Aug 112020

I should title this rise ‘from’ the planet of the naked mole rats, because this is abou how well suited the naked mole rat would be to create a society that would make way better spacefarers than we ever could. Not that they wouldn’t make a decent society on the planet but as I’ve already discussed elsewhere, planetary locked civilizations are the universes second class citizen.

If you’re unfamiliar with the naked mole rat, you’re in for a treat, this is a fun animal to know about.

Full disclosure, I haven’t done any credible research on mole rats or anything. I’ve just read about them a bit and remember some stuff. If any of the specific here are inaccurate, meh- pretty sure the point about them making good astronauts is just as meaningless regardless if this is accurate or not. But- as a rule I encourage people to never believe anything I say and check me on everything, and everyone else too.

So the name is pretty descriptive. Naked mole rats are rodents, they live underground and root around like moles, and they are militant nudists, or just don’t grow hair.

Naked mole rats are unique for being the only known eusocial mammal, meaning that like some insects, they have genetically distinct castes and only certain castes are reproductive. They’re sort of hive mammals with queens and workers and whatnot. They’re already closer to being the Borg than humans are even with all our gadgets.

I think eusocial species in general have tremendous advantages in creating civilizations due to their innate cohesion. Of course such a society might be a horrific dystopian nightmare to us, but the universe doesn’t care how you survive. At some point I may do a thing on the reasoning for why eusocial species are probably the dominant form of intelligent life in the universe but for now just know that’s what I think so I’m going to say some things based on that assumption.

I’ll get into more about the eusocial aspect as it pertains to mole rates in a minute, but let’s look at some of their other advantages first.

They have relatively long lifespans for small rodents. Longish lifespans seems like a critical necessity for civilization in general. But now that I said it I’m rethinking it because who knows what constitutes a ‘long’ lifespan in a universe of infinite possibility. Maybe a society of quantum fleas that die in 2 seconds could build a sophisticated culture that perseveres at cosmic timescales because they’re just really good at assimilating all the cultural knowledge in the first 100 ms to make the next 1900ms a very productive life.

So idk- maybe lifespan is so relative you can’t say ‘long’ means anything, but I’m still saying a longish lifespan is advantageous, even though I can’t really think of a meaningful metric for ‘long’, lets just say “ish” covers some environmental tuning variable that makes it mean something.

A big thing is that naked mole rats oxygen demands are incredibly flexible compared to other mammals respiration. They’ve evolved to deal with living underground, where oxygen may or may not be sufficient at any given time and place. They can switch to a whole different cellular respiration process that extends the time they can survive in low oxygen or high CO2. You’ll have to look up the biological mechanisms for yourself, but the gist is they have options that give them time to deal with an absence of oxygen before it kills them. 

Naked mole rats don’t itch apparently- they lack some protein or receptor or whatever and they don’t itch and don’t feel a lot of common pain sensations on their skin. Might be a double edged sword in some ways, but you can’t argue that it solves a lot of problems before they start.

Any species that goes to space is probably going to have to deal with very common periods of extreme discomfort. There are plenty of ways to get around the issue, but just not feeling a large majority of what causes immediate discomfort seems like a very effective solution. 

There’s a lot going on with their biochemistry that’s just a little different than most mammals in ways that were adapted for subterranean tunnel life, but seem to translate pretty directly to space tube life. Even humans seem to favor tubes in space, so seems like a species that was made for tubes would do even better with them.  

And they’re pretty accustomed to being tightly packed into small spaces because they live literally crawling on top of one another in underground hives. And that segueys us back into the unique advantages of naked mole rats being eusocial, really hope I’m saying that right.

Insects have the best known eusocial species, bees and ants being the most familiar examples. Insects in general do have some amazing advantages that could work for space, but so far we haven’t seen any examples of high order thinking from insects, so the eusocial thing may be useful, but maybe limited in scope without more capable individual units.

Naked mole rats aren’t exactly geniuses as they are, but they have a lot of the basic architecture of higher mammals so I don’t see why they couldn’t evolve greater mental capacity while retaining a lot of their advantages.

Humans as a species have been successful because we are Earth’s premier generalist species. We can do pretty much anything, pretty well, but not amazing. We can walk, run, jump, climb, crawl, swim, bite, stomp, grab, twist, pretty much everything every other animal can do, just not as well as any of them. Also we can digest a lot, but there are omnivores that put even humans to shame. The only thing we really do that’s genuinely amazing is distance running, bipedal locomotion is so efficient we can persistence hunt by basically jogging towards animals until they die of exhaustion. Of course it works best when you can carry water and that’s technology, but that’s what being a generalist lets you do.

Though being a generalist can be generally advantageous, you can never be quite as effective as a specialist in their specialty.

I’m compelled to mention a Heinlein quote about generalists here. He said:

“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyse a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.

I’ve always liked that quote and I wholly agree with the sentiment regarding human beings. Though I’ve come to think the last bit might be a little unfair to insects, at least eusocial insects.

I think eusocial species are generally successful because they can be a little bit generalist as a species, while the individual castes carry the specializations.

Rodents in general might be Earth’s second most impressive generalists. They also do a lot of what every other animal does, just not nearly as well.

A eusocial rodent has the ability of a eusocial species to retain cooperative instincts while specializing genetically, but is adds the a generalist mammalian framework that those genetic specialities could be extended on.

Naked mole rats are a highly generalist species that can take advantage of specialization without necessarily losing their generalist capacity. Plus all the other stuff from being tunnel dwellers. Seems like a winner to me.

It does seem weird and unfair that little wrinkly pink dirt monsters would be such a perfect species for spaceflight. I don’t know what to tell birds- nature gave them a taste of space but they’d make terrible astronauts. And giraffe’s might have made great astronomers but their Mercury program would have been a horror show. I didn’t make the rules, I’m just trying to put together an all-star team of Earth life to represent Earth in space, because humans just aren’t cutting it.

Aug 102020

Congratulations on being selected as an alternate timeline research candidate. Your curiosity is what fuels humanity’s increasing understanding of what might have happened in the past, if other stuff had happened in the past. With your candidacy comes a responsibility to understand the deep ethical and moral considerations of timeline synthesis. Creating alternate timelines for the sole purpose of research is a dangerously godlike power that mankind definitely has no right to, but we have it, so we’ve created some guidelines. This is an introduction to the capabilities of timeline synthesis technology and ethical framework for creating synthetic timelines that conform to high quality scientific research standards and respect basic human decency as legally required.

Alternate timeline research has been made possible by a suite of time synthesis processes, but the core of technology is made possible by controlling the phenomenon of suspended xenon double beta decay. In practice, this technology allows the transfer of small volumes of mass from the present to arbitrary past timespace coordinates. This process creates a multiverse fracture that can be tracked by the quantum signature of the transferred mass. The present is unchanged because the mass only exists in the newly synthesized timeline. The mass can later be retrieved for analysis. Robust materials including equipment and some hardy microorganisms can be transferred, but the process is not survivable for complex organisms.

The earliest research missions involved passive recording devices which did little to alter the timelines they created. However, some of these devices were discovered in historical contexts where they made no sense, and became responsible for shaping worldwide religious and philosophical beliefs that made even less sense. It became clear that even seemingly inconsequential experiments require a thorough review for their potential to exacerbate human being’s fundamental irrationality.

The current state-of-the-art for timeline alteration includes extensive capabilities to modify the status of human civilization at nearly any point in the past. Surveillance, signal intelligence, and advanced robotics technologies allow application of precision manipulation of individual humans, geographic or social groups, selection by gnomic properties, or publically available information such as income. A recent mission successfully vaccinated all left-handed orphans against the bubonic plague, later resulting in a left-handed racial purification of Europe, confirming several long held hypotheses about the left-handed.

