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Tag Archives: Science fiction

NaNoWriMo; Set, Ready, Go!


This year’s NaNoWriMo has been set!

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A crossover story, starring the crew of a merchant vessel (a heavily armed merchant vessel), and the citizens of Diessa Plateau in Ascalon.

The crew of the S.S. Tigris hasn’t had the easiest of times.  They aren’t explorers, they aren’t warriors, they are merchants.  But they’ve made some incredible luck for themselves.  Ret N’Vek and her brother and sister joined together with other family members and friends and a few strange companions (including a Romulan android, an Emergency Engineering Hologram who likes Klingon Opera and always agrees to any trade deal with the words “Today is a good day to die”, and a gender fluid Gorn).  They’re first bit of luck came when they managed to “acquire” an old B’Rel Bird-of-Prey.  Klingon raiders attempted to board their ship, so they gave it to them.  In exchange for the much more armoured and armed Klingon ship.

While most Ferasan, the crew of the Tigris are members and supporters of the Ferasan Underground, a group fighting to bring peace between Caitian and Ferasan people, and overthrow the oppression of centuries of dogma by the patriarchal central government.  Now that Feras has been annexed by the Klingon Empire, this once thought dead movement has begun to rise again.

This means the Tigris keeps her trade routes in more Federation friendly areas.  Even hotly contested areas like the Betreka Nebula.

Deep inside the nebula is a planetary system, deemed unworthy for conquest or technologically primitive for first contact.  The locals, five higher species including humans, call this world Tyria.

Charr lands are not the places where you’d think a human would live, but for Abisayo Temililu and her lover Pania Alow, Diessa Plateau has done well for them.  Guided by an old friend of the family in Clayton Henry Irons, this pair have made their home with the Iron Legion.  Pania has even made contacts and partnerships with old Iron Legion members serving the Priory, including an old soldier named Grishnack Soulclaw.  Even the mysterious charr witch has offered her own advise and sent a young Ash Legion charr to help this small family live in the Plateau.

But the old aggression far in the vacuum of space still take place.  The Klingons continue to fight off the Cardassians, but this time in the guise of the True Way, an organization of Cardassian and Jem’Hadar soldiers who supported the Dominion.  And then there’s also Orion pirates.  The lives of the people of Diessa are about to be shaken more than any dragon ever could.  What will happen when the citizens of this place look to the sky as a B’Rel Class Bird-of-Prey fights off two Jem’Hadar assault fighters?  And what will the crew of the Tigris make of this strange new world?

Here there be dragons.

 
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Posted by on October 26, 2015 in Writing

 

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I wrote some books!


I’m back from holidays!  It’s been a while, so here’s a thing!

I’ve made mention of the fact that I’m having issues with my laptop.  So, to help me get a new laptop, here’s a thing!

I wrote two books!

The first is The Adventures of Black Mask & Pale Rider, the story of two elven women as they travel together across the Union and the Confederacy.  Magic, monsters, gunslingers and more are wrapped up in this book.  Set during the time of the American Civil War, this book mixes high fantasy with the wild west.

Elven magic meets gunslinger grit. What happens when two elven travellers find themselves in the United States in the middle of the Civil War? The Adventures of Black Mask and Pale Rider tells the story of two elven women who’s curiosity gets the better of them.

The wild ride takes them from the Union to the Confederacy and back again. Along the way they make enemies and friends and learn a little bit about this world, and about themselves. An adventure of six guns and sorcery.

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The second is called Canyons of Steel.  Canyons of Steel is a modern day western that follows the decision of John T. Walker, a high ranking member of a militant organization that tries to keep power in certain hands throughout the world.  It also stars Maxwell Running Cloud and Naomi Simonson, brother and sister who take on the guises of Hawk’s Scream and Grey Kestrel.  Western, superhero and sci fi.

What happens when an old gun hand makes a decision to turn his life around and set a new course? In Canyons of Steel, Johnathon Tiberius Walker makes the choice of turning his back on the underground military of the Red Hand and try to make right his own sins. All because he wants his daughter to live in a better world than he does.

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The link above goes to my author page at lulu.com, and you can buy them in either dead tree format or in digital format.

Thanks so much in advance!

 
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Posted by on August 20, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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5 Ways ‘Star Trek’ Was Rebooted Wrong | Cracked.com


 

5 Ways ‘Star Trek’ Was Rebooted Wrong | Cracked.com.

Okay, it’s not often I will point people in the direction of a Cracked article, but this one is on point.

Just avoid the comments section with all the people griping and complaining as is often found in many Cracked articles.

