The History of Eyes in Less than a Thousand Words

•July 24, 2016 • Leave a Comment

The evolution from photoreceptor cells to eyes served a very practical purpose hundreds of millions of years ago. In the beginning, as is the case with flatworms today, the first eyes were merely light-sensitive photoreceptor cells. Back then, both before, during and after the Cambrian Explosion, all animal life on Earth was entirely aquatic. As I mentioned in my previous post above, being submerged in liquid dihydrogen monoxide is effectively functionally practically similar to being in outer space, in that water has the effect of negating the force exerted by a gravitational field such as that of the Earth’s gravitational well. While these cells could sense light [] and even tell the difference between light and darkness, they could not determine the direction wherefrom the light was coming. The solution was to place these cells at the bottom Of a depression on the top of the head. As this depression deepened, This limited the amount of light that reached the cells to only light coming from certain directions, and thus helped the organism to determine the direction the light was coming from. Many aquatic species such as krill are diurnal, meaning that they spend the daytime in the deep water where it is safe from predators, but rise at night into the shallow water to feed. The ability to tell day from night is crucial in this life cycle []. Krill that did not descend to deeper water during the day were vulnerable to predation. Krill that did not rise to shallow water at night starved. While photoreceptor cells were capable of sensing light and distinguishing light from darkness, a crucial trait for the diurnal lifestyle of many aquatic animals in their ability to distinguish night from day, it was only when these photoreceptor cells were placed at the bottom of a depression [or “eye socket”] with a relatively narrow pinhole opening [or aperture]: that these animals gained the capability to determine from which direction light was coming. This is important in the near-weightless environment underwater because, like in outer space, without gravity, there for all practical intents and purposes exists no “up” or “down”. Needless to say, hundreds of millions of years before the invention of electricity, the only source of illumination on the Earth’s surface was sunlight. As such, at least during the day when the sun was directly overhead shining down on the water, for the animals in the water, the direction the sunlight was coming from was “up”. This became especially important later, first with the evolution of aquatic reptiles such as ichthyosaurs and later with the evolution of aquatic mammals such as cetaceans [dolphins and whales] due to their need to breathe air and their tendency to give birth to their live young underwater. But even for primitive aquatic animals such as the aforementioned krill, the ability to determine the direction of the sun [or moon] was a vitally important survival trait. From an eye capable of determining the direction of light [requiring a depression with photoreceptor cells at the bottom] it really is a relatively short evolutionary leap to an eye capable of forming images. []. The narrowing of the opening in the depression eventually formed a pinhole [], which was ultimately covered by a lens []. With the now-enclosed eye socket filled with water, this allowed the photoreceptors to not only sense light, but form images. The principle of using a narrow pinhole aperture to project images of the outside onto a screen in an otherwise dark room has been understood since the Italian Renaissance of the fifteenth century. They called it the “camera obscura”: Since organisms with clearer vision had a distinct advantage, Through successive generations, multiple adaptations made these images progressively sharper and more detailed. Of course, since hundreds of millions of years ago all animals were aquatic, the animal eye evolved to function underwater. As any swimmer knows, just as water vapor in clouds refracts light to create a rainbow, being underwater distorts images of things above the surface [or, seen from above, distorts objects below]. And yet, a little over a third of a billion years ago, animals such as Tiktaalik [called “amphibians”] left the water. The problem faced with adapting eyes evolved to function underwater to use in air was much the same as the problem faced in adapting the amphibian practice of laying their eggs in water to allow them to move further inland. The solution, too, was strikingly similar: take the water with them In the case of reproduction, this led to the evolution of animals with scaled skin that retained moisture who laid eggs containing seawater-like amniotic fluid contained within a hard outer shell [these animals are what we call “reptiles”]. In the case of the eye, it resulted in the evolution of a spherical organ composed mostly of water [resulting in its tendency to get dried out and need near-constant moisturizing] contained within a membrane. This organ is what we call the “eyeball”. The automatic involuntary subconscious process of cleaning and moisturizing it is what we know as “blinking” []. This is why fish do not blink, or even close their eyes when they sleep. In mammals, there evolved an additional mechanism for moisturizing the eye. We call them “tear ducts” []. Mammals also evolved an additional defense mechanism protecting the eye from dirt and dust: eyelashes At each stage of this process, a more advanced eye created a definitive survival advantage for the organism with it over those without. An organism with eyes was better at hunting its prey and avoiding its predators then an organism without eyes. 1.) The evolution of the eye, from Scientific American: 2.) The evolution of the eye, from the University of California–Berkeley: 3.) The evolution of the eye, from the National Geographic Society: 4.) The evolution of the eye, from the New York Academies of Sciences: 5.) The evolution of the eye, from the University of Utah:

