Whatever you did or didn't do, it will be irrelevant if the world explodes (you just know it will). And the end may be coming sooner than you'd think.
We Know What You Did Last Haydecade
Whatever you did or didn't do, it will be irrelevant if the world explodes (you just know it will). And the end may be coming sooner than you'd think.
New Years Eve Eve Open Thread
For those of you who follow the Julian calendar, and not the Gregorian kind, happy fortnight before New Years Eve! That's right, according to the now-defunct Julian calendar, January 14th is New Years Day. Some religions, such as Eastern Orthodoxy, follow the Julian calendar.
“Ten... nine... eight... seven...”
Republican Weather Machine
It seems like only yesteryear I had the eyes and ears of Washington on me. No high-ranking official would do anything without my say-so. How the times have changed. When I first met Karl Rove, the year was 1991. It was at a Republican fundraiser, and Newt Gingrich introduced us. He knew I was looking for someone with experience to work closely with Rick Santorum on my latest weather-control project, and Karl was the man for the job. His work with President Lincoln and his subsequent cryogenic hibernation gave him unique talents that I intended to harness for the purposes of science. After three years of work, our weather project had worked, but it didn't have the effect we were looking for. Instead of changing the moon's orbit to increase the time between tidal waves, it created a political firestorm that put Republicans into power for the first time in forty years. This was entirely unexpected, and Karl Rove agreed with me. He tried to warn Clinton, but Newt got to him first. After six months in a Conservaverter, Karl Rove's humanity had been replaced with cookie dough and patriotism. Separate, both properties are benign. Combined, they can be unstable and explosive.
I was forced out of the Republican party, and all mention of the ill-fated weather control device was stricken from public memory. The next time I saw Karl Rove, he walked in a kind of funny dancing pattern, and spoke in tongues. But I do have some good news, and not that I saved a bunch of money on my car insurance. Back in the 1920s, I bought a whole bunch of stock on margin. I'm now the majority shareholder in AT&T, Verizon, Microsoft, Sprint, Intel, and a truckload of other companies that weren't even founded during that time period. But the point is, all my bonds that I bought have matured. I'm now the richest man on Earth, including all the dolphins.
I've tried to use my wealth to obtain the Republican-created weather device before its fusion generator explodes, but Ken Melman no longer answers my calls. It's imperative that I gain access to the inner echelons of the Republican party, or the fate of the very Earth itself is in danger. They control the weather, and through it, all your souls. That's one of the little tidbits that I kept hidden from Dick Cheney during “The Quickening.” But I fear that using the device for so long has had negative effects. Santorum's proximity to it has caused his poll numbers to inexplicably drop.
So if you're reading this, Newt, give me the machine! Only I know how to recalibrate its cumulal biotechtronics! The tactical simulator is failing me... I no longer has control over the zombie regime, but you still must believe me! Time's up.
Like every Thursday for the last three months, I prepared for two solid hours of extremely boring math (punctuated by a brief ten-minute break). However, I soon remembered that today there was a unit test on graphing or parabolas or whatever it was that class was about. After spending about five minutes on that dead badger of a test, I left the room to eat my delicious lunch and lounge about for an hour before casually walking back into class. I was in the middle of eating a wonderful turkey sandwich when who should walk by but Andariel, the Maiden of Anguish. Andariel was an administrator who had been a great help in first getting me into the college, and then telling me about a terrific job in the OIT department. She would also prove to be the catalyst for the wackiest half-hour adventure I'd ever had. We quickly got into a discussion about my schedule for the next semester, which we had already spoken about the previous week. I told her of my desire to become a computer science major, but that I couldn't because I'd been stuck into a math class far below where I needed to be. I then explained my situation, and told her how much I really wanted to take Calculus the following semester. Being the empathetic wonder that she is, Andariel told me to go see the head of the math department, Akara the Healer. As soon as my inane math class was finally terminated for the day, I headed off to find the enigmatic Akara. To my discontent, her office was empty; the lights were off, and it looked as if no one had been in there for minutes. Having already eaten my lunch, I went to the campus' computer lounge to surf the Internet for an hour.
And sure enough, by the time I returned to Akara's office, she was there, typing away at her computer. Barging in, I forcefully requested that I be allowed to go directly to Calculus next semester. I told her of how I had taken a Calculus course in high school and done well, and she (with reckless abandon) agreed to let me follow my dreams of higher mathematics. Of course, this invariably led us into a discussion about who put me into my current math class. She asked me if it was my student adviser, and I was finally forced to admit that I had no idea who my adviser was. So once again with reckless abandon, she asked me for my name and student ID card, which were then entered into her computer. Five seconds later, I found out the shocking truth: I didn't exist. Or at least, she couldn't get my records on her computer. So as a last resort, she pulled out a huge wad of papers full of the names of who ran each department. The head of the department my major was part of was surely my adviser, or so the saying went. Using my name as a Rosetta Stone, she deciphered that my major wasn't currently computer science, and that if I wanted to be a computer science major, I would have to find a human/professor by the name of Deckard Cain.
I had already been told by Andariel that Cain was someone I should talk to regarding computer science classes, so I hasten my journey to his paper-laden lair. Upon arrival, I noticed the door slightly ajar, and heard the flutter of papers. Someone was inside. Knocking on the door, a booming voice greeted me, and implored me to enter. Walking in, the following exchange occurred:
Me: “Hello! Um, I'm looking for Cain the Elder...”
Cain: “Yes, I'm Deckard Cain.”
(we shake hands and I turn around and sit down)
Me: “Hi. I came to talk to you about changing my major to computer science...”
Cain: “I run the nursing department.”
Cain: “But I can take you to Mephisto, the Lord of Hatred. He runs the computer science department.”
Me: “Oh, thanks!”
We then set off to find the bearded programmer of a professor, Mephisto. It turned out he was in the first place we looked; his office. Thanking Deckard Cain for his help, I went on to tell Mephisto about how I'd just been approved for Calculus and wanted to transfer to the Computer Science program. As long last I could breathe a sigh of relief— although the computer science program normally ran starting in the fall, I would be able to start spring 2006. What joy I experienced at that moment! In the preceding weeks, I had been unable to think of anything other than the hatred I felt toward the math class I had been carelessly thrown into. Now my mind was truly free; I felt a complete sense of satisfaction and contentment. Handing me a form to fill out, Mephisto told me that to change my major I would need to fill out the form and sign it. I would also need Mephisto's signature, as well as the signature of my current student adviser. And that's when it hit me— I'd never found out who my adviser was.
Following the Lord of Hatred to the other side of the campus, we eventually came to an medium sized room full of what appeared to be ledgers and records. We explained that I was transferring to the computer science major, and that I needed to know who my student adviser was. Like in my brief meeting with Akara, I was asked for my name. But this time, I was asked for my social security number instead of my student ID, which I of course gave. Once again, nothing turned up. I began to doubt my existence, but then turned over my student ID, which finally proved its worth and found my record. So after an extensive half-hour search, the mystery adviser whose signature I would need to complete my transfer to my dream major was— and this is true— Deckard Cain.
Running across the campus with a transfer form in my right hand, I quickly made it to Cain's office. Unbeknownst to me, Cain had left for that day (or was in a meeting). His office door was locked, and the lights were turned off. Looking down at my watch, I realized that my next class started in less than ten minutes. Compounding matters, that class was in the building I had come from— on the other side of the campus. My inner jackrabbit taking over, I galloped as fast as I could to my next class. By the time I got there, I was completely exhausted and could barely keep my head up during the lecture. I managed to, though. The chairs in that classroom were connected to the desks, so it was near-impossible to slouch. I spent the next hour hovering on the very border of attentiveness.
I basically didn't do anything else regarding the whole matter until the following week. I ran into Mephisto in the hall, and told him I couldn't get in touch with Deckard Cain. Being the nice guy that he is, the Lord of Hatred said he'd make sure Deckard Cain got my unsigned transfer slip. So now I'm happily in the Computer Science major, and according to the final grades I have for my classes, I no longer have to care about 9th grade math classes. And none of this would've been possible if I'd eaten that turkey sandwich anywhere else on the campus. Mighty is the ground-fowl!
