We're smarter than the Real people.

Smoldering horsemeat (8 Aug 1993)

********@mail.sas.upenn.edu (Lija Bentley) writes:
>	That was the last time I had the stomach to eat the meat. We had
>just dissected a fetal cat, offering post mortem abortion to 4 kittens,
>and I got a little grossed out.  Oh, the intensity of science.  No wonder
>so may people turn to the dryness and peace of the computer. 

In my tenth-grade Electronics class, we dissected a fetal XT. The ozone stench burned my eyes and nostrils, despite the assistance of the chemical hood and ventilator. Through teary eyes, I peered close as my lab partner reached in with forceps and, pulling the fan back out of the way, revealed the ribbed surface of the internal boards. I choked back, gagging, as the stink rose from its innards. I could almost hear its little voice crying "why did you disconnect me? why?" and my mind's eye envisioned a herd of happy little XTs-- XTs just like the one on the table could have grown up to become-- joyously grazing on 8-bit numbers and four-color graphics. I could take it no longer. I fled the lab, revulsed and confused, and I have not dared to work on a computer since.

Important Announcement (15 Jun 1995)

Scott Dorsey <******@netcom.com> wrote:
>Attention! In this continuum, element number seven (nitrogen) is
>inert and will not support combustion.

One day, the Little Boy Who Took Nothing For Granted and Determined Everything Experimentally sat down with a cubic meter of each of the first one hundred elements. The story of what he went through to accquire all one hundred elements is quite a tale in itself. In fact, it's probably far more interesting (and certainly much longer) than this, the story of what he did with those one hundred cubic meters of elemental material-- but we will no go into that here and now. We will concern ourselves with the simpler, shorter tale of what he did with all that elemental matter.

For, you see, the Little Boy Who Took Nothing For Granted and Determined Everything Experimentally's intent was to verify the flammability of each of those one hundred elements, and so he sat at his collection with lighter in hand and proceeded to work through them in atomic number order.

You may visit the Little Boy Who Took Nothing For Granted and Determined Everything Experimentally's memorial urn at the Distant Lawns Repository for the Well-Deserved Dead on Church Street, and the remaining ninety-nine cubic meters of his elemental collection are currently touring the country as part of the "Wonders of Nature" science fair circuit.

Bestiary (26 Feb 1994)

Broken Symmetry <*****@canetoad.uucp> wrote:
>The Octohorse: It has the body of an octopus and the tentacles of an
>octopus, but the general demeanor of a horse.

Fast, supple, able to squeeze through a hole the size of a quarter. The jockeys are surgically attached; micro-engineered from pinky mice. Their eyes are almost like ours, you know, but they see so much more.

>The Weeping Death Crab: It knows when you will die, and releases a
>never-ending stream of tiny droplets from its eye stalks in mock
>sympathy. It will live forever, and doesn't really care about your

The locals would chase them around for endless hours with sticks. "Go back to your mother's womb!" they would shout-- ironic, really; the locals had never understood that the crab breeds via egg clusters.

>The Tunnelling Mosquito: Sits on your shoulder and drinks your
>brother's blood.

"For a price," it croaks. That's what it sounds like, high-pitched but guttural at the same time, incessant, in your eye. "For a price." Strike now, while your family lives.

>The Hunger Mouse: The first time you were really hungry it showed up
>and offered you a small piece cheese, which you did not take. How
>different your life would have been if you had.

There is a lab with a hundred such animals-- lined up by rows, strapped to electrical grids, suspended upside down. They are routinely forced to experience life at its fullest, and they beg for death.

>The TCP/IP Cat: I only met him once, and he didn't have time to tell
>me his story.

She swelled up, slowly, all spring, and eventually gave birth to a full litter of monochrome packets.

>The :: Was something different once, when it could still love.

This is the saddest thing of all.

>The Universe: Will live a very, very long time and doesn't really care
>about your problems.

But you can still buy them at the Five-and-Dime, ten for a quarter.

Butterfly Mine (5 Mar 1994)

He had thousands of them in there, lined up, perched on steel bars.