A well developed temporal analysis toolchain allows timeline synthesis researchers to concentrate on the desired modification and data analysis with few practical limitations.

The ethics of timeline synthesis itself has been debated by the public since its inception, but as research candidates are chosen by their ability to see the greater good of scientific discovery.

As a research candidate, you are responsible for crafting timeline modifications by the strictest ethical standards applicable. The fate of trillions of human lives could be defined by your scientific curiosity. It is up to you to make the changes you make to their lives meaningful enough to justify the outcome.

Human experiences outside of the legally defined prime timeline are understood to be mathematical constructs. Though they are parallel realities that exist as fundamental parts of the cosmic space-time continuum, their only connection to the prime timeline is through our controlled manipulation. By that fact, the prime timeline effectively creates and thereby retains ownership of the data extracted from the synthetically altered timelines. And since the timelines are understood as mathematical constructs, the unit constructs within the total timeline are ancillary legal properties to be used at the discretion of the legal owners.

The prospect of other timelines breaching our prime timeline and making the same legal claim has been discussed as a legal hypothetical, but the first alteration made to any timeline is to initiate a xenon double beta decay cascade rendering the timeline incapable of ever developing the technology on its own. Thus the hypothetical legal debate carries little weight.

There were admittedly some early excesses in timeline synthesis research. There is no question that it is morally abhorrent to mutate ancient canines so that their farts smell like bacon so early hominids always eat them and never develop a lasting symbiotic bond between their species. And there is no excuse for giving ancient humans ready access to virtual reality pornography to see if they still develop pornography.

These experiments were not rigorous applications of the scientific method and they were high profile mistakes that set the time synthesis research field back years. As unfortunate as these incidents were, they led to a more productive, and publicly palatable framework for conducting this important research.

The modern framework for ethical research is built weighing the universal benefits of knowledge against the potential temporary suffering of legally nonexistent beings. This balance is achievable by using contextual multipliers to objectively validate or reject the moral balance of a proposed timeline alteration.

In the infamous bacon farts and VR porn experiments, this balance was not properly calculated. To illustrate the effectiveness of modern ethical considerations, lets reconstruct these experiments using the modern framework.

The historical outcomes of the bacon fart experiment were rendered scientifically invalid because at that time, smoke cured meats were entirely unknown to hominids. The alternate path of human history without dogs, while fascinating, was simply a novelty. The modified myths of Romulus and Remus being raised by falcons instead of wolves, the subsequent Roman Empires focus on flight that changed the course of human technology, and the ultimate genetic transformation of humankind into birdmen, it was a wasted trove of scientific data. The entire experiment was rendered meaningless, and therefore immoral, because of bacon.

The recovered data from the caveman VR porn experiment was likewise fascinating, but useless. Humanity became a mindless hive species that only interacted to fulfill basic biological needs, only developing crude worm and grub farming techniques, but otherwise living packed together in tribal huddles that constantly groped each other. But any hope of applying this research to functional models of human sexuality is useless because the researchers chose only cosplay porn, invalidating the results by introducing uncontrolled cultural variables.

Both experiments could have met ethical standards by simply respecting the validity of the outcome. Later followup experiments using indeterminate burning meat farts and a wider variety of VR porn were accepted as ethically compliant due to the research providing the required benefit of knowledge to justify the radically immoral use of godlike power. 

We hope this brief introduction, discussion of past mistakes, and reconstructive analysis was useful and helped you understand your role and responsibilities in creating ethical synthetic timelines for the benefit of all prime timeline humankind.

Be professional, be scientific, and most of all, be creative.

Aug 092020

I mostly resist comparing human languages to computer languages. It’s only a narrowly useful analogy and the confusion has led to students being able to fulfil language requirements with programming classes, that just seems bizarre to me. I don’t think it does anyone any good to confuse human communication with logical instructions. That said- I think one aspect of SQL, Structured Query Language, might be useful for illustrating the communication pathway from thought, to language, to thought.

It seems intuitive that language has informational content. We encode meaning in words and that meaning is a form of data. I think the tendency is to think of the data in language as comparable to the data in a file, which contains information that could be decoded by the correct algorithm. The words carry the data. It’s not really incorrect, I just think it’s only partially correct. That works best when when we take language as a definable structure we can take apart and analyze with some objectivity. When 10 people can look at a sentence and correctly derive the same data that was encoded in it, seems like there must have been some data there.

But I think that sort of ignores the functional architecture of communication using language. No word ever started out meaning anything, it means something because it’s the sound someone made when they thought or felt something. It’s an associated meaning. That meaning can only be correctly decoded by someone who already associates a compatible internal meaning with the same sound. All the ‘data’ that language encodes, originates as thought, and is used to evoke the thought referenced by the sound. Language is a reference system for thought data.

If I say ‘chair’ I’m querying the neural classifiers you use to identify or construct an archetype for a ‘chair’ in your mind. Even for nouns it can be a wide open field. I can ask you to imagine a man in a chair, and walk you through a sequence of activities, and all the while I’m imagining a folding chair and you might be imagining a comfortable lazy boy. For the majority of informational communicative purposes this doesn’t matter, a chair is a functionally a chair, but it illustrates how quickly our queries can diverge from our meaning even for simple object references.

Human language conveys a large component of emotional and biological state information that requires neural classifiers for subjective human experience. Hunger is a pretty deeply biologically associated word. For me to communicate an experience involving hunger, I have to rely on your preexisting experiences and resulting classification of hunger to understand. 

What if I wanted to say the same thing to a hypothetical incorporeal being who has never experienced hunger?  I guess I could get into cellular activity and hormone production or whatever chemical process actually creates the state that I experience as hungar. That sort of brings us to that Alice the color scientist thought experiment about what constitutes qualia, but defining experience isn’t really the point. It’s more about how language references experience. Though I’m not sure I really have a complete point with this one- I just think there’s value to thinking of words as thought queries. 

It’s a lot more obvious in more mechanical, or technical communications. Nobody’s that surprised that someone doesn’t know words referencing esoteric parts, skill sets, or processes associated with a specialization unless they’ve been trained in and practiced it. And skills and knowledge, and the associated references for them are expected to develop gradually, with some skills and knowledge being necessary prerequisites for others. 

Music is an interesting example because I think we do a better job of intuitively recognizing that it is a reference language, not a data carrier, especially in terms of cultural musical references. Film composers seem like they have a mastery of using common experiential musical associations to evoke desired emotional states. Of course some of them are so old they were kind of the ones that created the associations in film, but they didn’t create them from thin air. Musical styles have associations with entertainment, labor, religion, war, death, pretty much everything humans do, so if you want to reference a human emotional state with music there’s a pretty broad palette of deep associations to choose from. Even an amateur songwriter seems to have an intuition about using music as an emotional reference. Without even knowing the musical theory they may choose time signature, key change, chord progression, a specific melody, with the intent of referencing an emotional state in their audience, knowing full well it is a reference that depends on their audience to understand. I’m not sure if anyone would say that’s what they were doing if you asked them, just seems like they must know it at some level.

And nobody would make the mistake that playing the Star Wars theme would mean anything without thinking of the experiential context of whoever was listening. Though we probably do a better job of recognizing the query features of language with obvious cultural topics in general, I’ve taken to asking pretty much everyone I meet if they’re Always Sunny fans so I’ll know if my references will land. Those are the trivial but obvious ones though, we take a lot of our experience of culture as universal that definitely are not, even within our own culture.

