teldredge

Sep 202020
 
QQ108 Whale-Squid Evictor – A deceptively dangerous and capable military vehicle based on the submarine of the same name designed by the Whale-Squid tribe during the first Whale-Squid Squid Whale wars. Capable of operating in a range of atmospheric and marine conditions from deep ocean to near-space, the Evictor carries a range armaments and is both nimble and durable. Though the original submarine Evictor had a distinguished military service record, the new design has yet to see combat, because after other species saw what the Whale-Squid tribe did to the Whales and Squids, nobody really wants to fight them.

A long, long time ago in a timeline far, far, away, but still sort of here. Or maybe a long, long time from now, or maybe right now, however you correlate dates in alternate timeline stuff.

Anyways, whenever and wherever, on what we’d call Earth if we saw it, there were two really, really smart creatures that just kept getting smarter. If we saw them we’d call them whales and squid, and that wouldn’t be inaccurate, but those words don’t mean anything in this timeline, nor do any human words. But because this description of a timeline that humans never existed in is written in English I’ll just call them whales and squid.

Whales on this Earth started out doing pretty much what whales do here. They’re really smart, and they communicate and cooperate, and they live together and learn a lot from one another. But also on this Earth they evolved kind of a trunk type appendage so they can manipulate and grab things. Not sure what evolutionary pressures led to that but I can’t think of a way for whales to do much technology without a manipulator appendate so on this Earth they have that.

While the whale trunk was a strong and capable manipulator, it was tough to do fine work with only one largeish appendage. So for a long while whale technology was limited to fairly large structures of woven kelp, and animal bones, including whales.

Though a seemingly rudimentary framework for technology, whales pushed kelp and bone technology to astonishing limits. Mechanical structures were developed including pulleys, belts, levers, and ratchets. Arbitrary lengths of kelp could be woven into tensile structures providing means to store and preserve live food. Worldwide industry and commerce developed around the whales use of kelp and bones to raise, trade, and consume ocean livestock from kelp to cephalopods. Eventually the abundance of whale resources led to the creation of sophisticated whale culture including art, sports, and entertainment.

Long before the interspecies enlightenment, a common spectator event in whale society were the squid fights. Certain species of cephalopods had been domesticated by whales by breeding for desired characteristics. Though most breeds were selected for food and utility value, some were bred as pets, and some as fighting animals.

Fighting squids were bred to be both ferocious and intelligent. In addition, they were trained extensively to use their own bodies, and a range of provided weapons to injure their opponent in vicious, lethal matches. Though entertainment fighting squids were the most prominent use of aggressive squid breeds, they were also trained as guard and attack animals.

Effective guard and attack squids were essential to maintaining secure whale society. Though whales were powerful and very robust creatures, their ocean still contained many dangers. Sharks and lesser aquatic mammals posed an ever present threat to whales, though a healthy whale could generally protect themselves against reasonable threats of this nature. 

Whale society required the use of powerful domesticated squid protectors in their struggle against squid society.

Squids on this Earth started out doing pretty much what squids do here. They’re really smart, extremely wily and clever, but they don’t live very long or have much of a social instinct. But on this Earth a species of cephalopods evolved the capability to kind of care about each other and they started hanging out in cooperative groups that learned to communicate danger and resources. So they got eaten a lot less and evolved a longer lifespan than most cephalopods.

Squid life was never easy, and even as a budding society they faced ever present existential threats. But squids minds are pretty amazing and once they learned to share what worked and didn’t work it wasn’t long before squids learned technological tricks that started blowing even the most proficient whale bone-kelp smith’s minds.

Squids mastered kelp and bone to a much finer degree than even whale masters. They could assemble complex, functional clockwork mechanisms from sculpted fish bones, coral, and shells. But they were curious, observant, and fearless to their individual detriment, but a lot of squids trying a lot of things and sharing the results led to an explosion in their technological capability. They learned to concentrate and mix substances to create a self-hardening, cement like material they could use to construct structures no other creature could penetrate. They utilized gas generating microbes to generate power by harnessing buoyancy as a sort of analog to steam power. They even experimented with long range acoustic communication systems, but that created some problems.

Squid society existed in a microcosm for a long time. The cooperative squid species was native to a small gulf area that was unattractive and largely inaccessible to whale society. They were aware of large aquatic mammals, but had never interacted directly or even been observed by a civilized whale.

Squid acoustic detection systems had revealed a complex ocean full of strange sounds from unknown creatures. They were believed to be aquatic mammals, and some squids suggested the communications indicated an intelligent society, but many dismissed the idea. Even so long range acoustic transmission research was strictly banned until more was known about the wider ocean.

By that time, squid society had developed extremely effective hunting tools and techniques, such that they had no trouble bringing down an aquatic mammal the size of whale, provided it was alone and the squids were prepared.

So eventually the curious squids finally agreed to send an expedition beyond the gulf with an acoustic transmission device. With the intent of using it to re-broadcast some of the recorded acoustic sounds, and see what happens. The assumption was at worst it wouldn’t work at all, and at best they might have figured out a great new way to bait aquatic mammals and they’d all go home with some fresh carcasses to share.

The outcome of the expedition is only known through the dying testament of the only survivor. In which he described a vast army of whales that carried giant kelp nets and bone spears. This single event was the essential catalyst of all future civilization on this Earth.

Predictably the squids freaked out and became psychotically militant for 100 generations or so. The reports of subsequent reconnaissance missions into whale society revealed a nightmare world of squid being bought, sold, eaten alive, worked to death then eaten, experimented on then eaten, killed by another squid and then eaten, or even trained to kill other squids at their whale master’s command, and then still eaten. 

They aggressively expanded within and then far beyond their gulf. They developed long range communications undetectable to whales, built incredible weapons and defenses, and even began a program to breed and train aquatic mammals, including whales as war animals.

It was open interspecies warfare for about 1000 years. Both species killed one another with abandon. And occasionally one side or the other would marshal an unimaginably massive force with the intent of finally ending the threat the other species posed. But that always ended with lots of dead squid and whales, but still plenty more live squid and whales with even more apparent reason to hate and fear one another.

It is unclear how the interspecies enlightenment began, but the accepted apocryphal account is that two lost juvenile whales were met by a remote tribe of squid society that had been out of contact for several generations and had lost a cultural memory of the species wars. They tribe accepted the whales as members and taught them squid ways and lived harmoniously for years. The story tells that one day the tribe heard a skirmish between squid and whales and some went to investigate. 

The tribesmen, a whale and four squids, were seen and attacked by both sides, each thinking they were an attempt to flank the others.

Then this Earth timeline splits again. In the nice timeline, the skirmishers see the whale and squid tribesmen defending one another and it stops the battle. Then they find out about the whale-squid tribe and everyone is inspired and slowly but surely both societies change and yada yada yada you got your happy whale-squid planet.

In the regular timeline all the tribesmen were killed immediately. The skirmishers understood the whale and squid tribesmen were defending one another but they were disgusted by it and considered them traitors to their species. 

The tribe later discovered their dead, and went to find out what the hell, and found a world where whales and squids hated each other.

Well the tribe was a tribe, and they said screw both these idiotic species for messing with our tribe, so the whale-squid tribe set out teach whales and squids you don’t mess with the whale-squid tribe.

It took the whale-squid tribe a while to catch up both in population and technology, but they had some willing converts from both species that helped them get started. And most importantly they had both whales and squids, and whale and squid technology, and new and interesting intersections and synergies with whales and squids and whale and squid technology. The whale-squid tribe deployed increasingly overwhelming force against remaining whale society and squid society. Though the war between whales and squids had raged for a 1000 years, it took less than 100 for the whale-squid tribe to end the interspecies war and annihilate any semblance of the global powers that once struggled for dominance.