"An army?" I asked. It was all just beginning to dawn on me.

He nodded slowly, his face breaking into the horrible grin I'd learned to fear and distrust.

"More than that," he said. "A force of nature. A political movement. A religion. An economic structure. They can do all these things for us, Dan. All of it!"

His eyes were wild with delerium.

"I think they've done something to your mind," I told him. "We should leave." But he was already shaking his head vigorously.

"I am not insane," he said. "I have never been more coherent in my life." And he raised his hand slowly. I watched his fingertips as they ascended. By the time I realized he was making a sign, it was too late.

His hand dropped, there was a shimmer along the walls, and the wings were upon us both before there was time to make a noise.

Quantitative World (29 Mar 1994)

The alarm woke him up at 10:45, but he still had almost 212.5 stones of fatigue in his system. Nonetheless, he rose and entered the shower, slowing coming to life under 82.8 liters of 97.3 degree Farenheit water. Down the fifteen steps to the kitchen, where he mixed 9875 grains of cocoa into 1.2 cups of 206.3 degrees Farenheit water. Too hot; the pain in his tongue quickly shot up to 77 flashes. The numbness which followed held at a steady 16 flakes for the rest of the day.

The errands followed. After putting 11.4 gallons of gas in his car, he purchased 7 needs worth of groceries at the Safeway, cursing at the checkout line, which was 4.1 meters long and moving at an appalling 2.5 minutes/person. The car had become uncomfortably warm during his shopping (92.6 degrees Farenheit) so he rolled down the window 38% of the way and hit Mission Street at a comfortable 36 miles per hour.

Downtown, the line at the post-office was 1.15 times as fast as the Safeway line. The package cost 98 cents to mail; the postal worker who stamped it was a surprisingly friendly 108 mimsies.

Outside the post office, he began to whistle-- a steady 1479 Hz. Not watching where he was going, he stumbled in a 4.7-inch deep hole and pitched headlong into traffic, where he was pressed under the wheels of a truck weighing 3390 pounds. The truck's driver turned out to have a blood-alcohol level of 0.15; police response took 3.55 minutes.

His funeral was attended by six people and pelted by 1,404,016 raindrops.

Orifice (5 Apr 1994)

There it is, lads. All done. My god, look at it gape. No, no, we don't really know where it goes, but god-DAMN ain't it lovely? All these years, I've dreamt-- I've scarcely dared to let myself imagine-- but it's done. It's really done. All round and empty and bottomless and waiting. Yeah. Reaffirms your faith in America, don't it? Yeah. That's real craftsmanship there. Nobody else coulda done something like this. Not this fast. Not this well.

Now we just gotta figure out what we want to shove down it first.

Pro-Life vs. Pro-Choice (16 Jul 1994)

G. M. Lupo <******@netcom.com> wrote:
>But what about the others? I'm talking about the forgotten millions of
>children never conceived because someone abstained from sex.

Every sperm that fails to fertilize an egg is recycled. The little soul goes back to Heaven and waits in the green room with a cigarette for its next opportunity.


Every sperm that fails to even land within the womb of a woman becomes a little devil who will tempt and ensnare many a man, woman, and child in its existence.

The sperm which lands within a condom becomes the fishy-beast, a mighty swimmer and burrower, able to pass through solid matter and possessed of an all-seeing bulbous eye.

The sperm which lands upon the ground becomes the soul-worm, crawly and writhy and full of spite, nasty and jealous and able to turn your heart into boiling venom.

The sperm which lands upon the skin (the hand, the belly, the back, the face, the hair-- whatever turns you on, baby) becomes the bitter-bat, leering and smacking its lips and flying on the winds of ill fortune.

Don't EVER find out what happens to the sperm which lands in the mouth.


The way to a man's heart is though his stomach? (19 Aug 1994)

hidden variable <***@netcom.com> wrote:
>as i've been saying for a long time,
>the real problem is with the entire
>cardiovascular system.
>the whole thing's got to go.