The History of Everything in 2,000 Words or Less

•July 24, 2016 • Leave a Comment

The scientific explanation for how we got from the formation of the Universe as we know it is not “miraculous” by any definition, as it conforms perfectly to everything we know about the laws of biology, chemistry and physics It begins, of course, with the simple century-old equation of a German theoretical physicist by the name of Albert Einstein: E=Mc2 Translation: All matter is a form of energy According to Astronomer Edwin Hubble and George Lemaitre’s Big Bang theory, based on Hubble’s observation that the universe was expanding exponentially, if we rewind that expansion back fourteen and a half billion years, all matter in the universe existed as pure energy at a single point in space, what theoretical astrophysicists and cosmologists term the “singularity” As the universe expanded exponentially from this point, some of this energy cooled to form the first matter: namely, the subatomic particles of which all matter is comprised: electrons, neutrons and protons At this point a new force took over: what is dubbed in physics the strong nuclear force or strong atomic force. [] This force bound protons and neutrons together to form nuclei and bound electrons into orbits around these nuclei [after which they were held there by a second force: electromagnetism: due to the opposite polarity, or charges, of the negatively-charged electrons and the positively-charged protons] This, one might say, is where physics ends and chemistry begins Needless to say, the first atom to form due to this force was the simplest, and remains to this day the most common in the universe, comprised of only one electron orbiting one proton: what chemists dubbed the element “hydrogen” on the periodic table of elements From there, a third force took over: what is dubbed the “weak molecular force”. [] This force bound hydrogen atoms together to form hydrogen molecules, which remain to this day the most common molecules in the universe. After that, the fourth and final force of physics took over; one first discovered in the sixteenth century by an Elizabethan Enlightenment English alchemist, mathematician and physicist by the name of Sir Isaac Newton, who in his book “Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica” [] dubbed this force “Universal Gravitation”, or simply “Gravity”. [] Gravity attracted hydrogen molecules to one another in clouds that astronomers call “nebulae”. Ultimately, these clouds of hydrogen molecules became so densely packed together that the hydrogen atoms themselves began to fuse together to form a second element, comprised of two electrons and two protons, dubbed “helium”. Because it releases vast amounts of energy in the form of electromagnetic spectrum radiation, this process is what physicists call “thermonuclear fusion”. [] These superheated balls of glowing thermonuclear hydrogen-helium fusion are what Astronomers call “stars”. These stars, throughout the course of their lives fused even helium into a third element, what chemists dubbed “oxygen”, the third most common element in the universe. Atoms of this new element oxygen bonded with two hydrogen atoms to form the second most common molecule in the universe. Because it is comprised of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom, the chemical name for this molecule is “dihydrogen monoxide”, though it is more commonly referred to in chemistry by its chemical symbol: H2O Near to the end of their lives, stars fused atoms to form ever heavier elements such as carbon and nitrogen. Ultimately, however, these stars expended their supply of hydrogen and exploded in what cosmologists dub “supernovae”. These explosions formed even heavier elements such as iron and iridium. These elements joined hydrogen to form ever larger nebulae. After the hydrogen again formed stars, gravity gathered the remaining elements together, eventually forming them into spherical bodies that astronomers call “planets”. This process is referred to in cosmology as “gravitational accretion”. [] As described by Einstein a century ago in his theory of General Relativity, the three dimensions of space [commonly expressed as depth, length and width] and the fourth dimension of time form what theoretical physicist Einstein envisioned as a proverbial “fabric” that Einstein dubbed the “time-space continuum”. [] According to Einstein’s Relativity, Newton’s Gravitation was the result of objects with mass such as stars and planets “distorting” this fabric of space and time. These distortions create what theoretical physicists dub “gravitational wells”, [] but are more commonly expressed as “gravitational fields” that hold smaller objects with less mass in oblong ovular orbits around larger bodies with more mass. In this way, these newly-formed planetary bodies were captured in the gravitational wells of the exponentially larger and more massive stars The supernovae deaths of these older, larger stars was followed by an implosive inward collapse that resulted in a super-massive gravitational well; possibly even deep enough to form a bottomless tear in the fabric of space and time: that theoretical physicists and cosmologists such as Stephen Hawking, who holds Newton’s Lucasian Chair at Cambridge University’s Trinity College, dubbed “black holes”. [] These black holes gravitationally attracted one another and merged to form ever larger and more super-massive black holes. The gravitational wells of these Super-massive black holes gathered hundreds of billions of stars and their accompanying planetary systems into orbit around them. These swirling whirlpool-like discs of stars are what astronomers call “galaxies”. Ten billion years after the universe formed, a planet formed in orbit around a medium-sized star at the far end of on of the “arms” of one of these spiral galaxies. This is where a third discipline and field of science takes over: Geology The denser element iron formed a solid metallic core, absorbing and taking the radioactive element iridium along with it. The radioactivity of the elements absorbed in this solid iron core, combined with the heat generated by the pressure of this core being buried at the center of the planet resulted in its outer core, though also comprised of iron, being molten, further superheating the solid iron inner core. The outer crust of the planet was composed mostly of rock made of crystalline carbon and silicates, with continental plates floating on a mantle of molten rock. The convection between the heat of the solid iron inner core and that of the molten rock mantle meant that the molten iron outer core of the planet is in constant motion, even as the solid iron core rotates with the rotation of the planet. The movement of molten iron outer core against the solid iron inner core generates an electromagnetic field around the planet. The movement of the iron through this magnetic field generates electricity and replenishes the electromagnetic field. This phenomenon is what is referred to in geophysics as the “Dynamo effect”. [] For nearly the first billion years of its history, the planet’s surface was molten. During this time, one of the other planetary bodies that had formed around the same star collided with this planet, and the debris from that collision was in turn captured in the planet’s gravitational well, ultimately forming itself into a moon orbiting the planet. The gravitational pull of this moon on the planet created tidal forces that helped keep the planet’s mantle and outer core molten and in motion, even while slowing the speed of the rotation of the planet itself so that it only rotated on its axis once every 24 hours. Meanwhile, both the planet and its moon were subject to a near-constant bombardment of impacts from other smaller bodies orbiting their same star. Many of the impacts on the planet’s moon were large chunks of rocks left over from the formation of the planet’s: what astronomers call asteroids and meteorites. These came from a belt or ring of such bodies separating the rocky inner planets from the outer giant planets composed mostly of gas. Many of the bodies impacting the surface of the planet itself, however, composed of frozen dihydrogen monoxide [water ice]: what astronomers call “comets”, from a sphere of such frozen bodies [dubbed the “Kuiper Belt”:] surrounding the star. These frozen objects melted instantaneously upon impact with the planet’s molten surface, and the dihydrogen monoxide evaporated, releasing vast quantities of aerosolized dihydrogen monoxide [water vapor] into the planet’s atmosphere. The planet’s electromagnetic field shielded its atmosphere from the electromagnetic radiation from the star [or “solar winds”:], and so prevented these new clouds of water vapor from being blown away from the planet’s surface. The dihydrogen monoxide cooled in the planet’s upper stratosphere and condensed back into its liquid form. The planet’s gravity pulled this liquid dihydrogen monoxide back down to the planet’s surface as what meteorologists and climatologists call “precipitation” or “rain”. This, combined with the continued cometary impacts of water ice, cooled the surface of the planet sufficiently that the falling liquid dihydrogen monoxide accumulated in depressions to form what geographers call “oceans” and “seas”. These comets may very well have also brought to earth molecules composed of combination of carbon and hydrogen: what biochemists call “carbohydrates” or “hydrocarbons”. These organic molecules filled the new oceans. A little more than three and half billion years ago, these organic molecules combined into a form that was capable of replicating itself: what biochemists call “Ribonucleic Acid”, or RNA. [] This is where chemistry ends and biology begins. Ribonucleic acid, through its self replication process, ultimately developed into what biochemists call “Deoxyribonucleic Acid”, or DNA. [] This Deoxyribonucleic Acid, in turn, formed into chromosomes. Other organic molecules, what biochemists call “phospholipids” [], because of their polarity relative to that of the Dipolar dihydrogen monoxide molecules surrounding them, formed a membrane that grew to encompass a cluster of chromosomes. This central cluster of chromosomes is what is referred to in microbiology as a “nucleus”, and the whole structure, when surrounded by a phospholipid bilayer [] is called a “cell”. Because of the self-replicating nature of their DNA, these cells, too, began to divide in a process microbiology calms “mitosis”. The planet’s atmosphere at the time was comprised primarily of combinations of carbon and oxygen: what chemists call carbon monoxide [] and carbon dioxide []. Some of these cells even took smaller structures into themselves, incorporating them into their cellular structure as what microbiologists dub “organelles”. On such organelle was composed of an organic substance biology calms “chlorophyll” []. This substance gave these organelles, called “chloroplasts” [], the capability to utilize the ultraviolet electromagnetic radiation from the star to split the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and the dihydrogen monoxide in the ocean into their constituent elements, recombining the carbon and the hydrogen to form the carbohydrates, or “sugars”, that the organism used for energy and releasing the oxygen back into the atmosphere as a waste byproduct. Biologists call organisms composed of cells with these chloroplasts “plants” and dubbed this process “photosynthesis” []. Other cells, those without chloroplasts, instead of processing sunlight for their nutrients, consumed organic matter, usually in the form of other organisms. Biology calls these organisms “animals”. The oxygen emitted by the photosynthetic plants gradually replaced the carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide with one that was a combination of nitrogen and oxygen [or as we call it, “air”] this oxygen also infused the oceans, and propelled the development of the first multicellular organisms.

What April Fools These Mere Mortals Be

•April 1, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Former United States Senator Hillary Clinton [D-NY] is likely to win the Tuesday April 19, 2016 New York Democratic Primary, as polls show Clinton defeating her rival for the Democratic Party’ Nomination, United States Senator Bernard Sanders [D-VT], in New York by between twelve percentage points [Clinton: 54%, Sanders: 42%, Quinnipiac University, March 29, 2016] and 48 percentage points [Clinton: 71, Sanders: 23, Emerson College, March 16, 2016].

Clinton is also likely to win the Tuesday April 26, 2016 Maryland Democratic Primary, as polls show Clinton defeating Sanders in Maryland by 33 percentage points [Clinton: 61%, Sanders: 28%, University of Maryland, March 11, 2016].

Clinton is also likely to win the Tuesday April 26, 2016 Pennsylvania Democratic Primary, as polls show Clinton defeating Sanders in Pennsylvania by between 25 percentage points [Clinton: 53%, Sanders: 28%, Franklin and Marshall College, March 24, 2016] and thirty percentage points [Clinton: 57%, Sanders: 27%, Harper Polling, March 2, 2016].


Clinton is also likely to win the Democratic Party’s Nomination for the Tuesday November 8, 2016 at the July 28, 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, as polls show Clinton defeating Sanders for the Democratic Nomination by between twelve percentage points [Clinton: 50%, Sanders: 38%, Quinnipiac University, March 23, 2016] and eighteen percentage points [Clinton: 54%, Sanders: 36%, Public Policy Polling, March 29, 2016].


Donald Drumpf [R-NY] is likely to win the Tuesday April 19, 2016 New York Republican Primary, as polls show Drumpf defeating his nearest Republican Rivals, Governor Jonathan Kasich [R-OH] and Cuban-Canadian Rafael Eduardo Cruz [R-AB], in New York by between 26 percentage points [Drumpf: 50%, Kasich: 24%, Optimus, March 24, 2016] and 52 percentage points [Drumpf: 64%, Cruz: 12%, Emerson College, March 16, 2016].

Drumpf is also likely to win the Tuesday April 26, 2016 Pennsylvania Republican Primary, as polls show Drumpf defeating Cruz in Pennsylvania by seventeen percentage points [Drumpf: 36%, Cruz: 17%, Harper Polling, March 2, 2016].


Drumpf is also likely to win the Republican Party’s Nomination for the Tuesday November 8, 2016 Presidential Election at the July 21, 2016 Republican National Convention, as polls show Drumpf defeating Cruz for the Republican Nomination by between ten percentage points [Drumpf: 42%, Cruz: 32%, Public Policy Polling, March 29, 2016] and twenty percentage points [Drumpf: 46%, Cruz: 26%, CBS News/New York Times, March 21, 2016]


If Clinton is the Democratic Nominee and Drumpf is the Republican Nominee, the Clinton is likely to win the Tuesday November 8, 2016 Presidential Election, as polls show Clinton defeating Drumpf by between ten percentage points [Clinton: 48%, Drumpf: 38%, Monmouth University, March 24, 2016] and eighteen percentage points [Clinton: 54%, Drumpf: 36%, Bloomberg, March 23, 2016].

Article Review: Herrera, K., Herrera, R., Jimenez, E. and Lowery, R., et. al. “Neanderthal and Denisova Genetic Affinities With Contemporary Humans: Introgression Versus common Ancestral Polymorphisms”. Gene, Volume 530, Issue 1 (November 1, 2013). Pages 83-94.

