Friday, October 20, 2017

Why We're At War With Fish


Grzq had always been fascinated by humans.
True, to the untrained alien eye all this species seemed to do was wage a rather one-sided war against the fish on their planet. Which was strange, because the fish didn’t seem all that threatening, nor all that interested in the war. Nevertheless, the humans spent huge efforts turning all their natural resources into their most toxic subparts, just so they could dump them out in their oceans.
And they seemed to be winning. All indications were that they’d run out of fish just before running out of natural resources. But the question remained whether this really was an appropriate achievement.
But Grzq was fascinated by the humans nonetheless. For one thing, humans had by far the shortest lifespans of any sentient species. In a sector of the universe where the average lifespan was just under a thousand years, humans barely managed to reach a hundred – and they didn’t even seem all that eager to use the second half of their lives for anything remotely interesting.
Because of their ridiculously short life spans, it was widely assumed that humans would never reach the level of development at which meaningful interaction would be possible.
But Grzq kept finding reports that held his interest. Random fly-by’s of earth had yielded odd results. First, radio signals had been detected. Then, only a few decades later, digital video transmissions. And, in between, there had been bizarre tales of humans being spotted taking a stroll on their moon!
How was that possible?
If any of this was true, it would be extraordinary. Especially considering how each generation of humans had to spend its time.


First, a human would spend roughly twenty-five years doing nothing but study. Trying desperately to absorb as much of the knowledge that had been gathered by his dead predecessors. Basically playing a decades long game of catch-up.
Then he’d spend another fifty or so years putting a small fraction of this knowledge to use, building up to some valuable level of experience in a single field.
But then, when he’d finally become somewhat useful, when he could finally add something to the global repository of information, he’d suddenly stop working and move to a warmer climate to read fiction novels. This was something humans called: being a pensioner.
However, before this human could return from this pension well rested and ready to finally make a contribution to his species, he’d unexpectedly die.
Which was amazing.
Surely this outcome shouldn’t come as a surprise.
If your father, grandfather, and great grandfather all died before the age of a hundred, if only three people on a planet of seven billion were actually older than a hundred, you should probably not assume, without evidence of new medical breakthroughs, that you’d live any longer than that.
But still, their early demise seemed to catch them off guard. Meaning the following generation was forced to start all over again, and with very little new information to go on.
This was dubbed: ‘Stop-start evolution’.
It was a far cry from the advances a species could make with access to a thousand-year lifespan.
Obviously the humans had something special. To create, within the limitations of a stop-start evolution, a container which could be blasted to the moon on top of a giant primitive firework, and carry a group of people safely inside, that was amazing. And to achieve this in a mere twenty thousand years...
Extraordinary creatures indeed!

Read Grzq' ongoing adventure here

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Thursday, October 12, 2017

Why the President Is Stimulating Foreign Nuclear Programs


Whenever possible, the president does his best to accelerate the nuclear programs of foreign nations. At first, his attempts were limited to friendly, well-written emails and polite phone calls, but these had little effect. It was simply not possible to motive other nations to work harder this way.
So he decided to do the opposite. His new efforts would be very public, and very insulting.
When North Korea shyly tried to show the world their latest, coolest, toy – a shiny new rocket they’d crafted in a basement, the president immediately sent out a slew of disparaging tweets. NK had hoped people would clap, tell them how awesome their little rocket was, how smart they were for building it, and finally take them seriously. Perhaps even allow them to sit at the big-kids table at the next secret heads-of-states party. But all they got was taunts.
So they stepped up their efforts. They’d show the big kids. They’d make them pay. They’d build the biggest, most awesome-est rocket and stick the biggest, most awesome-est bomb on top of it.
Which was exactly what the president wanted them to do. But it still wouldn’t be enough, so he went looking for other ways to increase the global nuclear arsenal.
He found an old deal that prevented Iran from developing their nuclear program. He was appalled. This was the exact opposite of what the world needed. He would break this deal, but do it in a way that made it look like he actually wanted a more restrictive deal. A deal Iran would never accept.
The expected result? Iran would have to step out of the deal and accelerate their nuclear program. Even though they didn’t really want to, even though they’d already become bored with nuclear toys five Christmases earlier.
But still, the president felt, this wouldn’t be enough. There had to be more nuclear weapons and there needed to be more conflict. Much, much more conflict.
The reason for this was, obviously, that the president was the only person smart enough to decipher the crop circles decades earlier. They were, in fact, a warning from an inter-dimensional species.
‘Build weapons,’ this warning said. ‘THEY are coming.’
So the president was doing whatever he could to save the planet, stave off the coming aliens. And, if it didn’t work, he’d lay a trap for them. It’d be easy enough with the increased earth arsenal and the high-running tensions he’d created.
He’d blow up earth in a suicide mission to protect other civilizations from the aliens.
It wouldn’t take much. All he needed to do was send the right tweet insulting the right people... Continue reading.

