he loves.  But Trump doesn’t really love America.  His actions demonstrate a breathtaking disregard for America.  If that’s not obvious to you, then I’m surprised you’re still reading this essay.  I’m surprised you can read at all.

But anyway.

This is what I want to say: stop worshiping Jesus.  He’s not an idol.  He’s not a symbol.  He’s not a rock star.

He’s an example.

Stop worshiping Jesus.  Start following him, instead.

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Where should you park relative to the grocery store, if you’re conscientious and intend to return your shopping cart to the “shopping cart docking bay”?  Surprisingly, under a particular set of (ordinary) assumptions, it doesn’t matter.

Assumption 1.  The shopping cart docking bay is closer than the store itself, no matter where you park.

Assumption 2.  You will return your cart after unloading groceries into your vehicle.

Assumption 3.  You’d like to minimize walking distance in total, including both before shopping and after.

Assumption 4.  You park between the store and the docking bay.

Consider the following diagram:


Assumption 1 means that we know L > x, no matter where the car is.  (Without this assumption, you might be tempted to return the cart to the store itself, which messes things up.)  So, you park the car anywhere you like.  Before you shop, you walk to the store (distance L).  Afterwards, you walk back the car (L) to unload then walk to the docking bay (x) to leave your cart, then walk back to the car (x).  Then:

Total distance walked = L+L+x+x = 2L+2x = 2(L+x)

Here’s the kicker: the distance (L+x) is a constant (i.e. it’s the distance from the store to a docking bay).  So:

No matter where you park, you will always travel twice the distance between the store and the docking bay.

If you park closer to the store, you have less distance to walk before you shop, but more distance afterwards.  If you park right next to the shopping cart docking bay, the reverse is true; you walk more at the beginning but less distance after returning the cart.  Of course, had you parked beyond the docking bay, this analysis fails.

My thanks to my friend Dr. William Hodge, who came up with this theorem in his head one day while walking into a Harris Teeter.

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Turkey trots to water
As I wait,
Jim says to me
Seven horses seem
To be on the mark.
The first horse, hate;
The second, me.
The third, a daydream
Of encroaching dark.
The fourth is late
Or cannot be;
The fifth’s abaft the beam.
The sixth: a stark
Vision of fate.
And now, with the seventh, we
Have them all, a thundering stream
From a turgid roiling sky. Hark!
The world wonders

Halsey 2.jpg

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Many worlds puzzle #8

The mystery list…

  1. Shrubland
  2. A brick
  3. Titters
  4. Our galaxy
  5. Reward for capture
  6. Bulky
  7. Pigeon
  8. Hillocks
  9. Swedish shoes
  10. Thingamajig

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The Ruby chain

“What you said was so confused that one could not tell whether it was nonsense or not.” —Wolfgang Pauli, to Lev Landau

Image result for oswald band

On Friday, November 22, 1963, the perennial loser Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated the 35th president of the United States.  That Oswald was the assassin is a certainty—the evidence is overwhelming.  That Oswald acted alone is almost as certain.  The Santamaria Commission Report (2015) laid most people’s doubts to rest, and conspiracy buffs receded into the woodwork like the cockroaches they are.

Two days later, Oswald himself was shot and killed by Jack Ruby.  The story is well known.  Ruby was also a loser, despite his love of dogs.  He had wanted to spare the first lady the discomfort of an Oswald trial circus.  So on Sunday morning Ruby cashed in on his connections and friendships with local policemen to saunter unnoticed into the Dallas police headquarters, whip out a .38, and plug Oswald in the gut.  Good riddance.  Ruby was promptly taken into custody.

Of course, it was now Ruby’s turn to be killed.  On Tuesday, Nov. 26, Ruby died in his jail cell after ingesting a poisoned corned-beef sandwich.  The sandwich had been tainted by deli owner Karel Hartka, who “didn’t like the look” of Ruby.  He had been watching the Oswald prison transfer live on TV.  Witnesses say that when Ruby shot Oswald, Hartka giggled like a schoolgirl.

The Dallas police were, of course, raked over the coals.  First Oswald is killed, then his killer is killed?  The press wondered, is the DPD a bevy of incompetence?  Do they have their heads up their asses?

Hartka’s role in Ruby’s death wasn’t discovered until Saturday, Nov. 30, when Hartka himself was found dead in a ditch in Plano, Texas.  Two kids walking to school found Hartka’s naked body, covered in flies, being gnawed on by a coyote.  When Sherriff’s deputies arrived they had to shoot the coyote for fear of being rabid.  Tissue samples confirmed: no rabies.  Toxicology confirmed: Hartka had been drunk.  No one in Dallas had seen him since Thursday (Thanksgiving) when he had walked home (tipsy) from having dinner with friends.  An autopsy found that Hartka had been killed that Thursday by blunt trauma to the head.