After that things went a lot like human civilization. The whale-squid tribe only remained unified as long as their was a whale and squid society to fight against. After they ran out of common enemies they just became whale-squid society and started dividing along all the other stupid lines people find to divide over. They have regional differences, biological distinctions, even identity politics, which is super weird with two entire species. It’s pretty stupid, but they do have but way cooler movies and TV because it’s not all from one species perspective.

The space program was pretty interesting. They never had combustion but they started with high atmospheric balloons and eventually were able to use a combination of buoyant lift and rotational launch mechanisms to deploy small vessels to orbit, which could then use cold gas thrust and slow aerobraking to deorbit. Whales obviously never saddled up but squid could basically pack themselves into a padded bag with a water circulation system and withstand upwards of 30G’s.

Interesting footnote, the aliens in Star Trek IV weren’t aliens, they were timeline-jumpers from the nicer whale-squid timeline where they all got along better. The ship was broadcasting looking for whales or squids, so the crew could have saved a lot of trouble building that giant whale tank by just taking a few squid back instead.

Sep 132020
 
The Cosmic Mystery Machine – A promotional vehicle unique for being the only known spacecraft to employ functional wheeled propulsion. The wheels actually do generate directional thrust using an extraordinarily inefficient mechanically timed mach-effect. Though wheeled propulsion is possible, it’s acknowledged as a gimmick and the ship can deploy large solar sails for additional delta-v from its wing structures, which are also used as control surfaces in reentry maneuvers.

I like the quote “The total number of minds in the universe is one”, and also “atman equals brahman” but I’m probably not using that right and I prefer to explain what I think more explicitly rather than rely on other people’s associations so I’ll just do that.

There is only one mind in the universe to me just means that consciousness is a property of the universe. It’s like combustion in that it just happens whenever and wherever it can, and it’s uniqueness is its initial conditions and the environment it interacts with. Of course it doesn’t work to say “there is only one flame in the universe” but I use the analogy because nobody has a problem with the idea that ‘flame’ is just a phenomenon.

But each of our flames of consciousness feels pretty distinct to us. It’s hard to argue that I’m not you and you’re not me, but I like to say we’re both just different versions of “I”. Of course that sounds solipsist because “I” is me, when I say it, and I’m the one writing. But “I” means more than me to me.

“I” is really a whole continuum of I-ness. At one end is a unit system of biologically active materials that feels things and at least thinks it thinks things, at the other end is the universal phenomenon of self-aware consciousness. Let’s call them lower I and upper I respectively. It’s a first person plural but it’s distinct from ‘we’ because there’s only one upper I’s, and all lower I’s are the same upper I.

Upper I might share some features that others might identify as a soul, but if it’s a soul it’s more accurate to say it’s the soul of the universe. It’s the part of consciousness that is the universe trying to understand itself. I like that description because it’s both functional and aspirational. Even if you’re using your consciousness to understand how to eat all the chocolate you can, it’s kind of true. I like to think it’s most true when you’re trying to understand physics and consciousness, but that feels arrogant and elitist, so it’s good to remember it’s just as true if you’re trying to understand the digestive system of cockroaches, or how to teach little humans to wash their hands and tie their shoes.

Of course you can do all of that for 1000 motivations, it’s not like everyone who studies the universe walks around thinking “I am the universe’s brain!” all the time or anything. It’s a continuum for everyone every minute of every day. Nobody stays very upper I for long. I think that might even apply to alien consciousness. Being a lower I is pretty demanding. I just think there’s some truth to the idea that consciousness has some intrinsic curiosity and that’s a thing that really does connect all minds.

So what good is all that? Well, you can have fun with it if you imagine it means you get to be everyone, and everything. Not psyched about all the shittty human lifetimes, but if it’s universal that means aliens. So I might get to be a giant alien worm person that uses its cilia to perform on some thousand toned musical instrument. Also get to be their backup band, and their fans, and maybe the giant beetle thing that eats the whole band in a tragic onstage accident.

But I don’t think that’s useful except for fun. It’s not parallel reincarnation or anything like that. There’s obviously no physical connection between the minds of the giant worm and the band and the beetle that could join as a ‘universal mind’ to understand all their experiences.

That’s a seductive idea and it would be the only way there could be some kind of comparative analysis of experience itself, but I just don’t think that’s a thing. There’s no ‘great mind’ in the sense that it knows us or our experience just because we are all it. Even if we just say a ‘great mind’ doesn’t exist on this plane, say it exists in some 5th dimensional space and the connections are invisible to us because we exist on a lower dimension or something, it still doesn’t work. I think the experience of upper I through a lower I is kind of an atomic unit. It cannot be anything but what it is without becoming something else entirely.

There’s no way to know what it’s like to be a bat, as a human. Even if you could, somehow, force the neural information from a bats experience through your mind, and forget you were a human for that time, when you woke up your memory of the experience would be as a human analyzing their human memory of being a bat. You would recall the experience only through human recollection, with human faculties. If you could truly ‘share’ the experience of batness with your human consciousness you might be overwhelmingly compelled to eat bugs and hang upside down, but you can’t. You cannot share the experience of a mind, it’s a totally isolated phenomenon by it’s nature.

Just wanted to be clear that this isn’t an edge to work in a new age philosophy of oneness or anything. It’s a perspective that accepts the fundamentally isolated state of self-aware consciousness, but tries to put a more entertaining spin on it and maybe derive a functional framework for morality from it.

This seems related to the idea of karma but to me that is just an expression of the symmetry of the fact that in this arrangement we all experience everything we do to one another because all conscious experience is fundamentally the same phenomenon.

Seems like the idea that all minds have a similar basis of experience is a decent rationalization, maybe even a justification for empathy and compassion. Not that we should really need all that to understand reciprocity, but it helps take it beyond human cultures and lifetimes, maybe even to AI, and it works for aliens if we meet any. It takes the theory of mind out on a limb a bit, but I think that’s probably where it belongs.

It’s probably a good idea to just say minds are minds and humans happen to have them. But when we find anything that looks remotely like a human mind, it gets the same status, so we avoid any robot uprisings over sentient being’s rights. If we’re going to get wiped out by machine life I’d prefer it was because they actually were evil or indifferent to human life, not because we deserved it.

Sep 062020
 
Field Weaver – An entirely theoretical vessel designed to function in an entirely theoretical universe with entirely theoretical physical properties. A precise description of its function requires an understanding of the radically different physics that exist in the theorized universe, but it’s been summarized as non-locally buoyant with inverse-anti-inertial thrust and quasi-uncertain attitude control.

The punchline is a six-base DNA sequence describing proteins found in the eggsacks of a red siphonic coral.

DNA Radio is a general term for various forms of one-way, mass communication in societies with languages relying on chemical information transfer. There are a number of variations of the practice depending on the species individual chemical cycles and environment, but all share the common feature of being a branching or broadcast style of chemical information transmission.

Some advanced technological civilizations have developed DNA Radio into a sophisticated medium for art and social discourse.

The Anurog people are vaguely amphibian-like and evolved to communicate by exchanging a form of saliva encoded with subtle but highly complex variations in acidity. One long lick may exchange the information and emotional equivalent of a 3 page letter, a drawing, and a pressed flower. In effect they communicate by creating and sensing specific tastes while kind of making out with each other.

Their technology is largely biologically based and their implementation of DNA radio is entirely organic. An Anurog DJ licks into a device that functions as ‘microphone’ but is a genetically engineered sponge colony that converts their saliva acidity into a serialized stream of chemical data. The data is encoded in the same chemical sequences of base pairs the Anurog’s biological equivalent of DNA.

The DNA is conveyed by fluid or aerosol to a similar receiver sponge that then converts the DNA back into tastable acidic patterns that can be understood by any Anurog. There is a small loss of subtle tone and intent in the conversion to DNA radio, but the fidelity to their natural communication is more than adequate.