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Why the White House is a Dump - as explained by the Alien President

Part 7


Shapeshifting alien Gryx had taken over from the president and was expected to move into a great while house. The humans deemed it of utmost importance that the most important human of the land live in the most important house. So Gryx expected a lot from this great white house. He expected it to be spacious, luxurious, grand, and again, luxurious. After all, Gryx had seen pictures of kings’ castles, of pharaohs’ tombs, and emperors’ palaces. All these domiciles had been ancient and at least one of them had been designed for a dead person. Obviously a modern president could expect something far superior. Something that offered both the highest levels of technological advancement as well as the most decadent amenities earth had to offer. (And all probably coated in either gold or barbeque sauce – Gryx still wasn’t sure which substance the humans liked most.)
However, his initial visit had been disappointing.
As Gryx toured the house, the residing president explained the designation of each room, and Gryx had to admit, the place was indeed spacious. It was as large a domicile as he had seen on earth. Sadly, it was also quite old. In fact, the president was proud to point out that the great white house was the oldest house in the area, which Gryx failed to see as a positive. He’d rather not have the presidential estate be the house that brought the whole neighborhood down. Also, although humans had already mastered the use of excellent building materials such as rock and marble over four-thousand years earlier, the great white house was, for some reason, made from the same material as popsicle sticks. Another thing that baffled Gryx.
It just seemed like an illogical starting point.
Over the years certain types of fortification had been added, explained the president, but, essentially, the main building material was still driftwood.
Today, as he made his way down the stairs in search of the kitchen for the first time, Gryx felt a little twinge of disappointment at having to live in such a… such a… dump.
Sure, there were servants ready to satisfy his every whim twenty-four hours a day. That was nice, really nice. But it didn’t negate the fact that most of the wallpaper was drab and colorless (and distinctly devoid of both gold and barbeque sauce), or that, while the furniture was sturdy and expensive, it really wasn’t very stylish. Or that all the paintings he came across were simply laughable, looking as if some dumb schmuck had painted them hundreds of years earlier using only materials available at that time.
And, well, truth be told, there weren’t nearly enough TVs.
So apart from the ability to call on staff all hours of the day, the great white house was a real let down. He couldn’t imagine a pharaoh or emperor striking down here and actually being impressed.
No wonder the businessman’s family was still hesitant to move in.
His wife (or rather, the businessman’s wife), had called him several times to inform him that she had to remain in their previous domicile, citing different reasons for this every time. In Gryx’ limited experience with human females this was a clear sign she was unwilling to discuss the actual reason, but to Gryx it was clear. Somehow she had discovered about the dumpiness of the great white house and opted to remain on the outside of it for as long as humanly possible... Continue reading.

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Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Ultimate List - As Explained by Leverage


So I had to deal with this really bad break up. Not one to waste time, I immediately turned to my oldest, dearest friend: Google. After all, more than 4000 years of civilization should’ve produced a cure, right? Countless generations suffered this fate before me, so the best way to deal with the rejection, the heartache, and that longing to spend the days with a special someone, it should be known by now. It should be Honed and Perfected. And, at a pinch, condensed down to a small pill or a fun little bullet list.
Not so.
Apparently humanity really dropped the ball on this one.
With over a million books and movies about love and relationships, I couldn’t find a single serious effort on how best to un-fall in love. The only thing out there is corny advice on keeping your distance and giving it time. Which begs the question: what have we been up to? Why haven’t we found a few moments to solve the most universal of all human problems?
Still, I was convinced exorcizing heartache could be reduced to a scientific exercise, and I set out to do just that. In fact, I captured my first efforts in a video blog series that I called: How to get over someone in 600 easy steps.
Okay, so I was still wallowing when I came up with that title. Deep down I didn't want to get over her, I just wanted a statement that explained how nonsensical my life had become.
Later I changed the title to: 27 simple steps to happiness…
Still heavy on the sarcasm, true, but definitely a nudge in the right direction.
Anyway, my goals were simple: 1. identify the steps needed to return the love-sick mammalian brain to normal operating parameters; 2. condense these steps down to a single-sheet PowerPoint presentation. (After all, PowerPoint is how the modern hunter-gatherer deals with reality. Creating bullet lists and charts pass for survival skills in our society, and rightly so.)
So why bring this up? Well, due to my more than heroic efforts nobody’ll ever have to suffer this fate again. They can simply follow my list and cure themselves. But before I tell you all about it, let me explain how I got into this mess in the first place. Continue reading...

