2017: Full Beaver Moon

Cross-posted from LiveJournal

Get your minds out of the gutter; November’s full moon was time to set the beaver traps to ensure a good supply of pelts for the winter. This photo was taken on November 3, 2017

I captured this using my Celestron 130 and a Samsung Galaxy S5. There are obviously countless better photos of the moon out there, but without an eyepiece mount, holding still and adjusting focus is a challenge. I feel like I lucked out for a first attempt.

I need a cell phone mount for my telescope, but there don’t seem to be any available for a Google Pixel 3XL – the lens is off to the side and the volume buttons tend to get in the way.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Those Medicare Ads

Sounds great, right? So you click the ad, and they want your age, your birthdate, your name, your zip code, and your phone number, which you happily provide.

But before being able to submit your information, you have to agree to their terms. Which are these:

By clicking ‘View My Results’, I expressly consent by electronic signature to receive marketing communication, including via calls using an automatic telephone dialing system and artificial or pre-recorded messages, emails, and text messages (SMS), from insurance companies or their agents, the owner of this website and its agents, representatives and affiliates, and partner companies to the phone number provided (including any wireless numbers). I understand that my consent to receive communications in this manner is not required as a condition of purchasing any goods or services, my telephone company may impose charges for these contacts, and I can revoke my consent at any time. If you are Medicare-eligible a representative may call you about a Medicare Advantage plan, Medicare Prescription Drug plan, Medicare Supplement plan or other Medicare plans. Not affiliated with the United States Government or the federal Medicare program.

By clicking ‘View My Results’, I further agree to receive SMS notifications from Assurance short code 71953. Message and data rates may apply. Message frequency varies. You may receive alerts until you choose to opt out of this service by texting “Stop” to 71953 or replying “Stop” to any of our messages. Text “Help” to 71953 for assistance. Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy and Do Not Sell My Personal Information

And those “partner companies” mentioned above? Here’s the list:

