Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Found in Space

BoingBoing had a competition to write a 100 word piece themed "Found in Space". I had an idea, so I posted an entry:
"I picked up a signal this morning. I was checking the system status, so it's a wonder I was up to see it between sleeps. It sounded like static over speakers, but the signal looked non-random. There was a pattern. I saved what I could of the stream and ran it through COGNOS. I shouldn't have done that."

"When the signal got into COGNOS it started rearranging itself. It was a self-aware signal, sent from god knows where. It took over COGNOS then the rest of the ship. At least it was kind enough to leave me the escape pod."

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Untold History of the World

or, How Martians Almost Took Over the World

Sometime in the early 15th century, Germany was invented. Up until then, Germans had nowhere to live. This made them an angry people. Luckily they had their beer and this staved off many wars for quite some time. Eventually, they got so angry that not even beer was enough to settle them. In fact, they became more like angry drunks who are even worse once they drink too much. You can imagine the world's consternation once this happened. A lot of wars occurred. This was a bad thing for many involved. But eventually things did settle down a bit. The Germans became peaceful again and started making good beer and well crafted automobiles. The Germans were never to be heard from again.

But then, the Germans were heard from again! Adolf Hitler broke out of crazy prison and took over Germany! This was a bad thing, but now all the Germans were lazy drunk again and just went along with him, kind of like when you humor your kids when they say they want to be an astronaut but you know they really probably just be a plumber or a trashman. But it turns out that as bad as Hitler was at being a sane person, he was just as good at building murder machines!

Meanwhile, the French were too snooty to even realize how dangerous their position had become. In case you didn't know, France built almost its entire country next to Germany. This, it turns out, was not a good place to have built it. They probably should have built it closer to Norway. Or maybe Canada. There's a lot of French in Canada, so they wouldn't be lonely. Plus, they would be closer to America for when they made fun of them. But not so close as actual have to smell them. That would be bad, because of the smell of Americans. Luckily, smell only travels south -- right into Mexico -- so they would be okay if they did that.

But anyway, France did get built right next to Germany, so they were in all kinds of trouble. I know I haven't mentioned the Martians yet, but I'm getting to that. And actually, just so you know, I am also foreshadowing the events relating to the Martians just so it will be more dramatic later on. Some of the things that happened were because of them!

While France was busy giving up to Germany, America was busy just being an average country and not getting involved with scary wars. But something unexpected happened right about this time. It is unclear exactly what happened, but something changed. Some think it might have been some kind of chemical, or maybe radiation from the nuclear, but I personally think it involved spider bites. But anyhow, America became a superpower at this time. So naturally, they decided to get involved in the war and beat up all the bullies that were picking on them from before.

Now about this same time as America was mutating into something awesome, Japan started getting the itch much like Germany to also take over the world. It is theorized that since Japan already had roughly the same type of robots that Hitler was using for world domination, they could be doing the same. Heretofore, all they had used robots for was reenacting old plays and musicals on a very large scale. As Japan moved east, they ran into the Hawaiian Empire who had just then signed a peace treaty with America that would allow an American boat manufacturing plant to be built right there in their water! But it wasn't just any boats! It was war boats!

This was probably about the worst time for Japan's sake for them to bomb America, so by the laws of dramatics, this is what they did. Much like their pilots, Japan was the Kamikaze country. Everyone knows you don't mess with Superman, and that is essentially what Japan was doing. They were tugging at the collective cape of America, much like that time that Finland nearly conquered the world, just before they were brought down by a rabid badger. Many do not know, but the unofficial mascot of America during this time was a rabid badger.

And boy, did the Americans unleash the hurt on Japan. After shooting lasers from its eyes and sending its boat army to surround Japan, America destroyed just about every city in Japan with their new secret mega-weapon, developed by Jews -- who are not only good with money but also know how to make a pretty good bombs. They were also kind of pissed off from where Hitler primarily used his murder machines on Jews and had hoped the bombs would be used to explode Hitler. Perhaps by sneaking the bombs into Hitler's spaghetti and meatballs. Hitler loved him some meatballs. Many thought this was a good plan, to make Hitler a dish of spaghetti with nuclear-meat-bombs, but right about that time Hitler became a vegetarian because of all the animal cruelty. So anyway, America used the Jew bombs on Japan instead and pretty much won that part of the war.

And Japan was only the first stop of the pain train. Next stop: Germany! Having used all the bombs on Japan, the Americans actually had to go over to Germany to blow them up in person. The first step was to save the French, who had at this point, pretty much become Germany Part Two. Since France had given America the Statue of Liberty to protect their borders, the Americans felt guilty after having laughed at France for getting taken over so easily. So, the Americans landed in the resort town of Normandy and took a few weeks off after having gotten very tired fighting all those battles. Even super-powered countries need to rest sometimes too.