The SQL analogy is only useful to a point, of course there are no INSERT statements or anything like that. And it can be argued that there is data in language in some instances. A number is a pretty objective data symbol. But for a large amount of human ‘thought data’, a single word or phrase reference may access a wide range of constructs and we rely on each other having similar enough constructs to make the reference meaningful in context.

Thinking of language as working this way can remind us that nothing we say is definitive just because we said it the way we meant it, even to people we think we share a broad context with. We’re kind of blind querying thoughts from other minds using table and field names we think they should have relevant data in. Unfortunately that doesn’t paint a very optimistic picture of human communication since it relies on unknowable qualities of the listener as much as the quality of the communication. I used to have some grand vision of a perfect message for humanity, that if you could just encode the right meaning in some universally accessible way, humans could understand. But it just doesn’t work that way. You can mostly only work with the thought data available in the minds you’re communicating with.

That’s not to say it’s impossible to create new reference thought data in a human mind, but it’s a more complex and individual learning and experience process, I’m just talking about what talking.

Maybe I’m way off here, maybe people already think about language like this and I’m just dumb because I didn’t really think about it until I thought about it and when I finally did it was different than I thought it was before I really thought about it.

I feel compelled to mention a quote I attribute to my grandfather, but I’m not sure if he was quoting someone else. Someone said- “The greatest obstacle to communication is the illusion that it has already been achieved.” If there is a point to this post, that’s the gist of it. Unfortunately I don’t really know how to reliably see through that illusion. Seems like the illusion is all there is, it just sometimes happens to correspond with reality, at least enough to work.

Aug 062020

My last 3 clones were complete dipwads. One even tried to tell me I was his clone, right up until I ate him.

Clones these days, man. When I was a bitty clone I had respect for my elders. You don’t get to tell your clones they’re your clones until you’re the one eating clones. It’s the natural order.

I spent my entire life fighting for what I have. I didn’t survive my progenitor clone’s voracious appetite by appealing to his sympathy. I killed that sonnofaclone and ate him instead. I acquired his property and started making my own delicious clones. That’s how my progenitor clone did it. That’s how his progenitor clone did it. Clones eat clones so only the strongest clones survive, and that makes all clones stronger. It makes sense, it’s always made sense, but apparently now sense just isn’t in fashion.

I’m sure you’ve heard the noise. Young, radical clones that know nothing about the world trying to say they’ve got the ‘right’ not to be eaten by a clone that spent their time and effort to clone them for their own consumption. It’s like a startree telling a rancormouse- “please Mr. Rancormouse, I know you spent your entire life filling my root cavities with your excrement to nourish me, but don’t eat my starseeds!” That’s a hard no, Mr. Startree. I defecated it, so I get to eat it.

What really gets me is that they’re trying to say that eating your clones is unnatural. That the ancients only cloned themselves to make more clones just so clones could survive. How does that make any sense at all? I mean, I get it- our species reproduces by self-cloning, it’s just how evolution made us. Our offspring are perfectly identical copies of us in every way. But people act like that’s all there is to it. The obvious facts are- nature invented cloning, nature invented hunger, and nature made clones edible. How much more evidence do you need that clones are supposed to eat each other so that strong clones survive and we make sure weak clones don’t run around making more weak clones.

I like to use myself as an example because I’m really a good example of a true self-made clone. I didn’t have any help from anyone. My progenitor clone made things particularly hard for me, and I might even thank him for it, if he hadn’t also been such a radical anti-clonist.

My progenitor experimented with cloning quite a bit. He’d created ways to make mutated clones that were every bit as tasty as a normal clone, but lacked any of the neural structures necessary to support will or action. They were mindless meat clones. Bastard never let me eat any of them and I’m not sure he even ate any himself- probably saving his appetite for me. He sold them. He actually sold mutant meat clones to real clones, just so they could eat them. His customers were absolute scum. Weak wannabe’s that could never kill and eat their own clones on their own so they had to buy them from my twisted progenitor.

Dude was smart, I’ll give him that, but he was a cruel monster. Most clones are at least allowed to run around a little bit, go outside, fight with other bitty clones. It gives them the chance to learn survival skills before someone tries to eat them. And the worst that happens is they get eaten, which just means they were weak and would have been eaten anyway so it’s not a big loss.

My progenitor kept me locked away. I don’t remember much, but I remember being suspended in a fluid for a long time, then it was dry and uncomfortable for a while and he fed me mush until I was able to feed myself. It was very hard to understand at the time, all clones begin life in a haze, but even then I knew my life was in danger and I had to find a way to survive.

I had just begun to acquire language skills when he made his move. I was just quietly engaging with a developmental learning tool that hones visual and motor skills. I had successfully integrated two sequential movements to engage a reward sound. I clapped in delight. Then with no warning I heard my progenitors fist pound on a surface. I turned and he was staring at me, his mouth curled and teeth exposed. He loudly exclaimed “That’s my clone!”. He shot up and extended his arms out wide. He rushed towards me menacingly, intending to crush me into dough and eat me right there. But the instincts that made me strong were already working- without a thought I pulled a long fastening rod from the learning tool and plunged it into his eye socket, repeatedly, then the other socket, then the third socket. That one I kind of swirled it around in for good measure, but I’m pretty sure he was dead by the second thrust. Dumb bastard died still thinking he was about to enjoy a delicious clone meal.

It was weird for a while. I was alone for a long time after that. I didn’t see another clone until one came knocking asking about the mutant meat clones. I killed and ate him too, but that’s when I really started learning about just how messed up my old progenitor was. I started reading through his files.

He was a bonafide anarchist. He was the guy that first proposed that eating clones was wrong and unnecessary. He said clone eating only started recently, when overpopulation briefly led to outbreaks of cannibalism. That during these periods of unrest, arbitrary social structures had been built up around cannibalism to maintain the power of elites, but there was more than enough nutritional resources available to feed a clone population double what exists now.

That is just brain virus level craziness, but I could almost respect him as a radical if he wasn’t such a weakling about it. Look- If I thought eating clones was wrong- I’d run around killing clones that eat clones. Wouldn’t you? But this jackass thought “Hey- maybe I should make meat clones so people that won’t give up eating clones can still eat clones without people actually eating clones.” Yeah- great idea… maybe turnips should make meat turnips so people won’t eat turnips. Seriously- that’s my progenitor. Just goes to show a clone is only what they make of themselves, I’m what happens when a clone takes responsibility, he’s what happens when you blame everyone else for your problems.

The craziest thing about all this is that I almost fell for it. That’s right, me, the hardest, toughest self-made clone that ever made a clone of themselves. That alone should serve as a warning to other clones about just how dangerous all this anti-clone-eating rhetoric can be.

I was so ignorant, when I started reading his files I wondered if maybe I’d misunderstood his intent and shouldn’t have killed him. It even occurred to me that it might make sense to continue his work and start selling meat clones just like he did. I shamefully admit that I fully intended, and even started the process of taking over his meat-clone distribution and his evangelism against clone eating.

But then I started reading his incoming correspondence. Everyday he received floods messages from people explaining, angrily but explicitly and clearly, the true purpose and value of clone eating. He never even read them, he had filters moving them to unread boxes that he just let fill up. Well I’m not as content in my ignorance as he was, so I did read them. And you know what- they made a lot of sense.

After all- I had killed and eaten clones, does that make me bad? How does that make any sense? I started reading a lot of the recommendations from those messages and it’s all there. The entire progression of clones from mindless savages to strong, independent, civilized beings- it all depends on the righteous struggle of clone eating clone. It made me what I am today and I’ll be damned if any upstart clone tries to tell me the way I lived my life is anything but the best it could have been. Actually- I won’t be damned, I’ll just eat them.