Since the Anurog DNA Radio chemical format shares elements with DNA from their planetary ecosystem, it didn’t take long before they started experimenting with including natural DNA elements in the DNA Radio feeds, much like human DJs might sample sounds from nature.

Red siphonic coral creates stunningly beautiful structures, and its eggs have cultural significance and preserved eggs are highly valued in some older traditions. More modern cultures prioritize protecting the coral and consider decorative egg harvesting a sadly backwards relic. Though it is tolerated in moderation, the practice is a regular subject of ridicule in the media.

A popular DNA Radio children’s program popularized a villainous character who desperately sought preserved coral eggs. The villain’s entrance was always accompanied, much like a theme song, with a theme DNA sequence, which was borrowed verbatim from DNA found in the red siphonic coral eggs. The program helped turn cultural values against coral egg harvesting, but even long after the program was considered outdated, references to the egg loving villain remain in the cultural memory.

The human analogy might be the end theme of a looney toons episode, but for someone to synesthesia who hears it as a smell that also smells a bit like roasting Porky Pig.

— — —

The punchline is a human with a blackhole alien pet named “spray painted grapefruit the devourer of paint”.

Though the punchline is a human, it’s not an offensive thing because the human it’s about considered himself a member of the alien society he’s a joke in and he didn’t mind being the source of amusement and even enjoyed it to some degree, but since he considers himself an alien, and other aliens laugh at it, it’s an alien joke.

Blackhole aliens have nothing to do with black holes. They just don’t reflect any light because their fur is like that carbon nano vanta black stuff, but from radio to xray frequencies. They are humanoid bipeds, but if you saw one even in broad daylight you’d just see a cavity black silhouette. They call themselves blackhole people because they do strongly identify with the celestial black holes. It’s a kind of sun worship combined with some weird narcissism because they say it’s a big version of them, but it’s kind of cute and it’s not a big deal in modern blackhole alien society.

Blackhole aliens are curious researchers, and they have a strong advantage in doing things they don’t want advertised to other species, so they’ve become one of the galaxy’s most prolific abductors and probers. The stereotype of a big headed green alien is totally unfair, those guys barely abduct anyone. And though the blackhole aliens were actually quite gentile and generally humane, the fact that they appeared as two dimensional shadow beings is enough to invoke primal fear in pretty much any species that has any kind of vision sense.

Though the blackhole aliens had abducted many, many humans, they were unprepared to meet young Franklin Weiss. He was accidentally abducted when they scooped up an entire RV to save some time. He was brought all the way back to the blackhole alien homeworld before he was discovered. His actual age is unknown, but he was less than a meter tall and extremely rambunctious, but had a generally pleasant disposition.

It’s unclear what Franklin’s deal was, he might have been a little simple, or maybe really smart, but unlike pretty much every other being they abducted, he demonstrated unprecedented contentment with his circumstances. Once he was provided basic sustenance he was astonishingly chill. He was not afraid of the blackhole aliens and interacted with them freely and delighted in making shadow puppets with them, which he and a few of his handlers developed into a fairly sophisticated language since Franklin could not understand the tactile language used by blackhole aliens. By the time he reached adulthood he was considered essentially a blackhole alien, but with a disability that he could only communicate in a made up language.

Franklin was given a pet companion, a smallish blackhole fur animal not unlike a dog. Franklin named his pet after the most significant celestial object in blackhole alien culture, a particularly gigantic black hole. The culturally significant black hole was called “Dark Sphere Drinks Light” in the highly literal blackhole alien language, but since Franklins handlers had the limited base conceptual vocabulary of a juvenile human to work with, their direct translation to human concepts somehow became “spray painted grapefruit the devourer of paint”.

The error was only discovered much later, after Franklin began participating in abductions of other humans. Upon learning more human words and the correct associations, he was able to piece together the chain of misunderstandings that led to his well meaning but misinformed black-hole handlers teaching him that their revered celestial object was a spray painted grapefruit.

So I guess that’s not really even a joke, just a humorous circumstance, but I started this alien joke thing with a punchline first format so apparently I’m sticking to that even when it doesn’t make a lot of sense.

Also I forgot to number the jokes at first but then I wasn’t sure why I started doing that in the first place so I’m not numbering these. It was only funny for number seven and I don’t think you can do that twice so I think this way is fine.

Sep 052020
 
Tube containing a 4D shock-field map captured during the superluminal passage of a single spin 3/2 carbonium bubble through a non-linear Crystal Pepsi.

Jesunauts follow the original, uninterpreted lessons of Jesus of Nazareth as they pertain to the struggles of sentient beings on and beyond Earth.

Jesunauts recognize the literal truth that the kingdom of God is not of this world, and follow his ascension to heaven in mind, spirit, and as possible- body. Each Jesunaut seeks to contribute their lives and work to the physical and spiritual ascension of humankind.

Jesunauts practice, teach, and advocate the duty of radical compassion, humanitarianism, and self-sacrifice. God’s gifts of intelligence and empathy are to be used as tools to analyze and minimize causes of unnecessary, involuntary suffering. Jesunauts hold humans responsible for defining and challenging their own morality by its rational benefit to humans and humanity.

Jesunauts are wary of the inevitability of human weakness. Jesunauts do not judge humans for their moral failures, but rather seek to create and encourage circumstances that allow human beings to live and coexist in the universe peacefully and sustainably.

Jesunauts commit to stewardship of the Earth. The Earth and every living creature are God’s gifts to humankind. These blessings are ours to honor and cherish as examples of God’s perfect creation. Jesunauts preserve and study the perfection of nature as the living word of God.

Jesunauts minister by studying and teaching God’s creation as God has presented it. God’s creation itself is his word and no human word is to be given precedence over what God shows us in nature. God’s will cannot be translated into human language. Creation itself is the only language rich enough to convey God’s will. Any human who tries to condense God’s will into specific human action authorized by God is fundamentally mistaken.

Jesunauts dedicate themselves to the provision of healing arts for all humanity. Jesus healed through direct divinity to show primitive human cultures that healing is possible through God’s power. Humans are guided to God’s power by the diligent study of His creation. Jesus’ examples of healing were a clear mandate for human beings to use God’s gift of reason to understand, share, and diligently support all knowledge and practice of healing.

Jesunauts share communion with Jesus and one another through model aircraft and rocketry. Building and launching gravity defying machines is necessary to experience the truth of God’s gifts and laws, and represents Jesus’ diligent work on Earth and final ascension through God’s grace.

Jesunauts are unconcerned with the state of an individual consciousness beyond a mortal existence. God has given human beings mortal life and anything beyond mortal life is exclusively God’s domain. Jesunauts glorify God with efforts to extend, preserve, and enhance mortal life. God’s perfection and the perfection of his gifts of life necessarily imply that whatever lies beyond mortal life will also be perfect.

Jesunauts mourn the tragedy of Jesus’ torture and execution on Earth and do not make or possess monuments or relics symbolizing the brutality done to Jesus. Jesunauts celebrate Jesus’ life and message of peace, compassion, ascension.

Jesunauts party with any other ‘naut or non ‘naut that share the above sentiments.

A Jesunaut does not identify with any belief system and only follows their own personally validated beliefs. A Jesunaut makes no claim to represent any system of belief. A Jesunaut does claim to be a Jesunaut. There are no Jesunauts. There are just people who have heard about Jesunauts and share their sentiment and generally act like they think a Jesunaut would.

Aug 312020
 
Imperial Femto Target Drone – A 1:9e74806 scale replica target drone created for highly efficient femto-scale wargames conducted within the Schwarzschild radius of a Planters Peanut shell.

At some point I stumbled on the term misanthropic humanitarian, or humanitarian misanthrope to describe my general sentiment towards humanity. I don’t think anyone would argue that I’m a misanthrope, but the humanitarian part might be more debatable. And misanthropy seems like it’s mutually exclusive to humanitarianism, but I actually think they can be complimentary.