•March 27, 2016 • Leave a Comment



In a research article entitled “A Draft Sequence of the Neanderthal Genome” in the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s journal Science on May 7, 2010, University of California—Santa Cruz Department of Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology Assistant Professor of Biomolecular Engineering Richard Green found that between 1% and 4% of the gene pool of non-sub-Saharan Africans may be derived from Neanderthals. In an article entitled “Genetic history of an Archaic Hominin Group from Denisova Cave in Siberia” in the journal Nature on December 23, 2010, Green and Harvard Medical School Department of Genetics Professor David Reich found that between 6% and 8% of the gene pool of the people of the Australasian region of Melanesia might very well be derived from Denisovan hominins. Both Green and Reich attributed the genetic affinities they found with modern humans to interbreeding. However, in an article in the journal Gene on November 1, 2013, Florida International University Biology Professor Rene Herrera, Wake Forest University School of Medicine Department of Cancer Biology Professor Eric Jimenez and Indian River State College Department of Biological Sciences Assistant Professor Robert Lowery raise an alternative explanation: that the genes shared in common between modern humans and Neanderthals and between humans and Denisovans, rather than being derived from interbreeding, are instead traits retained from a common ancestor shared by all three groups. The authors raise both possibilities, interbreeding and plesiomorphic polymorphisms, on page 85:

There are two plausible scenarios for the genesis of the SNPs that are derived in Neanderthals, Denisova and contemporary humans: 1.) They originated in common ancestors or 2.) They may stem from gene flow among the three groups

“SNP” is the authors’ abbreviation for the term “Single Nucleotide Polymorphism”.


Statement of Thesis

Herrera, Jimenez and Lowery nowhere state that they are right about plesiomorphic ancestral polymorphisms and that Green and Reich are wrong. Instead they state that their explanation of the SNPs as ancestral is a simpler and therefore more likely explanation of the two.

The currently available information from previous published work as well as the results from the present study indicate that the observed genetic affinities between archaic and contemporary human populations are mostly explained by ancestral common polymorphisms followed by genetic drift, and not admixture, as the most parsimonious model” [Page 93].

The principle of Parsimony is commonly colloquially called “Occam’s Razor”, after early 14th century scholastic scholar William of Ockham. A variant of Occam’s razor, Einstein’s Constraint, states that “Everything should be kept as simple as possible, but no simpler”, a quote attributed to physicist Albert Einstein in 1933. The authors use this criterion:

The simplest explanation for Melanesians exhibiting primarily a Neanderthal and Denisova component in the NdDA and NdDd Structure analyses is that these derived alleles originated primarily in the common ancestor of Neanderthals, Denisovan and contemporary humans, and is at higher levels in Melanesians than in other worldwide populations possible as a result of genetic drift.” [Page 90]

The authors use the abbreviation “Nd” for “Neanderthal-derived”, “Da” for “Denisovan-ancestral” and “Dd” for “Denisovan-derived”.



In the Abstract of their article on page 83, Herrera, Jimenez and Lowery describe what it is that they did this way:

To assess the genetic similarities among the various Hominin lineages, we performed genetic structure analyses to provide comparison of genetic patterns found within contemporary human genomes that may have archaic or common ancestral roots.”

A page later, in the Introduction to their article, they explain why this is important, by asserting their methodology to be one that is historically unprecedented:

In this study, we utilize genetic structure analysis for the first time to investigate that specific components of the human genome which are shared with Neanderthals and the Denisova”.

On the next page, in the “Materials and Methods” Section of their article, they enumerate the methodology of their procedure in detail:

In the structure analyses, all individuals were treated as equal participants in any potential gene-flow/admixture event as opposed to being restricted in gene-flow to their respective populations.”


Quality of Discussion/Interpretation

The fact that the authors do not say that they are right and that the alternative theories are wrong makes the relative quality of their argument difficult to ascertain, and in terms of the authors’ thesis that their explanation is more probable than the alternative, without as deep and full an understanding of molecular biochemistry as Herrera, Jimenez and Lowery themselves have, a layman such as myself has only their word for it, which as a non-expert I am inclined to take.

The authors summarize Green’s theory of Neanderthal hybridization [Science, May 2010] on pages 84-85 as follows:

The existence of a cline of genetic similarity to Neanderthals that is highest in Europe is further supported by the structure analysis of the NdDa subset which indicates that the largest Neanderthal component is shared largely with Europeans…The observed geographical gradient of affinities between Neanderthal and contemporary human populations also may have been impacted by longer temporal overlap of the two groups in Europe leading higher admixture and a greater degree of genetic similarities.”

On page 92, they then go on to explain why it is that they believe Green’s theory of Neanderthal hybridization [Science, May 2010] to be improbable:

If Neanderthal admixture with modern humans is responsible for the 65.4% of the European genome shared with Neanderthals, it contrasts the complete lack of Neanderthal contribution to the European mitochondrial or Y-chromosomes.”

They elaborate on pages 87-88, expanding this explanation to both Green’s Neanderthal hybridization theory [Science, May 2010] and Reich’s Denisovan hybridization theory [Nature, December 2010]:

If tri-lineage admixture events were a prominent source for NdDd SNPs, we would expect a greater degree of genetic sharing between Europeans and Melanesians; however, in all of our structure analyses, no such sharing is observed.”

However, they leave open the possibility that, rather than it being a case of either Green and Reich’s theory of hybridization or their proposed plesiomorphic polymorphisms being correct, the reality may very well be some combination of both:

“…Yet it is possible that introgression may have contributed in some degree to the observed genetic affinity.” [Page 92]

The authors fully concede the fact that their findings could point toward either theory, and simply state that their preference for one over the other results from its relative simplicity:

Using PCA Structure analyses, we observed genetic sharing between Europeans and Neanderthals that may be due to admixture events or ancestral common polymorphisms…Although the observed clinal degree of similarities seen in the structure analysis could result from introgression followed by demic diffusion, the data is easier explained by common ancestral polymorphisms shared between the ancestors of Modern Europeans and Neanderthals, followed by demic diffusion eastward” [Page 92].

“PCA” is the authors’ abbreviation for the term “Principal Component Analysis”.



In the Abstract of their article on page 83, Herrera, Jimenez and Lowery state their conclusion:

Our results suggest that Neanderthal genetic associations with contemporary non-Sub-Saharan African populations, as well as the genetic affinities observed between Denisovans and Melanesians most likely result from the retention of ancient mutations in these populations”.

More evidence would be needed in order to accurately assess whether either of the two alternative theories is correct or whether the reality is some combination of both. The authors explain why this is by providing the caveat that

The humans that migrated out of Africa may have represented a subpopulation with greater affinities to Neanderthals or Denisovans… The derived state in the NaDa set of SNPs may have mutated in the human lineage at any point up to nearly the present day.” [Pages 84-85]

Indeed, the evidence that would be needed is that of a specimen containing human DNA from before our species first interacted with either Neanderthals or Denisovans. If this hypothetical human genetic specimen contained the polymorphisms that are shared in common between humans, Neanderthals and Denisovans, then this would confirm Herrera, Jimenez and Lowery’s proposition that these polymorphisms are plesiomorphic and were inherited from the common ancestor of all three groups. If not, however, it would be possible to state to a reasonable degree of certainty that Green and Reich were correct and that these derived from interbreeding and hybridization between the three groups.

To their credit, the authors conclude their article on page 93 with a clarion call for further research:

Continued sequencing efforts, combined with the development of novel approaches to phylogenetic and genetic structure analyses, may hold the key to further unraveling some of these unanswered questions.”

The Campaign Part III: “A Stranger in Her Hometown” [Draft #2: 10 Pages, 4,241 Words, January 17, 2016]

•March 13, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Touching down in New England town.
Feel the heat coming down.
And I’m going with some hesitation.
You know that I can surely see that I don’t want to get caught up in any of that funky shit going down in the city
-Paul Pena, “Jet Airliner”, 1973


Manchester, New Hampshire
Sunday September 21, 2059

The young man shifted uncomfortably from one foot to the other as he waited impatiently in the cordoned-off incoming passenger receiving area of the Manchester International Airport.

He was a native of New England, so the cold weather never bothered him, but even he found the sunless days up North here in New Hampshire to be gloomy.

Not that New Jersey was all that much nicer.’ He thought to himself.

Growing up in what had effectively been absorbed as a suburb of Manhattan, his family had never been affluent enough to take tourist travel and he found it interesting that his first-ever time outside the Tri-State Area was to a place that most people in his hometown would have regarded to be the middle of nowhere. But then again, only a month ago, he had been just out of college, an English Major: a difficult field in which to find workable employment, when he was approached by a man whose name everyone in all of New England knew well: Kenneth Welsh.

He had been surprised when the former Massachusetts Congressman and Washington insider had asked him to join the Presidential Campaign of a Congresswoman from Oregon and he had immediately eagerly agreed. He had asked Welsh what he wanted him to do to help and was told, to his surprise, to come here to Manchester, New Hampshire to set up the Presidential Campaign’s New England Headquarters.

The Campaign had been out in California for the past month and the candidate was even now flying to Manchester all the way from Oregon. So here he was, less than six months after his graduation, a one-man welcoming committee for someone whom, from what little he had paid attention to about political matters since his arrival, had a chance of very easily being elected as the next leader of the Western world.

Looking out the airport window, the clouds hung low in a near-solid blanket just over the tops of the buildings of the city. As he watched, the clouds to the west appeared to part, letting shafts of sunlight through the overcast and a large jet airliner descended from the cloud layer toward the ground as though having itself punched a gaping hole in the overcast. As a two-term Congresswoman and candidate for the Presidency of the United States who was self-financing her campaign from her own family fortune, he would have naturally assumed that his new employer would have had her very own private campaign airplane but the shaft of midmorning sunlight let through by its penetration of the clouds that caught the insignia of Northwest Airways, a subsidiary of United US American, on the Airbus’s fletched tail informed him otherwise. The two-engine aircraft appeared oblivious to the sixty-mile-per-hour winds as it glided like a paraglide to kiss the pavement runway with its wheels.