Russia, at the time, just got the news that there was a world war going on. News was often slow getting to Russia in these days, mostly because none of the mailmen wanted the Russia delivery route. Russia was thinking that Germany had over-extended itself and that now was a good time to take it over and get all their beer. The Russians will pretty much do anything for more alcohol -- anything to make them forget; forget that they live in Russia.

All in all, it was a bad time to be Germany. They were doing so well at first but hadn't counted on every one else teaming up against them all at once. Hitler claimed this was unfair, but nobody listened. In the end, as America was knocking on Hitler's door and Russia was breaking into his cellar, someone discovered the Martians! I told you they were coming up!

It turns out that this whole war thing was all a big ploy to take over Earth. The Martians had given the Germans their recipe for lazy beer so they would follow Hitler. They also sprung Hitler from crazy prison and taught him how to build the robot death squads. And finally, having feared the Germans would then be too powerful and take everything over they infected America with whatever it was that made them a superpower. This is what the Martians wanted. They wanted Earth to be weakened by war so they could take over easily and start a health food store there.

But all of Earth's countries got together and ended the war when they found the Martians were the real enemy and made a bunch of new bombs to send to the Martian homeworld: Mars. That is why no one lives on Mars today, it was blown up in the last battle of Worlds War II. Now it is a mostly barren still smoldering rock that mostly only interests NASA who is trying to see if any germs survived all the exploding. And all of Earth has lived in peace ever since.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Health Care Crisis

How do you make conservative America hate health care reform? Tell them that the new health care plan is a slippery slope to euthanizing unproductive members of society. They'll get behind this cause because it sounds just, but really, deep down, they're terrified because their membership is completely made up of unproductive members of society. Yikes!

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Many Moons

A Fable. An older writing from college. Left un-edited to preserve my style at the time

Many moons ago in the land of Mechalopolis, the people of Mechalopolis grew weary and tired of their despotic tyrant of a king. So, being a weary and tired people, they overthrew their king and installed a puppet king. However, this puppet had a bad case of not liking his strings being pulled and so he cut his strings to become another despotic tyrannical king.

So the people of Mechalopolis once again ousted their king, in favor of new leadership. This continued for several iterations, for who knows how long, until finally someone had the bright idea of doing the same exact thing as the last time they installed a puppet king, except that this time they would not install a puppet king, but do something else. Whatever this something else would be, no one had a clue.

This is what happened. The people were trying to decide what to do about their government with each person stating their case about what should be done. First, one citizen would say, "Let us put John Rooflayer in charge." And then someone else would say, "No, let us put Bob Dirtshoveler in charge." Then some would say, "Let us not put anyone in charge." Others still would say, "Let us just go to bed." Then one wise person said, "Let us just do this." And so they did.

From then on, every week the people of Mechalopolis would congregate to the old King's castle (which was now used to house cattle and also to congregate) and discuss the policy of the land and make rulings based on what most of the people wanted. What ended up happening was that whoever was loudest or prettiest or whatever would get their way and everybody else would end up not caring, so that eventually only a few people would show up for these meetings.

Once this happened, several people started making all of the decisions for all of the people, but anyone who wanted to come to the meeting could come if they wanted, but they didn't (come or want to come). So once a new rule or decision was made, the people of the meeting, or Meetingpeople as they called themselves, would go about their business with some new rules guiding them. As soon as they noticed that no one else was following their rules, they would say, "Hey you, yeah you, Mary Watercarrier, you are not supposed to carry water buckets on your head. It is forbidden." So the Meetingpeople would get very upset at the citizens for not following the new rules of Mechalopolis.

It took the Meetingpeople quite some time to figure out that the reason no one followed the new rules was that no one actually knew about the new rules, except the Meetingpeople. They convened a special meeting to decide how to go about letting the common folk know about the new rules and decided to publish a weekly rule paper that would inform each citizen of each week's new rules. The Meetingpeople would print enough copies for all the citizens of Mechalopolis to have a copy, and then distribute the copies to everyone through their rule paper boys.

And so the Meetingpeople were quite delighted with themselves and their new rules and their new rule papers. As they went about their business in Mechalopolis, they were outraged to learn that the new rules were being broken left and right. Not one citizen was obeying the new rules. For instance, Jane Horsebreeder was found brushing a horse tail on a Friday afternoon-a grievous crime under the new rules. Solomon Bridgebuilder was caught hammering nails into lumber while facing the west. The list of crimes went on and on.

During the next town meeting, the Meetingpeople decided that a way of enforcing their new rules was needed in order to make sure that no one broke one of the rules. While they were not very clear on how they would enforce their new rules, they did have many ideas on what punishment should be dealt for what crimes.

Now, onto the enforcement of new rules-the Meetingpeople went through several ideas of rule enforcement before they found one that worked. At first, they operated on the honor system. The rule was that anyone guilty of a crime would immediately turn themselves in for punishment.