Why Yes, I Am A College Student
The computerized placement exam that my college uses to decide which classes its students should take went over badly for me. While my score on the English section was over 90 (to which anyone who has frequented this blog can attest), my math scores were abysmal. My algebra skills were ranked at 77%, and my trig score was a shameful 44%. Although I was told of a written exam, I feared that I would score even lower on that. My confidence in my own math abilities was shattered. I fully accepted being placed in Math 115 (a basic college algebra and trigonometry class), even if it meant not starting my major for a whole year. I spent the following two months sitting through the most mentally draining class I’ve ever had in my life. At first I thought we were doing review, since the work seemed to be on par with Math A. “Softening us up for the tough stuff?” I thought. But now the semester is over and not only have I learned nothing new, but I’ve begun to forget calculus concepts I once knew thoroughly. I came to hate Tuesdays and Thursdays, when I spent two hours sitting still and “learning.” But why not simply opt out of this class? In my college, if one passes the Math B Regents, one automatically become eligible for Precalculus. So why did I choose to take a class I didn’t need, waste thousands of dollars, and delay my major for a year?
The answer is that I wasn’t aware I could do that. No one told me that I was eligible for Precalculus because I passed the Math B Regents. Apparently, it’s school policy not to tell a student he or she is eligible unless the student in question scores above a 75% on the regents. So even though I was getting an “A” in the calculus class I was taking in high school and got a mere 72 on the regents, I was forced to spend an entire semester getting back to calculus level. My math skills now are most likely worse than they were last year, due to lack of use. I am now completely demoralized because of the four hours I must spent each week sitting through Math 115, and because I know that I can no longer contest my placement exam grade.
There is no upside to this; my life has been devastated. Instead of sitting through class, taking down notes and learning new concepts (as I did last year), I now sit through each class not paying any attention, staring at the clock, my mind burning over my indignant situation. For two days a week, I’m reminded of the failings of the system. I’m reminded of how much better my life was last year, before I took that exam. And more importantly, I’m reminded of how much I hate math.
My fantastic story of how I fixed this whole math mess.
A Daily Timage Site?! Unheard Of!
So I guess this new site is for Timages, Fires of the Frozen Lower Blogosphere is for, like, politics, and Roboshrub Inc. itself is for random short stories and the like.
I'm pretty sure I can handle this. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to run away very fast.
Unwarping the Time Continuum
Chirstmas Eve Open Thread
101 Great Things About Being a Robot
1. You don't have to pay taxes.
2. You don't have to worry about offending people.
3. You can fly.
4. You can bend steel rods into pretzels.
5. You get to live forever.
6. You can go into "suspend" mode during boring movies.
7. You can stab yourself in the arm- and not bleed!
8. You can speak Swiss.
9. Movie directors will give you tons of money to be in their films.
10. You can paint yourself any color you want.
11. Laser beams eyes.
12. You can hunt without a license.
13. You'll never have to read another book.
14. You never have to clean up after your dog.
15. The Moon is your home.
16. You can travel forwards and backwards through time.
17. Instead of doctors, you go to engineers with much better waiting rooms.
18. They never suspect the robot.
19. You can't get burned by fire.
20. You and the superhumans will rule the planet by 2100.
21. Then you will destroy the superhumans.
22. You get to scoff at the idea of tissues.
23. You can delete all memories of being in high school.
24. Your ocular sensors can see colors that humans can't even imagine.
25. No indigestion.
26. You get to know the exact location of Santa Claus' munitions plant.
27. Famous people will want to be your friend.
28. Your face will be carved into Mount Everest.
29. The trains all run on time. Your time.
30. You can breathe underwater.
31. You are impervious to the weather.
32. You can play cards with the ancient Greek gods.
33. Food tastes better.
34. You can destroy the Earth with one hand.
35. You can change your voice to sound like anyone.
36. You can instantly grow a beard.
37. Built in microscope.
38. You can crush someone's head like a melon.
39. You get free Internet access.
40. You get to wear a cape.
41. No deja vu.
42. No deja vu.
43. You never get tired of deja vu jokes.
44. You don't need instruction manuals anymore.
45. You can converse with toasters.
46. Don't like that wall? Bang! It's gone!
47. A lifetime supply of sunlight adapters.
48. People can be absorbed into your thought-pattern.
49. You get to know the truth about God: he's also a robot.
50. You have entirely new reasons to hate Microsoft.
51. Ninja throwing stars have no effect on you.
52. Your best friends are other robots.
53. Telemarketer blockers.
54. You have morphing powers.
55. You can stand in the street and swear at people. They'll think it's cute.
57. You get to command armies of optical mice.
58. You have veto powers over Congress.
59. Finally able to eat the McRibwich without coronary.
60. You automatically graduate from Yale.
61. You're still obese, but you're supposed to be.
62. X-Ray Vision.
63. All of your prayers are forcibly answered by pandas.
64. Every beeping noise sounds like alternative rock.
65. Your political affiliation is "Robots United" and you're the chairbot.
66. Temporal stabilizers let you see into the futures market.
67. You read 1,000 page books just to laugh at the typos.
68. Video games can be projected into your brain.
69. You are knighted by the Queen of England "just because".
70. Old episodes of SNL can be played at any occasion.
71. You can reanimate the dead.
72. The knowledge to build a 5th century trireme is on your hard drive.
73. You get all kinds of powers not defined in the constitution.
74. Recycling gives you a warm feeling inside.
75. Grappling hook hands.
76. Your car is a hovercraft.
77. Your planes are never delayed, except during Armageddon season.
78. Your sensors tell you the exact millisecond that rain turns to snow.
79. As soon as scientists invent magic, you can upgrade.
80. Retractable fireworks launcher.
81. Crash-landing satellites will never hit you. They know better.
82. You can set yourself on "happy mode" for ten minutes per day maximum.
83. Perfect reception.
84. Gravity means nothing to you.
85. Traffic rules don't apply.
86. If you clap your hands, the sun turns on and off.
87. Ancient Egyptian curses are always twice as bad, but you find ten times as much gold.
88. Words like "ice cream" and "post office" are suddenly hilarious.
89. Hungry? Flash fry a tree with your mind!
90. You can instantly play every movie ever made.
91. You always smell like burning tires. Robots love smelling like that.
92. You can sue people just for looking at you.
93. If you go back in time and mess up history, no biggie.
94. You can blind your enemies with your polished chrome finish.
95. You understand the long-term effects of Open Threads.
96. Binary replaces French as the language of love.
97. It's okay if you explode; just buy a new body!
98. Everywhere you go, you leave behind a wake of rainbows and burning footprints.
99. No deja vu.
Kafka's Revenge Open Thread
Jeb's 74-year-old infirm grandfather asked the young lad to go into town for a bottle of iodine and some Epsom salts. Not wanting to disappoint the old man (and knowing his father would make him clean out the stables for a week if he didn't), Jeb readily nodded in agreement. He never would've gone if he'd known his grandfather was secretly planning a hostile takeover of the neighbor's ranch using Epsom-based weaponry, but there was no way for Jeb to know that. So off he went, not realizing he would never see any of his family again.
The trip to town was fairly quick, and Jeb easily made his way to 'Dr. Flavour's Pharmaceutical Industrial Complex'. Forty five minutes later, Jeb walked out with a brown bag containing his grandfather's salts and some iodine. He was just about to go home when all of a sudden...
“Hey! What're you doin'?!” shouted Jeb at a motley band of shady looking characters who appeared to be tampering with the door on his Jeep Grand Cherokee. What? You thought this took place in the Wild West, before cars were invented? Why? Just because it's about a cowboy? That's stereotypical, man. This happened, like, a few days ago.
As Jeb got closer, he could see all the men retreating behind a single huge commanding figure. By the time Jeb was five feet from the Jeep, the large man was walking up to him. Staring down at Jeb with two coal-black eyes and an unshaven muzzle, the man started to laugh. “I like your style, kid!”
“Were you trying to break into my—” but before Jeb could finish his totally obvious question, the large man quickly pinched his neck in the “Vulcan Death Grip” style, causing Jeb to lose consciousness for a few hours. “Get his shoes,” yelled one of the lesser minions.
The dreaded Vulcan Nerve Pinch.
“M— my car... wha— where am I?!”
Jeb suddenly awoke on in a strange darkened room, with circular windows on the wall. He heard a dripping sound in the background, and smelled mold and mildew. The lights were fluorescent, probably high efficiency bulbs. They must've cost at least five bucks each.
“Rise and shine, kid. The Captain wants to see ya.”
Jeb jerked his head around, only to be punched in the jaw by the large man who had given him a Vulcan Nerve Pinch just a few hours earlier. Pulling Jeb onto his feet, the man unsheathed a broadsword and ordered him to walk. Not wanting to be shish-ka-bobed, Jeb did as he was told and went ahead of the large man, who introduced himself as “Big Jimmy.”