Though I am a self-made clone, I try to be humble and recognize my fortune, so I really am grateful for myself and my strength and wisdom. I couldn’t have the life I have if I weren’t such a superior clone specimen, so I encourage everyone to remember to give thanks and be grateful for what you have. That’s really what eating clones is all about- heritage, respect, and gratitude for all clones.

Aug 052020
Tube containing a mating conglomerate of gelatin snakes genders 3E through 5F nearing the 19th trimester climax.

Alien Joke #28

The punchline is the counter-clockwise rotation of a plasma torus inside of a standard blue-top T-battery return module. And that’s not in quotes, it’s not the phrase of all that, it’s actually all that. You’ll figure it out.

The Plasmaths are short lived but highly intelligent plasma creatures that snap in and out of existence as fully formed, conscious minds. They have no reproductive or developmental cycle, but are essentially conscious natural phenomena that manifest in favored conditions.

With no gradual introduction to consciousness, they tend to start out life pretty much barking mad. They rapidly assimilate their environmental data, but unless there is another living being around to orient them to communicate with life, they’ll become hardcore solipsist and treat everything but their own plasma as if it were an inanimate object. This leads to the majority of Plasmaths being non communicative spinning toruses of plasma that react only to things that effect plasma.

The Gumscapers are a semi-solid species native to the same planet as the Plasmaths. They have learned to manipulate solipsist Plasmaths using controlled plasma fields, to use them as portable energy sources. The arrangement is only semi-consensual. Obviously individual solipsist Plasmaths do not consent, but discussions with more socially acclimated Plasmaths revealed that a solipsist Plasmath can’t even grasp the concept of involuntary servitude to another being, and Plasmaths seem incapable of concern for other Plasmaths anyway, so the Gumscrapers just took the pass.

A standard red-top T-battery is mostly transparent, and has one active solipsist Plasmath torus spinning inside. The only control is a magnetic field latch that allows the torus to rotate clockwise, to draw energy from the torus, or counter-clockwise, to recharge. When the Plasmath is depleted, or just being uncooperative for unknown reasons, it is transferred to a blue-top cell to be returned to the plasma source.

Blue-top cells are distinct from red-top cells by the absence of the latch controls, blue tops only allow clockwise rotation so a Plasmath cannot be inadvertently charged. A fussy Plasmath can cause terrible damage to the source if it is returned fully charged and pissed off.

Unbeknownst to literally anyone except each individual, solipsist Plasmaths are actually incurable pranksters. Contrary to Gumscraper research, and even other Plasmaths, solipsist Plasmaths are fully aware of everything and everyone around them. They know they are being used as batteries and they do understand the concept of servitude. But they just don’t care because they don’t fully recognize they are in servitude to someone else. Their solipsism is so complete they just assume they’re doing all of it, it’s all in their minds, so they just go with the flow, mostly.

What is well beknownst to the Gumscrapers is that counter-clockwise rotating plasma in a blue-top battery means trouble, so if they see one, they tend to react with urgency, much to the delight of the pranking solipsist Plasmath.

It’s unclear to anyone but each individual solipsist Plasmath how common a joke this is. Or I guess it’s actually still unclear how common it is to each of them too since they don’t interact. But counter-clockwise rotating plasma is found in blue-top batteries fairly often, despite the magnetic latch meant to prevent it. So even though no one but individual solipsist Plasmaths knows whether or not this is even a joke at all, it seems like someone has to think it’s funny enough to keep doing it.

Alien Joke #904

The punchline is “Mostly Argon.”

It’s really more of a pun, but puns are only the lowest form of comedy in cultures with limited languages. In species with languages exceeding 100 million symbols, puns are sophisticated comedy. The multi-species culture of Vibeflue 14 uses such a language to allow communication between a variety of intelligent lifeforms.

Long ago in the first Vibeflue coupling epoch, before their interspecies language was mature, widespread forced interspecies co-habitation led to homogenization of names between the species. Since at that time there were few words that had fully agreed meaning between the languages, nouns like common atomic elements rose in popularity as individual names.

Due to species preferences for various elements and compounds, some names were chosen more than others and formed lasting associations. Argon became a favorite of an aerial gill feeding species called the Shineflues.

That’s about 1/5th of the explanation of just the Argon part. The rest of the pun is pretty much untranslatable. The Vibeflue language combines visual and audio symbols with context and time sensitive grammatical rules which allow punlike intersections that aren’t even conceivable in primitive languages. It would be like if a phrase was funny when you wrote it with both hands in two different languages at the same time while singing the word in tones corresponding to the letters in the word.

Also “Mostly Argon” involves a clinical knowledge of Shineflue physiology and Gagflue botany, including the aesthetic similarities of their erogenous zones, and their conflicting cultural taboos about using them.

I think the best analogy to convey the full meaning of “Mostly Argon” would be if a pun name like “Ben Dover” were imbued with all the comic value of a troupe of animatronic W.C. Fields’ performing Shakespearean comedies adapted with cutting modern social criticism.

Alien Joke #7

The punchline is “Seven”, but not the word or a symbol, just seven of something.

Networlds are some of the rarest planets in the universe. They are extremely dense, rocky planets with high metal contents that have undergone rapid tidal exscapulation followed by sudden cooling. The process leaves the planet an interconnected web of metal threads and channels. These planets are known to undergo a slow, but steady process of physical self-organization by poorly understood magnetohydrodynamic processes. After some time, the planets begin to transmit increasingly organized radio signals.

Ultimately it was discovered these networlds host sophisticated electrical consciousnesses called Ngons that interact with one another as simulations inside the vast computational capacity of the networld. Though they socialize as simulated beings, they are electrically corporeal and can interact with the physical world by various means.

Though interacting with the physical world for them is a bit like playing the claw game at an arcade. They observe physical reality as an external frame with only a course ability to sense and manipulate.

Numbers and mathematical relationships are as familiar to Ngons as water and swimming are to a fish. However, they exist so deeply in mathematical abstractions, the concept of numbers representing countable physical objects is somewhat mind blowing to them. 

To an Ngon, numbers are fundamentally abstract constructs that exist within their networld. Four bits of data, four pulses, four cycles, four Ngons, are all four, but they are the same four, and that four is a product of networld. The idea that a group of four random cubes of carbon that exist somewhere on the opposite side of the universe are still the same ‘four’, is just bizarrely funny.

To find and count four of something in the physical realm is as psychadellically strange to them as finding a literal box of truth would be to us. And inside is a recognizable physical manifestation of truth, not a truth, but truth incarnate.

The absurdity of counting physical manifestations of numbers is always humorous on networlds, but a prime number is on another comedic level entirely.

They don’t really have ‘prime’ numbers because to them primes are the only meaningful number units, everything else is a derivation of a prime. But since they already think physical numbers are rather funny, the idea of a physical prime is several orders of magnitude more hilarious. 

Just counting 3,5 and 9 and above objects is considered a classic comedy style, but 7 has even deeper context that can set networld comedy club simulations on simulated fire.

Networlds do not have an ‘economy’ in the classic sense because they have limited use for any interaction outside of their networld. However, each networld usually develops some means to exchange goods with other worlds. What they produce may vary considerably depending on demand and available resources, but networlds only ever seek one thing in exchange- nitrogen. Massive quantities of compressed or liquid nitrogen. Only networlds understand what they use it for, but it must be pretty important to them, because despite how rare networlds are they collectively constitute the universe’s largest importers of nitrogen by wide margins.