I think my brand of misanthropy can be a basis for a kind of humanitarianism. Definitely not the same kind as actual good people that take risks and make sacrifices to help people, that’s a more applied humanitarianism that does actual good. This is a more theoretical framework that doesn’t help anyone but just arrogantly suggests that if we all thought this way the world would magically be a better place.

I’m not suggesting you have to be a full-on misanthrope to be a humanitarian, but I think some of the principles of misanthropy can be applied to humanitarian goals.

So I’m a misanthrope, what’s that mean? Basically it means that as a rule I don’t trust humans. Not as a species, not as a civilization, not even as individuals, and definitely not in large groups. Some of that is because I think the word ‘trust’ is too subjective to mean anything, but somehow it still feels right to say I just don’t trust humans. To me trust is just a weirdly sentimental way of measuring the accuracy with which you can predict or rely on a desired behavioral outcome, and by that definition, humans are very untrustworthy animals.

But trust has all this intent and value attached to it, and I don’t not trust humans because I think they’re all bad people or evil or any of that nonsense, it’s just because we’re incredibly complex and the more complex things become the more bizarrely unpredictable their behavior. And maybe I’m socially inept or whatever, but I’m talking about history here- sacrificing to sun gods, wars between incestuous ruling families and over religions, steam powered flat earther rockets 50 years after the moon landing, like 80% of the internet, this is humanity, just absolute batshit craziness on tap.

It’s partially biology. We’re mammals, and mammals are all pretty nuts, plus all life is nuts. Evolution works with what works, not with what makes sense or doesn’t suck. Humans are the product of what worked on Earth, and we do have some amazing advantages, but we’re just complicated animals, and even simple animals are nuts.

But we don’t really talk about trust with animals unless we’re anthropomorphizing them like with dogs. We describe wild animals as ‘unpredictable’ sometimes but I think we know intuitively they’re not, their nuttiness is within well established parameters so whether we say it or not it’s pretty easy to ‘trust’ animals, because we trust them to be animals. That’s really the only kind of trust that makes any sense to me. But if you just trust things to be what they are, then trust doesn’t mean anything, but I guess that’s kind of my point so, yeah…

But so I trust animals to be animals, and humans are animals, so why not trust humans to be humans? Well because like I just said- they’re animals. The human part is not a given. Humans are precariously built out of animals and if much of anything goes wrong with that construction what’s left is just the animal.

We accept this on a sort of medical level. From full-on lobotomies to Phineas Gage to meth-brain and just regular old dementia, it’s no secret that human minds can degrade into functionally different beings, sometimes to the point they are only human by biological standards. But those are the hard-core, obvious cases where the faculties necessary for doing human things are damaged so they just stop acting as much like a human.

But a lot of things can go wrong with people that are not really biological, and they continue to act exactly like humans. A sociopath is, for all intents and purposes, much better equipped to deal with the complexities of modern culture than someone burdened by empathy. They act more human than most humans, they’re good at it, but- I don’t think they’re really being all that human. Obviously that puts a judgement on what human means, so I’ll say I think ‘human’ is the part of ‘human animal’ that makes civilization together, and a sociopath doesn’t seem like they’re really using that part.

Our culture doesn’t really teach much about the human-animal duality of human nature, so people tend to think of human beings as atomic things, you’re born human and you die human, no matter how much of an animal or otherwise not a human you become along the way. So we may casually say a sociopath is an animal, but they really do get all the benefits of being a human being.

And for moral clarity we it’s probably best to say they’re all still human. It’s hard to argue the value of humans just saying all human life is sacred, full stop. And I think we can keep that value, but with a modified understanding that actually doing ‘being’ a human being is more than just being of the species homo sapien sapien.

Unfortunately the whole ‘human animal’ thing is pretty easy to run afoul of the whole ‘sanctify of human life’ thing, because where do you draw the line except by literal species without the danger of some people being labeled less than human life? I think the simple prevention is just don’t think of human being as a permanent state, but a potential, and give the whole species credit for the potential no matter what. That way you can say accurately when people are animals, but you can’t cross the line of treating them like animals because they have a body that has the potential to be human.

That said, I’m not saying ‘thou shalt not kill’ or anything. If people try to kill you, I think it’s acceptable to try to kill them right back. And there are some threats that cannot be neutralized any other way than permanently. But to me it’s a pretty simple rule- if you can neutralize a threat without death, do that, if not- stay alive. In simpler terms I can deal with a death penalty for a stranded colony with no means to effectively neutralize dangerous prisoners, but not in places with the means to build literal prison cities.

Also while I’m on the death penalty I’ll say I’ve actually come around to the position that there is a moral basis for a death penalty even in prosperous civilizations, but only for abuse of public power. To abuse public power is to undermine the basis of civilization. If someone tries to make you do something against your will, you have the right to fight them. But if they wield the power of the state, you may willingly, or unknowingly give up that right. So it seems fair that the price for wielding the power of submission is enhanced punishment for its misuse. I also think that this is the only case where capital punishment actually would be a deterrent. I don’t think violent psychopaths are pensive enough about mortality for a death penalty to really change their behavior, but I’d prefer anyone who assumed public power would be.

Sorry, I kind of accidentally then on purpose shoehorned my death penalty shpeil in there, but back to the thing…

So the gist is- I’m misanthropic because humans are animals, and animals are nuts, but I don’t not trust animals, and even though humans are sometimes animals they’re still humans and we can’t not treat them like humans, so what the hell am I talking about?

I’m just trying to get around to the point that to be a very effective humanitarian, especially at large scales, you have to recognize and account for the human animal. We’re weak, imminently corruptible, and intrinsically vain, but- we can help each other rise above it, and that’s kind of nice. Maybe misanthropy takes it too far, and brings the implication of disappointment or something, which goes against the point that this is about looking at the ‘human animal’ dispassionately, but I like the juxtaposition of misanthropic humanitarianism as a reminder that responsible compassion isn’t always snuggly.

It really helps when you need to look at humans as data. We are raw data, sucks to think of ourselves that way but we are, and that data is valuable. Humans actually are fairly predictable in large numbers. Being a little misanthropic can help you get over the fact that we’re just numbers, and being a little humanitarian can help you use your ability to get over our statistical predictability and use it to create beneficial outcomes for human beings.

When you want horses to do something, do you don’t moralize about it being the right thing to do, or why they should have done it. You create the conditions in which that horse will be most likely to do the thing you want them to do. There’s no judgement, just observation.

Of course you can create conditions that make the horse do it because it’s terrified not to, or because it associates it with a reward. Both can be called for in various circumstances. But most handlers tend to understand that horses are better to you when you’re better to them, but more importantly, they’re better when you create the conditions that are favorable to them being better.

Also just to be clear none of this is an argument for philosophical zombies. Everything feels, even sociopaths. I do think some meta-cognitivie capacity varies wildly between humans, but I don’t think that’s a critical defining factor of the human experience, it just can be. And again, it’s the potential to be human that grants the rights of humanity, so it doesn’t matter either way.

So that’s the main point I want to make about humanitarian misanthropy, the human-animal thing, but it actually goes a little further into cultural connections for me too. I don’t advocate this level of misanthropy for everyone, and it’s not as well coupled to humanitarianism, but I think the best way to avoid an us vs them mentality is to not be an us. 

The ‘them’ part is pretty hard to ignore. I see ‘them’ everywhere, but everytime I think I find an ‘us’, it turns out to be another them, or just a few of us with a bunch of them hanging around confusing things. So for expediency I’ve just taken to assuming there is no us. Or I guess I’ll qualify that by saying there is no ‘us’ beyond people you’re on a first-name basis with, and even there- people change.