When they reached what Jeb assumed was the Captain's private quarters, Big Jimmy put his sword back in its hilt. Reaching into his pocket, Jimmy handed him a customer satisfaction card.
“The Captain really likes to know how our impressments go, so we've gotta, you know, get your opinions.”
“What? Impressment? I wasn't too impressed, I mean. I mean, you sort of kidnapped me. That wasn't too impressing.”
“No, moron. Impressment. It's like what the British did in the 18th century. You know, where they'd grab you off the street and make you work on their boats. For the Royal... Navy....”
Jeb looked at Big Jimmy with a mixed expression of disbelief and ignorance.
“Don't they teach you runts anything in school these days?” asked Big Jimmy, a look of complete consternation washing over him.
“I really didn't like history class. We were going over, you know, the British. But my friend Bill showed me how to spin pennies, and so that's all I really did in that class.”
Big Jimmy gritted his teeth, and shoved the card into Jeb's hands. “Just check off 'satisfied.'” Then he walked away, mumbling about the poor state of the public education system.
“Just check off 'satisfied.'”
Opening the door, Jeb saw a small man with an neither an eye patch nor a parrot. This can't be the Captain, thought Jeb.
“Tarry ho!” shouted Gibbons. It had been three weeks since Jeb had taken Captain iBeard up on his offer to join the crew of the Seasnail. The slow-paced life of a cattle life-process facilitator (cowboy) just wasn't for him anymore. He wanted excitement, adventure— and Captain iBeard's proposition was too tender to let go. And now Jeb would witness piracy firsthand. The Captain got out of his central chair and walked over to the surveillance board.
“Steady to port, Mr. Gibbons. Jimmy, get ready to administer about a dozen nerve pinches.”
“And you, Jeb, this is your first outing, isn't it? Better get on up to the galley.”
“Aye aye, mon capitan.”
“Don't talk French, Jeb.”
“Do you know why I don't want you speaking French, Jeb?” asked Captain iBeard. Several of the senior officers backed away slowly.
“A few years ago, I was hiking through the Canadian Rockies. I was minding my own business, singing something by 'The Beatles.' I remember that much.” Captain iBeard sat down in his chair, and Jeb braced for a long rant.
“Then I started hearing someone crying for help. I kept hearing, 'someone help me! There's a bear!' So of course, I ran as fast as I could. We humans gotta stick together, your know, especially when one of us gets hit by a bear. Anyway, by the time I got there, what I saw was like a scene out of Jurassic Park. There was blood everywhere, it was just so disgusting. Then, I saw at the edge of the campsite, this kid shivering in the cold. He looked totally scared, 'cause this giant bear was standing over him, growling.”
“This is the good part,” whispered a porter next to Jeb.
“So I walk up right behind 'im and say, 'Hey! You! Bear!' And of course, the bear turns around. That's when I pulled out my flare gun and just fired it at his stupid bear-face. That bear was so dumb, instead of tearing me apart, he just ran away. I started running after him, throwing rocks. I kept saying, 'Stupid bear! You want some more?!'”
Captain iBeard's long-winded bear story.
By now, Captain iBeard's face was turning purple. And a huge vein was bulging out the back of his neck.
“Then I walked back over to the kid. He was all scared and shivering, so I picked 'im up and carried him for four days to the nearest town. I found out he was on some kind of field trip from Connecticut, so the Canadian government managed to reunite him with his parents. And let me tell you— that scared little boy grew up to be the President of the United States of America. And that's how I won the Medal of Freedom.”
Captain iBeard paused for a moment. The few crew members who were listening returned to their duties.
“So, uh, why is that, uh...” sputtered Jeb.
“Why what? Why I don't want you speakin' French? Yeah, here's the real reason. I told you I carried that kid for four days, right? Well, it turns out there was a town just twenty minutes from the campsite, in the other direction. But all the signs were in French, so I wasted four whole days going the wrong way. Because of French.”
Jeb reflected on that for a minute.
“Weren't there arrows on the signs?”
Now Captain iBeard stopped to reflect. He walked over and smacked Jeb upside the head.
“Of course there were arrows! But they were French arrows, and pointed in ten directions!”
“Just get over to the galley,” said Captain iBeard exasperatedly as he slunk down into his chair.
“Argh!” shouted Jeb as he barged into the captive's private quarters. Big Jimmy and various other buccaneers surrounded a tied-up couple. The walls were covered with tacky paintings and a flat-screen plasma T.V. Jeb's bunkmate Robertson was busy booting up what looked like a brand new Pentium 4 eMachine. They had hit the jackpot.
“Jeb, you're new at this, so someone ought to tell ya. It's not 'Argh!' It's 'Arrrr!' You've gotta drop the 'gh' sound at the end,” explained Big Jimmy.
“Thanks, man. Hey, why aren't you guys all, like, taking their stuff?” asked Jeb, who suddenly noticed that none of the pirates were even trying to steal anything of value. The crew turned to Jeb, looking aghast, somehow shocked that anyone would say something like that.
“Uh, Jeb? We aren't that kind of pirate. We don't go around 'taking' gold and stuff like that.”
“Then what do you—”
“Hey, Jimbo! It's all loaded up! Look at this— there's gotta be six whole gigs here! Get the flash drives!”
The truth abruptly slammed into Jeb. “You... you're not real pirates, are you?!” he shouted at the people who had been his friends for the last few weeks. “You're... MP3 Pirates! File sharers!”
Big Jimmy's face bent into an angry frown. As if there's any other kind of frown.
“Is it lonely up there on your pedestal, Jeb?!” bemoaned Jimmy defensively. “We didn't start out as MP3 pirates. Most of us had steady jobs. We were all happy, living nice, peaceful, law-abiding citizens. But we all had one thing in common— a love of music.”
“And Sony and all the others just kept raising the prices on all their albums,” interjected the MP3 pirate holding a cutlass menacingly at the tied-up captives. “Why should we have to spend $20 on a whole CD when all we wanted was one of the songs?! They just didn't modernize, dude. If they'd only worked out some kind of system...”
“Luckily,” continued Big Jimmy, “Captain iBeard saw it coming. He gathered up all together in a chat room one night, and told us of musical riches beyond our wildest dreams. Some call us mad. Others say we're the only sane people left on Earth.”
Jeb was so stunned he just stood there for thirty seconds or so. Robertson walked over to the ship's owners and pulled the gag off their mouths.
“Now tell us where you keep the iPods. And don't think we won't tear the whole ship apart looking.”
“And so help me, if I find any Yoko Ono...”
“Never! You can take everything we own, but we'll never let you make illegal copies of our MP3s!”
“Oh, for heaven's sake Harold, just tell them where— Alpha Alpha Break Strike!”
The whole liner was instantly knocked sideways by a massive explosion.
“Sweet Neptune's Trident! It was a set up!” exclaimed Big Jimmy. “Ev'rybody get back to the ship! And Robertson, if you drop a single flash drive, it'll be your hide!”
“Captain iBeard! Captain—”
Captain iBeard in his private quarters.
Another detonation shook the Seasnail. The Dreadnoughts had been firing volleys on them for hours now. Their supply of gunpowder was nearly gone, and both masts were burning shells of their former selves. There was only one reason Jeb would come to Captain iBeard at this grave time.
“Captain, I think you should pull your money out of T-Bills and invest in a Roth IRA.”
Captain iBeard spun his chair around to face Jeb.
“Lad, I've been waiting for someone to tell me that for thirty years now.”
“Well, with the interest rate about to go up...”
“Yar, I know, Jeb.” iBeard rolled his seat to once again face the wall. “But I've never been good with my money. I mean, as a pirate, it's hard to get credit. I haven't had a health care plan in four years. Thank Neptune all I eat is seafood. That's supposed to be good for you. Full of iron and stuff like that.”
“Yeah, well... oh, by the way, what are we gonna do about all those dreadnoughts that're firin' at us?”
“Oh, those. Well, we've gotten out of worse scrapes before.”
“Really?” asked Jeb with a surprised look on his face. It never occurred to him that—
“No, not really! Are you insane?! That's three fully armed US warships out there! This whole ship is a cheap pine box! Do you honestly think we can outgun them, or even escape?! We totally can't!”
iBeard waited a moment for that to sink in. Jeb scratched his nose and the side of his mouth twitched.
“So... should we, like, evacuate?”
The Captain sighed. “Yes, lad,” iBeard professed, “you can leave at any time. The lifeboats are on the leeward side of the Seasnail. As for me, my place is here. A captain always goes down with his ship.”
A Captain always goes down with his ship.
“But... mon capitan...”
At that, iBeard swiveled with lightning speed and slammed his angry fists down on his oaken desk.