  • 1st Century
  • Accuquote
  • Adsparkx Digital
  • Advocator Group
  • Agentra Healthcare
  • AIG Direct
  • AIS
  • Aliera Healthcare
  • All Web Leads
  • Alliance
  • Allied Insurance Partners
  • Allstate
  • Alphatech Resource Holdings s.r.o
  • Alpine Digital Group, Inc.
  • American Adventure Insurance
  • American Income Life Insurance Company Family
  • American Insurance Company
  • American Insurance Organization, LLC
  • Americare
  • Ameriquote
  • AmeriSave
  • Angelic Marketing Group
  • Answer Financial
  • Apollo Interactive
  • Art Institute
  • Auto Insurance Guide
  • Avendia
  • Avenge Digital
  • Bantam Connect
  • Bayside
  • BE Marketing Solutions Inc.
  • Benefit Advisors
  • Black Optek
  • Blue Nile
  • Blue Summit
  • Bright Home Energy
  • BRXTN Digital Media
  • Caliber Home Loans
  • Capital Health Advisors Inc.
  • Cege Media
  • Choice Direct
  • Citizens Disability
  • Clean Energy Concepts
  • ClearLink
  • Click 2 Call Network
  • Commercial Insurance Center
  • CompareInsuranceQuotes
  • Connect Insurance Brands
  • Connect Plus
  • Contactability
  • Coverage One
  • CS Marketing
  • Debt.com
  • Digital Market Media, Inc.
  • Direct General
  • Disability Advisor
  • Discount Insurance Quotes
  • EasyMedicare.com, an affiliate of e-TeleQuote Insurance, Inc
  • easyMedicare.com, an affiliate of e-TeleQuote Insurance, Inc.
  • Efinancial
  • EPIQ
  • Esurance
  • EverQuote, Inc.
  • Excel Impact
  • Exclusive Digital Media
  • Finalexpenseassistant.com
  • First Family Life
  • FirstQuoteHealth.com
  • Florida Blue
  • Florida Plan Advisors
  • Fortegra
  • Freeway Insurance Services
  • Get Seen Media
  • Globe Life
  • Globe Life Insurance Company of New York
  • GoHealthInsurance
  • Goji
  • goMedigap
  • Green Home Advantage
  • Guidestar Marketing Group LLC
  • Guidetoinsure
  • Hannigan Insurance
  • Health Benefit Center
  • Health Benefits One
  • Health Center Marketing
  • Health Choice One
  • Health Insurance Innovations
  • Health Insurance Services
  • Health IQ
  • Health Plans of America
  • Health Solutions One
  • HealthCare, Inc.
  • Healthcareassistant.com
  • HealtheDeals
  • HealthMarkets
  • HealthPlanOne
  • HealthPlanOne, LLC
  • Heard and Smith
  • Heritage Life Insurance Company
  • Home Insurance King
  • Ideal Concepts
  • Inboxed LLC.
  • Independent Insurance Consultants
  • Innovate Financial Group
  • Innovation Direct Group
  • Inside Response
  • InsuraMatch
  • Insurance Care Direct
  • Insurance Quotes Now
  • Insurance Services
  • Insurance Solutions LLC
  • IPA Direct
  • iWebQuotes
  • Kanopy Insurance
  • Kelly Klee
  • Leadnomics
  • Legacy Insurance Solutions
  • Legends United Insurance Agency, Inc
  • Liberty Mutual
  • Liberty National Life Insurance Company
  • Lighthouse
  • Loan Depot
  • Mercury
  • Mercury Insurance
  • Momentum Solar
  • Morty Inc.
  • Moss
  • Mutual of Omaha
  • MVX Sales
  • My Health Advisors
  • National Disability
  • National General
  • National Income Life Insurance Company
  • National Plan Advisors
  • Nationwide
  • NetQuote
  • New Age Health
  • New American Funding
  • NextGen Leads, LLC
  • Nexus Enterprise Solutions
  • Open Market Quotes
  • Outlook Advisors
  • Palisades Media Group
  • Pay Per Call Market
  • Pay Per Call Transfers
  • PEMCO
  • PFP
  • Ping Leads
  • Platform Advertising
  • Plymouth Rock
  • Policy Scout
  • PolicyScout
  • Precursor Media
  • Premier Disability
  • Presidio Interactive
  • Priority Insurance
  • Progressive
  • Prudential
  • Purple Dog Marketing LLC
  • Q3MInsuranceSolutions
  • Quantum3media
  • Quicken Loans
  • Quote Engine
  • Quote Manager LLC
  • Quote Velocity
  • Quotehound
  • QuoteManage LLC
  • QuoteWizard
  • Rank Media Agency
  • Rayosun LLC
  • RCPT2
  • RevPoint
  • S.B. Fintech Ltd
  • Sales Data Pro
  • Selective Healthcare
  • SelectMyPolicy.com
  • SelectQuote
  • Senior Life
  • Senior Market Quotes
  • Smart Energy Direct
  • Smart Health Options, LLC
  • Smart Match Insurance Solutions
  • SolidQuote, LLC
  • Spring Health Plans
  • Spring Insurance Solutions
  • State Farm
  • ‘Stone Tapert
  • Stone Tapert Insurance Services
  • STRINGBIT inc.
  • Support First
  • Synergy Insurance Marketing
  • The Insurance Center
  • The Lead Company
  • The Zebra
  • Themedicareassistant.com
  • The-Solar-Project.com.
  • Tiburon Insurance
  • Tranzact
  • Travelers
  • TrueChoice Insurance Services
  • TrustedConsumer
  • Underground Elephant
  • United American Insurance Company
  • United Insurance Group Agency, Inc.
  • United Medicare Advisors
  • Velapoint
  • Vital One Health
  • ZQ Auto Insurance

In other words, you provide critical personal information to “updatedmedicareplans.com,” and they sell that information to over 208 other companies which may or may not have anything to do with Medicare coverage, and many of whom will sell that data onward to other marketing firms… and you agree to allow these companies to spam you with phone calls or text messages.

This is essentially the same business model used by “Lower My Bills,” and from where I sit it’s a bad deal. If you’re looking for improved Medicare Advantage plans, I suggest you call a reputable local insurance agent with whom you can deal in person, instead of opening yourself to a deluge of marketing calls, many of which will be spurious in nature.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

No, I haven’t been hacked

My last post (The Cat Scan) was just an entry in my personal journal that I put there for my own future reference. I password-protected it because “too much information” that would not be interesting for anyone but me.

My blog’s integrity has not been compromised.

-Wolfington X. Analemma

I don’t want conservative tears

In 2016 when 45 won the election, one of my overseas friends posted on my wall that the most delicious thing he had ever tasted were the liberal tears.
That saddened me deeply, but it essentially reflected the attitude of 45’s supporters over the last four years. Everything about the GOP has been focused on making liberals sad or angry, whether it was good governance or not.