The Ruby connection was easy to piece together.  One, Hartka owned the deli that had sent sandwiches to police headquarters.  (A lot of policemen were friends with Ruby, and they indulged his requests: booze, cigarettes, food, even a jail cell visit from his dog Sheba).  Two, witnesses said that Hartka himself had made the corned-beef sandwich, Ruby’s favorite.  The other sandwiches sent to DPD were either chicken salad or muffuletta.  Three, several plastic sandwich bags filled with arsenic were found in Hartka’s apartment, and indeed it was eventually shown that Ruby had died from arsenic poisoning.  Four, Hartka was a real wanker.

The Ruby Chain was born.

Things were getting weird.  Someone had killed Hartka, who had killed Ruby, who had killed Oswald, who had killed JFK.  What’s more, each death was separated by exactly two days.  It seemed ridiculous, but as the Hartka murder investigation proceeded into December, most people expected Hartka’s murderer to have already died on Saturday, Nov. 30.  You see, it fit the pattern.

And that was, indeed, found to be the case.  Hartka was killed on Thanksgiving night by Shirley Ansley, a schoolteacher from Norman, Oklahoma who was in town visiting her sister.  Ansley had just walked up to Hartka on the street and bashed his head in with a bowling trophy.  She had then somehow dragged Hartka (did she have help?) into her 1962 Cadillac Coupe Deville and driven to Plano, where she threw him in a ditch.  Why had she driven to Plano?  We may never know.  Why had she removed his clothes?  As predicted, Ansley herself had been murdered on Saturday, Nov. 30, in Linneus, Missouri, forcibly drowned in a bathtub.  Linneus at the time had a population of 450 people.

The Ruby Chain was proceeding apace, two days per death, but investigations can take longer.  Hartka’s death wasn’t connected to Ansley until mid-December.  Ansley’s death on a farm in bumfuck Missouri wasn’t solved until January, 1964.  By then, there were over 30 people in the Chain.  But as more murders were investigated and the concept of the Ruby Chain became more widely disseminated, law enforcement began to catch up.

One thing that helped in the early days was the knowledge that whoever killed someone in the Chain was slated to die exactly two days later.  So, let’s say you have a murder on Monday, connect the murder to person X, but then person X shows up dead for totally unrelated reasons on Wednesday.  Your cases may be part of the Ruby Chain!  You make some calls.  Eventually, it’s all worked out.

It’s easy for Ruby Chain novices to lose the thread of the narrative.  Here are the first twelve people on the chain, along with Oswald (patient zero) who is not considered part of the chain since he did not himself kill an assassin:

Assassin n killed by with in on
Oswald 0 Ruby gunshot Dallas, TX 11/24/63
Ruby 1 Hartka poison Dallas, TX 11/26/63
Hartka 2 Ansley blunt trauma Dallas, TX 11/28/63
Ansley 3 Ferrer drowning Linneus, MO 11/30/63
Ferrer 4 McCloud gunshot Topeka, KS 12/2/63
McCloud 5 Perry stabbing Denver, CO 12/4/63
Perry 6 Bosler vehicular Denver, CO 12/6/63
Bosler 7 Spino blunt trauma Fort Smith, AR 12/8/63
Spino 8 David gunshot Pine Bluff, AR 12/10/63
David 9 Daugherty gunshot Memphis, TN 12/12/63
Daugherty 10 Maitland stabbing Providence, RI 12/14/63
Maitland 11 Woodward gunshot New York, NY 12/16/63
Woodward 12 Gretz gunshot New York, NY 12/18/63

[The entire Chain is updated every two days, if possible, at RubyChain.org.  If this website is inaccessible consult your internet provider.  Some places like China or California block such websites routinely.]

The Chain (as of the writing of this narrative, in the year 2018) is presumed to have 9,935 assassins, although many have not been identified.  There are, of course, gaps.  The most significant (the so-called Big Gap) occurred in July of 1973 when the n = 1757 assassin, Martin Boone, was found murdered (with a pencil through his neck) in Nairobi, Kenya.  There, the Chain went cold.  The thread was not regained until June 7, 1974, when n = 1909 (Turan Guliyev) was gunned down on the streets of Shamkhor in the U.S.S.R. (currently Shamkir, Azerbaijan).  His killing had multiple witnesses, and the killer (Ghislaine Williams) took refuge in the U.S. embassy in Moscow, where she was murdered two days later by a U.S. marine lance corporal (Bob Boyd).  The unusual circumstances of these killings eventually led investigators back to the Ruby Chain.