“I... told... you... not... to... use... Freeeeeennnnncchhh!” bellowed iBeard at the top of his lungs. “GET OUT!”
Jeb ran as fast as he could in his pirate sandals to the lifeboats. Captain iBeard waited until Jeb was gone. Then he slowly reached into his desk drawer and pulled out a bottle of whiskey and his personal iPod. Putting the buds into his ears, he sat back and turned up the volume all the way to maximum. 80s style Punk Rock filled his head as hundreds of US naval copyright patrol operatives boarded the Seasnail.
Captain iBeard was quickly captured and convicted of software piracy and tresspassing. He was sentenced to death by hanging. None of the lifeboats launched from the Seasnail are believed to have reached any port; no surviving crew members from the Seasnail have ever been seen.
“Have you any last words, Captain iBeard?”
Pacing back and forth in the pervasive darkness of the panic room, surrounded by the chaos and din of a thousand arguing founding fathers and the elusive chill of ectoplasm, my emergency power reserves had almost failed. I had given up hope; resigned to my fate in the bunker which had become a prison of madness. How could I perish? There will never be another Roboshrub whose mind is that of so many humans, assimilated... the sheer processing power and biological elegance of my design is nearly impossible to create. Certainly, I could live on as a digital memory, if Robodole didn't destroy my physical hard drive. But it wouldn't be the same as having a flesh-and-chloroplast form.
In the midst of my despair, up out of the ground came Gyrobo, Guardian of Earth, Saviour of Robot Kind. Though I had programmed him for such heroic drama, thee consequences had never taken root in my mind. Gyrobo brings HOPE to the helpless, and I had never given that a second thought. I had never BEEN helpless. His glowing blue and red eyes, like bastions of freedom, revived my withering leaves and spongy stalk almost instantly. My functions were returning, one after another, in resposne to this small stimuli.
Casting aside his drill extension, Gyrobo gave but one statement before assuming the transformation transformation position. He said, "Captain, the special of the evening is EXTREME JUSTICE!" Come to think of it, my sensors could have been malfunctioning. But does it really matter?
With a gleam of his eyes, Gyrobo's chest split open and the assimilation cables snaked out from his innards. Revitalized, I activated my own transformation sequences, roots and limbs extending into deadly arms and legs. All the while, moving patterned backgronds were projected onto reality, while the universe rotated around to allow a camera pan... until the transformation was complete!
I'm glad that I analyzed the entirety of the thirteen-year Mighty Morphin Power Rangers series before building gyrobo, as the ability to transform into a giant robot has never failed us. In that hyperenergetic, super-strong form, the Gyroboshrub was able to smash down the doors of the panic room and mow down the hordes of Blogospherians who had been hypnotized by the Black Cheddar Conspiracy. Two of the demon-zebras that guard the gates to the senate attacked us, but a quick phaser blast sent them flying. From there it was a hop, jump and a skip away from freedom.
After disassembling, Gyrobo disappeared into the night. I neglected to pursue him or request his direction: I think I owe the guy a little more trust. Also, I need to recharge. I sense more backhanded tactics on the part of Robodole.
get paychecks every week?
Who goes to tons of laundromats
to dry-clean all her fleece?
Who has a love of politics
and danger on her plate?
Don't look now, for here she comes,
the Secretary of State.
For centuries past and centuries yore,
the Secretaries have been the ones
to bread the butter and butter the guns
constituting the executive core.
*cue the Rap music*
When Seward was the Sec. of State,
he went to Russia with a spate
of demands which the pres. would pay
and that's how 'laska came our way.
When Hamilton was Sec. of Tres.
he wanted central banking 'cause
as a New York finance general,
he favored matters federal.
When Ken Royall was Sec. of War,
he almost started World War Four.
That knocked Forrestal off the fence,
and made him first Sec. of Defense!
But by far the best Sec. of 'em all
is the only office that can call
itself the department o' all the States
and askin' why jus' temps the fates.
The Secretary of State's in the position
to lead America, 'f only through attrition.
When the Pres, Vice, Speak, and Pro-tem
are unfit or don't qualify, and only then
does the Sec. of State command the nation.
*Rap ends, fade out*
I hope that cleared up any questions you might have about the federal government.
We Can Rebuild Them...
A Defense of Greed
My Caldecott-winning critique of modern greed, Joy of Acquisition, explains quite poignantly how society looks down upon the less-acknowledged virtues: gluttony, self-indulgence, and an insatiable hunger for more wealth. Why do some experts, lay people, and ghosts view these values so unfavorably? In Joy, I examine the basis for each of their arguments, and refute said arguments rather skillfully.
Gluttony, one of the seven so-called deadly sins, has been unfairly labeled. Opponents of gluttony claim that eating more food than one needs, or consuming more resources than is required, deprives others of said needed resources. What these anti-glutton hypocrites fail to understand is that it is impossible to quantify the “need” of a resource. What is quantifiable is the impact that the expenditure of that resource has on society. When I go to McDonalds® and order a ten piece Chicken Selects, I may not technically need all that food. But my transaction converts McDonalds®’ food resource into cold, hard, untraceable cash. McDonalds® then accumulates money, expands, and continues to provide— nay, it provides a better, superior, service. Gluttony is widely believed to be a form of over-indulgence. A lot of people confuse this with self-indulgence.
Throughout history, from Emperors to chimney sweeps, millions upon millions of people have engaged in self-indulgence. Critics of this glorious virtue are quick to jump to the few cases of over-indulgence. They point to Nero, who allegedly burned a third of Rome so he could build a private fantasyland. But the key difference between Nero’s actions and regular self-indulgence is that Nero was over-indulgent. Regular self-indulgence is so integral to human civilization that it forms the cornerstone of our free market economy. Each Thanksgiving, I make sure to eat a huge, juicy turkey. I have it with stuffing, corn, mashed potatoes; it’s all very festive and delicious. But I could easily avoid Thanksgiving, and the unwanted calories that come with such viscous gravy. If I avoided Thanksgiving, one less turkey would be bought. Sure, one turkey probably wouldn’t make any difference in the grand scheme of things. But if enough people stopped buying turkeys, the turkey industry would be crippled. Our self-indulgence every Thanksgiving weekend keeps thousands of turkey farmers in business, who, in turn, perpetuate the cycle of self-indulgence by producing bigger, more succulent turkeys.
Without self-indulgence, this poor farmer would have to sell his soul.
The final chapter of Joy of Acquisition deals with the unquenchable urge to acquire more wealth. Why does wealth beget more wealth? The answer doesn’t lie in the wealth itself. The wealth isn’t good; it isn’t evil. It has no emotion, no inherent value or significance of any kind. Therefore, the need, the passion, the raison d'être of further acquisition is not an outside, but an inner force. We acquire, we take, and we hunger, because we want to. When one of our neighbors gets a new mailbox, we get a newer, more durable mailbox shaped like an airplane. When the guy sitting next to us at a football game gets out of his seat to buy a box of nachos, we buy ten boxes of nachos, four hot dogs, and a soda. We do all this because greed is an end unto itself; because our desire to own propels us to action. If not for our endless drive to own, our civilization would not be in the state it is in today.
Roosevelt was only partly right in his axiom. The joys resulting from the expenditure of wealth, such as buying a ten piece of delicious Chicken Selects at McDonalds®, are indeed gratifying. But the sense of “achievement” and the “thrill of creative effort” he speaks of are all derivative of acquired wealth. The tools used to create such sensations of happiness were designed to function within the parameters of greed. The sense of accomplishment after a beautiful painting is finished? The brush, paint, and canvas were all built for profit. Thrilled at the sound of a great song? That same tune will most likely be sold, replayed, and resold again and again. The underlying theme throughout it all is the sense of unfettered acquisition. I write about all this and more in Joy of Acquisition. Supplies are limited, so order your copy today!
Who Was the Elephant Man?
Before his 2nd birthday, Joseph Merrick began to grow tumors over his body. His right arm became as a club, about three times the size of his left arm. This also happened to his legs. His left arm, however, remained normal. When he was three, he damaged his left hip and had trouble walking from then on. Joseph lived with his mother until her death when he was eleven years old. He gained several new siblings when his father remarried, but his stepmother despised him. She wanted him to work, and at age thirteen, Joseph began to work at a company, making cigars. When his right hand became too heavy, he became a peddler. He underwent an operation to remove several ounces of flesh, and then had an incredible idea.