Monday, October 2, 2017

The Two Party System - As Explained by the Alien President

Part 6


With only five days till the presidential elections, Gryx decided to brush up on the country’s political system. He wanted to know just enough so he wouldn’t inadvertently out himself as an alien. That kind of thing was bound to make his life complicated and he liked his life as simple as it could possibly get.
A quick search on the InterNet told him his country of choice had adopted something that was essentially a two party system. Legally more parties could join the fight, but historically the battle for presidency had been waged between two major camps.
This surprised Gryx. Even he could see it was impossible to condense the wishes of 400 million people into just two distinct viewpoints. There was no way to capture all their needs and hopes and dreams in such a limited setup. But, as he read on, he realized the system had some merit, or at least, the humans had found the only logical way to split their people into two groups. Truth be told, Gryx felt their solution was somewhat elegant.
Essentially the two main parties represented two distinct and disjunct ways of thinking: short-term vs long-term.
If your goal was to make as much money as possible without having to worry about the consequences, then the short-term party was for you. You might, for instance, see great opportunities to make some bucks selling hand-weapons to people in the streets. Or you’d like to see an increase in laws that would help poor people pay more bills for rich people, because you happened to be rich at the time. Or perhaps you had a cool idea for the planet’s natural resources and didn’t mind wasting them or causing a mess in the air and the oceans. Those kinds of ideas fitted very nicely in a short-term way of thinking.
On the other hand, if you had children, or happened to care about the future of the human race for some other crazy reason, then you might not want, say, all kinds of unstable individuals getting access to high velocity weaponry. And you’d probably take offense to distributing wealth in a 5% vs 95% ratio. You might even feel that polluting the planet was a bad idea and that natural resources should only ever be used sensibly. That kind of strange thinking would, of course, align you with the long-term party.
Not only was this system elegant, Gryx felt it was also highly efficient. The parties contrasted so clearly that he doubted anyone had to spend more than a few seconds deciding which side of the proverbial wall they wanted to end up on. That freed up a lot of time and mental resources.
For Gryx the choice was clear. He needed to get off-planet and he needed to get off quickly. Short-term was the only option for him. Burning up some backwater planet’s resources or its ability to sustain a lasting society weren’t high on his list. ... Continue reading.

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Thursday, September 28, 2017

Help! The President is an Alien!