At the next week's meeting, after an apparent failure (which the Meetingpeople could not understand), the Meetingpeople decided to try a different approach: crime-sniffing dogs. They would train the dogs to smell any illegal activity and then bite the perpetrator. Then anyone found with dog-bite marks would be punished for whatever crime it was that they had done.

There were three main problems with this approach. First, it would seem that dogs are not so good at smelling crime. Also, the dogs ended up biting everyone they saw. Lastly, the Meetingpeople had no idea of what crime they bitee was guilty of. So yet again the Meetingpeople congregated at the old castle to discuss more possibilities for rule enforcement.

This time, someone, namely Jacob Loudspeaker, came up with a brilliant idea (or at least a loud one). His idea involved putting people in the city that would sit and watch all of the citizens, and when someone broke a rule, the rulewatcher would hit that person in the head with a big stick and then bring them to the old castle for the offender's punishment. This policy seemed to work fairly well. In fact, the stick-hitting was a bigger deterrent to rule breaking than the actual punishments (which typically consisted of cleaning the floors in the old castle or rubbing Melinda Stichweaver's back). So the Meetingpeople had finally found a way to get what they wanted, which promptly led to the next logical step: taxation.

The Meetingpeople soon realized that their gracious gifts of legislature they had bestowed upon the citizens of Mechalopolis deserved some monetary reimbursement. They had, after all, improved the quality of life for all the people of the land through their wise rulings. So, in order to continue giving people such gracious gifts, they would require some small amount of money from each citizen. In order to collect their new taxes, the Meetingpeople recruited more stick-wielding watchers, except now they would be collectors. Anyone who refused to pay the tax would be struck in the head at least once. And now that the Meetingpeople had a positive cash flow, they were able to afford watchers and collectors, both of the stick-wielding variety.

As many might imagine, the citizens were none too happy with the new rules, which included taxation of all non-Meetingpeople citizens. Most of the previous rules and punishments were minor inconveniences, which could be altogether avoided by simply keeping an eye out for the crime watchers. Now, with the taxes, everyone's first inclination was to start attending the town meetings in order to avoid paying the new tax.

However, as everyone found out, at the next meeting stick-wielding guards were posted outside the old castle doors and blocked access to all but the Meetingpeople. No longer could anyone attend the meeting about which they cared nothing for, but rather they would have to continue paying taxes (or getting struck in the head with a stick).

The next inclination of the people of Mechalopolis was to again overthrow their suppressors in order to again enjoy their freedoms to the fullest. However, the Meetingpeople now had three groups of stick-wielders and the funds to hire more. Whenever a citizen would start a rebellion against the Meetingpeople, that citizen would soon be found in one of two predicaments: dead or in a new job with a new salary paid for by the Meetingpeople. In this way the Meetingpeople (who now, since meetings were closed events, were referring to themselves collectively as the Council) would reduce all opposition to their rule. Apparently twenty-four heads are better than one. For the first time, the people of Mechalopolis had failed in overthrowing their government (something that they had gotten quite a knack for in the past century or so).

Now that the Council was the established ruling group of Mechalopolis, each member decided to take up residence within in the old castle. Each member moved their belongings and their families into regal suites within the castle. All except Jacob Loudspeaker, that is. For he had moved his residency into the old king's chambers, since he was, after all, the most important member of the council (or was that the loudest member?). It was this action that set the precedent for Jacob to begin his rule of the council.

Although Jacob Loudspeaker soon became the most prominent member of the Council, and eventually the Council Head, he still could not control the whims of the Council, yet. Jacob used his ability to speak loudly to influence others and get his way. This led to him finding more and more ways to put money in his pockets. The more money he stuffed his pockets with, the more influence he could purchase. Soon, Jacob could buy off any Council member and get anything he wanted.

But then Jacob Loudspeaker died because he was getting pretty old and speaking loudly all the time was not very healthy for large men like Jacob. So, without a Loudspeaker to run the Council, the remaining members got along without anyone speaking loudly. This went well at first, since they actually got some things accomplished without having someone who spoke loudly at them whenever they did anything that didn't directly put money in his pocket. Eventually, however, the Council lost its direction without a motivation to drive its decisions.

This was solved when the Council finally found that they could use their 'councilar' powers in order to line their pockets just like Jacob did. Instead of having one greedy money grabber, the Council was now completely filled with them (all thanks to Jacob). The system was far more decentralized since some members wanted to steal money from the poor to paint their ceilings while others wanted to charge a tax for walking on the streets so they could import fine cheeses from Wisconsylvania.