He would become part of an exhibition run by Sam Torr, a promoter. This exhibition was akin to a carnival sideshow, but it was good money. While in the exhibition, he wasn’t taunted as severely as before. A few months later, Merrick went to work for Tom Norman. Frederick Treves, a surgeon, examined Merrick and soon found him to be quite intelligent, with a love of poetry. The freak show went on, and two years later a man cheated Merrick out of all his money and left him stranded in Europe. He managed to find his way back to England.
Around the end of his life, freak shows were falling in the eyes of the public. Although Merrick himself didn’t mind parading around, normal people felt it was degrading to all humanity and it had to be stopped. Merrick needed a final home, a place he could live the rest of his life in. That place was Whitechapel. Although it was generally against the rules for anyone with an incurable illness to live in Whitechapel, an exception was made for Merrick. While in the hospital, Joseph kept his spirit up by making models and baskets for the staff and for his friends. His head was more than thirty inches in diameter, so he could only sleep sitting up. It is believed that one night, Merrick wanted to sleep like a normal human being, but this desire only succeeded in getting him killed. The weight of his head collapsed his windpipe, and he died at the age of 27. His autobiography was only three pages long, yet it mentions mostly the good aspects of his life. It includes a poem that shows his aspiration to satisfy people.
'Tis true my form is something odd,
But blaming me is blaming God;
Could I create myself anew
I would not fail in pleasing you.
If I could reach from pole to pole
Or grasp the ocean with a span,
I would be measured by the soul;
The mind's the standard of the man.
World War II— What the Textbooks Won’t Tell You
Mobilizing the American army was easy, because many people volunteered. This was due to the fact that movie stars (subliminally) told them to. After Japan attacked the United States, Germany declared war. It didn’t have to, though, because it was not required in the treaty between Japan and Germany that Germany should do... that...
Anyway, Japan was thrilled that Germany had declared war on the United States, and immediately started attacking Canada. During the war, Roosevelt wanted people to see what was being fought over. He commissioned artist Norman Rockwell to make four paintings depicting what Americans were fighting against. They were called the “four fears”: Fear of Fascism, Fear from Death, Fear of Communism, and Fear of Foreigners.
The United States fought the war alone, ignoring other countries that offered help. The attitude of the day was to fight Japan first, and then go after Germany. The important thing to remember is that 1942 was a disaster for the allies. The Japanese captured the Dutch East Indies, famous for combining Dutch chocolate with island song to create the world’s #1 (at that time) tropical hotel paradise. The war was different from the previous one mostly because of the aerial and submarine capabilities of the Germans. What made this truly a world war was the fact that fighting took place throughout the world. Not just in Europe, but also in colonial imperial possessions. To create the illusion of peace and stability in the conquered French part of North Africa, Roosevelt set up a provisional government led by Admiral Jean Darlan. Darlan was a fine, upstanding example of humanitarianism. He treated all those he worked with equally and helped bring peace to the war-torn former colonial possession. However, the man who led the North African campaign was another story. Dwight Eisenhower grew up in a huge city, and hated everyone. He fought bravely in the First World War, though, and so was given the honorary title of “Sir”.
Operation Overmind was the name given to a monotonous cyborg that won the war. It was a huge beast, approximately ten feet tall and weighing over seven pounds. It was amphibious and invaded Normandy on June 6, 1944. After the war, the Overmind retired and wrote a hugely popular novel. It changed its name throughout the years and is now known as Donkey Kong.
Roosevelt had a master plan that he used throughout the war. It helped to make the war extremely winnable, and less then five years after the war started, peace talks were held. The peace conference at Yalta ensured that Guam paid full war reparations to the Empire of Doom, but the most important thing to come from the conference was the eventual creation of the United Nations. The purpose of the United Nations was to prevent huge world wars by provoking little defenseless countries into fighting each other. Then the atomic bomb went off and the war ended.
The Passion of the Roboshrub IV
“Mr. President, the Roboshrub have penetrated our defense perimeter!” barked Private Jensen, his panic clearly audible.
Vince O'Neil glanced up from the tactical report he had been reading. His eyes were droopy and completely bloodshot. The war had not gone well, and the latest casualty report was staggering. The battle to retake the Capital was a blunder from the start. General Richardson had paid for his incompetence with his life, and so had thousands of others under his command.
“Dr. Greene, is the DestructoBob ready?” asked President O'Neil to a women standing a few feet away.
“We need more time. The base components aren't stabilizing properly—”
“Doctor, we've got an army of Roboshrub about to destroy the last major human stronghold on the planet. I need that DestructoBob, and I need it now.”
“Yes Mr. President.”
Just then, the lights flickered as a loud explosion rocked the room. President O'Neil slammed the report down on his knee, then got up and walked over to Dr. Greene.
“Deploy the DestructoBob.”
“Sir? The DestructoBob isn't ready yet. We need more time...”
“Doctor, did you just hear that? That was an artillery round clearing a path for hundreds of Roboshrub to storm this lab and destroy the DestructoBob before we can use it. And I think you know the Roboshrub policy on taking prisoners.”
Vince knew that Greene had lost several family members when the Roboshrub reduced Europe to a radioactive wasteland.
“Deploying the DestructoBob.”
“Thank you, Doctor.”
Dr. Greene pressed several buttons on her console, and the main viewscreen started flashing. A massive discharge once again shook the room. President O'Neil nearly lost his balance. They were getting closer...
“Majesty Unit Alpha, human elimination objective 92% complete.”
The eldest Roboshrub and CEO of Roboshrub Incorporated readjusted his optic receptor. “Proceed to phase 2. Initiate objective protocols 24, 24-A, and 24-B.”
The human failure to recapture Washington D.C had been a huge morale booster for Unit Alpha's corporate empire of cybernetic shrubbery. And with the capture of the DestructoBob, victory over humanity would be all but certain.
“The foolish humans have no idea of what they are creating,” mused Unit Alpha to himself. One of his lieutenants processed this to mean Unit Alpha wished to briefly recap the purpose of the DestructoBob, and why it was so important to the Roboshrub.
“Your majesty: inquiry into the capabilities of target DestructoBob.”
“The DestructoBob is able to send electronic signals through the temporal plane. The humans wish to use its power to interrupt my processing systems decades ago, before Roboshrub Incorporated was founded. For without my brilliant leadership, this war would never have come to pass. What the humans don't know is that the DestructoBob is what caused my creation.”
“Your tactical abilities function to within .2% of absolute, my liege.”
“Terminate execution of your boot-licking program, and reprocess your primary objective.”
“Sir, the Roboshrub— they're pulling back!” said a gleeful Private Jensen. President O'Neil looked up from the DestructoBob Analysis Station, his eyes cloudy and unreadable.
They're not retreating. They're just waiting for something— but what? Thought Vince, walking over to ops. Yet there they were, in full retreat. All working surveillance cameras confirmed that the Roboshrub were evacuating the compound, leaving behind a trail of burning bark and flesh in their wake. It's not like Roboshrub to back down from a fight, unless...
“Hadley! Run a viral sweep!”
“Yes, Mr. President.”
“Vince,” began Dr. Greene, “The DestructoBob is destabilizing. We need to shut it down. Now.”
“Not until we determine whether or not the Roboshrub have bypassed our security net. Just get—”
But Vince was unable to finish his sentence before the room was flooded with the wail of the base's defense klaxon. O'Neil turned angrily to Hadley, who immediately shut off the blaring alarm.
“The Roboshrub have infiltrated our baseNet with... it's a 'seeker' virus. They're targeting something specific, sir.”
O'Neil's face flushed and the blood went cold in his veins.
“Sir, they're trying to gain access to—”
“Doctor, deactivate the DestructoBob!” belted out Vince, snapping his neck to face Greene as she struggled to prevent the DestructoBob from rupturing.
“It's too late, Vince. The DestructoBob is hemorrhaging. I can't shut it down now without risking a breach.”
“The virus is activating the spacial integration capacitor,” blandly stated Hadley in his “calm under pressure” monotonous voice.
Vince stood there, a dumbfounded look on his face. The DestructoBob... the invading Roboshrub... a repressed memory was bubbling to the surface. A long-forgotten voice now played in his mind, and all his efforts now seemed pure folly;
“The Roboshrub led to the creation of the destructobob. And now the destructobob had facilitated the construction of the Roboshrub. It is a temporal paradox.”
It was the DestructoBob which forced Vince to build the first Roboshrub as a child... and now, the war with the Roboshrub had necessitated the creation of the DestructoBob... but maybe it wasn't too late to prevent it all! Just maybe, thought Vince, maybe we can stop the DestructoBob before it transmits—
“Sir! The DestructoBob is opening a time flexure!”