Part 5


Gryx gained access to the room of the presidential candidate by disguising himself as a member of the hotel staff. He found the businessman behind a desk, checking real estate prices on his computer.
“I know you’ve been trying to get out of the presidential race,” he said, waking the man from his mental slumber. “Doing everything you could to get people to stop voting for you. I’m here to offer you a real way out.”
The businessman looked Gryx over, only marginally surprised to see him, then shook his head. “It can’t be done,” he said. “I’ve insulted everybody, leaked all kinds of information, and I’m still in the race. It’s hopeless.”
“I can take your place,” said Gryx. “I happen to be a shape-shifting alien from another dimension.”
The businessman arched an eyebrow at this. “Believe me,” he said, “I know aliens walk among us. In fact, I suspect many of the people I meet on a daily basis must be aliens. There’s just no other explanation. But tell me this, and this is very, very important: are you a real alien or are you one of those fakes? Because I hate fakes.”
Gyrx smiled reassuringly. “I am the real deal, I promise.” He concentrated for a moment and changed the shape of his head.
Baffled, the businessman came closer. “That’s amazing,” he breathed, touching Gryx’ new features, ruffling the alien’s now orange-blond hair. “That is terrific. That is tremendously beautiful.”
“I took the liberty of copying your face,” Gryx said. “I can do the body too.”
He shifted his entire being into the businessman’s likeness, but the businessman balked at this. “Bullshit!” he said. “I’m not that fat! Not even close!”
“I think you’ll find that you are,” Gryx said. “But that’s not important right now. What is important is that you have exactly one minute to make up your mind, will you take the deal?”
Gryx had read that businessmen really respected the pressure of a time-limited deal. They couldn’t resist. A time limitation instantly made anything seem more valuable. And, true to form, a light sparked in the businessman’s eyes.
“Are you saying I could actually have my old life back?”
“Not exactly, we can’t both have the same name and face, that’d cause chaos. But I can give you a new identity so you can make a fresh start.”
“I don’t like the sound of that,” the businessman said. “I’ve never started anything fresh in my life. I’ve always started from a healthy jump-off point, like a mountain of my daddy’s money.” He gave Gryx a meaningful look. “You see, I know how to make something out of something, but I’ve never had to make something out of nothing.”
Gryx shrugged. “I can get you some starting capital,” he said. “But taking this deal will mean that you’ll forever lose your wife–”
“I’m in!”
“– and your children –”
“Let’s do this!”
“– and the rest of your family –”
“Sold!”
“– and all of your friends.”
“You’re wasting time. Let’s make this deal before it expires!”
“So you’ll trade lives with me?”
“I’ll do it,” said the businessman, “if you promise to make yourself look less fat. I have a reputation to uphold.”
“I will not.”
The businessman mulled this over. “Okay,” he finally said, “I accept. But how are you going to make sure you get elected? Are you doing it with policies or by rigging the election?”
Gryx didn’t follow. “What are policies?”
“They’re… erm, I’m not sure. I think it’s just a way of describing how you are going to steal money without being too obvious about it. Like, say you want to give your friends a tax break, you can’t just come out and say it, you have to pussyfoot around it by pretending to, say, improve the health care act.”
“That sounds too complicated,” said Gryx. “And people are bound to see right through that kind of deception. I’m doing the other thing.”
The businessman nodded approvingly. “So then you’ve rigged the system.”
“Oh, no,” said Gryx. “I didn’t have to. The system was already rigged, I just modified the parameters.”
“Better be careful,” the businessman warned. “If they catch you, you’ll never hear the end of it.”
Gryx waved it away. “Don’t worry,” he said. “I’m pretty skilled. I’m bouncing my attacks off some Russian proxy servers. They’ll never figure it out in a million years.”... Continue reading.

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Monday, September 25, 2017

Help! The President is an Alien!

Part 4


Gryx sat in his broken emergency return capsule for days, trying to work out the best way to get the humans to build him an inter-dimensional beacon using their nuclear capabilities. It’d be his only way off the earth.
According to the local InterNet, the easiest way to get access to nuclear information was to be the president of a nuclear capable country. As it turned out, being the president of a nuclear capable country was also the best way to get humans to do stuff for you.
But compromising an actual president would be difficult. Apparently there were only a few of these president creatures on the planet at any given time. They accounted for less than a tenth of a tenth of a percent of the global population, and they also looked very similar to the non-president versions of humans, so they’d be hard to spot. Gryx wasn’t even sure how the humans could tell them apart. Perhaps this was why most presidents plastered their faces all over their cities and their currencies.
Another problem was that the presidents were hard to get at. They were surrounded at all times by a heavily armed entourage and they were constantly being recorded. Everything presidents did, everyone they met, it was all committed to digital storage. No matter what shape Gryx took, he doubted he’d manage to compromise an actual president. He’d have to think of something else.
By noon he’d discovered that his situation was even more complicated than he’d feared. Not unlike the bee creatures on Aldercon, who could morph into the queen when the reigning queen perished, these president creatures could morph as well. Not perhaps from male to female, but they could definitely morph from citizens into presidents. In fact, some of these creatures would automatically morph back into citizens after a set number of years. Not all of them, though, Gryx discovered. Some presidents (also referred to as dictators) managed to hold on to their presidential forms for a very long time, right up until the point their subjects finally had enough of them and shot them to pieces.
And this gave Gryx his second excellent plan in twenty-seven hours.
Although it was impossible to compromise a president in its fully matured state, it might just be possible to compromise a president while it was still in its larval stage. Before it had been fully instated.
True, the larval presidents already had an entourage, but they were unarmed. And they already suffered from a mild form of the ‘always being recorded’ virus, but there were still plenty of hours in the day when they were completely unobserved.
Compromising a larval president was definitely the way to go.
Gryx ordered the return capsule’s entertainment system to follow the news cast on the InterNet and identify the closest electoral area that was about to shed one president and take on another.... Continue reading.

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