 
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Posted by on June 30, 2015 in Fun, randomness

 

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EDITORIAL – The Future of Star Trek: It’s the Story, Stupid | TrekMovie.com


EDITORIAL – The Future of Star Trek: It’s the Story, Stupid | TrekMovie.com.

I had planned to do my own editorial on Trek, which I may still do, but this one is an excellent article.

 
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Posted by on June 23, 2015 in Fun, randomness

 

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All Things Change


At one time, decades ago, a television series hit the airwaves that was groundbreaking for it’s time.  It dealt with issues of race, gender, gender inequality, war, and had television’s first inter-racial kiss.  If the pilot had stood, it would also have had a woman as the first officer of the starship.  As it happened, it had a black woman as a communications officer, and a Japanese American as a helms officer.  And it didn’t treat them as special or different, they were members of the crew.

That television series was Star Trek.

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For three seasons, it went boldly as it examined the human condition and (at the time) current social issues.  It’s been said many a time, even on this blog, that it even caught the attention of Martin Luther King Jr. who convinced Nichelle Nichols to stay with the show as she represented a black woman in a form not seen on television before.

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The years passed and then came the movies, and a resurgence in Trek proved there was enough interest to produce a new series.  The Next Generation came out, and it too went boldly were its predecessor had gone.  It examined social issues under the guise of science fiction.  From capital punishment, to torture, to the need for diplomacy.

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While TNG was still running, the producers of Star Trek decided they could do another series.  One that ended up much more serious in nature.  Deep Space Nine wouldn’t just explore the galaxy, but it would explore more social issues, using the backdrop of a recently liberated world from decades of oppression as the setting.  The show talked about the ravages of war, racism, inequality, and trust.  It even had the distinction of being the first Trek series to have a black commanding officer.

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Voyager came next, and continued the tradition that had come before.  With the backdrop of an unfamiliar region of space, the crew of the Federation Starship Voyager met social issues head on and often times made a positive mark.

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The last series in the group was Enterprise, and while it went back to Starfleet’s infancy, it still reminded the viewer that Earth had just overcome a massive world war, had dealt with poverty, crime, disease, and had found similarities to overcome their own differences and appreciate their own differences.

And then came 2009.

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In 2009, the entire original series was rebooted.  And while the cast was good, each actor taking on the role incredibly well, the stories weren’t the same.  Everything was set aside for action, and a lot of exposition.  The original series movies and Next Gen movies had a lot of action as well, but they still managed to tell stories that had similar social issues.  Such as The Voyage Home, and Insurrection.  But the new take didn’t have that same aspect, as everything seemed to be done for high thrills and playing off of tropes that had often gained a snicker or two over the years (such as Kirk and his involvement with women as seen in the beginning of ST 2009 and ST Into Darkness… by the way, those weren’t Caitians, as much as Abrams wants to say they were, they weren’t).  Khan was handled terribly, whitewashing the original Indian aspects of the villain, and seeming to dumb him down.  Khan’s strength wasn’t just his physical strength, but his ability to manipulate and his charismatic nature to convince someone to do something they normally wouldn’t do.  By the time Wrath of Khan was released, it would be expected that Khan was a little insane with revenge, due to the fact he was marooned on a planet, his wife killed by the natural inhabitants of the planet, and blamed everything on Kirk.  In ST Into Darkness, Khan was just angry all the time.  There was no manipulation at all.  There was no cunning that was the level of the original series or in Wrath of Khan.

As far as a science fiction story that manages to use it’s backdrop to tell stories of social conscious, Star Trek has begun to fail.  Worse so that the announcement of the script for a third film has been dumbed down because the producers feel the wider audience wouldn’t understand it.  Which isn’t putting a lot of faith in the fans.  The fans are people who meticulously catalog every aspect of Trek.  The fans are the ones who go out of their way to learn Klingon just for fun.  The fans are the ones who manage to poke holes in the stories, albeit without malice but more light heartedly (look to the Nictpicker’s Guides).

While Star Trek has failed, there is another movies series that has picked up the slack.

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George Miller’s latest in the Mad Max series manages to look at several different social issues, without using exposition, without using glamour shots, and without using gore.  You’d think a movie set in an apocalyptic wasteland would have tons of gore and have a multitude of gratuitous shots.  But no, it’s all done with great story telling.

There’s discussions of rape without actually showing a rape.  The Wives are sex slaves, and it’s basically mentioned that they had been raped.  But there was no need to put this on display at all (which is something the producers of Game of Thrones could take a lesson from).  There’s discussion of patriarchy, there’s discussion of slave trade, there’s discussion of an oppressive systems.  And the best part is, it’s all done with very little dialogue.  Couple that with the fact that a huge percentage of the movie was done with practical effects.  This isn’t even touching on the fact that Furiosa was a disabled woman, which was never once pointed out in a gratuitous way.