There’s a lot of focus on human’s destructive tendency to identify ‘the other’ as the enemy, but I think the easily disprovable ‘us’ part is what creates the unfalsifiable ‘other’ part. But as many times as the ‘us’ is disproven, the ‘other’ remains compelling. Best way out, just be a ‘me’.

Sounds too lonely to be right though, right? Because humans are social creatures, etc… yeah, fine. I’m not saying you have to be a hermit over it. You can hang out with people, and like I said- people know actually know by the sound of their voice can be your ‘us’, just don’t join any clubs. That seems like a great rule to me. And by clubs I mean anything. Political parties, religions, ‘isms’ of any kind, maybe even fan clubs, but that’s a bit too literal. You speak for yourself on your own behalf and no one else’s, always and forever, and no one else can speak on your behalf by group association. Every club you join inherits some of your character and will, but you can’t control how other members use that association, so I consider it irresponsible to grant it.

Also the jackie gleason thing- won’t be a part of any club that would have me as a member. Great recognition of the paradox of self-standards. You should never meet your own standards, so if you meet someone elses, theirs aren’t as good as yours, but that’s not really a misanthropic humanitarian reasoning, just a good one.

Aug 192020
 

The Thinnys are a race of sentient membranes. They have an average area of 2 sq meters and a thickness of 1-1.5mm. They can flex tendons interconnected between about 64 anchor points allowing complex sinuous movements they use to locomote and manipulate their environment. Though exceptionally powerful for their mass, their planet’s extremely high gravity prevents Thinny’s from doing much besides sliding over one another to get around. It’s a weird existence even by alien standards.

Thinny’s photosynthesize most efficiently on their ‘top’ surface. The bottom surface is slightly rougher and provides more conduits to exchange materials with its surroundings. If a Thinny spends significant time photosynthesizing in a given area they leave a thin effluent mixture with a distinct impression of their tendons and anchor points, which are features distinct to each individual. It’s a bit like if everyone naturally pooped very distinguishable sculptures of their own face. It’s a poop faceprint.

In ancient Thinny history, some cultures celebrated the photosynthetic poop faceprint phenomenon. Revered figures poop faceprints were preserved and ornamented. Family crests were often combinations of ancestral poop faceprints. Thinny’s were even known to memorialize the leavings of other membrane based creatures they kept as pets and work animals.

The modern Thinny era rose from a scientific renaissance, which prioritized reason and discovery over tradition. Unfortunately it got a little out of hand and questioning tradition became a mandate such that pretty much anything anyone had done in the past that couldn’t be explicitly justified in modern terms was condemned. And so many beautifully decorated and historically revered poop prints were destroyed. Without poop prints constantly reminding them that poop exists, Thinny society became extremely reserved and bashful about poop faceprints, and photosynthetic pooping in general.

As Thinny science and technology progressed, the Thinny’s finally developed the ability to capture, reproduce and modify images from the world around them. Before long, someone figured out that if you take a photograph of a Thinny’s underside, crumple it a bit and splatter a bit of mud on it, it looks exactly like a giant steaming poop that is obviously from whatever Thinny they took the picture of. It’s pretty much a right of passage for a young Thinny to prank their loved ones, and not so loved ones by leaving fabricated poop faceprints around in this manner.

  • – –

The Nightticks Coalition consists of 8 colonies of microscopic, eusocial insect-like creatures that metabolize radioisotopes of hydrogen. They exist solely in a crater on an oblong asteroid at the edge of a lazy solar system. The eight colonies each control one of eight spires of frozen hydrogen that began condensing at the edges of eight hydrogen vents. The colonies occasionally cooperate, but mostly maintain a tense peace that lasts only as long as each colony maintains homeostasis with its own population and its slow accumulation of deuterium and tritium. The insects themselves are not sentient, but the vast numbers of specialized individual creatures working in concert form a functioning, though primitive awareness.

The Nighttick colony minds each recognize the others as separate creatures, though they can and do exchange individual creatures for a variety of reasons including accident, altruism, sabotage, and mutually beneficial exchange. The only Nighttick individuals that are never exchanged are the reaper caste. This caste is exclusively responsible for disposing of the bodies of other expired individuals, or more commonly disposing of them before they’ve expired, but have otherwise served their purpose.

The Nighttick colony minds have some methods of control over their constituent castes activities, but they are as much at the mercy of their colonies as a human mind is to its body. They do not control individual creatures any more than humans control individual cells, though they can influence larger scale movements and changes within their colony.

Reaper activity is largely involuntary, though the Nighttick colony minds must monitor and influence the reapers to sometimes reap other reapers when they become too numerous.

One reaper seen reaping another reaper is not particularly notable, as it could have been a natural death. But more than a few reapers reaping other reapers is a clear sign of poor hygiene and self maintenance.

Nighttick colony mind’s expression of laughter manifests as sympathetic thorax vibrations that members of the sensory and reproductive castes generate when the colony mind is amused. There’s not much to be amused about when you’re a meter tall stack of microscopic insects floating on a cold rock alone in space, so any time a squad of reapers runs out of a colony carrying a bunch of other reapers, you’re going to hear a lot of vibrating thoraxes.

— — —

AlphaFoamCube is both a planet and a person. It’s a unique planetary lifeform that developed from the interactions of dense layers of foam that cascade and sloth through and around the planet. Though from orbit it appears a common ice world, AlphaFoamCube is essentially a giant spherical bubble fountain with thermal geysers blasting rivers of foamy slop from the core into the atmosphere, constantly refreshing the surface with delightful bubbles. It is the universe’s only known example of self-sustaining bubble tectonics, and also the only known example of self-sustaining bubble biology.

AlphaFoamCube was first discovered to be a sentient life form when complex bubble flows entrapped and apparently played with a probe sent to examine it more closely. The probe remained functional while it was surfed around on bubble waves and tossed up into the air and even kept returning data as it was broken into even sections and juggled quite expertly.

It quickly became apparent that the planet itself was intelligent, and various means of communication were devised. AlphaFoamCube chose the name for itself to represent that it was the first of its kind, it was made of foam, and it aspired to grow and change. The name also represents the first three concepts that anyone was able to effectively translate from a planetary beings mind. Sequence and ordering, texture, and shapes, that’s about it for a long time. Not a great framework for conversation, but in terms of interspecies communication it was a cosmic achievement.

Shapes were a bit of a hang up in developing a communication framework. Alpha had developed its own sophisticated understanding of geometry and spatial relationships from its own observations, but anytime the concept of a sphere was approached, Alpha became difficult to understand. It would express nonsensical texture pattern combinations and intentionally disordered sequences. Alpha was systematically exposed to new concepts from other beings to allow it to make associations it could express to smaller minds.

Eventually it became clear that Alpha found spherical shapes to be intrinsically amusing. Free floating bubbles in Alpha’s world are temporarily disconnected from its foam mass and not subject to its direct control. They are the only things in its world that are not Alpha. Occasionally large formations of free floating bubbles can annoy Alpha and create minor discomforts by obscuring or distorting his senses. Relating Alpha’s senses to the usual animal features does neither any justice, but Alpha itself drew the connection between the annoyance of a mass of bubbles briefly distorting his senses with flatulence briefly overwhelming one’s sense of smell.

So turns out every time a linguist tried to talk to Alpha about spheres, it thought they wanted to know its opinion on farts, which it found amusing. The misunderstanding did create some friction when a linguist suggested AlphaFoamSphere would be a more appropriate name. The linguists had to develop a rudimentary imaging system to allow Alpha to visualize other beings to understand concepts related to their existence. But so far no one has had the heart to show Alpha a picture of itself from orbit.

Aug 182020
 

The study of intelligent life in the universe would be pretty dull if all the intelligent life in the universe was also rational life, but rational life isn’t really a thing, so no worries about the universe getting dull.