Now the pendulum has swung the other way. The small, petty part of me that festers in darkness wants to post snarky comments on the Facebook walls of everyone who smugly told me that 45 was going to win by a landslide, but that would be emulating the morally bankrupt, tinsel-coated con-man who will soon fade into the mists of ignominy.

I don’t want conservative tears. For the duration of this administration, many Republicans have been shoving their middle fingers in the faces of Democrats, chanting “He won, get over it.” It’s time for them to take their own advice. For eight years, Mitch McConnell did everything he could to stymie and block any legislation proposed by President Obama; it’s time for that to end. America deserves better, and if Republicans want to spend the next four years making sure that no progressive legislation is even considered, let alone passed, they will be obstructing themselves into irrelevance.

I don’t want conservative tears, I want conservative coöperation for the benefit of all of us. I want people to be able to reach across the aisle and craft legislation important to Americans the way Ted Kennedy and Orrin Hatch did in 1997 to provide healthcare for half of America’s 10 million uninsured children. We need this, and we deserve it.

I don’t want conservative tears. The simple fact that Joseph Biden will be president doesn’t mean that conservative values are suddenly irrelevant; it doesn’t mean that liberals all of a sudden will come for your guns, make you all have abortions, close your churches, put everyone on welfare, open our borders to every conceivable immigrant or make your children change their gender. It does mean that – as ever it has been – America consists of people with similar hopes and dreams for themselves and their families but different viewpoints about how to get there. I want to see us make America a nation (and by extension, the world) a place that works for everyone, with no one left out.

If you truly believe that certain segments of our population don’t deserve to prosper, don’t deserve to be healthy, don’t deserve equal opportunities, don’t deserve to feel safe from abuse or oppression, don’t deserve a living wage, or don’t deserve to be happy… by all means, shed as many tears as you want. There is no room in the America I believe in for viewpoints that oppress, diminish, or sideline others just to keep others feeling good about themselves. But it is my hope that you will come to see that conservatism does not mean Trumpism or authoritarianism or fascism or brutal oppression of differing viewpoints or lifestyles, and conversely that being a liberal does not equate to Soviet-style socialism or a communist ideology.

What Americans of all stripes want is jobs to support their families; safety in their neighborhoods; and national security. That’s really about all that’s important. The freedoms that so many people are screaming will be taken away by this party or that are guaranteed in the Constitution – freedom of speech, freedom to assemble, freedom of religion (or from religion), and even the freedom to bear arms. That document is so frightfully difficult to amend, by design, that it’s unlikely those freedoms will ever be abridged regardless of who is in power. If they are, then the great experiment wrought by our founders will truly have failed.

Let us work together. This election was legitimate, despite the hateful lies spewing forth from the White House. There was no cheating. There were no dead people voting. Mail-in balloting is not rife for fraud. It just happened that more people voted for the Democratic ticket this time.

Now, to my Republican friends and family, I say this: If you want to see another Republican in the White House in 2025, put forth a candidate of good character, one who can represent all Americans even if they don’t happen to agree with everything (s)he believes in. Craft a platform that shows all Americans that you care about their welfare. Campaign on achievable goals that will raise the standard of living and the quality of life of all Americans… and you will stand an equal chance of winning. Not by voter suppression, not by gerrymandering, not by hateful lies and smear campaigns, but by virtue of honesty, dignity, and human decency. But please don’t ever again nominate an evil clown like the one we’ve all had to suffer with for the last four years.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

When lawyers get their comeuppance

Ain’t it a grand and glorious feeling?

by Briggs

I know some really good, decent, and ethical attorneys. At least two. But it’s always nice to experience that warm glow of Schadenfreude when you see the firm of Dewey, Cheetham,and Howe get a well-deserved comeuppance.

“Following [Mad] magazine’s parody of the film The Empire Strikes Back, a letter from George Lucas’s lawyers arrived in Mad’s offices demanding that the issue be recalled for infringement on copyrighted figures. The letter further demanded that the printing plates be destroyed, and that Lucasfilm must receive all revenue from the issue plus additional punitive damages. Unbeknownst to Lucas’ lawyers, Mad had received a letter weeks earlier from Lucas himself, expressing delight over the parody and calling artist Mort Drucker and writer Dick DeBartolo “the Leonardo da Vinci and George Bernard Shaw of comic satire.” Publisher Bill Gaines made a copy of Lucas’ letter, added the handwritten notation “Gee, your boss George liked it!” across the top, and mailed it to the lawyers. Said DeBartolo, “We never heard from them again.”