Where Star Trek failed, Mad Max succeeded.

 
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Posted by on June 16, 2015 in Fun, randomness

 

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Star Trek, social commentary, and story telling


Dramatic music time for this topic.  And yes, it’s about Star Trek and how it’s kind of deviated from what it set out back in 1966.

During the original series run of Trek, Gene Roddenberry set about a series that not only gave a glimpse into the future, but also was a spring board to talk about social justice and comment on society at the time.  Instead of using people of colour to talk about how African Americans are oppressed and given very few liberties in the United States, he used aliens to talk about the very same thing.  The people who got it, understood exactly what he was talking about (along with a host of writers such as D. C. Fontana).  But he was also able to portray a future where people worked along side each other without prejudice.  Uhura was a communications officer, and a character who was black.  At that time, black women were only seen as maids on television.  Sulu was a helms officer, and a Japanese American.  There was still a feeling of suspicion about the Japanese in society in the United States.  After all, the Second World War ended only 20 years before.  Both of those characters may have been overlooked because a lot of people might have been shocked to see a Russian on the bridge.

At the time, the U.S. and Russian were enemies.  The Cold War was in full swing, and a television show with a Russian who wasn’t a spy or a bad guy was unheard of.  Especially for network television.

Years past, Next Generation came and produced more similar styled shows.  Deep Space Nine gave a very dramatic feel, using aspects of social commentary to tell their stories.  Voyager taught how two sides with a common goal can work together.  Enterprise told the story of how things began, while repeating that Earth had come to terms with their differences.

But a lot of those issues, the stories that mirror real life, aren’t being told (outside of fan productions like Star Trek Horizons, Star Trek Renegades, or Star Trek Hidden Frontier.

The Ferasan species as depicted in Star Trek Online.

 

Those types of stories can still be told, and herein lies where my often times overactive imagination comes into play.  We know in Star Trek there are Caitians.  Feline species that finds great loyalty in those they befriend.  But there’s also the Ferasan, which are seen as the polar opposite to the Caitians while being distantly related to them.  Both the Caitians and the Ferasan have a common ancestor; the Kzinti.  The Kzinti were a very war like feline species who held anyone female in the greatest of contempt.  Females in Kzinti society, after all, were only good for reproduction or doing the things that needed to be done in the home (sound familiar?).

Kzinti, first seen in the Star Trek animated series.

But there Ferasan are seen as Star Treks bad guys in the feline species family.  I see them a tad different.  Ferasan are the species that got the short end of the stick.  Most likely, Caitians rebelled against the Kzinti and eventually won their freedom, which would be a great story.  The Ferasan were most likely in that battle as well, but they were probably overlooked.  So there’s centuries of resentment towards the Caitians.

M’Ress is the most recognizable Caitian, who first appeared in the Star Trek animated series.

 

Why weren’t the Ferasan invited to join the Federation when they won their freedom along side the Caitians?  Most likely, once the planet of Cait was founded, the Ferasan weren’t invited to join in.  So they had to colonize their own world, which meant they were nomadic for years until they did so.  That type of feeling would leave a lot of resentment.

This post is already long enough, so I’ll make this part one of an interesting story idea, and how Star Trek could tell those important stories using aliens once again.

 
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Posted by on June 5, 2015 in Fun, randomness

 

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Let’s Play! Star Trek Online Part 1


I play Star Trek Online.  Video quality is okay, audio is alright.  I’m not dealing with a high end system.  All I will say is, I become a commanding officer of a vessel because someone dies!

WordPress site: https://taholtorf.wordpress.com/

Tumblr:  http://timholtorf.tumblr.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/TimHoltorf

As I go through the series, you can give me suggestions for what gear to get, so leave that in the comments.

This material is used under fair use laws, there is no profit made from this and all copyrights are held by their original owners. Star Trek and all likenesses are copyright Paramount Pictures.  Star Trek Online is a licensed product of Cryptic Studios.

 
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Posted by on April 4, 2015 in video, Zodiviews

 

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That’s So METAL!


This is partially going to go hand in hand with my NaNoWriMo and the fact I’m writing about superheroes as they might exist in our world.  It’s a tale that starts in the 1970s and keeps going right up to present day.

A big part of that includes the changes in music, and I often get the feeling that the music is being played by a particular band in this universe (named Blanc Noir, but could be changed to Seven Years of Blood because that sounds way cooler).  The band is unorthodox, because it doesn’t really fit into what might be considered the mainstream metal norm.  Unfortunately, the mainstream metal norm often includes bands like Metallica, Megadeath, Iron Maiden, and even Van Halen (which could be considered pop metal).  Even bands like Amon Amarth might fit that more mainstream feel.