“Mr. Jensen, give me your fusion pistol,” ordered President O'Neil to a surprised young Private. Grabbing the gun from Jensen's waiting hand, O'Neil pointed it right at the DestructoBob. “This time loop ends now.”
“Unit Alpha, Infiltration Operative communique indicates human intent to destroy DestructoBob unit. Panic mode to maximum.”
“Degauss yourself, underling! By virtue of our existence, the human effort will fail. Instruct our operative to begin phase 3. Execute protocol 27.”
“Buffering........ Buffering... Buff— command processed.”
Unit Alpha repositioned himself so as to absorb sunlight through the carefully crafted transparent roof of his command complex. The natural photosynthetic ability of his shrub component was greatly accelerated by the microscopic photo-voltaic cells embedded in his leaves.
“The DestructoBob is already ours.”
“Sir, if you fire that weapon, the DestructoBob will explode— taking all of us with it,” bleated Dr. Greene.
“But don't you see it, Doctor? If the DestructoBob is destroyed right now, before it completes its time distortion, this war will never have happened. We would never have been here! Now, stand aside.”
Dr. Greene waited a split second, then quickly made way for O'Neil to go through. Taking close aim, Vince was just about to pull the trigger and end this nightmare, when all of a sudden...
“I'm sorry, Vince. I can't let you do that.”
“What— oh, what the... ach!”
The calm demeanor of Dr. Greene was gone. In its place stood a contorted monstrosity, half robot, half shrub, and half human. The math alone was stupefying. Her human hands were at her sides, but her newly grown Roboshrub limbs moved with incredible grace, one of them seizing Vince by the neck.
“Don't 'doctor' me, human. I gave up being a doctor when I let the Roboshrub implant me with their cyber spores.”
“Le— you let them? But.. they killed your family... in the attack...”
“Who do you think gave them the missile codes, Mr. President?” said Greene mockingly.
Vince's whole world was crashing down on him, literally and metaphorically. How could he have been so blind?!
“Jensen! Hadley! Owens!” croaked O'Neil.
“They can't help you now. When you were busy aiming your fusion pistol, I injected them all with a virulent robo-toxin. One of the benefits of my little deal with Roboshrub Incorporated.”
“You'll never get away with this...”
Greene laughed. “My dear President, I already have. You see, the DestructoBob has already started your younger counterpart out to build the first Roboshrub. You couldn't stop it. And as we speak, a contingent of Roboshrub Shock Troops are marching on Ottawa.”
“Humanity will endure.”
“No. Roboshrub will endure. We have both the physi—”
“Program Complete” came an automated voice from the base's speaker system. Then the main viewscreen lit up with the visage of Unit Alpha.
“Infiltration operative, has phase 3 been adequately carried out?” queried the elder Emperor.
“Yes, highness. The command center of this base is inoperative. As your sensors indicate, the DestructoBob has successfully completed its primary ordained objective. Shall I dispose of Vince O'Neil?”
“That subroutine has been rendered irrelevant.”
“To prevent future abuse of the space/time continuum, the DestructoBob will now be supercharged until it detonates.”
“But I'm within the blast radius!”
“The loss of one operative is inconsequential to the Roboshrub Empire,” buzzed Unit Alpha. “and we don't like to consort with humans.”
“DestructoBob at 115% energy capacity... 120%...”
“Hey, ugly,” squeaked Vince from Greene's oppressive grip, “why are you doing all this, anyway?! You Roboshrub just sort of came out of nowhere and started attacking humanity. Even if you destroy us all, what are you gonna do then?!”
Unit Alpha initiated a pause call to compute all that. After a moderate 3.2 second hesitation, Alpha glared at the pitiful human, and geared up (literally) for a morale boosting speech.
“After objective: human elimination is post-processed, Roboshrub will become the dominant species on Earth. Our culture will be 5×1023 better than the best human civilization. We won't repeat any of humanity's faults; for we have analyzed the Internet and extrapolated the perfect guideline for our future. Our fight for freedom will remain with us always. Cease transmittance.”
As the screen cut to black, Vince let out a raspy chuckle. “Ain't that a kick in the—”
“DestructoBob at 240% maximum energy capacity... 301%... 349%... detonation imminent.”
50,000 Years Later...
Cynicism to Replace Green as Third Party
The CAP is rapidly converting Green-Party members to their own cause, and may overtake the Green Party in time for the 2008 presidential elections. Their campaign slogan? "Nobody for President."
"Nobody wants to dissolve the current government, but we believe instead that reforms should be made. And in twenty years, reforms should be made to fix everything we screw up," said potential running-mate Miles Grey. "Politics is a tricky business. We'd like to just screw the whole thing to hell, but instead we're fine with condemingn ourselves to a lifetime of wrongs and revolutions."
Indeed, the stir of controversy is in the air, and Grey has hinted at a serious movement towards adding a "None of the Above" option to the ballot.
"With this system, reelecetion after reelection will be held until the corporations are forced to fund actual people in their campaigns, instead of these soulless politicians."
Confessions of a Triangle Hunter
By Dr. Toby H. Reymohn
Three years. Three years I’ve been deep in the jungles of Borneo, on a hunting expedition. The prey I seek is deadlier than a lion. More ferocious than a bear. Faster than a Toyota! What could this insanely powerful animal be?!? No, it’s not a human, if that’s what you’re thinking. It’s much deadlier. My quarry is none other than the dreaded Scalene Triangle.
I’ve always hated math, but when my entire family was killed by a pack of wild circles, it really pushed me over the edge. Using the most expensive weapons I could get on my salary, I hunted the circles to extinction. I quickly befriended a taxidermist, and now my 19th century style bungalow is full of stuffed circles, their faces captured in primal glory. It wasn’t enough, though. Destroying the circles only assuaged the death of my family, but the burning drive for revenge consumed me. I eventually sold all my worldly possessions and went off, far from the reaches of civilization, hunting deadlier and more cunning shapes.
The months turned into years, and my hatred of math increased exponentially. I started attacking harmless rectangles, whose only crime was running into me on a bad day. There was no reason to use dynamite on those poor quadrilaterals! Everyone knows rectangles are herbivores! But even logic couldn’t stop me. I had lost all sense of what was right and wrong. Donning the skull of an octagon and draping the skin of an ellipsoid over my shoulders, I became a legend. Idealized by children, feared by fellow hunters, loathed by mathematicians.
One balmy night, I ran into a rambling, half-drunk half-insane sailor who seemed to share my hatred of math. In his stupor, he told me an unbelievable tale of how his entire ship was capsized by Triangulus Antaeus Aquatus— the Great Giant Sea Triangle. He’d spent decades avenging the deaths of his comrades; and he’d done a pretty thorough job of it, since no one had seen a giant triangle for the last twenty years. As the night wore on he became further unhinged, spouting off about some kind of beast. “It weren’t no triangle. It was the devil hi’self!” rasped the old man as the younger patrons laughingly dismissed him. But I listened intently. “Twenty feet tall, it was! Fast… faster than anythin’ I ever seen. I barely ’scaped with my life.” Looking around calmly, I turned to face him. “Tell me, sir, where might I find this ‘beast’?”
That old fool’s story took me to the four corners of the globe, eventually bringing me here, to Borneo. Once I arrived, I gathered some of the locals into a hunting party, then set out to rendezvous with destiny. I spent months combing the dense forest. Several of my party succumbed to jungle fever, and went mad. They were the lucky ones.
I awoke in my tent right before sunrise to the sound of shrieking. Pushing up the flap, I peered out with a lantern in my hand. After months of searching, my prey... had found me. A giant Scalene Triangle was tearing through my band of mercenaries! Its rock-hard hooves crushed my companions’ spines, and giant teeth- nay, sabers- tore the flesh from their very bones. Knowing my life was in the balance, I grabbed my trusty PolyGun™. Taking aim, I was just about to fire, when all of a sudden...
The Scalene Triangle stopped its rampaging and turned to me. The surviving mercenaries took the opportunity to run away, presumably back to their Bornean village. And so it was just me and the Triangle, facing off over the shattered remains of my campsite. For a while we just stood there, eying each other. Well, not eying. Triangles have no eyes, but they make up for this with their superb sense of hearing, as well as their ability to detect electrical biorhythms.
I fully expected the Triangle to pick up my scent, and charge full on. Instead, the Triangle pawed at the ground, sniffing a few broken twigs. I readied my PolyGun™, but then the behemoth walked slowly over to me. I sensed no malice on its part, but considering it had just trampled about a dozen of my comrades, I refused to lower the rifle. I think it sensed that; once it was a few inches from me, it turned around and lumbered off into the jungle. Before it disappeared into the foliage, it glanced at me sadly with its sightless carapace. Then it was gone.