Wikipedia

When I learned of this, I was reminded of the “fangs-down” letter Gary Larson received about his “Doing a little more research with that Jane Goodall tramp?” cartoon. Turns out Ms. Goodall thought the cartoon was a crackup, and it was eventually published in National Geographic’s centennial edition. (Documented in Gary Larson’s The Pre-History of the Far Side.)

Gary Larson

Then there was Beasley Allen, a Montgomery-based law firm that filed a class-action lawsuit against Taco Bell alleging their taco filling did not meet the minimum USDA qualifications to be called “beef.” Beasely Allen later dropped the suit, pointing to “changes in marketing and product disclosure” by Taco Bell.

“Bullmeat,” said Taco Bell, and published the following full-page ad in USA Today:

Beasley Allen never apologized. But law firms are not known for that little social nicety.

Back in 2015 I had my own brush with infamy (and some satisfaction), when a legal firm in Washington, DC sent me a Cease and Desist letter for supposedly maligning the manufacturer of a worthless weight-loss product called “Pro Bio-Slim.” The gory details are still around as an earlier post in this blog; I pointed out all the flaws in the request and 5 years later have yet to receive any sort of follow-up from the attorneys in question.

Like I said, you can find good attorneys out there if you turn over enough rocks. Many are, in the words of Herman Melville,

“… one of those unambitious lawyers who never addresses a jury, or in any way draws down public applause; but in the cool tranquility of a snug retreat, do a snug business among rich men’s bonds and mortgages and title-deeds.”

Melville, Herman, “Bartleby the Scrivener,” 1856

I’m grateful for legal services rendered throughout my lifetime, all the while trying to avoid the necessessity. But because the world of law is largely a world of confrontation and hostilities, the profession seems to attract a surfeit of thermonuclear douchebags, and it’s always heart-warming to see one or a number of these (the collective noun is “a litigation of attorneys”)¹ get taken to the social cleaners.

The Old Wolf has spoken.


Footnotes:

¹ Not to be taken seriously. Some others are:

  • A descent of relatives
  • A windbag of politicians (I have my own, but it’s not suitable for a family-friendly blog
  • A groan of puns

And a list, comprehensive but not complete, of these fanciful collective nouns can be found here.

Don’t vote for Trump just because you think he’s “pro-life.” He’s not.

I have recently seen claims that Democrats support “abortion on demand up to the point of birth – and beyond – in some states.” This is a complete falsehood; not just a dogwhistle but a foghorn. Democrats do not believe in infanticide. Doctors do not believe in infanticide. People like Donald Trump and Ted Cruz are simply lying when they claim otherwise.

Joseph Biden believes that Roe v Wade is the law of the land and supports it, feeling – just as Hillary Clinton does – that “abortion should remain legal, but it needs to be safe and rare,” but he has never said that he supports elective, late-term abortions unless a pregnancy has gone catastrophically wrong. This is another gross Republican misrepresentation.

It is important to understand that Donald Trump is not pro-life. He simply echoes the views of his evangelical supporters, the part of his base that he can most easily manipulate because of this single issue. And they themselves are not pro-life, they are only pro-birth, without any regard for surrounding circumstances.

If the GOP were pro-life, they would be providing increased government support to Planned Parenthood, which prevents far more abortions on an annual basis by providing family planning services than they ever facilitate.

“Roughly half of the more than six million pregnancies in the United States each year are unintended. And many of them are to young mothers: according to the Guttmacher Institute, the rate of unintended pregnancies among sexually active teens is double that of all women. Despite opponent’s claims, the vast majority of Planned Parenthood’s work is devoted to the organization’s more central goal—helping people avoid unwanted pregnancy altogether.”

(Michael Specter, the New Yorker)

If the GOP were pro-life, they would all be wearing masks and supporting a national, comprehensive plan to fight the pandemic instead of being “maskdebaters,” waving Confederate flags and screaming about “muh freedom!”

If the GOP were pro-life they would be marching in the streets protesting the horrible conditions immigrant families are subjected to, in cages, their children cruelly torn from them (and Stephen Miller has said out loud that cruelty was the point).