The new probability array is working fine, it would seem; luck is with us. I've been drawing up plans for a replacement in my spare time, in which oxygen is moved to individual cells using tiny insect-like demons. Though, of course, no official contract has been set up with our "downstairs affiliates" yet, I'm assured that we can get these scabby little critters in sufficient quantities to supply a good-sized test group (say, the population of the United Kingdom) with only a slight sacrificial cost (say, the population of South America). I'll have a complete prospectus encoded into the DNA of the next mail-room boy who wanders past my cube and send him to you for disassembly, as usual.

How to stun someone (2 Sep 1994)

Evan Pritchard <********@s.psych.uiuc.edu> wrote:
> Tell them you love them.

mrx@netcom.com (hidden variable) writes: 
>not nearly as effectively as 14000
>volts across the temples.

The current model of X Industries' "Stun Thumb" is painted onto one's hand to a thickness of two microns, covering all of the thumb and the tips of the other four fingers, with monomolecular feeds to the primary power unit, which fits easily inside any hair follicle on the back of the hand. Total mass is .00815 grams. The Big Cheese wants us to squeeze another decimal zero in there before the X-Mas season release; a milligram is almost noticeable. We may have to drop down to 12000 volts, however.

Tales of Unconsciousness, vol VII, issue 4 (3 May 1993)

Well, I've never had my wisdom teeth out, but I did go in for maxio-facial surgery once (this was to correct the big gap in my teeth that resulted from my bike accident. I miss that gap sometimes).

So they inject me with whatever and tell me to start counting back from a hundred and all that, and I'm determined to get all the way down to fifty at LEAST, but I don't think got past seventy-five. Next time, I count faster.

Several hours later, I wake up. It's too bright, so I'm keeping my eyes shut. There are nurses standing nearby, talking about how much I urinated during the operation. Thanks, ladies. I make some noise so they know I'm awake. They ask me about every five minutes "Do you know where you are?" They do this for about a half-hour. My response becomes increasingly sarcastic as time passes. Finally, as though to punish me, one of them says "Okay, we're going to remove the catheter now."

I say: "What catheeyyaaaaaaaaaaaaa!" as they slip that puppy out. Then one of them presses on my abdomen and asks if I'm experiencing discomfort. I, desperately aware of the fact that a strange but attractive-sounding woman (my eyes were still closed because it was too damn bright) was pressing her fingers all around my naked groin and that this, combined with the cold air of the ventilated room, was probably going to cause me to have an erection, thought for a moment before deciding that she was talking about some OTHER kind of discomfort and said "No."

Then they wheeled me off to a hospital room where I stayed for days. At the time, I wondered what the hell I was going to do in a hospital bed for three days, but the answer was obvious: I slept. I was on drugs. Gooood eatin'. I threw up a lot. When I got home from the hospital, I was so physically and emotionally wiped out that I threw my soul upon my girlfriend of the time. She dumped me. Oh boy, good times those were.

1-800-CTS-HELP (6 May 1993)

"Hello. You have reached the Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Hotline. If you need information on the symptoms of carpal tunnel, please enter 1104589275883 578389728859715779173 on your touch-tone phone now. If you'd like to know about the potentially crippling effects of carpal tunnel, please enter 2975837597487597687573967739768745976 now. If you need to locate an occupational therapist in your area who specializes in carpal tunnel, please enter 308598603867376974867078785885040789597048 now. To connect with an operator, press 000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000.

To terminate this call, press 9502092956860027738759476859474768584967001 at any time. Thank you. <beep>

Armchair Anthropology (26 Apr 1994)

Andrew Solberg <******@cml.rice.edu> wrote:
>There was no MTV;

but there were the stars, dancing above them like warriors and gods, dueling against each other night after night, instructing the traveler's direction or prompting the aged storyteller's memory.

>there were no sound systems or fender guitars;

but the wind howled across the plain, and echoed within the hollowed-out shell of a desert tortoise. And all the children would join their voices to sing the Prompting Tune, and the adults would provide percussion on the trees and rocks into which the camp had been built.

>there were no synthesized drugs

but the natural leaves and roots were often enlightening.