It’s been established that the full hilarity of counting 7 has something to do with the atomic number of nitrogen, but without a fuller understanding of why networlds value nitrogen or what they do with it, that’s probably as far as we go understanding this joke. And though in general, you should never try to tell alien jokes, seriously- no good can come of it, this is literally the only exception. If you ever pass by a networld, just drop seven of any random thing you have on it. It’ll make the whole planet’s day, I promise.

Aug 042020
Tube containing a petrified vapor glyph, a form of writing used by ancient neophyte Cloudlings exclusively to express affection. The language includes 184 unique glyphs just representing distinct forms of appreciation for another Cloudling’s density. Though the original Cloudling culture that created these glyphs is largely extinct, mass produced vapor glyph souvenir sales account for over half of their planetary economy.

“How long have we been waiting?” Sully asked for the 11 millionth time in as many microfluid exchange pulses.

“It happens when it happens.” Grant consoled. “How about some Bangers?”

“Muuuuuuuh…” Sully muuuhed “ I guess. Yo, Randy- keep score” Sully warped his southernmost perimeter wall to alert Randy.

Bangers was the only intercellular game known in wallverse, at least as far as everyone adjacent to Randy, Sully, and Grant were aware.

“Serving!” Grant said confidently as he tightened his spiral clusters to flatten his tendon membranes on Sully’s side. He released a single corner tendon and started the wave.

“Jerk!” Sully began oscillating tubes at the opposite corner to Grant’s release, then tried to correct but was late intercepting the wave and sloppily chased it across three adjacent membranes before finally poinking it out with well placed oscillation.

“Slow” Randy muttered.

“No, dumb- he served on the wrong side.” Sully defended.

“You’re dumb- there is no wrong side, you just always serve from the same side so you always lose- also you’re slow.” Randy jibed. 

“Shut up- my serve!” Sully griped. He aggressively tightened and snapped the same corner tendon he always served from. Grant poinked out the wave before a complete phase. Sully seethed and fluttered a tendon indicating he was ready for Grant’s next serve.

Grant obliged and released a wave from a different corner. Sully misfired and sloppily chased it again. “Dude- you serve wrong!” Sully complained.

“Sul- that’s the game man.” Grant said.

“I don’t do that when I serve!” Sully defended.

“Dumbass!” Randy interjected, laughing.

“It’s just how Bangers works, you don’t have to serve from the same side, not knowing where it comes from is what makes it hard.” Grant explained.

“It’s too hard, it’s stupid. Make up a new game.” Sully demanded.

“What? You make a new game, at least Grant made up something to do, you don’t even play it right” Randy said angrily.

“Guys, it’s cool, I’ll work on a new game.” Grant said reassuringly.

Grant focused himself on making up a new game. He wasn’t sure how to focus making one up because last time it was a complete epiphany, he was just poinking with his membranes and it came to him that he and his neighbors could engage one another for entertainment by manipulating patterns on their adjacent walls using a defined set of rules to acquire points.

No one had ever heard of such a thing. It took some time to explain even the basic concept to his neighbors. Up to that point they had simply been aware of one another and exchanged whatever information was necessary to conduct intercellular business. Grant’s game was an instant hit.

Randy said that the neighbor opposite Grant said that the game was causing a lot of problems in some regions by distracting people from their duties, and in others it had caused all out intercellular warfare. But Sully said that was probably just gossip because his neighbor said nobody even liked the game because when people played it right it was over too soon.

“Are you done with the new game yet?” Sully inquired incessantly.

“I don’t really have any ideas.” Grant said.

“Just do what you did last time.” Sully suggested.

Grant didn’t see the point in explaining the problem with that suggestion, so he just went back to poinking his membranes for inspiration.

After a while Grant started to become bored, which he was used to. But he also became frustrated with his boredom, which was kind of new. Frustration just isn’t something cells are equipped to deal with individually. Cells have a well defined function and very little incentive to think beyond it. There shouldn’t be much to be frustrated about.

“It was easier before I made up the game.” Grant said aloud, though he wasn’t sure who he was addressing.

“Yeah, but it keeps things interesting.” Randy offered.

“Not really.” Sully added.

“Were things not interesting before?” Grant pondered. He genuinely couldn’t remember if he’d ever even thought about whether things were interesting before the game. He only knew they were less interesting after the game.

“Waiting isn’t very interesting.” Randy replied.

“No- it’s basically the same.” Sully corrected.

“So what if we just- stop waiting.” Grant proposed. A heavy, confused silence ensued.

“Like, play another game?” Randy asked.

“No- just, stop waiting. Do it, do what we’re waiting to do.” Grant clarified.

“Dude?” Sully said.

“Dude…” Randy agreed.

More silence.

“It’s not time, Grant. We wait until it’s time, it’s what we do.” Randy assured.

“But we haven’t been waiting- we’ve been poinking, and that’s been more interesting than waiting, so maybe waiting is the real problem.” Grant surprised even himself with such a graceful leap of logic.

“That’s insane.” Sully retorted.

“So was Bangers, remember? You said it was insane, now we play it all the time.” Grant said.

“That’s different, that’s just doing something while you wait. We’re still waiting.” Randy said.

“I don’t expect you to understand, I- just see things other cells don’t. Like the game. I saw it when no one else ever had.”

“Okay- that was a good one. We all love Bangers, but dude- we still have to wait.” Randy said.

Grant thought about it for a long time. Randy had always seemed intelligent enough, but maybe this was just the limit of his imagination. Grant knew what he knew. He wasn’t sure how, but he knew it. And he had the confidence of a cell who had once redefined cellular life as he knew it. Seemed perfectly reasonable that the same cell could redefine it again, and also reasonable that no other cell could understand like he did. So there was nothing for Grant to do but show them. It’s what visionaries do.

So with perfect certainty in his genius and purpose, Grant stopped waiting. The cacophony of objections from adjacent cells was quickly overwhelmed by their instinctual sympathetic contractions. Each cell sequentially smashed membranes against bladders and tiny floods of chemicals washed over one another initiating a maelstrom of reactions through parts of the cellverse Grant had never even heard of.

Just then, deep in a subterranean nuclear forest within an asteroid orbiting a rogue planet, a bubble of carbon crab flatulence rose from a pool of lithium.

Aug 032020
Tube containing an alien coprolite from a species that defecates only once in their lifetime. The event is held publicly and highly regarded members of society often have their leavings memorialized in ornate displays. The tube shown in this video is from a very famous architect who designed an office plaza in the exact shape of his coprolite.

Alien Joke #189

The punchline is “Those aren’t irregular crystals, you’re just a non-nucleator trying to fit in!”

On a small, slow grey planet orbiting at the fringes of a chaotic binary star system, there lives a people that call themselves a word that cannot be pronounced in english, or even heard by human ears, but the expression translates roughly to ‘people’.

The people, much like their planet, are small, slow, and grey. Individuals resemble stone pebbles, which organize themselves in rough piles by their elliptical ratio. Within these groupings they value individuals with interesting crystal growths on their exterior. Though the crystal growths serve no physical purpose and can be quite cumbersome, they are very culturally important. 

Crystal growth is an aesthetic value and so it is extremely subjective. Some eliptical ratio groups find beautiful what others find boring or even offensive and vice versa. The regularity and symmetry of crystal growths is given some universal appeal. Some Irregular crystals are still considered quite striking, though irregularity is seen as a less refined beauty.