If the GOP were pro-life they would be immediately voting for Medicare for All instead of trying to take healthcare away from millions of Americans and dismantle the ACA – a plan they hate only because it was put in place by a “black, socialist president”, the thought of which still galls them – and maintain a status quo that favors profit and “maximizing shareholder value” over health and well-being.

If the GOP were pro-life they would be enacting reasonable gun-sensibility laws like banning the insane high-power, high-capacity rifles and other weapons that no one needs to hunt deer, supporting universal background checks for every gun sale public or private, and treating guns and gun owners with exactly the same kinds of regulations required to own and operate a car (which, it may be noted, almost everyone does regularly and abundantly, mostly without complaining about the “draconian government control” of education, licensing, inspection, insurance, registration and taxation that are part of that privilege.)

If the GOP were pro-life, they would immediately get us back into the Paris accords and work as a global leader with the rest of the world to control anthropogenic climate change. The National Bureau of Economic Research predicts that if climate change is left unchanged, higher temperatures could lead to 85 deaths per 100,000 people globally per year by 2100. Calculating from today, that comes to a half-billion lives lost. That’s not pro-life in anyone’s book.

No, the GOP and by extension Donald Trump – who has no other values than his bank account and his galactic ego – are not “pro-life.” They only use this term to court the evangelical right and make sure that their political opponents are demonized for being “baby killers.”

You may believe – as I do, parenthetically – that all life belongs to God and should be treated sacredly. I don’t fault you for this belief. But a huge percentage of our nation doesn’t share your values, and decisions of government should never be based on religion, as enshrined in the First Amendment.

A real pro-life stance is far more complicated than that.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

The Good Place. A great show.

Every now and then I watch a series as it unrolls on Netflix, but more often than not I’m late to the party and can devour the whole thing as fast as my spare time allows me to. Before this last week, my last escapade was with “Dark,” a wonderful German fantasy dealing with time travel, dimension, other worlds, and the interconnected lives of several families in a small town in Germany.

On the heels of that, interspersed with re-watching episodes of “Midnight Diner,” I picked up “The Good Place” as recommended by the Goodwoman of the House.

The last series that delighted me so much was The Dark Crystal – Age of Resistance, which some cretinous executives at Netflix decided not to bring back for a second season, may all their teeth fall out after having had a root canal in every one. The Good Place was fun and charming and thoughtful and provocative from beginning to end.

Maybe, like me, you have been living under a rock and never had a chance to watch this before now. I tend to be late to the party on a lot of modern things, just because life has been so busy for the last 4 years retrofitting a 200-year-old farmhouse and working in a warehouse at the same time. But I’m grateful that this lovely show actually made it onto my radar.

I won’t spoil anything, but according to Wikipedia,

the original premise follows Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell), a woman welcomed after her death to “the Good Place”, a highly selective Heaven-like utopia designed and run by afterlife “architect” Michael (Ted Danson) as a reward for her righteous life. However, she realizes that she was sent there by mistake and must hide her morally imperfect past behavior while trying to become a better and more ethical person. William Jackson Harper, Jameela Jamil, and Manny Jacinto co-star as other residents of the Good Place, alongside D’Arcy Carden as Janet, an artificial being who assists the residents.”

As the show goes on, it asks a lot of good questions about the nature of human behavior, good and evil, and human relationships – and does so while weaving multiple threads from pop culture and a lot of really funny bits into the mix.

I would love for every individual involved in this show, from the writers and producers to the cast and crew, to know how much pleasure their craft gave me. Ted Danson was superb, and every one of his fellow cast members absolutely knocked it out of the park. The ending was bittersweet but satisfying, but I have to confess I wished that there were more.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

The Great Barrington Crime Against Humanity

I just saw something come across my newsfeed about the “Great Barrington Declaration,” a document which essentially recommends against any Covid-19 protections, like social distancing and wearing masks, and promotes the development of herd immunity by exposing less-vulnerable people through living normal lives.

But consider this, from Wikipedia (emphasis mine.)


The World Health Organization and numerous academic and public-health bodies have stated that the proposed strategy is dangerous, unethical, and lacks a sound scientific basis.

