Friday, April 22, 2016
Once upon a time a Witch started some overdue housekeeping. But when she began to wash the dishes, the Undone Dishes cried out, “Help! Help! I’m being done!”
The Unswept Floor said, “No, instead do me!”
The Untidy Tablecloth said, “No, I insist that you do me first!”
The Undone Bed said, “Me, me, me!”
And all the other undone chores chimed in too; the Sewing, the Thank-You Notes, the Taxes, and Rearranging All The Furniture. They loyally united in solidarity against the threat of being done.
The Witch stopped washing the dishes; the chores cheered. The Witch gritted her teeth and said, “Shut. Up.” Then she said to the Bed and the Tablecloth, “You. And you.” And then, despite the outcries of the undone chores, she finished washing the dishes. She grinned as she slowly, deliberated, carefully and thoroughly finished that chore, over the wails of the other chores.
Then she straightened the tablecloth.
Then she made the bed.
Then she said to the air, “Any other takers?”
She smiled cruelly, picked up a broom, opened the front door and swept the dust on the floor out the door. Then she went out, closed the door, mounted the broom, and launched into a joy-ride.
Thursday, April 21, 2016
The Search for Terrestrial Intelligence
Once upon a time Extraterrestials monitored planet Earth’s radio output. They sought intelligent life; but they were wary; for their own planet hosted Radar Bats. These were animals naturally evolved, skilled at manipulating electromagnetism, but lacking higher intelligence.
So though planet Earth did indeed emit complex radio signals, the Extraterrestrials were undecided. There were two explanations; Intelligent Beings and Radar Bats. How to tell the difference?
The Extraterrestrials could not predict what a truly intelligent being would transmit. An epic poem in praise of the beauty of the universe, perhaps; or a chapter of the Encyclopedia Galactica; or a proof of the Four-Color Theorem encoded in a symphony. Who knows? But they could easily predict how radar bats would fill the airwaves: with brags, threats, territorial claims, status challenges, mating cries, courtship rites, warning signals and swarming calls.
With this in mind, they decoded planet Earth’s radio output. They found brags, threats, territorial claims, status challenges, mating cries, courtship rites, warning signals and swarming calls; but no cosmic poetry, nor a single page from the Encyclopedia Galactica, nor a single note of the Four-Color Symphony.
They concluded that radio observations have yet to detect intelligent life on planet Earth.
Moral: Intelligence is relative.
Wednesday, April 20, 2016
The Damnation of Roland Ranger
Once upon a time Roland Ranger, star of the silver screen, made a deal with the Devil; his soul in exchange for charisma.
And so the masses loved him no matter what he said. He could sell them anything. He did this by projecting a sincerity that he did not feel. He believed only that what he said got him paid.
As time went on, the Devil gradually chipped away at his wits. The Devil did this every time Roland Ranger forgot that he was acting. By the nature of the deal, Roland Ranger never fully comprehended what he has signed away; not at first, because he hadn’t lost his wits yet, and not at the end, because he had. Only around the middle did he half-understand.
Eventually he thought that he had always been honest. Then he stopped thinking.
Moral: Don’t believe your own baloney.