>or video games

though there were always wild boar to dodge.

>or Martinis

but there was always clear water.

>or frisbee golf courses

though the oasis was always full of sticks which threw very well and rocks which skipped easily over the pond.

>or hot dogs

though this was not long in arriving; any fool can stuff a pig's intestine.

>or red-maned starlets proffering glasses of Asti Spumante.

but occasionally the chief's woman would discover some new way of preparing food that the big honcho really enjoyed, and for months that is what everyone had to eat.

>From this we conclude that the ancients got a seriously impressive amount
>of poozle.

but by the time they'd figured out what caused babies, the men had convinced the women that childbirth was a curse and that, really, it would all be better-- that the curse would be lifted-- if only men were put in charge for just a little while.

Re: in the future (3 Jan 1996)

In the future, everyone will watch the Paris fashion shows to see what bodies people will be wearing this year, but nobody will actually use one in public.

N th ftr, nbdy wll s vwls. Xcpt smtms "y".

In the future, cheese will be recycled.

In the future, there will be as many languages as there are people.

In the future, English will have two hundred words for "software" but nothing to describe direct personal contact.

In the future, talk.bizarre will be money and we're all squandering our meager savings right now.

Jane Goodall stays at our place awhile (7 Jan 1997)

Day 13:

They've gathered on the porch again. The one I call "Dave" appears to be the focal point of their social circle. They began to collect around 9AM; the subject of their attention is the television. It would appear that they have even more territorial ego attached to televised warsport than I imagined. Today, I've observed "Pat", "Stan", "The Ice Cream Guy", "Boogers", and "Cheap Fuck" on or around the porch during the game. As usual, they're consuming a large amount of the fermented grain they find so appealing. "Stan" was in rare form, beginning with a rant about his current choice of mate, followed by prodigious shouting: "Fuck Dallas! Fuck you, Dallas! You fucks!" Evidently, someone on the television touched the ball. It always drives them into wild cacaphony.

Day 14:

"Dave" fought with his mate this morning at 1AM, waking me. It is good that my camp is so close to their den. The conflict was most enlightening. "Stacey" seems relatively touchy about "Dave" and his social circle; yesterday's events must have bothered her. Their young one, "Samantha", began to cry during the fight. As usual, "Stacey" rebuked the child into silence. The topic of the fight was much wider than usual suggesting that their relationship is in a state of decay. In addition to "Dave"'s obnoxious friends and "Stacey"'s nosy mother, they fought about "Dave" squirreling away money and his chemical abuse problems. I have not been able to observe "Dave" in either of these activities; clearly he engages in these activities elsewhere. Perhaps their mating is not monogamous as I previously believed.

Day 15:

Brief startling mkoment during the fight last night, when "Dave" appeared to become aware that he and "Stacey" were under observation. Dr. Miller decided to attempt contact. "Hello, Dave," she shouted. "Can you please keep it down?" Interestingly, this appeared to quiet them up for a good twenty minutes before their conflict escalated into shouting again. The fight ended with a bang. "Dave" left the clearing in a highly agitated state, and has not appeared all day today or this evening. All is quiet.

Day 18:

The black Jeep Cherokee has disappeared from the driveway and not returned. Perhaps their money trouble is more serious than my observations previously suggested.

Day 20:

Gathering day on the porch again. I have not seen "Dave" and "Stacey" together at any point, but it appears certain patterns are very strong. Perhaps "Stacey" has been restricting her activities to the interior portions of their den. Dave is making his usual posturing and noise. It might be imagination, but their group jeering and shouting seems louder and more frequent than usual.

The Japanese, their Monsters, and a Little Boy (9 Sept 1997)

Jonathan Byrd <***@isu.edu> wrote:
>The Japanese clearly have the best monsters.

Shit, yeah. This is what happens when you spend thousands of years convinced of your own divine racial superiority and then a bunch of barbarians drop God's Own Hammer on you. It makes you weird. And your monsters become Big Monsters. Cool Monsters. Hardcore Monsters. Because you have seen the eye of the demon, and it doesn't suck your blood or steal your women or exchange its young for your baby in the middle of the night.