They say that it would be impossible to shield all those who are medically vulnerable, leading to a large number of avoidable deaths among both older people and younger people with underlying health conditions, and they warn that the long-term effects of COVID-19 are still not fully understood. Moreover, they say that the herd immunity component of the proposed strategy is undermined by the limited duration of post-infection immunity. The more likely outcome, they say, would be recurrent epidemics, as was the case with numerous infectious diseases before the advent of vaccination. The American Public Health Association and 13 other public-health groups in the United States warned in a joint open letter that the Great Barrington Declaration “is not a strategy, it is a political statement. It ignores sound public health expertise. It preys on a frustrated populace. Instead of selling false hope that will predictably backfire, we must focus on how to manage this pandemic in a safe, responsible, and equitable way.”

The Great Barrington Declaration was authored by Sunetra Gupta of the University of Oxford, Jay Bhattacharya of Stanford University, and Martin Kulldorff of Harvard University.

The costs were paid for by the American Institute for Economic Research, a libertarian think tank that is part of a Koch-funded network of organizations associated with climate change denial.


These social inconveniences – and that’s what they are, not oppressive, draconian measures – are admittedly not fun. It is a pain not to see people’s smiling faces. It is difficult to not go places we want to go, see people we want to see, travel to other cities or countries, gather in restaurants and bars for fun and celebrations, enjoy blockbuster movies in theaters, see Broadway plays, be at the side of loved ones who are going through difficult times, attend weddings and Bat Mitzvahs and funerals and Christmas parties and all the things we used to take for granted. Yes, it’s a massive pain in the tuchus.

But it’s the only way we will continue to fight the spread of this very evil, very nasty virus that kills across all spectra and leaves countless others with reduced quality of life forever, until the healthcare researchers can understand this virus and develop effective treatments and viable vaccines.

If you have never worn a mask in public because you think the government is oppressing you, or that the liberal left is promulgating a hoax, and you’re exercising your rights as a free American, or something else equally inane, you’re not a patriot. You’re an asshole. You may be maiming or killing people. And you need to go home and re-examine your life.

This restaurant in Las Vegas has the right idea:

The supposed “FTBA Mask Exemption Cards” are bogus and carry no legal or social weight of authority. If someone gives you one of them, give them back one of these:

For the love of all that’s holy; for the sake of decency and caring about your own health and that of your fellow humans around you, wear a mask and practice social distancing until this pandemic is under control and treatments and vaccines are available.

The Old Wolf has Spoken.

We knew about the planet called Earth

This showed up on my Facebook feed this morning, and then I tracked it down to a Tumblr post by dalekteaservice. When I read it and got to the end, I was deeply moved. It is a beautiful piece of writing.


We knew about the planet called Earth for centuries before we made contact with its indigenous species, of course. We spent decades studying them from afar.

The first researchers had to fight for years to even get a grant, of course. They kept getting laughed out of the halls. A T-Class Death World that had not only produced sapient lifebut a Stage Two civilization? It was a joke, obviously. It had to be a joke.

And then it wasn’t. And we all stopped laughing.Instead, we got very, very nervous. 

We watched as the human civilizations not only survived, but grew, and thrived, and invented things that we had never even conceived of. Terrible things, weapons of war, implements of destruction as brutal and powerful as one would imagine a death world’s children to be. In the space of less than two thousand years, they had already produced implements of mass death that would have horrified the most callous dictators in the long, dark history of the galaxy. 

Already, the children of Earth were the most terrifying creatures in the galaxy. They became the stuff of horror stories, nightly warnings told to children; huge, hulking, brutish things, that hacked and slashed and stabbed and shot and burned and survived, that built monstrous metal things that rumbled across the landscape and blasted buildings to ruin.

All that preserved us was their lack of space flight. In their obsession with murdering one another, the humans had locked themselves into a rigid framework of physics that thankfully omitted the equations necessary to achieve interstellar travel. 

They became our bogeymen. Locked away in their prison planet, surrounded by a cordon of non-interference, prevented from ravaging the galaxy only by their own insatiable need to kill one another. Gruesome and terrible, yes – but at least we were safe.

Or so we thought.

The cities were called Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In the moment of their destruction, the humans unlocked a destructive force greater than any of us could ever have believed possible. It was at that moment that those of us who studied their technology knew their escape to be inevitable, and that no force in the universe could have hoped to stand against them.

The first human spacecraft were… exactly what we should have expected them to be. There were no elegant solar wings, no sleek, silvered hulls plying the ocean of stars. They did not soar on the stellar currents. They did not even register their existence. Humanity flew in the only way it could: on all-consuming pillars of fire, pounding space itself into submission with explosion after explosion. Their ships were crude, ugly, bulky things, huge slabs of metal welded together, built to withstand the inconceivable forces necessary to propel themselves into space through violence alone.