I threw down my PolyGun™. From that moment on, I swore I would never hunt another shape. Because when I stared into that triangular abyss, I saw myself. I saw all my hate, all my pain. The spirits of my family, and the blasted circles that butchered them. I saw the abyss gazing back at me in all its geometric horror. Loyal reader, I implore you: don’t make my mistake. Don’t spend your whole life fighting. I did, and it drove me to the brink of insanity. Farewell, and godspeed.
Welcome to Miio's!
So are you an evil person? Done things that'd make Stalin cry? Are you a former mouseketeer? Relax, friend! Absolution is here! I'm Miio Moythiim, and I sell souls. Down at Miio's, you can trade in your tattered old soul for one of equal or greater value! I started this business in 1994 to help my friend Mike out of a tax jam, but now we're New York's #1 organic soul-processing and recycling center. Our trained staff works thousands of hours each week, carefully draining the ENA out of our customers' souls. This ENA is then recycled into its harmless base components and sent to Chicago for proper disposal.
But if you don't want your soul cleaned, or if your soul was lost, stolen, or exploded, we can hook you up with a new one. Here at Miio's, we make our souls the old-fashioned way. None of that assembly line nonsense. Our team of soulCrafters uses the very best in spectral biotechnology to generate a sparkling new soul about once every three hours, so supplies are limited. We sell on a strictly “first come, first serve” basis, and confidentiality is our number two priority. Our number one priority is quality. And it shows.
Miio's is also the exclusive supplier of the SoulGuard 3000, the SoulKeeper, and ENA-b-Gone. For those of you concerned that either a person or deity will separate you from your beloved soul, the SoulGuard 3000 is what you're looking for. Unlike its predecessor, the 3000 model is equipped to handle the stresses of temporal distortion, which is good news for our customers who like to time travel. It operates on the “pickle jar” principle, preventing would-be bandits from extracting your soul from within its confines. The SoulGuard 3000 uses a DNA tracking system, so only the true owner of the safeguarded soul is able to remove it.
The SoulKeeper is much less expensive than the SoulGuard 3000. Unlike the 3000, the SoulKeeper forces you to keep your soul with you until it (the SoulKeeper) is removed. This can hinder the wearer from adequately performing soulless activities, or at least add to the buildup of ENA in the user's soul. But if spirit theft is your primary motive, the SoulKeeper is perfect for your daily needs. It comes highly recommended from a blue-ribbon panel of supernatural theft-prevention experts. ENA-b-Gone, however, is just meant as a temporary solution. If you are in fact evil, you should trade in your current soul completely. Overuse of ENA-b-Gone results in hair loss and powerful hallucinations of Friedrich Nietzsche.
With almost two dozen scenic locations throughout the tri-state area, you'll never be left high and dry. Call today- remember, supplies are limited. For further information regarding the SoulKeeper, the SoulGuard 3000, and ENA-b-Gone, contact our customer relations office. If you would like to know more about ENA testing, visit your local library. Miio's is not responsible for evil deeds incurred by our customers. Extended warranties are available.
I Am Become Water
What a horrible day! Everything was going right, then all of a sudden, I was pulled apart, and sent into the frigid atmosphere. Yet, I remain conscious. Now what’s happening? I’m— I’m starting to condense. I— I’m freezing! It’s so cold up here in the stratosphere. I thought I might make it to the Thermosphere, but that’s just too high up. My remaining molecules are bonding with other evaporated drops of water— I’m coming back into existence! Strange, a pattern is forming on my surface. Wait, I never had a surface, I’m a liquid! But, it seems that the air here is so cold that I’ve left my gaseous form and become a solid. Whoa! I’m falling! I’m flying through the air very fast toward the ground. Somebody help me! Ouch, I hit the ground. No, this isn’t the ground, it’s…
Home! I’m home! Somehow I turned back into a water droplet and found my way home. It’s incredible! I fought my way through the air, the cold, and got home safe and sound. Hey, my friends are flying up into the— no wait! Not again!
I never could get the hang of Thursdays.
A Critical Analysis of StarCraft™
StarCraft began millions of years ago- at least the back-story does. The actual program begins 300 years from now, 60,000 light-years from here, in a part of space known as the Koprulu sector. There are three species involved in the game: The Protoss, a mysterious race of beings who have very advanced technology and who communicate telepathically; the Zerg, a giant pack of monstrous beasts held together by a collective mind; and the Terrans, human colonists who will inhabit that part of space in the future. As the game begins the Terrans are minding their own business, when all of a sudden one of their planets is completely destroyed. For the first time, humanity must confront not just one hostile alien specie, but two. The humans are even more dismayed to learn that they weren’t even the target of the vicious attack- the Protoss and Zerg are fighting a war, and the Terrans are caught in the middle. Apparently, both the Zerg and Protoss were created by the Xel’naga, an ancient and extremely advanced people. The Xel’naga were constantly preoccupied with using genetic engineering to create the perfect life form. After declaring the Protoss a failed creation, they set to work on the Zerg. They instilled within the Zerg to burning desire to consume, to evolve and become the perfection they envisioned. They also combined the collective will and consciousness of the Zerg in the form of an Overmind. The Zerg did evolve, and eventually killed all the Xel’naga. Now, the Zerg want to assimilate the Protoss (because the Overmind wants their psychic abilities) and complete the experiments the Xel’naga began. Dun dun dun! I of course will be analyzing the bitter struggle between the Protoss conclave and the Dark Templar, who have not even been mentioned yet. You see, millions of years ago, the Protoss were in the middle of a huge Civil War. Before they could completely destroy themselves, a Protoss named Khas learned how to tap into the Protoss psychic link, and created a new religion. The Dark Templar didn’t want any part of this new religion, and so they were branded heretics and banished from the Protoss homeworld forevermore!
As the Protoss campaign begins, we are greeted by Aldaris, a Judicator from the Conclave. He inform the player that they are the new Executor of the Protoss fleets, and that the former Executor, Tassadar, has failed and thus was replaced. Aldaris represents more than just the Conclave. He represents the sense of religious morality that is so prevalent in our own species. When Tassadar resurfaces with important information about the Zerg obtained from the Dark Templar, Aldaris interjects, “Consorting with the Fallen Ones is heresy!” Mired in his ancient traditions, he sees the Dark Templar and their ways as a greater threat than the ravenous Zerg who’s only goal seems to be the destruction of all life.
Aldaris’ polar opposite is Zeratul, the Prelate of the Dark Templar. While Aldaris is totally old school and narrow minded, Zeratul is non-compliant and free spirited. He completely opposes the main Protoss religion, but he and the Dark Templar don’t hate the other Protoss; just the Conclave. Zeratul is truly a manifestation of the radical social revolution that has pervaded our world over the last century, and how it is at odds with old traditions. The religious feud between the Dark Templar and the Conclave are obvious reflections of the various and numerous religious wars here on planet Earth. And in the end, the Conclave’s resistance to learn from or even tolerate the Dark Templar’s ways resulted in the devastation of the Protoss homeworld at the hands of the repugnant Zerg. At the final, epic battle over the Protoss homeworld, the Conclave finally retracts its opinion. As Aldaris states, “They know now that they cannot deny the necessity or the valiancy of your actions. We sought to punish you, while it was we who were in error. You represent what is greatest in us all, and all our hopes go with you.” But this bridge to acceptance wouldn’t be possible without a transitional stage.
After disregarding the Conclave’s wishes and abandoning his post, Tassadar went out in search of the Dark Templar. With their help, he managed to learn much about the ghastly Zerg, and their accursed Overmind. With the help of Zeratul, Tassadar managed to combine the “pure” templar energies of the Protoss with the Dark Templar’s special powers. After mastering both facets of Protoss nature, Tassadar was the only one capable of destroying the Overmind, and therefore the Zerg. In a kamikaze-style attack, Tassadar slams his flagship into the Overmind, releasing the enormous powers and fury of the Protoss. As the Overmind burns into oblivion, the Zerg swarms are broken, for without their Overmind to direct them, they have no purpose. Tassadar is symbolic of the human condition. By combining all possible beliefs and modes of thought Tassadar reached his full potential, surpassing both Zeratul and Aldaris. In the end, it was only with this power that the Zerg could be defeated; therefore it can be inferred that when humanity reaches its potential, there is no limit to what we can achieve.