One of the most common things intelligent life does with intelligence, is come up with kind of brilliantly imaginative, but also batshit crazy and ultimately destructive explanations for how the hell everything got where it is and what it’s all about. Throughout the universe, mythology is all intelligence’s first and favorite pastime.

I’d like to say there is wisdom to be gained in studying myth. I’d like to say that they represent the universal phenomenon of minds being blown by the paradoxical confusion of being a finite being in an infinite universe. I’d like to say that the universality of myth gives us a way to relate to all minds, that the crushing recognition of our miniscule, futile lives begs for the soothing mercy of myth, that this is all good, and fine, and okay. But I don’t think that- I think myths are pointless. If they ever were good things, then that time has long passed by the time anybody knows what a myth is enough to study it as a myth. They’re kind of like a civilization’s equivalent to a bad dream where you know you’re in a dream but can’t wake up and you keep punching yourself in the face for some reason.

That said, myths exist, and they can be interesting, funny, sometimes thoughtful and even insightful, most importantly though, they’re never boring. So it’s fun to learn about other alien culture’s myths, especially the big ones about where life came from and what happens after it.

Humans might be surprised that a large majority of intelligent life believes in some form of altered-state psycho-genesis. That is to say- most aliens believe the universe was created by and\or is a cosmic mind experiencing some kind of trip.

Humans in general are shockingly prudish about altered mental states. Even Terence Mckenna would be considered a little reserved about mental states by universal or even galactic standards. 

A lot of it has to do with human physiology. We do sleep and dream, and have puberty, pregnancy, and menopause, but overall human experience of consciousness is a pretty constant flow over a lifetime. Aliens that evolved from species that pupate, go through multiple gender stages, or undergo radical hibernation cycles are far more common than the relatively smooth birth-growth-death cycle humans enjoy. These species develop much greater comfort levels with radical changes to their mental states for extended periods, even becoming different beings entirely. Subsequently a lot of alien cultures require very little justification for inducing or modifying mental states voluntarily for a range of purposes including recreation. On the universally relative scale of behaviors, getting completely blasted out of your mind for whatever reason you want is about as significant as most human cultures consider burping.

So turns out myths like the cosmos being the dream of a giant turtle are pretty standard issue, except the turtle is usually something else, and usually not dreaming, but hallucinating its balls off on some chemical or radiation or gravitational effect.

The best Earth analog might be The Dreaming in Aboriginal myths, but influencing culture at planetary scales and with expansive organizations that dwarf the Catholic Church.

The Cyloforms are an interesting example of altered-state psycho-genesis myth’s and its long term effects on an interplanetary culture. The Cyloforms are a colonial cellular species capable of collating the consciousnesses of up to a dozen individuals by carefully structured mingling of their cellular colonies. The co-experience of the conscious coupling can be changed dramatically by changing the physical patterns of their minglings. A small group may choose to integrate in a pattern that induces experiences of dispassionate communication of ideas, or they may integrate in a pattern that induces sharing extreme emotional drives.

This deep experience with conscious states beyond their own control generated a vast and sophisticated cultural belief system of loop-instantiated self-imagining cosmo-genesis. In the Cyloform belief system the universe quite literally continuously imagines itself into existence. Everything that exists in the universe is a construct of the imagination of something else in the universe. I imagine you, and you imagine me, and it doesn’t matter that I’m now and you’re later, neither of us can exist without the other. Scale that up to a whole universe full of creatures imagining each other and you’ve got the Cyloforms basic belief system.

As the Cyloforms species dominated its home planet this belief system primarily affected the Cyloforms worldview regarding other Cyloforms and indiginous planetary life. Traditions and rituals surrounding consumption of nutrition, colonial mitosis, and colonial dispersion respected the value of actively imagining the experiences of everything necessary for life. It was morally expected that a Cyloform should vividly imagine the entire lifecycle of creatures that it consumes, including being consumed. Since Cyloforms could mingle their consciousnesses, some individuals specialized in facilitating these important experiences. A Gontaform is Cyloform profession somewhere between a psychedelic chef, a spiritual guide, and a drill sergeant. From a coarse human perspective they were sloppy goo balls that mixed themselves with other sloppy goo balls to make the sloppy goo ball temporarily think they’re whatever the sloppy goo ball had for lunch. But in Cyloform culture they served the influential function of both supporting and enforcing adherence to tradition by creating experiences that the culture defined as beneficial or otherwise required.

The Gontaforms became a priestlike guild and eventually dictated experiential requirements that supported their own power base rather than conforming to anything resembling ancient Cyloform cosmo-genesis beliefs. In practice this meant they would selectively force undesirable or uncooperative Cyloform individuals and groups to undergo horrific experiences, while reserving enjoyable experiences as rewards for allies.

The Gontaform era came to a rather abrupt end with the introduction of ultrasonic cellular stimulation that could create rough, though satisfying alternatives to the experiences facilitated by direct Cyloform-to-Cyloform contact. The Gontaforms initially tried to embrace the technology, but were unable to control its dissemination and it quickly eroded their bases of power.

With ultrasonic stimulated experiences came greater experimentation and a period of explosive cultural growth and change, culminating in the development of entirely new understandings of physics that paved the way for the Cyloform expansion into space. Also they had a lot of advantages in their manned space program because they’re basically homogenous goo. They started sending people up on like the third test launch because why wouldn’t you if you could just pour yourself into a can on top of a rocket?

An interesting facet of Cyloform space exploration to a human observer might be that the Cyloforms never really asked the question ‘is their life on other planets’? Cyloforms had begun to imagine life on other planets as soon as they understood the uncountable lights in the sky suggested the existence of uncountable planets. And if they imagined it, it was out there.

There were some pretty heroically insane efforts to define how cosmo-genesis beliefs should be interpreted in the context of exploring a vast universe. Cyloform supremacy happened- something about Cyloforms being the only ones who really imagine anything, then it was only certain Cyloforms, then those Cyloforms killed each other over who was imagining who and eventually things settled back to more sustainable levels of stupid and crazy.

Modern spacefaring Cyloform civilization carries the remnants of their spiritual cosmo-genesis origins, and there are still radical sects here and there doing batshit nonsense in the name of imagining the universe so it doesn’t blink out existence or do something with robot snakes. But on the whole they’ve learned to use the abstract, unknowable aspects of loop-instantiated self-imagining cosmo-genesis as a loose spiritual inspiration and ignore assholes who say do this because I imagined the universe said so.

Though their brand of cosmo-genesis had its own equivalent expressions of terribleness, Cyloform beliefs avoided the usual pitfalls of afterlife myths. The acceptance of non-sequential imaginative dependence didn’t really inspire a question of what happens ‘after life’. It was assumed that your life might be being imagined by something that lived after you anyway. So even after your life, your life might still be being imaged. This seemed to satisfy their mortal curiosity to the extent they didn’t really bother with afterlife questions other species might consider philosophically irresistible.

Plenty of other alien species to get into afterlife myths though. There’s one that’s sort of like the Cyloforms where they think their life is a dream they dream in death, so they have some outrageous preservation rituals and amenities. But a lot of that is economic and nobody really believes it. Anyway I’ll do a more afterlife focused one in volume 2 maybe.

Aug 172020
 

Welcome back! You died, but you paid some hacks to cryogenically freeze your head and maybe body so you could be brought back to life after science cured death and whatever condition caused your death. And it worked! It worked just like you imagined it and you’re back! Welcome!

Just kidding- that didn’t happen. If you imagine anything like that happening you imagine wrong. If you’re dead, you’re still dead. If you paid someone to freeze you, you’re just a really expensive corpse of a really dumb person. But if that were the case, you’re actually still pretty lucky because there’s no version of you being dethawed in the future that wouldn’t be literally worse than the worst thing you can imagine.