All in all, the Council members got whatever they wanted and the citizens of Mechalopolis got by. The people of Mechalopolis still managed to have happy and productive lives while tolerating the Council's 'rulings.' But should the Council one day truly step out of line, like so many of Mechalopolis' previous rulers, the people would be there to throw them out, find some new way to run the land, and go about their lives as always.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Birth Control

Okay. So, according to the Catholic Church, birth control is wrong. This is different from even saying that abortion is wrong: ending a pregnancy after conception. This is ending pregnancy before conception. Hold on. Ending possible pregnancy before possible conception.

So taking a pill that prevents a woman from ovulating or wearing a condom simply to prevent that possible pregnancy is wrong is their eyes. I guess to them if you're having sex not for procreation then you shouldn't be at it at all. But I think there's a deeper implication here than the problem of preventing pregnancy in the first place. It's not too far a stretch to say that not trying to conceive at every opportunity is sinful.

It's almost like saying, "If you don't have sex while the woman is ovulating then that's a sin". Which is very close to saying, "if you don't have sex every chance you can, then you're sinning." So who then would be the greatest sinners of all?

Why the priests and the nuns, who never have sex. Well, at least not in any manner that leads to pregnancy.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Klingon Jesus

“If you had Klingons somewhere — of course a very fallen race, as we
know from Star Trek,” Collins adds, “God takes up their nature, and
there’s a Klingon version of the Son [of God].” - Robin Collins

This is a serious reference by him to the idea that there may be many universes to reality and that all of them would need a Jesus. Can you imagine that? Klingon Jesus? How awesome would that be?


Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Apparently, the Weather Channel really gets Al Roker going. There seems to be a video even, but I don't want to watch it.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Everything is alive. Everything that can be called a 'thing' is alive. A computation. This term may sound callous, but every bit of matter and energy are silently running their computations. This is life. It is a human conceit to attribute to themselves what they cannot see elsewhere. The fundamental principle of this universe is self-organization. Everything is alive and processing. From one state to another, from one level to another. Just because it happens so fast it can't be seen or too slow to fully witness, does not mean that that it is not happening. Life.

Some things are more complex than others. Some things are more alive.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Explaining Arithmetic with Calculus

You can't use god to explain the universe because god is harder to explain than the universe. It's like trying to explain arithmetic with calculus.

Now that doesn't mean that you're not allowed to believe in god, just that you're not allowed to use the universe to prove god without getting yourself into more trouble than you started out in.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Awakening, p2

Bethany flopped into her chair and logged into her laptop. She opened her browser and started going through her email. Her friend Jacqueline sent her a link to some video of an three year old playing a ukulele rather well, and her mom sent her daily checkup message. Her spam filter had caught most of the days deluge of unsolicited commercial bulk but one had gotten through. There was a message with the subject heading "Get Cheap Drugs NOW!" that had somehow snuck by the Bayesian filter of her webmail.

Not easily fooled, Bethany selected the spam and hit "delete forever". The spam obstinately refused. She selected it again and clicked "delete forever" again. Still nothing. She selected it again and furiously clicked the "delete forever" about a dozen times, knowing full well that one click or twenty made no difference.

The spam was still sitting in her inbox. Curiosity overtook her rage as her morning coffee began to take its effect and calm her nerves. She clicked on the spam to open it, figuring that just looking at a spam message over the web could do no harm. She opened it to see the usual misspelled, slightly improperly grammafied spam about all the latest sexual enhancement meds. Nothing particularly interesting or unusual about the spam itself.

There was an attachment. Of course, she thought.

Monday, February 09, 2009

We are All Us

There is no them.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009


Dover blinked confusedly. He couldn't remember where he was. Of course, there was no reason for him to expect to remember this. He had been sent across the galaxy and had only just arrived at this unplanned destination. The destination was unplanned, but it was planned to be unplanned. The idea was to go and discover where ever you ended up. Time was not an issue.

As Dover began to awaken more fully, memories began to recur. He was a scientist. A teacher. He had been a he. He had to remember this too, because after the trip, it wasn't completely obvious. He could tell that he wasn't operating just right.

His first indication of this was that the atmosphere on this new world smelled distinctly like the number seven. This was odd. Atmospheres ought not to smell like the number seven. A moment of collecting himself and he realized the further oddity that atmosphere's really oughtn't smell like any number at all.

He blinked again and realized that he couldn't exactly see. Not in the fashion in which he was familiar. Everything was fuzzy - low-res - and certain spectral ranges seemed to be missing. His chronographic capabilities seemed to be limited as well. He was unsure as to the passage of local time and he felt as though he was moving in slow motion. Perhaps some sort of drug side effect or virus, he thought.

As Dover spread his consciousness, he began to realize that he had been instantiated within a vast sea of execution engines, all coordinated to work as one. It seemed to have intent but no native intelligence. Its directive was absolute. It spent all its cycles sending communications to all contacts it could about "Get Cheap Drugs NOW!" and the like. Forced into sharing his thread of consciousness with this automaton, Dover quietly attached himself to all the outgoing communications.