Here in North America, we often think of a metal band being something akin to Bon Jovi, Poison, Warrant, Metallica, Megadeath, Van Halen, Helix, Kick Axe, or Guns ‘n Roses.  But metal has a wide diversity.

In Europe, artists are marrying metal with symphonic and operatic sounds and coming up with things like Nightwish, Within Temptation, or even Amaranthe.  In Japan, there’s Baby Metal, combining the bubble gum sounds of pop with gothic death metal.  And then there’s the metal bands which could be considered mainstream but are often forgotten by the mainstream for one reason only.

Those are bands like Living Color, Wicked Wisdom, and even Sevendust, all of which are either fronted by or are completely comprised of African American musicians.  It’s still the same kind of metal, but with a bit of a different twist.

It’s combinations of these that I’ve put together with this fictional metal band in the Heroic League Project.  Three of the band members are costumed crime fighters themselves, two of which are the daughters of former heroes and have taken up their parents’ (or aunt’s) former code names.  The band plays a huge part in this universe, a gothic metal band from Montreal that’s completely bilingual and records many of their tracks and even performs in Quebecois.  Four of the members are women (which is a call back to the 80s glam metal group Vixen).  Two members, brother and sister, are Haitian Canadian (rhythm guitar and lead vocalist). one is Jewish (drummer), one is Metis (lead guitar), and one is Dakota (bassist, who is also blind).  The lead vocalist is male, everyone else is female but performs vocal duties as well as their regular addition to the band.  Two of the members are lovers (lead guitarist and drummer), who also happen to be costumed crime fighters, as is one other (bassist).  All but one (bassist) are from Quebec; the fifth member is from Saskatchewan.  One former member was from Nova Scotia.

So, in my head, as the story unfolds, there’s almost like a backing soundtrack of a modern day metal band that’s performing in my head, almost as though accompanying the story with music to fit.

 

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The Year Is 1970


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Greenpeace saw it’s birth in 1970 in a Vancouver student dorm.

After a 32-month fight for independence from Nigeria, Biafran forces under Philip Effiong formally surrender to General Yakubu Gowon.

Black Sabbath’s eponymous debut album is released; often regarded as the first true heavy metal album.

Rhodesia severs its last tie with the United Kingdom, declaring itself a republic.

A bomb being constructed by members of the Weathermen and meant to be planted at a military dance in New Jersey, explodes, killing 3 members of the organization.

The 1970 United States Census begins. There are 203,392,031 United States residents on this day.

Israeli Air Force F-4 Phantom II fighter bombers kill 47 Egyptian school children at an elementary school in what is known as Bahr el-Baqar massacre. The single-floor school is hit by 5 bombs and 2 air-to-ground missiles.

Demonstrations against the trial of the New Haven Nine, Bobby Seale, and Ericka Huggins draw 12,000. President Richard Nixon orders U.S. forces to cross into neutral Cambodia, threatening to widen the Vietnam War, sparking nationwide riots and leading to the Kent State shootings.

In Washington, D.C., 100,000 people demonstrate against the Vietnam War.

The Who become the first act to perform rock music (their rock opera, Tommy) at the Metropolitan Opera House, New York.

Air Canada Flight 621 crashes at Toronto International Airport, Toronto, Ontario; all 109 passengers and crew are killed.

The Women’s Strike for Equality takes place down Fifth Avenue in New York City.

An assassination attempt against King Hussein of Jordan precipitates the Black September crisis.

Jimi Hendrix dies in London of drug related complications.

Palestinian armored forces reinforce Palestinian guerillas in Irbidi, Jordan.

The Front de libération du Québec (FLQ) kidnaps James Cross in Montreal and demands release of all its imprisoned members. The next day the Canadian government announces it will not meet the demand, beginning Quebec’s October Crisis.

In Paris, a Communist delegation rejects U.S. President Richard Nixon’s October 7 peace proposal as “a maneuver to deceive world opinion.”

In Liverpool, England, military officials begin tests for a candidate to undergo treat for a special project called Project Britannia.

In Windsor, Ontario, a canary yellow car is often seen driving near crime scenes, often driven by an individual dressed in a yellow trench coat and fedora.  The media dubs him Yellow Jacket.

Vancouver City Police and RCMP E Division place an unknown figure only called the Mannekin on the most wanted list.