What had started the day as a prestigious assignment mad him feel more like an errand boy than he ever had before as he stood at the reception line, holding a sign with the Congresswoman’s last name on it and watching the other passengers file out of the boarding ramp.

He spotted her even as she exited the plane into the far end of the ramp, not only because her six-foot height brought the top of her head above the other women and all but a few of the men that surrounded her but also because that head was crowned with a mane of the most fiery red-orange hair he had ever seen.

When the men and women in front of her had gone their respective ways, she he finally got his first good look at the tall redheaded woman even as she spotted him in return. As her eyes widened with recognition, he got his first really good look at them and he nearly dropped the sign.

He knew that as the sign in his hands read, the Congresswoman was the daughter of former Senator Alexander Janney.

With her fiery red-orange hair and bright green eyes, however, she looked nothing like him.

‘Indeed;’ He thought as she walked purposefully up the ramp toward him; ‘She did not even look like a politician.’

Between her tall, lithe, long-limbed slender frame and her voluptuous, curvaceous figure, she looked like she would fit in better on the runways of Milan during Fashion Week than she would in the halls of the Capitol Building in Washington. What he had known about her was that she had two postgraduate degrees: a law degree and a Ph.D. from the Harvard Kennedy School and that she had served two terms in Congress. Based upon this, he had been operating under the assumption that he would be meeting a woman who would be, at the very least, in her mid to late forties. The red-haired green-eyed woman before him, however, could have easily passed for one in her early twenties.

“I’m Congresswoman Katherine Janney.” She said, nodding to the sign in his hands and though it was muted, he picked up on the inflection of her famous father’s Franco-German accent in her voice.

As she approached him, surrounded as she was by black0suited men and women whom he now recognized as being Secret Service Agents, a second, slightly shorter figure emerged as though by mitosis from behind her.

He would hardly have noticed the second figure were it not for the contrasts between the two.

In addition to their difference in height and the evident difference in age between them, the second figure’s ebony hair contrasted against her older companion’s fiery red-orange man.

He noted this, in part, because he thought that the younger girl’s appearance much more closely resembled the features of Senator Janney, which he would not have known were not his image ubiquitous throughout the state of New Hampshire.

“What’s your name?” The girl asked in a melodious voice.

“Stevens.” He answered, in an inner city New York inflection, almost before she had finished speaking, clearing his throat. “Trent Stevens.”

The taller woman was smiling: “This is my daughter, Julia.” She eyed him scrutinously. “Let me guess… Princeton?”

He nodded. “Yes, Congresswoman.”

The girl at her side’s eyes widened and she turned to look up at the taller woman as her mother stiffened and her eyes narrowed.

“You’re new.” She said, patiently. “So you wouldn’t know, but I prefer to be addressed by my salutation, not my profession.”

Stevens cocked his head to the side curiously but nodded. “I’m sorry, Doctor Janney.”


Tent Stevens watched Congresswoman Katherine Janney as they rode through the streets of Manchester.

Knowing what he did of her life story: that she had not lived in her father’s home state in more than twenty years, cast the otherwise unreadable expression on her face as she gazed out the window of the cab in a new and different light.

“So how goes the New Hampshire Campaign Headquarters?” She asked, breaking the silence that had fallen since they had gotten into the waiting car outside the airport.

“It exists.” Stevens replied somewhat slowly with a long heavy sigh. She did not look up at him but he could sense her lack of satisfaction with this response. “Which is more than could be said a month ago.”

She nodded. “How many do we have working for us?”

Stevens did not even need to look at the folder on his lap. “Less than twenty;” He answered; “All volunteer interns.”

She must have sensed something in his tone of voice, because her gaze darted to him out of the corner of her periphery. “What’s wrong with them?” she asked, reading his expression in an instant.

“Nothing!” He insisted, a bit too quickly, she thought. “They’re terrific, every one of them! But…”

She turned to face him then as he trailed off. “We’re outnumbered.” She finished for him and he nodded. “Senator Slatterly?” Another nod. “Where’s he at?”

Stevens looked down at his notes. “He set up shop—his headquarters—in Nashua back in August.”

She nodded, understanding the habit to make the state capitol a campaign’s base. “How many?”

“All told;” Stevens read; “He’s got over a hundred full-time officers and employees and we think likely ten time the number of pollsters, door-to-door get out the vote workers and interns.”

The Congresswoman took each number in stride, her expression never flinching. “What about our citizen surrogates?” She asked, referring to the large, influential upper-class families in the state that had pledged to spread the campaign’s message in their localities.

Stevens sighed. “Many of them were loyal supporters of your father—the Senator—until he stepped aside four years ago.” He prefaced, stalling but she fixed him with her eyes: “And?”

“They say they want to meet you, to speak with you, to hear from you;” Stevens cast about for the right way to phrase their demand; “Before they’ll campaign for you.”

The Congresswoman frowned at this unanticipated obstacle. “We’re meeting them at HQ?” She guessed.

“No, Ma’am.” Stevens shifted in his seat. “They insist that you speak with them in person;” She nodded; “In their homes.” Stevens finished slowly.

The Congresswoman’s eyes widened at the prospect as did those of her teenage daughter. But then, mercifully, Stevens thought, her attention was diverted as the car pulled up to the curb in front of the building in downtown that housed her new headquarters: What looked like an old movie theater that had been remodeled into a two-story storefront with a warehouse behind.

“We’d better get started.” She said as the door was opened and held open by one of her Secret Service detail. Kate tucked the high collar of her coat around her cheeks against the stinging wind as she stepped from the car and onto the curb. She tilted her heads back to look up at the towering façade, then turned around and bent over to her daughter climb out of the car and onto the sidewalk.

“Frankly, Madam Congresswoman;” Stevens continued as he followed her out of the car; “The campaign here in Manchester has been awaiting the arrival of the campaign staff that accompanied your campaign in California.”

To his surprise, this last actually caused the Congresswoman’s face to alight.

“Well then;” She said with a smile; “It’s a good thing I brought some of my people.”

Even as she spoke, the doors of the building burst open and a retinue of people exited to join them on the sidewalk. The Congresswoman’s smile was mirrored on the face of the man who led the procession.

She barely hesitated, throwing her arms around the older man. “I missed you.”

“Welcome home, Katie.” He said; doing a good job not acting surprised by the intimacy of her greeting. “You’re a sight for sore eyes.” He chuckled. “And sore shoulders, sore knees…”

As though recognizing a mistake, Kate pulled back, returning the hug to a comradely handshake.

“And I see you brought along a nice sample of out target audience.” He said, turning to her shorter traveling companion standing by Kate’s side.

“Not quite yet.” The teenager said, holding up four fingers to indicate how long before she could vote.

“I wanted her to see all of the places I knew as a kid growing up.” Kate said, wrapping her arm around her daughter. Her friend nodded, saying nothing.

If that was what she wanted her daughter to believe was the reason for this vacation trip up North, he was not about to contradict her in front of the girl. However, he still strongly suspected that Kate’s true incentive to bring the teenager with her on this particular trip to New England happened to be exactly what he said: As the youngest Congresswoman to ever run for President, Janney would definitely need to monopolize the votes of young citizens.

He suspected that she was correct in her calculation that showing up at her campaign events, which were primarily held in school gymnasiums and auditoriums as well as on college and university campuses, with a young teenage girl, especially one who appeared older than her age, by her side would serve her exceedingly well with young voters.

“What he said.” The smiling woman behind him said, shaking her hand.

The Congresswoman turned to Stevens. “Princeton, you know my Campaign Manager, Kenneth Welsh;” Stevens nodded to the man who had hired him, who was grinning at her invention of a nickname for Stevens; “And this is my Director of Communications, Kristin Ludlowe;” She grinned between Stevens and the brunette; “Your new boss.”

Stevens saw the woman’s ebony eyebrow lift, as she looked him up and down.

“Kris, this is your newest Deputy…”

“Trent Stevens.” He interrupted her, leaning forward and extending his hand.

Ludlowe took it and shook it, exchanging an unreadable look with the Congresswoman.

“I’m glad to see you made it, Julia.” Said another woman as she stepped toward them from where she had been waiting sheltered from the wind by what looked like used to be the box office.

“What kind of day has it been, Miss Frost?” Welsh asked.

“We have successfully background checked all activists whom will be hosting events of the Congresswoman, as well as cleared all establishments at which she is scheduled to make an appearance…” She turned to Katherine. “Without incident.”

Janney nodded.

Stevens eyed the one Welsh had referred to as “Frost” with the connoisseur’s eye of a human lie detector. He turned to cast a sidelong glance over at the Campaign Manager, nodding his head to one side, indicating the young woman.

“Kim is a recent graduate from the Criminology Department at Virginia Tech.” Kate informed him.

“I can vouch for her.” Said a well-built man, who proceeded to greet Welsh respectfully.

“Hello, Leo.” Kate greeted him.

Stevens nodded, evidently deferring to the judgment of the Congresswoman’s own Chief of Security.

Then they all turned to the woman who had hesitantly exited behind them.

“Who is she?” Ludlowe asked, leaning in toward Kate. “She wouldn’t speak to us until you arrived.”