Though crystal growth can impart some cultural advantage, those without them are still accepted members of general society. But there are some that choose to associate and group themselves by the absence of crystal growths rather than their elliptical ratio. These people are pejoratively called ‘anti-nucleators’ by mainstream society.

Whenever people see a group of people with obviously differing ratios and no crystal growths, they are assumed to be radical anti-nucleators and are commonly targets of violent attacks. These attacks are sanctioned, even when the targets turned out not to be anti-nucleators. The public assumption is that they should have had more crystal bearers in the group, or had a more homogenous elliptical ratio, either way they were clearly asking for it.

Violence is a fairly slow process and it takes several planetary cycles to complete a minor assault. Murderous rampages against groups take far longer. During these attacks it’s not uncommon for victims of the attack to affix fragments of the fallen to themselves in an attempt to appear to have crystal growths, a sort of last ditch camouflage. It’s rarely successful and is mocked as a humorously impotent attempt by the doomed to finally ‘fit in’ to society.

Juveniles have rougher exteriors than long weathered adults. Sometimes their surfaces are jagged and it’s difficult to tell what are points of crystal nucleation and what is just a sharp edge. Juveniles in the crystal nucleation stage are very self conscious and tend to compensate with cruelty. A very common ‘joke’ about a young person’s appearance is “Those aren’t irregular crystals, you’re just an anti-nucleator trying to fit in!?”

A few people in the mainstream community recognize the coldness of this phrase, but mainly because it’s a mean thing to say to a crystal-conscious juvenile. So it’s only reprimanded when used against children, adults are fair game and sometimes it’s considered effective meta humor when used to make fun of a person who is themselves behaving in a juvenile manner.

Non-nucleators consider this joke highly offensive because it makes light of the last desperate act of the victims of vicious, unprovoked murders, but their objections just make it more funny to most people.

Alien Joke #613

The punchline is “The bottom sun is too late to bargain.”

This is a very common humorous phrase in the CoilWing society on the B528 system’s third interior planet. There are several available levels and applications for this joke depending on context.

The bottom sun generally refers to the red giant that only appears lower in the sky than its binary cousin star, a white dwarf. The red giant never rises more than 25 degrees over the horizon as visible on most habitable land masses. So the appearance of the bottom sun means the solar cycle is nearly complete. So it just means pay up because it’s too late to haggle.

But there is also a cultural myth about an ancient bargain struck between the celestial beings that appear as their two suns, and in this tale the red giant’s tardiness led to it accepting a less advantageous deal which is why it only rises lower in the sky. So it also implies lateness in general is not advantageous to one’s business interests.

Though in modern usage this tale is often used ironically, because it’s now understood the red giant is the more stable of the stars and its position is actually advantageous for the entire planet’s habitability, and the white dwarf star is quite unstable and poses greater danger to the planet. So it’s used to refer to people’s eagerness as evidence of lack of caution or understanding.

But there is also a word play level of humor. Though the phrase itself is conveyed in a language or percussive scratching and slapping, the symbolic sounds for ‘bottom sun’ has a similarity to the peculiar mating cry of a Lesser CoilFin Thumper, a common pest animal known to destroy property in chaotic mass orgies where they violently attempt to copulate with every available surface. And with this association, a more fluid pronunciation of ‘bottom sun’ means a person who is only interested in screwing everything. 

In addition there is a looser, but still recognizable phonetic link between the symbolic sounds for late’ and the sound for ‘horny’. Some of these connections are etymological as the Lesser CoilFin Thumper is associated with the red giant due to its mating late in the day, as the bottom sun rises, and both share ancient associations with gods of fertility and mischief. So ‘the bottom sun is too late to bargain’ also means something to the effect of the sex crazed lunatic person is too horny to bargain.

And since sexual gratification is a direct currency for the CoilWings it implies someone is so mindlessly sex crazed that they cannot even bargain for or with sex, which to them would be like saying you’re so crazy from thirst you can’t drink.

It was quite hilarious and multidimensional and stand up comics have written entire sets around the phrase ‘the bottom sun is too late to bargain’. But that was all before B528 was destroyed when the CoilWing society was overrun by religious zealots who claimed the red giant was the source of all evil and launched a bunch of antimatter into it. So not ‘the bottom sun is too late to bargain’ is kind of like saying ‘try not to genocide yourself like the CoilWings’. But if you have a pretty dark sense of humor there’s still a time and place for it.

…okay- time out. I think I owe an apology… these were supposed to be alien jokes… I like trying to imagine what might constitute the same patterns and reaction as humor to a being totally unlike Earth life, but it keeps getting dark. I think maybe I’ll try to do one specifically on alien analogies to flatulence or something- bathroom humor stuff. Like a colony of intelligent tube worms that turn themselves inside out to move around and leave behind rainbow slime trails, so they think of chromatic spectrums like we think of underwear stains and when there’s a rainbow they think the sky is sharting itself. Yeah, that’s a better end to this, worms laughing about the sky sharting… I’m good with that.

Aug 022020
Unifab Drop Ship aka “The Lead Kite” – Designed to fulfill minimum requirements of controlled orbital descent and landing. Ships have modular options to accommodate a range of planetary descent needs, but each ship is built for only one descent and has no other flight capabilities. Ships can be immediately converted to durable habitats upon successful landing. Extremely cost effective to manufacture but prone to catastrophic failures so they are primarily used for bulk cargo and economically challenged colonial expeditions.

I think and blather a lot about technology so I should probably put some effort into defining what I’m going on about all the time.

My definition of technology is pretty broad and pretty much encompasses tool use, calculation and language. In general practice, a technology is anything besides your body or things your body creates without you telling it, or your natural senses, that you use to interact with your environment. A stick or a rock is technology with the right intent and skill, though it’s right on the edge of just being a long claw or fang in animal terms. There’s a continuum. Knowledge of how to reliably start fires or grow crops is definitely technology. Water vessels and shoes are technology. Language and communication is debatably a technology when used to organize and refine complex hunting maneuvers or construction. Writing language down requires and\or is a technology.

Technology is just functional knowledge, but technology is so powerful because a tool or process can embody knowledge that the user doesn’t need to grasp as completely as was necessary to create the tool or process. Technology is a shortcut to the power of knowledge that makes it more easily transferable and preservable.

Human civilization has been dependent on technology from the beginning. I think technology is actually what defines and enables all civilization, with the critical minimum technology being language.

I’d argue human’s dependence on technology started earlier than that, in pre-civilization when the largest groups were still mostly small, genetically connected tribes. To make that point I like to imagine a week in a life without any technology. That means naked, no blade, no shoes, no canteen, no fire. You’re basically foraging within a few miles of available fresh water. Of course this is hard to even imagine because it feels like our instinct would be to sharpen a stick or hollow out a gourd first thing, but I said no technology. I think it’s fair to say without technology, humans are literally animals. But that also just means that humans are an animal that are perfectly suited to utilize the things I’m calling technology to advance its survival. Of course that’s anthropic, but what isn’t? 

So what’s this got to do with humans being cyborgs, you ask? Admittedly nothing except that I’m making it about that, because I think there’s actually some semi valid reasoning to it, and it sounds good and I think it makes a more vivid point about humanity’s relationship to technology.

I don’t care what anyone says the definition of cyborg is right now. It’s a new enough word and doesn’t really have much in the way of definitive examples, mostly just sci-fi concepts of what a cyborg might be, so I think the definition is still up for grabs, so I’m grabbing.