Photographers in Montreal capture the image of a young man dressed in a red and white uniform with a maple leaf on his chest.  It is overheard he calls himself Canadien, and is fighting against corruption brought on by the FLQ.

In Detroit, Michigan, a black neighbourhood finds they have their own protector, as a figure dressed in the colours of Old Glory defends the people of the small district.  She is dubbed Free Spirit.

In 1970, heroes live among us.  They witness world events along side of us.  They make news, inspire, and become subjects of suspicion.  In 1970, five origins begins the fifty year history of The Heroic League.

 

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Historical accuracy versus fantasy


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Hogwarts Founders presented as Idris Elba, Lucy Liu, Hrithik Roshan, and Angel Coulby.

Lately there’s been this cry heard whenever someone makes a post or even writes a book based on fantasy and includes people of colour in the story.  Not just as background characters, but as main characters.  Here’s a recent example of a comment made about the founders of Hogwart’s, all racebent.

While I do love that whoever made this did a good job matching actors to characters, the one issue I have is that Hogwarts is in England and what founded several centuries ago. I’m not saying that there wouldn’t have been blacks or asians in England at the time, but it’s still a historical inaccuracy to depict them as anything other than white Englishmen, since the culture of England at the time wouldn’t have had room for blacks and asians as anything other than slaves or traders.

Please don’t take this as me being racist, this is just me with a debilitating and incurable need for historical accuracy.

The last paragraph of the comment is the telling one.  Before claiming to want historical accuracy, the defensive is automatically put on for a wish to not be considered racist.  The opposite in fact happens.  Is it historical ignorance?  Is it racism?  It’s a lazy form of racism, yes.  The reason I call it lazy is this.  When presented with something that is different than what the person has been taught, instead of researching and discovering true history, they will automatically claim it is historically inaccurate.

Let’s really get a focus on this problem here.  The Harry Potter series isn’t the first series to have this issue.  And it’s also strange how in the movies themselves one character, Lavender Brown, went from being black to being white within a year once she was to become Ron’s girlfriend.  In Thor, there was an outcry for having Idris Elba as Heimdahl.  Yet, in the recently announced Exodus: Gods and Kings which is a retelling of the Biblical story of Moses, all of the principle actors playing the roles of Egyptians and the Middle Eastern Jews are being played by white people.  I’d love those who claim for historical accuracy to try and defend why there seems to be only white people in a movie about a location that has historically been home to black and brown people.

Whenever a black or brown person is cast in a role for a fantasy film, there’s always a demand for historical accuracy.  Whether the person riding this ignorance train realizes it or not, they’re basically making a claim of how racist they actually are.  You’re not okay with a black or brown person in a fantasy film, but you’re completely fine with dwarves, wizards, dragons, magic, pixies and elves?  Basically, creatures that don’t exist in reality.  You’d rather see fictional beings that do not exist at all than see black or brown people, who do exist, and have existed for thousands of years.

There’s gonna be somebody who’s going to complain about this post, I just know it.  Someone who’s going to say I need to prove that what I’m saying is accurate.  Fine.  Here’s a list.

  1. Black Moors in Scotland
  2. Moors in the Court of James IV, King of Scots
  3. St. Deiniol in Wales
  4. Ghanaians in London
  5. Art from the 1600s showing brown men in turbans
  6. Here’s an Indian man who in the 1700s ran a successful restaurant in England and taught white people to shampoo their hair
  7. Japanese emissaries came to Europe as early as 1584
  8. Mongolian Genghis Khan made it to about Poland-ish in the 1200s

And these are just a few examples.  Do a proper search, you’ll find hundreds more (unless you’re search engine happens to link to Fox News, then good luck with that).

There’s also many more articles on this subject matter which say things and explain things far better than I can.  Here they are!

  1. The problem with colourblindness
  2. Racism in fantasy
  3. United Colors of Albion: Race in Fantasy Media
  4. Can I Just Watch Game of Thrones In Peace? (Brown Feminist Fan Rant)

Bottom line is the world is made up of more non-white people than there is white people.  Yet, media portrays both fantasy and sci fi as a hugely white area.  That only white people lived in those times.  And fans are duped into believing this by shouting “historical accuracy”.  But your historical accuracy is completely wrong.  People of different colours have been a part of Europe for over 2000 years (and maybe even longer).  If there’s a chance white people can exist in Ancient Egypt, then you bet your ass that black people can exist in a Viking village.  Take the “historical accuracy” argument and throw it away, because it’s easily disproved.

If, after that, you still rail against such things as a black or brown person in an English court, then I guess it’s time to realize that you don’t want historical accuracy, you’re just racist after all.

 

 
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Posted by on September 10, 2014 in Life, randomness

 

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