It was almost comical. The huge, dumb brutes simply strapped an explosive to their backs and let it throw them off of the planet. 

We would have laughed, if it hadn’t terrified us.

Humanity, at long last, was awake.

It was a slow process. It took them nearly a hundred years to reach their nearest planetary neighbor; a hundred more to conquer the rest of their solar system. The process of refining their explosive propulsion systems – now powered by the same force that had melted their cities into glass less than a thousand years before – was slow and haphazard. But it worked. Year by year, they inched outward, conquering and subduing world after world that we had deemed unfit for habitation. They burrowed into moons, built orbital colonies around gas giants, even crafted habitats that drifted in the hearts of blazing nebulas. They never stopped. Never slowed.

The no-contact cordon was generous, and was extended by the day. As human colonies pushed farther and farther outward, we retreated, gave them the space that they wanted in a desperate attempt at… stalling for time, perhaps. Or some sort of appeasement. Or sheer, abject terror. Debates were held daily, arguing about whether or not first contact should be initiated, and how, and by whom, and with what failsafes. No agreement was ever reached.

We were comically unprepared for the humans to initiate contact themselves.

It was almost an accident. The humans had achieved another breakthrough in propulsion physics, and took an unexpected leap of several hundred light years, coming into orbit around an inhabited world.

What ensued was the diplomatic equivalent of everyone staring awkwardly at one another for a few moments, and then turning around and walking slowly out of the room.

The human ship leapt away after some thirty minutes without initiating any sort of formal communications, but we knew that we had been discovered, and the message of our existence was being carried back to Terra. 

The situation in the senate could only be described as “absolute, incoherent panic”. They had discovered us before our preparations were complete. What would they want? What demands would they make? What hope did we have against them if they chose to wage war against us and claim the galaxy for themselves? The most meager of human ships was beyond our capacity to engage militarily; even unarmed transport vessels were so thickly armored as to be functionally indestructible to our weapons.

We waited, every day, certain that we were on the brink of war. We hunkered in our homes, and stared.

Across the darkness of space, humanity stared back.

There were other instances of contact. Human ships – armed, now – entering colonized space for a few scant moments, and then leaving upon finding our meager defensive batteries pointed in their direction. They never initiated communications. We were too frightened to.

A few weeks later, the humans discovered Alphari-296.

It was a border world. A new colony, on an ocean planet that was proving to be less hospitable than initially thought. Its military garrison was pitifully small to begin with. We had been trying desperately to shore it up, afraid that the humans might sense weakness and attack, but things were made complicated by the disease – the medical staff of the colonies were unable to devise a cure, or even a treatment, and what pitifully small population remained on the planet were slowly vomiting themselves to death.

When the human fleet arrived in orbit, the rest of the galaxy wrote Alphari-296 off as lost.

I was there, on the surface, when the great gray ships came screaming down from the sky. Crude, inelegant things, all jagged metal and sharp edges, barely holding together. I sat there, on the balcony of the clinic full of patients that I did not have the resources or the expertise to help, and looked up with the blank, empty, numb stare of one who is certain that they are about to die.

I remember the symbols emblazoned on the sides of each ship, glaring in the sun as the ships landed inelegantly on the spaceport landing pads that had never been designed for anything so large. It was the same symbol that was painted on the helmets of every human that strode out of the ships, carrying huge black cases, their faces obscured by dark visors. It was the first flag that humans ever carried into our worlds.

It was a crude image of a human figure, rendered in simple, straight lines, with a dot for the head. It was painted in white, over a red cross.

The first human to approach me was a female, though I did not learn this until much later – it was impossible to ascertain gender through the bulky suit and the mask. But she strode up the stairs onto the balcony, carrying that black case that was nearly the size of my entire body, and paused as I stared blankly up at her. I was vaguely aware that I was witnessing history, and quite certain that I would not live to tell of it.

Then, to my amazement, she said, in halting, uncertain words, “You are the head doctor?”

I nodded.

The visor cleared. The human bared its teeth at me. I learned later that this was a “grin”, an expression of friendship and happiness among their species. 

“We are The Doctors Without Borders,” she said, speaking slowly and carefully. “We are here to help.”