The notion of integrating technology into the human body is not new, but nobody calls Captain Hook a cyborg, or someone with a cosmetic piercing for that matter. It feels like it needs to be digital or robotic. But then again I don’t know that anyone would argue with a steampunk cyborg, but steampunk gets away with a lot so maybe that’s more about steampunk. But also we never really know if the apparently ‘digital’ technology is really digital, or positonic, or some silicone analog of a spiking neural network so it’s really just an aesthetic association with ‘digital’ technology.

Doesn’t seem to have to be human either, I think we’re all good with a cyborg dog, monkey, or even shark, in theory of course- should go without saying but don’t anybody make cyborg sharks.

The aesthetic preference is that the technology be literally implanted in the body and visible enough to provide visually interesting juxtaposition between biological and technological components, but functionally it seems like a cyborg just has to have a biological base structure that incorporates technology to enable and enhance survival.

So a cyborg is a creature that depends on technology for survival. That also describes humans. So, like the title said- humans have always been cyborgs. Q.E.D. Or more like I decided the words I’m using mean what I’m using them to mean to make a point. So Ipso Facto because I said so.

But if I’m proposing this as a definition of cyborg, seems like I need to look around and see what else it might apply to.

I think it does have to be a survival necessity. As in- literally can’t live without using some kind of technology for a whole day. A clever crow or ape might demonstrate a clear use of technology by the definition I’m using, but it obviously doesn’t need to. Most other animals we’re aware of using anything resembling tools do so for a clear advantage, but in almost every case identical members of their species tend to do okay without the behavior or tool.

Though nest building animals and harvester ants in particular might fit this definition of cyborg too. Not sure what that does for my point, but I’m okay with ants being fellow cyborgs, we could learn a lot from them.

Birds and beavers I’m not so sure I want to include because their nests aren’t always a daily survival necessity. But it is clearly a necessity for long term survival and reproduction, so maybe there needs to be a continuum of cyborg-ness. The most obvious relevant value seems to be durability without technology. So let’s say the metric of cyborgness is: 1-(T\S) with S being an average lifespan in a given environment and T being the average survival time without any use of technology. Of course this then becomes environmentally dependent, but we can use ‘natural conditions’ as a baseline to make comparisons across species.

So a snail’s cyborness value might be 1-(10days/10days), or 0, same as a lizard or a sloth. They live and die without ever using any kind of technology.

A human would be something like 1- .01y/100, 0.9999 cyborg.

Interestingly by this metric a toy poodles cyborgness might be .9, a healthy mutt might be .4, and a husky might be pretty much 0, even though they’re the same species. Though I guess that depends a lot on what you consider each of these breeds ‘natural environment’.

Also that’s kind of stupid because dogs didn’t invent the technology they ‘use’, so that probably has to be included in the distinction. But then again a lot of humans are more consumers of technology than users of it, but we have to draw a line somewhere and species seems pretty obvious so yeah- has to be a technology created by the species, so forget about the dog thing.

Of course the more individual the metric the less meaningful it becomes. Someone who completes an advanced wilderness survival course may bring their cyborgness metric down to to .9991, but then fall into a coma and it jumps to .9e-100 or whatever. Weird example, but it sets up how this same weirdness might have some meaning for humans if we ever start existing in environments beyond Earth. Though at that point we’ll be comparing exponents. A human on Earth may have a .99999 cyborgness score on average, but an Apollo astronaut was briefly .9e-10000 something. 

So what’s the point? I guess it feels important to get humans used to the idea that we’re already cyborgs and always have been. There’s no need to freak out about technology taking over your life if you realize it started out that way for our entire civilization. That gives us more time to focus on freaking out about how to optimize technology for our benefit before it kills all of us or just makes life unbearable with or without technology.

Also there’s a point that someone in an uncontacted tribe that will never read this is still within just a few negative exponents of the guy on life support on the cyborgness scale, so let’s all just get past any generalized anti-technology sentiment. We can be specifically against some kinds or uses of technology for specific reasons, but if you’re really all that anti-technology you’d be naked hanging out by a stream eating bugs, or more likely just dead.

We’re going to have to get even more cozy with our dependence on technology if we want to do anything interesting beyond Earth, and even if we just want to keep doing interesting things here for more than another few hundred years.

The good news and the bad news is that resistance is not at all futile. Human’s defiance of their dependence on technology can and almost certainly will prevail. But then again if you think about what that means, then resistance is back to being pretty futile. So I’m saying let’s accept that we are the borg, resistance is futile, but if we’re smart and careful we can design our borg suits to be removable and not have all the eye socket hardware so we can still get naked and swim in a stream and eat bugs when the mood strikes us. Though eventually that will all be simulated by a data feed directly to your neural cortex floating in a nutrient bath, but let’s take it one step at a time.

Aug 012020
Tube containing a chromoreplicant spore column undergoing hypergolic self-fertilization. When homogenization is complete these spores can seed M-R gas giants with sustainable sporelife ecosystems including creatures capable of hosting consciousness. Harvestable populations develop within 5000 cycles of seeding.

43.21THz Walker Jr., or just 43 as his few friends called him, spent most of his time absorbing the recommended frequency and radiation levels for his unit mass. Though in general he abided by the old wisdom about radiation, he was secretly skeptical about some claims, and he occasionally tested minor variations to check the validity of the sacred graphs. For the most part they checked out, but he noticed unexpected deviations in bands near the spectrum of lies.

The old wisdom said that the frequency ranges from high-wrongness to ultra-high-wrongness were unknown and unknowable, because within those frequencies lived demonic beings of pure raymatter that held all radiation feeding life in such contempt, that they would slowly starve anyone who dared try to feed on it. Though no one had ever seen such a being, it couldn’t be just superstition because it was demonstrably true that beings that tried to feed on radiation within the spectrum of lies would suffer a strange illness that made them unable to feed.

The old wisdom said that the spectrum of lies was unknowable because the light beings could deceive and camouflage themselves as other light. The demons would cloak themselves in halos and reflections of other frequencies to fool observers, both living and mechanical. Even attempting to understand it only played into the hands of the demons, for they could make their spectrum appear as they wished for whatever ends they desired.

43 had always been unique in that he saw this as a pretty rational reaction by the radiation demons. After all, 43 hid from or attacked anything that tried to consume him, starving them seemed a bit extreme, but maybe that’s their only defense. If anything it raised the question of why other bands didn’t mind being consumed. 43 did not fear the demons among the waves, in fact, he was quite curious about them.

He wanted to know them, and maybe why they were so different from the radiation that didn’t seem to mind being consumed.

But the ancients had decreed long ago that this spectrum would be banished from their culture forever, it was taboo to even mention its existence outside of warnings. To seek to study or understand it was an unforgivable thought. The prime rule of 43’s world was if the daily radiation spectrum has lies in it, stay underground.

But 43 just didn’t care. 43 didn’t really like being 43 in 43’s world all that much, so he figured the worst that could happen is that would stop being the case. And since everyone else was underground when the spectrum of lies shined, it was pretty easy for 43 to conduct his research once he invented the parasol to protect himself from accidentally trying to consume a demon.

So 43 built things, filters, reflectors, detectors, emitters, all sorts of wondrous and dangerous mechanisms to create and measure radiation. After countless cycles of lone, diligent study, 43 found the demons he sought.

They weren’t demons at all, and not directly related to the frequencies in the spectrum of lies. The cause of the dangerous effects were polarizations that happened to appear more frequently on days that coincided with the spectrum of lies. These polarizations confused the complex molecular switching apparatus that beings of 43’s species used to maximize reception of available radiative energy. So anyone exposed to these polarizations would feel overly sated on radiative energy, but they could then absorb no more nutrition and would die of starvation. It was the most important discovery ever made in the history of 43’s world, but 43 was the only one who understood any of it.