The starting premise for this idea seems to be a vaguely imagined future that somehow values long dead humans enough to find a reason to dethaw and heal them. I want someone to really flesh that out for me. How does that all work? What does that society look like and what is their motivation to bring us back? Is there a contract to dethaw us out that someone is legally obligated to honor or is just out of the goodness of their heart? Are there not enough people in the future? Or maybe they want to interview us about historical events? None of that makes sense to me.

There is no legal framework for anything like that or any guarantee it would be enforceable by a future legal system, so that’s out the window. And I just can’t imagine people doing it just to be nice, plus I’m not sure it is nice. And if the future is depopulated or needs fresh genes or something they’d do a lot better to raid some sperm banks. Or just take your sperm or eggs without the ethical questions of costs of fully reviving you. Maybe we’re counting on being thawed out because of some antibodies in our blood they might need. I do like that sci-fi premise, but again why wouldn’t they just leave us in a coma and make us a blood farm? And I just can’t get over the vanity required to think the future cares enough about our personal opinions of the past to go to the trouble of reincarnating us.

I will concede if we found a frozen caveman that we could somehow thaw out and interact with, it would be pretty enticing. The problem with that comparison is that we would have something to learn from a caveman about their lifestyle because they hadn’t been writing and filming and tweeting about it with increasingly excruciating detail for the past 100 years. Also I think, or hope, scientists would see reincarnating an ancient human in modern times would be horrifying psychological torture for them and immoral as hell.

Okay, but maybe a descendent we’ve never met would want to thaw us out and provide the resources? I don’t know, I guess I can’t rule that one out because family can become a pretty bizarre institution. Still seems pretty far fetched to me but we’ll file that one under not totally implausible I guess.

But in general I wonder- if the level of technology is sufficient in the future to bring back frozen dead people, is there just not enough to do with that level of technology to benefit the living? Is the future bored, or so perfect they have to dig up old problems to solve?

And even if it was so trivial they could just flip a switch to bring us back- what’s next after they wake us up? We’re useless invalids in their society. Is there a retraining program they have set up to catch us up on maybe a century of human history and technological development? Again, why? Why would they do anything like that? 

What is our value to them, nostalgia for our ridiculous present? Doubtful. I think it’s probably way more likely the future would resent the past we came from and want nothing to do with the cultural baggage we’d inevitably bring into their world.

Oh but maybe we’re special, maybe we’re an Einstein or Tesla and they have a unique reason to want to meet us… idk, I guess I can’t rule that one out either but I think maybe the Vinn diagram of people of historical importance and people who think cryogenic preservation sounds like a good idea doesn’t really overlap.

Even in the delusionally optimistic scenario where we wake up in a world that even wants us there, the idea that we’d enjoy living in that world or have any chance of thriving in it is equally delusional. I’m sure a lot of people would like to believe they are superbly adaptable and open-minded enough to face whatever future they woke up in. And if I really think hard I can maybe think of a few people in history that were so far beyond their own time that they might make something resembling a functional transition to our world. But even that’s generous because I’m thinking of them in their prime, not after they died from something and got themselves frozen. I’d love to meet Nicola Tesla and he had a pretty progressive intellect. But if he got himself frozen after his death we’d have to cure his pidgeon obsessed dementia before we can even speak to him about viciously berating women about their looks. It’d be a long, unpleasant road for him before we can ask him what he thinks about string theory or something. It doesn’t even really make sense in the rare cases, but I guess I can’t rule it out entirely. Maybe Samuel Clemons could handle it, but then I can’t see a guy like that choosing it, so that’s the Vinn diagram thing again.

Anyway if there are humans that could stay sane through reincarnation and a century of cultural transition, they are exceedingly rare, I’m definitely not one, and anyone who thinks they are is very likely mistaken.

So I’m still waiting on any fully developed concept for how and why the future would even bother thawing us out, let alone how that could be a good thing. Actually that’s kind of a lie. I can think of a few reasons they’d bother. Actually without even trying I can think of a whole funhouse of nightmarish reasons they would bother.

So you’re a forgotten meat popsicle in a refrigerated warehouse somewhere. Maybe there’s a few pieces of paper defining who and what you are, and the conditions you were hoping to be revived in or whatever. Time passes, people die, paper gets lost, companies go out of business, assets get sold, you’re still a forgotten meat popsicle in a warehouse. One day someone actually figures out some interesting methods to revive dead human brains, but they are ethically unapproachable by mainstream medical research. But the animal trials were just so promising. So some Joseph Mengele wannabe sonnovabitch sets up shop in North Korea and buys a load of questionable assets from companies with embarrassing business models. Now you’re a forgotten meat popsicle in a shipping container headed to a research facility in North Korea.

I could get insanely graphic with this but I’m hoping that paints enough of a picture of where this is headed. In the best case you never actually experience the horrors that your revived flesh is put through, in worst case you may experience entirely new depths of suffering that a living human being could never experience because they could just die. So pretty much if you’re a straight up Cenobite Hellraiser level masochist looking to explore existential horror beyond mortality, then yeah, I guess go for it, cryogenic preservation might be a reasonable option for you. But unless that’s you, which it isn’t, you don’t want to risk a literal hell for a slim shot at being confused and alone in a future that doesn’t look anything like you’d imagined or hoped it would. 

So those are the main points I wanted to cover. The future has no motivation to thaw you out and treat you like a person at all, but it would still probably suck for you even if they did. Plus someone probably will have a motivation to thaw you out and treat you like meat, and that would suck way worse. So this is a general PSA- Don’t get cryogenically frozen. You’re already dead, that’s the hard part and you’re past it. Just stay dead, it can’t be that hard, cavemen have been doing it for thousands of years and they’re still fine with it.

Aug 162020
 

It’s always raining on rainworld. Also each drop of rain on rainworld is a world, so it’s a pretty good name for the place. Apparently it kind of rains inside some of the worlds in the rain on rainworld, but it’s not a russian doll thing, there’s no worlds inside the rain inside of rainworld rainworlds. There’s only the rainworld and its rainworlds, and their rain I guess, but that’s all, no more worlds.

And to be fair, calling each drop of rainworld rain a world is probably hyperbole, they’re more like terrariums, but calling them worlds sounds cooler. Then again if you go by that standard of ‘world’, you could say there might be worlds inside rainworld rainworlds rain. So maybe it’s best to just say rainworld has a unique planetary atmospheric ecological cycle that perpetually generates large, self-contained droplets filled with complex collections of life that experience their entire lives as they descend through the atmosphere.

The droplets form over long periods. The hyperdense atmosphere slowly churns condensation, aerosols, aerogels, and fine solids until a bathtub sized volume accumulates. It’s just large and dense enough to begin falling, ever so slowly, towards the bottom of the genesis cloud layers. Once through the dense upper layers it begins its terminal descent through the clearest layers of the atmosphere, towards the great slushy ocean below. It may take over 100 planetary cycles for a droplet to fall, but it can be a pretty exciting ride.

Each drop is infused with a mixture of biological materials from the genesis clouds. Once a drop falls through to clear air, the seeds and spores of life within it are exposed to radiation bands that signal it to grow.

It’s hard to say what constitutes an individual lifeform on rainworld. Each drop is essentially a unique biome by the time it begins its descent. The building blocks of life on rainworld developed to be far more interchangeable than Earth life. The evolutionary pressures on rainworld were not driven by reproduction of individual living units, but by the ability to return  biologically active material to the genesis cloud layer.

The slush ocean is too cold to support life, and the genesis cloud layer is too thick and dark to allow significant growth and development. Only in the fall through the clear layers allows the living structures within a drop to grow, mutate, and develop new molecular strategies to maximize use of the available thermal and radiative energy before crashing into the ocean below.

Upon crashing onto the semisolid ocean, the drop dissipates violently. Everything inside is torn and thrown as the heat from the drop flash vaporizes the frozen slush. In that violent moment, living structures created during the drops fall have only the thinnest chance to be carried aloft back towards the cloud layer.