Kate smiled at the newcomer.

The woman had yellow-blonde hair pulled tightly back and secured at the crown of her head into a long ponytail that fanned out to feather the back of her neck. Her eyes were the color of emeralds and as hard and sharp.

“I am pleased and proud to introduce you all to my campaign’s new National Security Advisor, Chlaire Daniels.”

“You can call me C.J.” The woman said, shaking hands with each of them.

Ken’s eyes narrowed. “C.J. Daniels.” He enunciated syllable by syllable as though rolling the name around in his head. “I think I might’ve seen your name around before. What’s your background?”

“Until recently;” C.J. exchanged a knowing but indecipherable look with the Congresswoman; “I headed the Department of Digital and Electronic Cryptographology for Security Reconnaissance down at Echelon.” She told him, referring to the headquarters of the NSRAO in Fort Meade, Maryland.

Ken nodded.

“Which reminds me;” Daniels turned to the candidate; “I had a contact down at Langley who made your acquaintance, Congresswoman.” Kate cocked her head curiously. “A Special Agent at Central Intelligence named James Prichardson.” Kate’s eyes widened and Ludlowe’s eyebrows rose as both recognized the name. “so you do know him.” Kate nodded slowly. “You see, he evidently dropped off the face of the Earth about twelve years ago.”

“Not off the surface of the Earth;” Kate said as though in a trance as she turned and walked inside; “Just beneath it.”

C.J.’s eyes widened at the cryptic response and she turned to Ludlowe, who shrugged her shoulders as she followed her friend through the door.

One at a time, the group passed through the storefront’s rotating door. The scene on the other side was as near to total chaos as Kate had ever experienced: Row upon row of people of all ages, genders, colors, shapes and sizes, each seated with a computer monitor and a telephone headset; every one of them, it seemed, talking at the same time. Looking up, they could see a second level composed of causeways and platforms and accessible by a number of curving staircases.

“Welcome to the mother ship, Doctor.” Stevens said.

The cacophony of voices seemed to fade when the newcomers entered the space.

A young man appeared at the railing of the nearest platform. His mouth opened and closed for a couple of minutes before words were emitted. “Oh, goodness!” He managed. “Congresswoman Janney.”

The scraping of chairs being pushed out and a building eruption of applause followed.

Kate stood frozen, rooted where she stood, staring in disbelief at the dozens of volunteers standing and clapping. Her young daughter gripped her hand, shrinking timidly behind Frost.

Stevens waved the workers to sit back down.



‘Twenty twenty-something’s sure could fill such a large space.’ she thought, leaning on the railing and looking down on the chaos below her.

“Full of sound and fury;” Came the voice of her godfather coming up the spiral staircase behind her, as though having heard her thought aloud; “Signifying nothing.”

“William Shakespeare, Macbeth;” She identified without turning around to look at him; “Act five, Scene five.”

Welsh joined her at the railing and together they surveyed the bustle of the campaign’s headquarters below them in silence for several long minutes.

At long last, Welsh had the impulse that he should say something.

“How do you think Jules is doing;” He asked, referring to his friend’s teenage daughter, gesturing to the floor below; “With this?”

“I honestly don’t know.” Kate sighed heavily as she stood straight. Her old friend looked over at her. “Things just move so quickly.” She conceded. “I was just reelected last year.” She inclined her head toward him with a meaningful glance. “Thank you again for that, by the way.”

Welsh nodded.

“So I was sworn in and took office. Becka and I agreed that it would be wrong to pull Jewels out of school halfway through the year.” She finally turned away from the view to face her old friend. “We just moved to D.C.” She told him, groaning at the memory of the cross-continental trip from Oregon. “And before I knew it, before we had even had a chance to get settled, here I’m back in Manchester after two and a half decades, nearly half a year before the New Hampshire Primary.” Her Campaign Manager absorbed her tirade at pace, his laugh-wrinkled face betraying no expression. “I mean, I’m not sure whether you were as aware as I was the amount of strain that it placed on her when I ran for the First.” She added, recalling her campaign for her Oregon Congressional District.

“That was quite a lot for a ten year old to take. Julia’s a lot older now.” He reminded her. He earned a sidelong glance at the term “a lot” but he reached out and placed a hand on her shoulder, bringing her to glance up at him. “You’d be amazed at how engaged a teenage girl can be.”

She rolled her eyes. “I wish I had your confidence.”

“You would;” Ken said, lifting his hand to pat her on the back. “If you had known the fiery-haired Eugene middle school sixth grader that I did.”

Kate laughed.

“Shall we?” Welsh said as he led her away from the railing. “We have strategizing to do.”

Kate smiled as they descended into the chaos.


“There’s very little left for the Congresswoman to win here.”

“I am going to win the New Hampshire Primary.” Janney said, in a tone that broached no argument.

Ludlowe gestured to the volunteers. “They wouldn’t be her if they didn’t think so too.”

Kate smiled and she exchanged winks with her teenage daughter.

“This will leave whatever other Democratic-Republicans enter the race battling each other for a second place finish. Which;” Kristin continued; “Makes the Granite State the perfect spot for you to introduce yourself to the nation and construct your own bio.”

“You haven’t lived in this state since you were eight years old.” Kenneth Welsh reminded her in his capacity as campaign manager.

“Which is why;” Ludlowe told her friend; “We have you set up in venues specially selected in order for you to best elaborate your personal narrative.”

“We have somewhat of an advantage;” Ludlowe told her friend; “In that we are capable to plan far ahead, long distance, right here at present. By the time this November rolls around, we will have effectively done everything we need to do in order to win here and we’ll be on our way off to…” she looked at Welsh.

“Nevada’s next.” He said.

“…Nevada then.” She finished. “And the best bit of it is we’ll be the only ones there.”




Moore Theatre, Hopkins Center for the Arts

Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire

Sunday September 21, 2059


“Congresswoman Janney;” The moderator began; “Your father, Senator Alexander Janney, is perceived by many as being the very living embodiment of the Granite State. As you yourself said in an interview with Professor Juan Diaz of the University of California—San Diego last month, your policies, your proposals, represent a radical departure from those of New Hampshire’s favorite native-born son.” Kate nodded. “Given this, how might you plan on reconciling being to the Progressive side of the sociopolitical spectrum even within your own political party in the House of Representatives with the Social Conservative platform upon which the voters of your home state reelected your father to the Senate half a dozen times over nearly forty years?”

“If I may;” Senator Thomas Slatterly interjected from the podium beside her; “I believe, to rephrase what our judicious moderator was really trying to say;” He nodded to the moderator, who waved him to continue, before turning to Kate beside him; “To paraphrase the famous and immortal words of Senator Lloyd Bentsen from a debate seventy years ago next month: I served with Alexander Janney in the United States Senator. You, Congresswoman, are no Alexander Janney.”

This was greeted with prolonged applause, which was admonished by the moderator, but Kate merely creased her lips into a thin grin. The flash in her eyes, however, was as predatory as that of a retriever who had caught a pheasant. When she spoke, her tone was measured and diplomatic.

“Firstly, to our judicious moderator’s question;” Janney began; “Let us clarify on thing: My father was actually born in New York City and went to school in Massachusetts, where he met my mother in Boston. That’s important to note.”

Out of the corner of her periphery, she say Kristin Ludlowe, her Communications Director and Gina Everett, her Press Secretary, blanching visibly; Gina’s mouth gaping open, mouthing the words: “Oh my…”

“Secondly, Senator, to your point;” she turned back to Slatterly; “Yes, you’re right.” She could see eyes widening throughout the audience, including those of the moderator. “I am indeed not my father. But do you know what?” She looked down at her daughter seated in the front row. “That is precisely the reason why the people not only of the State of New Hampshire, but of the United States of America should vote for me.”

If her Press Secretary had paled previously, at this Gina Everett went white.

“My father was born and raised during the First Cold War and voted against the Treaty of the Forbidden City between President Lowe and President Krusztcheckov that ended the Second because it permitted the Russian Federation to keep its annexed lands, such as Kazakhstan.” She smiled. “I was the Best Maid of Honor at the wedding of Russian President Krusztcheckova.” She saw Ludlowe nod. “My father voted against the universal Wellness Act of 2036. I have campaigned to expand it my entire career in elected office.” She thought, but did not say, that this sounded a great deal more impressive out loud than it was, taking into consideration the fact that she had won her first election less than three years earlier. “but most importantly of all;” she continued; “My entire adult life, everything I have done has been devoted to my family.” She nodded to her daughter, who smiled. “If my father had been anywhere nearly as dedicated to his daughters as I have been to mine…” She trailed off; her voice cracking and her mouth shaking as she blinked back tears. “…Then I wouldn’t be standing her where I am tonight.” He voice steadied along with her breathing after she heaved a heavy, deep breath.

The audience sat in silence and she could tell it was because her fellow candidates and even the moderator were speechless.

“I don’t want the people of New Hampshire to vote for me because I share the same last name as my father.” She concluded. “The American people should vote for me, if for no other reason, because of just how very different from my father I really am;” Ignoring the advice of her staff, she raised her hands above her podium, bringing them down with each syllable to emphasize her message; “In all the ways that really matter.”