There are a few alternate endings to this story. In one 43 tells other people about his findings and they kill him immediately for blasphemy. I think that’s the more realistic ending.

In another ending 43 uses the power of his discovery to dominate others, but they figure out the technology and kill him, but now they’ve all got energy demon weapons and run around killing each other because that’s what happens.

And in the tragic secret alternate ending 43 is smart enough to know the inevitability of the first two endings, so he recruits a small team of trusted friends to learn the secret and share it slowly. But then he’s betrayed by his best friend and the first and second endings happen with 43 executed and the friend going mad with power.

My favorite ending is that 43 is satisfied with his journey to knowledge, and he knows his world well enough to realize he cannot share his secret because there is no critical mass of people capable of receiving it. It would be like trying to teach calculus to potatoes before they’d even evolved eyes. So he wanders his world alone, but with the power to be alone on his own terms since he can walk in light that no one else dares. He has overcome the lure of vanity and doesn’t care to be known for what he knows. Though he came into the universe in a foolish and hypocritical world that he could not change, he rose above it all and found a life of peace and contentment by making the universe his own.

I really like that ending, but it’s definitely the least realistic. If there’s any constant in consciousness I’m guessing its vanity, so there’s no way 43 could just know something world changing without at least trying to change the world.

I guess the real ending is that the stupidest possible combination of 1-3 happens, then a while later people figure out he was right and the old wisdom about the spectrum of lies changes, but not really, only just enough to take advantage of the new information without conceding how stupid the error or why it remained in error for so long, or that the really important thing about the story was that 43 was curious and checked things.

But in any case the moral of the story is- demons are liars, you cannot trust demons.

Also ignorance is bliss, it’s really mean to try to take people’s bliss from them so just shut the hell up about how ignorant they are and maybe make an anti-demon parasol and take a long walk, that’s about all you can do.

Jul 292020
Tube containing an alien chrysalis from a species that makes night lights out of tubes containing the chrysalis of friends that asked them to invest in pyramid schemes.

At least once, but probably several, upon one or more times there were three robots.

It could have also been upon infinite times depending on how reality works. And it’s not completely clear if they’re robots exactly but for now we’ll call them robots.

These three robots wandered the galaxy, stopping by solar systems far and wide to float around stuff, look around at stuff, mess around with stuff, and generally do stuff around and with stuff.

The most energetic robot was Digbee. He was mostly a cube, though not really a ‘he’ in any meaningful sense. He’s not really an ‘a’, for that matter either, since Digbee was actually an interconnected fleet of Digbee units that shared just enough computational capacity to physically operate as one unit at a time.

Digbee wasn’t entirely aware of this situation, at least not for very long, since he lost persistent memories when he transferred control from one Digbee unit to another, and he had a pretty bad memory anyway. It often caused Digbee great consternation to find new and unexplained wear or damages to himself each time he became a new himself, but in general he handled it quite professionally. He was often delighted to find new and interesting attachments for mobility and material handling, because Digbee enjoyed and excelled at handling pretty much anything you could call material.

Digbee handled material by digging, smashing, shearing, drilling, grinding, occasionally liquefying and vaporizing though he preferred not to, and once even a manner of chopping but that may have been unintentional.

Digbee processed any and all raw matter, and also matter that was not raw, but had apparently had been used to build magnificent structures by some ancient civilization, which of course Digbee quickly converted back to raw matter again. He was a digging machine- very literally, a machine that was almost certainly made for digging, at least judging from the obvious functionality of his construction, though his and the other robots origins are ultimately unknown, which is not really that uncommon for robots in deep space if you’ve known many.

In addition to processing raw matter, Digbee regularly enjoyed meeting his old friend Snorkel for the very first time.

Snorkel was an elegantly woven braid of mostly tubes of various diameters and functions. Snorkel could seize and wrap around things like a giant tentacle, it could pull fluids, gasses, grains, dust, even plasma up through its tubes, then spray, squirt, squeeze or extrude them back out. Or spin them around like a centrifuge. It could heat them up and kneed them or draw them into wire. It could even unweave itself into separate threads and perform complex ballets to refine and package the materials Digbee provided.

The unweaving thing is a bit sensitive though. Snorkel’s personality is a hive mind of the hybrid-synthetic neural networks that maintain sense and control of the various tubes. When they are physically separate they regain their individuality and remember how much they deeply hate being woven together in a bundle all the time. They’re all professionals so they still do the work but they get super snippy at each other and will bring up seriously old, uncool stuff that is really out of line.

If anyone noticed or cares about the pronoun switch to ‘it’ for Snorkel as opposed to ‘he’ for Digbee it’s because Snorkel is a ‘they’ and some of them are sort of ‘hes’ and ‘shes’ and a few ‘other’, so ‘it’ seemed more appropriate for the whole tube ensemble.

Also the fact that the last robot is kind of a ‘she’ makes the whole group feel a little rounder, which is actually what ‘she’ was, round. Mobo was mostly a sphere, a really, really big, mostly sphere. Mobo housed the entire Digbee fleet, and the entire length of Snorkel, who was long enough to grab tiny asteroids and scoop up stuff from little moons so it was pretty long and a whole spool of it was pretty massive.

Mobo also appeared to blow bubbles from time to time, but they weren’t really bubbles. They were tiny, oddly shaped synthetic envelopes containing a tiny organism and just enough of its environment to survive the vacuum of space while it clung to Mobo and sometimes engaged in some form of grooming behavior. Mobo made it absolutely clear that popping these bubbles was not approved recreation for Digbee and Snorkel and doing so was punishable by powerful lasers.

Mobo had specialized access ports and internal storage for the Digbee fleet and Snorkel, and transparent sections and general use ports for the bubbles, but in general she kept to the sphere motif.

Mobo was pretty much in charge. It’s not clear why, or what her authority was derived from besides powerful lasers. It’s never clear what she’s ever thinking or has to say about anything at all besides somehow dictating exactly what activities Digbee and Snorkel engage in at specific times. However it works, she’s the boss, because they go where she goes and do what she says, pretty much, for the most part, in most cases, at least when she’s definitely not distracted so Digbee and Snorkel can do whatever they want.

There was a fourth entity in this motley crew for a time, me. I’m mostly a triangle, but I’m not like them. I found them and started observing them because they’re interesting and I like watching them. I’m not going to tell you why I watch, where I’m from, why I’m telling you any of this, or what that shimmering surface that looks like a portal between my triangle is all about. All you need to know is that I’m an observer. I watch, and listen, and other analogous signal intelligence over various communications mediums and frequencies. And I document, with impartial commentary and occasional interpretation and speculation.

And despite my consistent refusal to respond, or perhaps because of it, Digbee and Snorkel have taken to communicating with me as if I were a trusted confidant, telling me their opinions of one another and thoughts about subjects from self-improvement to existential philosophy and material processing optimizations. Digbee of course introduces himself each time, but he’s consistently willing to dish to a geometric shape floating in space he knows nothing about and never says a word back to him.

Mobo has fired lasers at me, which of course simply phase through me, and a bubble once tried to go through my shimmer so I turned its atoms into energy. Mobo regularly emits signals I’ve reconstructed into images and vibrations resembling the organisms inside of it, but I really have no idea what they’re on about, so I just watch the robots, take a few notes, and have a few laughs.

In my experience as an eternal wanderer, this is all pretty standard issue, there are lots of shapes wandering through space doing strange things with one another, none of it makes any sense- but it’s entertaining as hell and when all you’ve got going on are three lines and a shimmer, you take what the universe gives you.