The Big Gap is typical of all gaps in the Ruby Chain.  Whenever a killer was not apprehended immediately, and then managed to either (a) get behind the Iron Curtain or (b) fade into the woodwork of a desolate country and/or wilderness (Mauritania, anyone?) the trail would go cold.  Inevitably, though, the random-walk of Ruby Chain killers would allow investigators to regain the thread.

The United States was the first country to form an organized bureau for investigating the Ruby Chain; this body was at first called the Ruby Chain Investigative Task Force (RCITF) but was later renamed the Ruby Chain Bureau (RCB) in 1986.  Other countries jumped on board when demanded by circumstance.  For example, when the Chain first appeared in Mexico, Canada, and/or the Bahamas at various times in 1964, local task forces were set up as needed to cooperate with the RCITF.  No global Ruby Chain bureau was created until the UN formed the FIPR (Fédération Internationale de la Progression Ruby) in 1998.  The FIPR coordinated efforts between individual agencies like the RCB, Interpol, and the United Kingdom’s MI18.

Now, in the early days of the Chain, murderers were apprehended and taken into custody, even if they were known to be part of the Chain.  Such behavior may seem naïve in retrospect, but the implications of the Ruby Chain had yet to be understood.  The Amarillo Incident of 1965 made such implications obvious.

On Valentine’s Day in 1965, Chip Fortenberry (n = 224) shot Lois Graham (n = 223) during a sermon at Bell Avenue Baptist Church in Amarillo, TX.  Fortenberry was quickly apprehended; several of the parishioners were Sheriff’s deputies.  It turned out that Graham herself was a suspect in a previous murder from two days earlier, but the deputies had not noticed she was there in the church with them!  The fact that she was now killed, inexplicably, two days later, marked this as a suspected Ruby Chain murder, and the RCITF was called in.

Proactive steps were taken to “break the Chain”.  Fortenberry was placed in solitary confinement, in the basement of the Justice Center, with a week’s supply of food (10 boxes of Frosted Flakes, a bag of apples, several boxes of crackers, and a jar of peanut butter) and plenty of bottled water.  The cell was then triple-locked and the men with the three keys went on “road trips” in three different compass directions.  The Justice Center itself was heavily guarded, but each guard was handcuffed to a partner so that none could “sneak off” and, say, set fire to the building.

None of it mattered.  Fortenberry, along with 38 other people, died on Feb. 16 when Julián Cavallería (n = 225), an airline pilot, crashed a Lockheed Constellation filled with women’s dresses into the Amarillo Justice Center at an almost 70° angle.  Besides the victims on the ground, there were two other casualties: Cavallería’s co-pilot and flight engineer, both of whom Cavallería had shot mid-flight shortly after take-off from Will Rogers Airport in Oklahoma City.  Despite all precautions, the Ruby Chain was unbroken.

Ah, but what of Cavallería himself?  Remarkably (although predictably) Cavallería somehow bailed out of the plane before impact.  No one knows exactly how he managed this, but in any case Cavallería made good his escape and was, of course, killed on Feb. 18.  The Ruby Chain cannot be denied!

Other attempts to break the Chain met similar tragic results—tragic, in the sense of innocent life being lost.  Remember the Hermosillo Prison Fire of 1982?  What about the 1991 Sri Lankan Missile Strike?  Eventually, the consensus became: track the killers, but let them go.  Justice will take care of itself.  After all, it’s just assassins killing assassins.  Why all the hassle in trying to prevent any of it?  Let the fuckers die.

Of course, in today’s era of iPhone videography and ubiquitous social media, the idea of a Ruby Chain reality show was inevitable.  What if you could find living member N of the Chain, and follow them after their murder of N – 1, but before they’ve been killed by N + 1 … the possibilities are endless!  What drama!  What exciting TV!  Who can forget that sublime moment when the famous YouTuber Jesse Maddox interviewed Paul Stull (n = 9582) in a WalMart parking lot?

Maddox: Hey Paul, what’s it like to know you’re part of the Ruby Chain?

Stull: What?  What?

Maddox: America’s watching, Paul.  We know you killed Krissy Wall in Salt Lake.

Stull: I have no idea what you’re talking about.

Maddox: America’s watching!  And since that was two days ago, well, you know, Paul, today’s the day you die!

Stull: Fuck off.

Maddox: In fact— [draws a .38, just like Ruby, and fires it point-blank at Stull.]

Stull: Ooooohhhhhh!

[Maddox, now n = 9583, runs quickly to his car off-camera and peels out of the parking lot]

Not surprisingly, the Ruby Chain Channel (RCC) is now the 4th most-watched channel in American households.

This is something that happened.

In some universe, this occurred.

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