The Campaign Part II: Sleepless in Miami Confidential

•March 11, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Mandarin Oriental

Miami Florida

Sunday September 7, 2059


Kate spotted the young woman as soon as she turned to look at her. As her head broke the surface of the Jacuzzi, her bleached blonde hair caught the yellow beams of the southern Florida noonday sun and as she turned her face in Kate’s direction, it seemed, so did her bright green eyes. Upon spotting Kate, she climbed from the Jacuzzi, her long hair still dripping and glistening with water droplets. She slipped into a nearly translucent silk dressing robe that matched the lime green of her two-piece bathing suit as she rounded the edge of the swimming pool toward Kate.

“I recognize you from the VMA’s on Friday, don’t I?” She asked, referring to the Teen Choice Awards attended by Kate and her daughter At the American Airlines Arena two nights earlier, and Kate nodded her head. “What are you doing here?”

Before Kate could even open her mouth to reply, the woman continued. “I’m actually supposed to be meeting someone here.” Kate’s eyebrows rose, figuring that she should at the very least feign interest, and the woman nodded, dropping down onto the chair beside Kate’s. “A two-term United States Congresswoman, and a candidate for President no less.” Kate’s eyebrows rose, her eyes widening. “Supposed to be some lawyer-doctor from the Kennedy School.” She shrugged.

“True she has a teenage daughter;” The woman continued; “But I heard word she spent more than just a couple of nights at the Wilshire Tower and the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel with an Astrophysics Professor from Occidental.” Kate’s best efforts kept her expressionless. “Not that I’m saying that I necessarily can blame her.” She reclined back in her chair, her robe falling open. “I met this Doctor Sarah Carter years ago and let me tell you: She’s a knockout!” Kate smiled sardonically at this, thinking silently to herself that the woman was right about Carter in more ways than she would ever know.

“Forgive my rudeness;” The woman sat up in her chair, swinging her legs over and leaning over to extend her hand; “My name is Lacey Moss. What’s your name?”

Kate reached up to lower her sunglasses to the tip of her nose before reaching out to take the woman’s hand. “Katherine Janney.” She shook the woman’s hands even as she smiled at seeing the other’s eyes seeming to bulge clean out of their sockets, as wide and white as saucers. “It’s nice to meet you, Miss Moss.”

The woman jumped to her feet, reflexively jerking her hand away from Kate’s grip. “I am so very terribly sorry!” She apologized. “I wasn’t saying…. I didn’t mean…” She babbled nervously as Kate straightened the back of her chair to sit up. “You know what? To hell with it!” Lacey huffed. “I’ll just move to some other country.” She turned to leave.

“Have a seat, Miss Moss.” Kate gestured to the chair she had just vacated.

“I should just go….”

“Sit.” Kate did not raise her voice, but her tone left no room for objection.

Moss dropped heavily into the chair, mortified. When she at long last lifted her eyes from the ground, she saw to her surprise that the Congresswoman was doing the very last thing she would have ever expected her to do: She was smiling at her.

Kate’s eyes were scanning her up and down, and Lacey was suddenly conscientious of how little the silk gown hid, as the Congresswoman’s gaze felt as though it could easily have penetrated into her heart and soul even through the thickest overcoat. “FSU?” She said finally, referring to the University in the state Capitol of Tallahassee, and Moss nodded. “You work for the Democratic-Republican Party?”

“Yes, Madam Congresswoman.” Moss confirmed.

“Not anymore, you don’t.” Janney told her, prompting Moss to look up at her, and then back down at the floor.

“You’re going to have me fired, aren’t you?” It was more of a statement of fact than it was a question. “I understand completely.”

Kate’s grin never wavered. “You could think of it as a promotion and say thank you.” She said sardonically. “You’ll be heading up my campaign for the Southeastern States from now on.”

Moss’s head jerked back up, though it took her mind a moment to completely process the words. When she did she beamed. “You won’t regret this decision, Congresswoman.”

Kate turned away from her as she reclined the back of her seat again, pushing her sunglasses back up her nose. “I prefer Doctor, Miss Moss.”

Lacey cocked her head to the side curiously for a moment, but then nodded. “Of course, Doctor.” She got up, tucking her gown around her and hurried away.

“You were right.” Kate said after her, stopping her in her tracks. Kate did not turn towards her and so Moss did not turn back around when she spoke. “About Sarah.” Kate smiled as she turned her face up to the sun. “She is a knockout;” Lacey saw Kate turn her face toward her, lowering her sunglasses; “I more ways than one.” Lacey returned her wink and her smile.

She was still smiling as she changed back into her clothes, and when she climbed into her car, and she didn’t stop smiling for the rest of the afternoon.


When she returned to the Mandarin Oriental Dynasty suite in the Western corner of the top nineteenth floor of the hotel, Kate was not surprised to see her daughter repacking her belongings back into her suitcase for the flight back to Washington. She was, however, surprised to note that Julia was still in her dress from the Video Music Awards the night before: a dark green, ruched silk-like satin spaghetti-strapped sheath cocktail dress.

Kate glanced at Ellis Fox, her daughter’s Secret Service bodyguard, who shrugged her shoulders. “I guess she liked it.”

“Just make sure she changes before her flight.” Kate told Ellie, a little louder than was necessary, loud enough for her daughter to overhear, before continuing past the open door to the living room and into her own bedroom to change out of her swimsuit herself.


Wilcox International Airport

Miami, Florida

Monday September 8, 2059


The next morning, Katherine Janney stood on the North Terminal’s Concourse D of the Miami Airport, the gate for Southwest, giving her fourteen-year-old daughter a hug and a kiss goodbye. “Have fun at your new school, sweetheart.” As much as she might try to think of this as her seeing Julia off to her first day of high school, this did nothing to dispel the ever-omnipresent lingering knowledge that the high school in question was nearly a thousand miles away.

As she had arranged the month before, Julia’s Secret Service bodyguards, Special Agents Kimberley Frost and Ellis Fox, accompanied Julia onto the airplane and, Kate knew, would also be accompanying her teenage daughter to her new school in Washington the next day.

Recalcitrantly, as the airline’s last call for final boarding blared over the Airport’s public address system, Julia finally managed to extract herself from her mother’s embrace.

Kate stayed on one knee where she had been to hug her daughter, as though rooted to the thinly-carpeted floor, until an airport steward stepped over to cordon off the gate, his gaze on the nearby airport security station, appearing ready to wave them over to remove the young woman. Janney’s Secret Service Detail stepped forward to discourage him from any such rash action, but stood down when the candidate finally climbed back onto her feet.

Without a word, and seemingly without even so much as acknowledging that the others present were even there, she stepped over to the window and watched without a word as the 747, with its Southwest insignia, accelerated away from the airport down the runway east toward Biscayne Bay. She heaved a heavy sigh of ill-disguised relief as the plane’s wheels lift off the tarmac, but continued to watch it until it disappeared from view into the cloudless blue sky.

“Right then!” She cleared her throat with a huff, straightening as she turned around and reaching down to smooth out her skirt suit. “What’s next?”




Sunset Boulevard, West Hollywood, California

Saturday, September 13, 2059.


“The Congresswoman certainly made news at the Latin Grammy Awards last night;” Gina Everett told the assembled staff seated in a semicircle around her inside the Janney Campaign’s California headquarters in downtown Los Angeles; “And I don’t think it was because of her dress;” She looked over at Kate with a failed attempt at concealing a wry smile; “Surprisingly enough.”

Clearing her throat, she turned away from the group and toward the screen on the wall behind her, flipping it on. On it, the red-haired Candidate was spotted and waved over by one of the reporters from Univision: The station that broadcast the Latin Grammy Awards.

Kate could not help but grin as she spotted, out of the corner of her eye, several of the younger campaign staffer’s eyes go noticeably wider at seeing the form-fitting mint-green old-Hollywood-style dress that she had worn to the event in Miami the night before, with its embellished jewel-beaded gaping cutout neckline that showcased her ample cleavage.

“You were here in Miami for the MTV Video Music Awards with your teenage daughter last week;” The interviewer said to her in Spanish, the English subtitles scrolling across the bottom of the screen; “But what roots could a granddaughter of French and German immigrants have in the Latin or Hispanic American community?”

“Several years ago, when I was working as a named Partner at Janney, Kirks and Krueloe in Portland, Oregon;” Janney answered in fluent Spanish, prompting many of her staffers at the LA headquarters to look over at her in surprise; “I defended an organization called the Alliance for the Right to Love from persecution by a Sectarian religious cult.” Kate saw Kristin Ludlowe nod, having worked with Janney as her fellow lawyer at the firm on the case in question. “The organization’s Chief Counsel and I enlisted the assistance of outside counsel;” Janney said to the interviewer; “A brilliant attorney from Los Angeles, who was working at the time with the American Civil Liberties Union, named Charlotte Cardezza.”

It was the Univision correspondent’s turn to turn to her with wide eyes: Cardezza was now something of an iconic celebrity within the Latino community, not only inside California but also throughout the country.

“Speaking of which, I have an announcement to make;” The Candidate looked directly into the camera; “And I figure the Latin Grammys is as good of a place as any to make it.” She turned to address the audience. “If I am elected President of the States next November, one of my first appointments will be to nominate Charlotte Cardezza as your next Attorney General of the United States Department of Justice.”