The earliest stages of development were driven by simple physical forces. Only incredibly small or buoyant packages of living material made it back to the genesis clouds to be recombined into new drops. But over eons more complex structures developed, utilizing ever more sophisticated aerodynamic principles to improve the chances of returning biological material to the sky.

Life’s mindless brute force algorithm tried everything. The relentless biological lottery of rainworlds drops generated structures resembling balloons, kites, gliders, rotary and cold gas propulsion systems, even a catalyzed monopropellant bio-thruster akin to bombardier beetle. 

Eventually life’s mindless brute force algorithm tried things that led to structures that were not quite as mindless, but could actually think a bit. Thinking inside of a drop doesn’t sound like much of an advantage, but it didn’t have to be at first, it was just an unintended side effect of systems that evolved to generate more complex reproductive aerial structures. Some of the aerial reproductive structures had evolved active reactions to stimulus, which gave rise to sensation and eventually thought. 

As biological materials developed ever more sophisticated capabilities, the drops began to contain one, or many structures capable of thought, and eventually awareness. The thinking structures could be separate, or integrated, they may be aware of one another, or not, and if they are they may choose to cooperate, or to compete.

The thinking structures in the drops become so well integrated that some were able to understand the nature of their existence, and to take willful action based on that understanding.

At first they could only experience helpless finality, but some structures saw opportunities to improve their chances of returning material to the sky and developed tools and techniques that they employed as their final act. Those that were successful contributed the data for their thinking structures back to the genesis clouds, increasing the likelihood of another drop with thinking structures with similar inclinations.

Sometimes they tried to take a piece of their thinking structures back with them to somehow continue their experience of life, but this was never successful and generally considered a sign of mental illness by rainworld society.

Did I mention they had a society? Sort of- the thinking structures in drops developed enough awareness to recognize the reflection of themselves in the drops around them. A drop is able to communicate with drops in their immediate vicinity, and sort of micro-cultures develop in areas of dense rainfall, but they have very little means of preserving knowledge so their cultures are sort limited to a kind of oral tradition that is lost if it stops raining for a few minutes.

The latest development on rainworld is a new thinking structure that actually can preserve knowledge. Sort of a cellular punchcard mechanism that a living structure can include with its biological return package as a message to the next thinking structure that develops from its material. So far it’s mostly been used for weirdly depressing death notes but a few thinking structures have included their final observations watching other drops collide with the ocean, commenting that a properly designed mechanism could protect the drop, but use the vaporization of the ocean to propel the drop back into the sky, potentially preserving the thinking structure indefinitely.

Could get pretty interesting if they ever figure that out. Rainworld has fallen for a cosmic age, but should the rain ever learn to bounce, it will be the fall of rainworld.

Yeah- that was a stretch, I know. I really wanted to get to ‘The fall of rainworld’ with a kind of game of thrones tone somehow but that’s gonna have to do I think. I’m okay with it.

Aug 122020
 

Pin Bowling is a combination of pinball and bowling to make sort of a top-golf version of putt putt but for bowling. Like you’re in a giant pinball machine and you bowl into it. No flippers though, just one bowl. That’s the general idea but not like cartoonishly overdone or anything, something you could actually build. 

I’d really like to bowl like that myself, but designing and building the features seems like even more fun, but I’m not going to be organizing anything like this myself so I thought it would be fun enough to just describe how I imagine it all working.

So for the bowler the experience is that you go to a place that looks like a bowling alley, but inside is kind of a giant DIY pinball machine land. You have a line of short bowling alleyways like a usual place, but they’re only an shorter runway to the larger pinball arena. 

Maybe the alleys are arranged in a semi circle to direct all the bowls towards a larger center arena.

Anyway everyone basically bowls their ball into this giant pinball arena. Your ball is tracked by RFID so anytime you hit a doo-dad or spinny thing or whatever you get the points. The ball return is more or less a free-for-all, maybe just make 3 ball weights for simplicity since this isn’t really about skill, just goofy fun.

And maybe you bowl from each alley in sequence or you’re randomly assigned an alley so you get to try from different angles. Not sure if that matters. 

The arena is as variable as any pinball machine or putt putt course. You can go nuts with all kinds of themes and new and interesting displays and interactions. 

I’m talking ramps, loops, holes, tubes, every crazy rube goldberg device you’ve seen in a pinball machine or putt putt course, and hopefully more creative from there. So that’s the general idea of what the bowling experience would be like.

But in my mind the actual bowling experience is less than half the point of this whole thing.

The real fun is building it all, watching it get pummeled, fixing it, and building more things with what you learn. Of course you could hire a corporate goon squad to spec out some joyless consumer centric implementation of this and probably come away with a mediocre ROI that’s not worth the effort to people who only have coin operated imaginations.

But to me the arena presents a kind of rolling community DIY project. Could work a little bit like Mardi Gras or Christmas decorating competitions but instead of floats or lights people make the most interesting giant pinball mechanism they can. Pinewood derby, robot wars kind of stuff, but hands on for everyone. Not sure if that’s really a thing people are looking for these days, but seems like it would be fun.

There’s a lot of intersection of technological skills needed to design and build something that would work in this environment. It’s kind of a multidisciplinary challenge with some reasonably tough requirements, but very low consequences.

Let’s consider a simple bumper. You’ve got some wood working, graphic design and painting, maybe a little sculpture to make it visually interesting. Metal work for the frame and guards, maybe some welding but nothing critical. Electrical considerations for the lighting responses, sensors for scoring. Maybe sound but that could be centralized for the whole arena.

And that’s just a passive unit, others could include mechanical responses. Obviously want to reserve powerful mechanical forces for more skilled and experienced builders, but there’s an incremental range of opportunities. You can start people out building or upgrading bumper style objects and let them graduate the crazy pneumatic ball launchers. Designing and building a bumper would be a decent challenge for a high school shop club, and then they get to see how well it stands up to serious abuse.

And there’s some great integration challenges to make the whole thing work together in a way that keeps things fun for the players. Might be challenging, but I’m pretty sure I could figure out a basic system using standard wireless networking protocols. An extensible open source home automation system could be forked to develop an arena control system. 

On the arena side it’s pretty much an IOT electronics challenge that could be solved with a generous application of ESP’s and Raspberry Pi’s. You’ve got some WiFi and networking challenges to assemble all that into useful datastream. Servers for the inputs and controls, and some kind of UI’s. Of course that’s a criminal simplification of what would be a pretty complex system, but it’s all doable with reasonably cheap off the shelf gear and open source software. And I like that the whole thing could provide opportunities for about 90% of any curriculum you can think of’s final project from a junior high to graduate level, plus anyone else who just likes to make stuff.

Doesn’t have to be just pinball analogs either, could incorporate RC vehicles. Maybe have a full-contact mech bowling night where people do kind of like robot wars but it’s bowler vs robots and the robot just tries to survive being demolished, idk, maybe shouldn’t get too desensitized to that kind of thing in case machines become sentient. Any at some point it just becomes a big multipurpose DIY arena, but the pin bowling thing gives it a more definite personality and purpose, and maybe in some universe, a way to be a financially viable thing, but I’m not sure where that universe is. 

In this universe insurance and liability stuff probably makes this a non-starter, but idk – demolition derby exists, so there has to be a release or something. Or maybe just save this for that other universe. Seems like this would just confuse a lot people and mostly attract people for the smashing aspects. Fun to imagine though. Easiest thing would be if someone just made a VR pinball bowling game thing so at least I could do the bowling part, but I’d get bored with that after a few minutes and wish I could go build a real one and then laugh at myself because I’m way too lazy for all that, so maybe just writing about it is good.

Does need a better name though, open to suggestions. Pin bowling just sounds like a redundant way of saying bowling. Pin balling maybe? Idk- Whoever builds one gets to name it, until then I guess it’s just pin bowling.