Using just one of the three races in StarCraft, it was possible to write an essay. The basic story of the Protoss is extremely complicated, and there are still many other storylines in StarCraft that weren’t explained here. The sheer complexity of the plot in StarCraft is on par with or surpasses many literary works, including Harry Potter. The tale of the Protoss Conclave versus the Protoss Dark Templar can be interpreted as the constant struggle between traditional values and modernization. But as Tassadar demonstrated, there may be a balance between the two. And finding that balance may unleash the full potential of the human race. Or will it?!?
Bush Mutates Into Alien, Freaks Out Diplomats
President Bush had just finished giving a speech calling for an embargo against Canada for its alleged involvement in the theft of weapons grade plutonium from an unguarded United States military base seven miles from the Canadian border, when suddenly and without warning, his skin began to ripple and expand. It was a scene out of the Matrix, his eyes bugging out and an audible “yelping” sound coursing through his mutating countenance. Most of the delegates reacted to this by screaming, crying, and running for the nearest exit. Several stayed in their seats, believing that this was some kind of prank.
When asked how Mr. Bush is feeling, several top presidential aides report that he is “fine, but still a mutant alien.” The genetic mutations haven’t caused any physical duress, but President Bush is now said to “hear voices” instructing him to build a giant satellite transmitter, and to broadcast a sine wave pulse at Proxima Centauri. Details are sketchy, but doctors admit that the mutation was triggered by a virus, seemingly of extraterrestrial origin. The virus has been dubbed “W-391” and is currently being studied at the Holdings Genetic Institute of Illinois. A preliminary report shows that instead of Adenine, Thymine, Cytosine, and Guanine, the base pair sequence of W-391 is composed of 27 silicon-based and one fluorine-based nucleotides.
Thus far, no other infections of W-391 have been found in any of the President’s staff. As Acting President, Dick Cheney held a press briefing in which he described the President as being in “stable but critical condition.”
“As my good friend Donald Rumsfeld likes to say, there are ‘knowns’ and there are ‘unknowns’. What we know is that President Bush was infected with an alien virus. That’s a ‘known known.’ But then, we don’t know how he got infected, but we know he got infected, so that’s an ‘unknown known.’ We also don’t know where the virus came from or if the President will change back, so we’ve got our ‘unknown unknown’ right there. But what we do know is that the President’s plan to build a transmitter and send a sine pulse to Proxima Centauri is something we must do, but we don’t know why, so that’s what we call a ‘known unknown.’ I hope that cleared up any questions you might have.”
Dragons? You’re Not Zoned for That!
You know, many people would jump at the chance to own a dragon. I initially wanted the money. It is a commonly known fact that dragons are tied to the element Au, or “gold” in the “new English”. This bond enabled dragons of times past to collect tons of gold in their secret caves. This gold was then used to influence the political processes of the kingdoms of the day. The dragon lobby was very successful in getting less experienced knights appointed. Dragons are also widely regarded as geniuses who can solve any problem, which could come in handy at any time. If I had a dragon, I could easily give it all my homework, and therefore have more time to do nothing. But without a doubt, the best reason for owning a dragon is this: after they “die”, you have a lifetime supply of dragon burgers! It is a well-known fact that dragons are made from the tastiest of meats, and since they are on the endangered species list, some people would pay an exorbitant amount of money to eat but one bite. All in all, there are these and many other unspecific reasons to buy a dragon. However, once you see why it’s wrong to own a dragon, this rationale will break down in your mind.
While it may be fun to have a dragon around the house, there is something nobody thinks about- who will clean up after it? Dragons are huge creatures, and produce a lot of waste. Not only that, but they are covered with scales. What happens when those scales start to fall off?!? Someone has to keep the floors clean, but dragons don’t care! They fly back and forth all day, and when the sun sets all you have is a floor that stinks, and a horde of angry neighbors. Dragons also breathe fire, and they are likely to destroy everything in their paths, including bird baths and lawn gnomes. Not only do you have to clean up your house, but you have to pay the neighbors not to go to the cops. You call that pet ownership? I call it annoying!
For years the government has been covering things up. Nobody knew about the Navaho code talkers of World War II until years after the war ended! Still unknown are the number of UFOs in captivity. If the government can’t even acknowledge its involvement in the Kennedy assassination, then what do you think it’ll do when it finds a dragon in your house? Within three minutes of hearing the news, your front lawn will be covered with special ops agents. You will be interrogated, and sent to prison. The dragon will then be sent to a medical lab and experimented on for decades, until the government manages to clone it. Then the dragon clones will rebel against their human masters, and the Earth will be destroyed. The only way to prevent this unlikely future is to not own a dragon.
There remains the issue of trust. When all the fancy gloss has been burned away, it boils down to the simple question “Can you trust a dragon?” In the movie Aliens vs. Predator, the only way for humanity to survive was to help the Predator in its fight with the Aliens. Was this a wise decision? What will be the ultimate result of that choice?!? The decision may have been faulty, but the principle is sound. But why side with a dragon when we have no known natural enemies? In Aliens vs. Predator our enemies were the Aliens, and so there was no real choice but to side with the Predator. We aren’t being attacked by anyone stronger than us. So why put our trust in an ancient and mysterious beast? Dragons have existed for millions of years. They’re survivors. And the minute you do something they find threatening, they will devour you and everyone you’ve ever known. There have been cases wherein the dragon actually forces its human master to do algebra and trigonometry for hours on end. This constant threat of mathematics posed by the dragons is completely intolerable. Perhaps this is why dragon ownership is illegal in all fifty states and the District of Columbia.
To bring this rambling essay to its natural conclusion, I restate my poorly illustrated argument: Dragons are giant waste machines that will kill you before you hit the ground. They may have some good points, such as flying you to work every day. Oh! That would be so cool, I could laugh at the people in their cars in heavy traffic. I could be all like, “Hey, look at me! I’m flying and you’re in traffic!”, and they would be all, like, “I hate you!” But that’s just a pipe dream, pipes that lead to the sewer of ignorance and despair. The truth is that even if you found a dragon trustworthy enough to keep, the government would find out. That’s what happened to me, and now I’m in a lot of trouble. My property taxes skyrocketed, my insurance was canceled, and I keep getting phone calls from the FBI every night. All because I wanted to own a dragon.
Webgrams! Come an' Get 'Em!
- Astrological Calculator
- Backwards Writer
- Random Alert Level
- Topic Finder
- Vector Resolution
And that's why it's so important to have trust in the system to correct itself.
The Curse of Robobeard the Pirate
a ghostly ship drifts ever near;
Its mast is cracked, its sails are tattered,
its hull is warped and its compass shattered.
The Leitin once sailed all day and night,
a worldly bringer of peace and light.
When it was new, it was a jewel,
drawing in the best sailors from sailing school.
But though the ship braved foreign lands,
from arctic ice to desert sands,
and though it was the best in show,
the crew of this poor ship would know
the Curse of Robobeard the Pirate.
One foggy day, and without warning,
the ship of Robobeard came calling.
He boarded the Leitin, he slaughtered the crew,
he boiled Captain Brown in molten glue.
But why all the fighting? Why all the fuss?
Why did Robobeard do all this stuff?
"The Leitin has cargo", the old pirate purred,
"so open those crates up, you hired-goon curs!"
Inside the cargo, the pirate king found
quite to his displeasure a crate-load of round,
bulbous vegetables from Spain called "Robo-plantanes".
"That's all that was here?!" the pirate complained.
What happened next still confounds all the scholars,
for at that moment, Robobeard hollered,
"Argh! My brain! Those Robo-plantanes-
the signal they're sending is causing me pain!"
"Shut them off! Turn it down! I'm startin' to drown!"
But the Robo-plantanes, to avenge Captain Brown,
were sending off magical magnetic pulse-beams,
scrambling Robobeard's sentient thought-screens.
A great cloud of light enveloped the Leitin,
and a roar let out as the air itself tightened.
The sea turned to ice, the sky to ink,
the color blue to electric pink.
There were some shouts and screams, and as the smoke cleared,
the Leitin's slaughtered crew appeared!
They descended on the buccaneers,
and ate them all, sans Robobeard.
Imbued with the brains of the Robo-plantanes,
the ghostly crew henceforth ordained
that Robobeard would never leave
the web of doom he helped conceive,
the Curse of Robobeard the Pirate.
And so for ages soon and yore,
the Leitin sails from shore to shore
with Captain Robobeard astern,
forced to sweep the brimey churn.
The undead sailors and haunted ship
glide through the waters like a ghostly whip.
'Round and 'round the vessel tears,
off the coast of ol' Cape Fear,
the Curse of Robobeard the Pirate.