Gina paused the footage on Janney’s smile and the reporter’s surprised expression and turned to her boss. “Kris, we all know you worked with the Congresswoman in Portland.” Ludlowe nodded. “Did she give you any sort of a hint that she was going to do this yesterday?”

Ludlowe shook her head. “No.” She glared at her friend, who did not turn to meet her stare. “She most definitely did not.”

Everett turned back to the screen. “Let us watch what happened on Univision here in LA a couple of hours later.”

The screen switched to show the face of attorney Charlotte Cardezza, with the Univision logo in the corner.

“A member of the House and Candidate for President has told us exclusively tonight that, if elected next year, they would nominate you for the Justice Department.” The off-screen interviewer told her in Spanish. “Would that interest you?”

“What is their name?” Cardezza asked.

“Katherine.” The interviewer answered, evidently having to glance at their notes. “Congresswoman Katherine Janney of Oregon.”

Even on the screen, they could see Cardezza’s expression light up visibly. “This interests me very much.” She responded. “Of course, I will be more than happy to accept the job.”

Everyone in the room responded with surprise at the seeming absolute surety in Janney’s election implied by the phrasing of Cardezza’s answer; Everyone except for the Congresswoman herself, who merely smiled.

“Any idea why she’s so confident you’ll win, Doctor?” Chlaire Daniels, her National Security Advisor, asked.

Janney shrugged, shaking her head. “What can I say?” She looked over at Kris with a smile. “I have some amazing friends. That reminds me;” She glanced at her watch; “I’ve got to go pick up Jewels at the airport.” She got up and walked out to her waiting car.


Los Angeles International Airport


Katherine Janney waited a the United American terminal and watched the airport crews attach the collapsible accordion-like ramp to the door of the airplane parked outside the window. It had been so long since she had been separated from her daughter for any appreciable length of time that she felt herself unexpectedly antsy as she waited for Julia do disembark. She knew from the last report that she had received from Air Force Major Rebecca Mavalently, her daughter’s godmother, before the flight had taken off from Washington’s Reagan-Dulles Airport that she and Julia had been seated at or near the front of the aircraft’s first class passenger cabin and so she anticipated that her daughter would be among the first passengers to exit the aircraft.

As the passengers disembarked from the door of the aircraft into the boarding ramp, Julia herself was not immediately recognizably distinguishable from the similarly dressed passengers that surrounded her. The dark-suited young woman at her side, however; with her mirrored sunglasses and her bleached blonde hair cropped short and pulled tightly back to unveil the wire in her ear; was immediately recognizable. As the last of the passengers in front of them went their separate ways, Julia rushed forward to hug her mother. The other woman removed her sunglasses, her eyes widening and her eyebrow quirking as the lithe Congresswoman, to her surprise, hefted the teenager into her arms as though she weighed next to nothing.

“How did the first week of high school go?” Kate asked, ostensibly to the girl in her arms, but a sidelong glance indicated she was addressing her daughter’s escort.

“She loves her classes.” Ellis Fox answered and Julia nodded enthusiastically as her mother lowered her to her feet.

As they started walking back toward the main concourse, Julia hurrying ahead of them, Kate turned to the Secret Service Agent expectantly, as if having intuited that there was something else Ellie wasn’t telling her.

“Academically, high school is going well.” Fox needed no prompting. “Socially…” She trailed off. “Well, let us just say things have become somewhat more complicated.”

“Oh?” Kate’s auburn eyebrow arched. “Is that so?”

Ellie shrugged, watching her boss out of the corner of her periphery to gauge her reaction to her next words. “Apparently, Madam Congresswoman; “She began, formally, before hesitating; “There’s a boy involved.”

The Congresswoman’s reaction to these dreaded words was not at all what one would have expected from the admittedly over-protective mother of a high-school-aged teenage daughter: She actually smiled. “What’s his name?”

“We don’t know.” Ellie began.

“She wouldn’t tell us.” Becka explained from behind them, having overheard and been eavesdropping on their exchange. Kate opened her mouth, but Becka reached out to lay a restraining hand on her shoulder. “Before you ask;” She preempted Kate’s coming question; “What she did tell us is that she won’t tell you either.”


El Capitan Theatre, Hollywood Boulevard,

Los Angeles, California


Saturday, September 13, 2059


Kate’s staff, led by Ken and Kris, rejoined the candidate and her daughter as they left the red carpet rope line behind and passed through the doors of the El Capitan Theatre, falling into what appeared to be a reception line for meeting the hosts and sponsors of the American Choreography Awards.

Kris complimented the candidate on her dress, but Kate barely heard her, her ears having picked up a feminine, melodious voice from the far end of the receiving line that was at once intimately familiar and yet at the same time she could not place how it could have come to be here. Kris was in the middle of greeting Julia when she broke off in mid-sentence, her face jerking up as she spotted the event’s benefactor, who stood at the end of the line.

Even Ken’s eyes grew wide as he, too, recognized the figure in the long golden gown.

“Congresswoman Janney;” Hera Day smiled glowingly as she reached out to take Kate’s hands in hers; “You have no idea how pleased we are that you were able to attend tonight.”

“What are you doing here?” Kate asked before she could think to stop herself. She knew well enough to lean toward the other woman before she spoke, her voice little above a whisper. Nevertheless, she hung her head, her face flushing, averting her gaze to the floor at her feet at the reproving glare her outburst earned her from her godmother.

Ken was more tactful. “You’re the benefactor?” He asked, sounding genuinely shocked.

“The Serapeum owns the El Capitan, yes.” Hera nodded noncommittally, referring to the casino on the Las Vegas strip that she ran with Zoe Stark. “But the advocate for the American Choreography Awards is not me.” She smiled as Kate’s head jerked back up to her in surprise and a second figure detached itself as though by mitosis to emerge from behind her. “You all know my daughter.”

“Hello again, Miss Ludlowe.” Sam greeted Kris.

Out of the corner of her eye, Kate noticed that even as she shook hands with Sam, Kristin’s gaze never once left the candidate, carefully gauging her reaction to this unanticipated reunion with her ostensibly recently ex-lover. She noticed too that even as she greeted her daughter and the other members of her staff, though she never turned to face the candidate directly, Sam’s eyes would frequently dart sideways to Kate and a smile would grow on her lips, which she would them immediately make a concerted effort to disguise.

Then at long last, the moment of truth arrived as Sam turned to face Kate.

Kate, knowing what she had promised Kris and under her watchful eye, had ever intention of adhering to her part in their arrangement. However, though she doubted even her own mother could see through it, Kate recognized the expression on Sam’s face and could tell from the pained expression in her mother-o-pearl eyes that Sam herself was deeply conflicted. Kate was just beginning to grow nervous that Sam’s internal battle would render what she would say or do difficult if not impossible to predict when the other straightened her shoulders, her chest rising and falling as she heaved a deep breath and her throat bobbing as she swallowed a lump hard before her lips curved into s friendly smile as she reached out to take Kate’s hands in her just as her mother had.

“It is a pleasure that you;” She paused and turned to Julia; “And your daughter are here tonight.”

To any dispassionate and objective outside observer, Sam’s tone would have sounded entirely genuine. But Kate, having known the blonde woman as intimately as it was possible to, had little difficulty picking up on the strain thinly veiled underlying her ever carefully-chosen word. Kate recognized this, in no small part, due to being able to identify completely: Having been in Sam’s same position of not being permitted to express her full feelings and forced to disguise them under the veneer of a diplomatic tone.

Kate smiled. “I’m here for her.” She gestured to her daughter. “Jewels is the Broadway buff of our household.” Julia nodded with a grin. “She’s a fan girl of one of the musical performers nominated for an award tonight.”

“Oh?” Sam looked down at the girl. “Which one is that? What’s her name?” she glanced at Kate to check that she had the actress’s gender accurate.

“Adele Dazeem.” Julia answered. “I hope she wins.”

“I’m sure she will.” Sam said with a knowing wink at the girl’s mother.



Playhouse Hollywood

Hollywood Boulevard

Los Angeles, California


Later that night, at the Awards After Party, Kristin Ludlowe approached the candidate table.

She slowed, her eyes narrowing as she spotted that Kate was not alone.

Sam Sat in the booth beside her, their heads ducked together over the tabletop as they conversed quietly, seemingly oblivious to the raucous uproar all around them.

This struck Ludlowe as a picture-perfect example of the reason why Sam’s relationship with the Congresswoman caused Kris so much concern as her campaign’s Communications Director: Whenever the two women were together, they had the distinct propensity to behave as though they existed in their own private bubble world, regardless of wherever they happened to be in the moment. However, as the light from the table illuminated Kate’s smiling face, her old friend recognized that she was seeing something special: Kate’s smile was genuine; She was genuinely happy in this moment, something that was all too rare on the campaign trail.

She needed no guesses to know what, or rather whom, it was that was making Kate happy and seeing the two women together like this, in one of their relaxed moments, their faces mere inches apart as they both leaned across the tabletop toward one another, it was both easy to see that there were genuinely deep mutual feelings shared between the two and at the same time not at all difficult to see why. Kris blinked. She had told Sam back at the Roosevelt Hotel the month before that she did not and could not blame Kate for having fallen in love with the otherworldly ethereal blonde.

What she realized looking at the two of them together now was that she could not blame the blonde for falling in love with Kate either. Ever since they had been roommates together at Lewis and Clark back in Portland, Kris had always been quietly, secretly envious of her younger friend, not only just for her seemingly effortless supermodel-like beauty, but also for her mind as well. Albeit, Kris had admittedly not known Kate at any point in time prior to her relationship with Sam but only afterwards and so she had no way of discerning for certain how much of what she envied in Kate was thanks to Sam’s influence on her. However, I Kate had been anywhere near as beautiful or as brilliant as a teenager as she was now as an adult, who in their right mind could fault the blonde for falling as head-over-heels in love with the young girl as Kate had with Sam?

As much to jerk her own thoughts back to the present moment as to alert the two women to her presence, Ludlowe cleared her throat with a loud but polite cough. Both women immediately sat back from where they had been leaning over the table and looked up at her.

“What’s up, Kris? Kate asked. If she was perturbed at all by the interruption, she disguised it perfectly.

“Congresswoman.” Ludlowe began, striding over to her side at the table, standing, she hoped not too overtly deliberately, directly between Kate and Sam. She made a show of opening the portfolio folder she carried in her arms and drawing a single sheet of paper, even though this was not necessary, as she had already read what it said. “This just came over the wires.” She saw Kate and Sam both grin at the antiquated reference to the archaic system by which news used to be retrieved in the twentieth century.

“What is it?” Kate asked as Kris laid the sheet on the table.

“I thought you should know;” Ludlowe responded; “That Congressman Seabourne, your rival for the California Primary vote in the debate tomorrow night;” She emphasized the date of the debate with a meaningful glance over at Sam; “Has just named his chief Economic Advisor.” Kate’s auburn eyebrow arched up into her bangs. “She’s his cousin.” Ludlowe explained. “A young woman by the name of Margaret Lowe.”

“Peggy?” Kate exclaimed, exchanging a surprised look with Sam.

“You know her?” Kris was, if anything even more surprised than either one of them.

Kate nodded with a reminiscent smile. “After she graduated from the University of Oregon in Eugene, she was my Macroeconomics teacher at Oak Hill Academy my senior year of high school.”

Ludlowe nodded: From the knowing grin between Sam and Kate at the mention of the woman’s nickname, Ludlowe had momentarily feared some sort of scandalous potential conflict of interest somewhere in the young candidate’s recent past.

“She was also captain of the cheerleading and dance team.” Kate added with a fond smile, which prompted Kris to be the one to arch an eyebrow interestedly.

“Well; Kris continued, not lingering overly long on the image of the Congresswoman as a cheerleader; “Miss Lowe went on to earn her Masters degree and a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business;” She glanced at her college roommate; “In Macroeconomics.”

Pre-Super Tuesday 2016 Primary Prognostications

•March 1, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Donald Drumpf is likely to win the Tuesday March 1, 2016 Georgia Republican Primary, as polls show Drumpf defeating his rival in Georgia, Cuban-Canadian Rafael Eduardo Cruz by 10 percentage points [Drumpf: 39%, Cruz: 29%, CBS News, January 21, 2016].
Drumpf is also likely to win the Tuesday March 1, 2016 Virginia Republican Primary, as polls show Drumpf defeating his rival in Virginia, United States Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), by six percentage points [Drumpf: 28%, Rubio: 22%, Christopher Newport University Judy Wason Center for Public Policy, February 14, 2016].

However, Drumpf is likely to lose the Tuesday March 1, 2016 Texas Republican Primary to Cruz, as polls show Cruz defeating Drumpf in Texas by 15 percentage points [Cruz: 45%, Drumpf: 30%, CBS News, January 21, 2016].

Drumpf is then likely to win the March 8, 2016 Michigan Republican Primary, as polls show Drumpf defeating Cruz and Governor Jonathan Kasich (R-OH) in Michigan by between 10 percentage points [Drumpf: 25%, Cruz: 15%, WDIV-TV/The Detroit News, February 16, 2016] and 30 percentage points [Drumpf: 41%, Cruz 11%, Kasich: 11%, FOX/Mitchell Research and Communications, February 15, 2016].
Drumpf is also likely to win the March 15, 2016 Florida Republican Primary, as polls show Drumpf defeating Cruz in Florida by between 12 percentage points [Drumpf: 31%, Cruz: 19%, FOX/Florida Times, January 17, 2016] and 32 percentage points [Drumpf: 48%, Cruz: 16%, Florida Atlantic University, February 18, 2016].
Drumpf is also likely to win the March 15th, 2016, North Carolina Republican Primary, as polls show Drumpf defeating Cruz and Rubio by between 10 percentage points [Drumpf: 29%, Cruz: 19%, Public Policy Polling, February 16, 2016] and 18 percentage points [Drumpf: 36%, Cruz: 18%, Rubio: 18%, Time-Warner, February 16, 2016].

Drumpf is also likely to win the Republican Party’s Nomination at the July 18, 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, as polls show Drumpf defeating Rubio for the Republican Nomination by between 10 percentage points [Drumpf: 31%, Rubio 21%, Rassmussen Reports, February 4, 2016] and 20 percentage points [Drumpf: 39%, Rubio: 19%, Quinnipiac University, February 15, 2016].


Former United States Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D-NY) is likely to win the Tuesday March 1, 2016 Georgia Democratic Primary, as polls show Clinton defeating her rival for the Democratic Nomination, United States Senator Bernard Sanders (D-VT) in Georgia by between 34 percentage points [Clinton: 60%, Sanders: 26%, Public Policy Polling, February 16, 2016] and 41 percentage points [Clinton: 63%, Sanders: 22%, WSB-TV/RosettaStone, February 4, 2016].
Clinton is also likely to win the Tuesday March 1, 2016 Texas Democratic Primary, as polls show Clinton defeating Senator Sanders in Texas by between 10 percentage points [Clinton: 54%, Sanders: 44%, University of Texas, February 19, 2016] and 23 percentage points [Clinton: 57%, Sanders: 34%, Public Policy Polling, February 16, 2016].
Clinton is also likely to win the Tuesday March 1, 2016 Virginia Democratic Primary, as polls show Clinton defeating Senator Sanders in New Hampshire by between 12 percentage points [Clinton: 52%, Sanders: 40%, Christopher Newport University Judy Ford Wason Center for Public Policy, February 14, 2016] and 22 percentage points [Clinton: 56%, Sanders: 34%, Public Policy Polling, February 16, 2016]

However, Clinton is likely to lose the Tuesday March 1, 2016 Massachusetts Democratic Primary to Senator Sanders, as polls show Senator Sanders defeating Clinton in Massachusetts by seven percentage points [Sanders: 49%, Clinton: 42%, Public Policy Polling, February 16, 2016].

Clinton is then likely to win the March 8, 2016 Michigan Democratic Primary, as polls show Clinton defeating Senator Sanders in Michigan by between 10 percentage points [Clinton: 50%, Sanders: 40%, Public Policy Polling, February 26, 2016] and 33 percentage points [Clinton: 60%, Sanders: 27%, FOX/Mitchel Research and Communications, February 15, 2016].
Clinton is also likely to win the March 15, 2016 Florida Democratic Primary, as polls show Clinton defeating Senator Sanders in Florida by 36 percentage points [Clinton: 62%, Sander: 26%, Florida Atlantic University, January 18, 2016].
Clinton is also likely to win the March 15th, 2016 North Carolina Democratic Primary, as polls show Clinton defeating Senator Sanders in North Carolina by between 10 percentage points [Clinton: 47%, Sanders: 37%, Elon University, February 17, 2016] and 26 percentage points [Clinton: 55%, Sanders: 29%, High Point University, February 4, 2016].

Clinton is also likely to win the Democratic Party’s Nomination at the July 25, 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, as polls show Clinton defeating Senator Sanders by between 10 percentage points [Clinton: 50%, Sanders: 40%, Suffolk University, February 15, 2016] and 21 percentage points [Clinton: 53%, Sanders, 32%, Public Policy Polling, February 3, 2016].


If Clinton is the Democratic Nominee and Drumpf is the Republican nominee, then Clinton is likely to win the November 8, 2016 Presidential election, as polls show Clinton defeating Drumpf by 10 percentage points [Clinton: 51%, Drumpf: 41%, NBC News/Wall Street Journal, January 13, 2016].

If, however, Senator Sanders wins the Democratic Party’s Nomination at the July 25, 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia Pennsylvania, and if Drumpf is the Republican nominee, then Senator Sanders is likely to win the November 8, 2016 Presidential election, as polls show Senator Sanders defeating Drumpf by between 10 percentage points [Sanders: 49%, Drumpf: 39%, Quinnipiac University, February 4, 2016] and 15 percentage points [Sanders: 53%, Drumpf: 38%, Fox News, February 17, 2016].

If Cruz wins the Republican Party’s Nomination at the July 18, 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, and if Senator Sanders is the Democratic Nominee, then Senator Sander is likely to win the November 8, 2016 Presidential election, as polls show Senator Sanders defeating Cruz by 10 percentage points [Sanders: 49%, Cruz: 39%, Quinnipiac University, February 15, 2016].


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