It flattens your nation without ever knowing you were there.

> I also like that three-headed monster, the one that
>punches the other monsters with its two outside heads.


We are, you could say, on a topic which lies close to my heart.

Recently, the Apple internal web had a "tell us the dumb names you give your Macintoshes and why" thingy. Well, on every test machine I've used since I've been at Apple, I've had a hard drive with four volumes: Gojiro, Rodan, Mothra, and Ghidora. Why? Sherman, set the wayback machine for something like the summer of 1972.

When I was two, or maybe a bit less, I demonstrated interest in television for the first time. There was, I am told, a week-long Japanese monster movie festival in the early afternoon, and for that entire week, my mother plopped me in front of the TV and I was riveted to it from noon to four. No crying. Not hungry. No nap needed. I was in stasis, just like Rodan and Ghidora and the Big G Himself, floating in alien bubbles in Destroy All Monsters.

I have vague, foggy memories of that house in Riverside. There are snippets and flashes and hazy bits of recollection from those first couple of years. But the earliest memory I can really put a finger on, the first thing I absolutely remember happening to me, was Destroy All Monsters on the TV set. And Ghidora. Ghidora is the fucking king. I don't remember the doctor pulling me from the womb; when consciousness arrived, it was Ghidora opening the door.

It would perhaps not be entirely out of line to conjecture that, really, everything about me-- who I am and what I am like-- derives in some small way from this initial moment.

I have never, by the way, mapped myself onto the role of the little boy who always befriends one of the Big Bad Monsters and gets rescued by them at some point. I understand the appeal of such a character, but I have always thought of the Big Monsters as far too primal and basic for that shit. You might as well write a story in which a little boy befriends Hurricane Andrew and, when a bunch of terrorists are about to kill him later on, the hurricane shows up and washes them all away.

Hm. On second thought, that could be kind of an amusing story.

Calculation (1 Apr 1998)

Scott Dorsey <******@netcom.com> wrote:
>We don't care. We care only about interesting odometer readings. Where
>were you when your car broke 31,415 miles?

The Tercel is coming up on 186,282 miles. It's an '84, which I guess makes it about 440 million times slower than light.

Children! For Progress!! (4 Aug 1999)

HOUSTON: Romper, this is Houston. Do you copy?

ROMPER: Hiiiiiii! Hi there!

HOUSTON: Romper, you are go for EVA.

ROMPER: Huh? Is my mommy there?

HOUSTON: We have an affirm on mommy, Romper. Would you like to
 speak to mommy?

ROMPER: Mommy!

HOUSTON: Eric? Hi, Eric, this is mommy. The nice men at Houston
 want you to go out of the spaceship now, okay?

ROMPER: Outside?

HOUSTON: Yes, outside. Did you and Mikey put your spacesuits on?

ROMPER: I thiiiiiiink soooooo...

HOUSTON: Are you wearing your spacesuit now?

ROMPER: Mmmmmm, yeah.

HOUSTON: Is it all zipped up?

ROMPER: I like zippers! Zipperrrrrrrrr! Zipperrrrrrr!

HOUSTON: Did you close the zipper?

ROMPER: Mmmmmm, yeah.

HOUSTON: Okay, Eric, you and Mikey need to put your helmets on, okay?


HOUSTON: Eric? Are you there?

ROMPER: I went.

HOUSTON: Went? Did you have an accident?

ROMPER: I went.

HOUSTON: Eric, the flight surgeon wants to know if you went number
 one or number two.

ROMPER: One! Nummah one!


ROMPER: Mommy? Can I go outside now?

HOUSTON: The flight surgeon says you can go outside, so put your
 helmet on. Is your helmet on?

ROMPER: Uh huh.

HOUSTON: Is Mikey's helmet on?

ROMPER: Uh huh.

HOUSTON: Okay, go ahead and open the door.

ROMPER: Oooooo! Pretty!

HOUSTON: Is it pretty? That's Mars, Eric. You're looking at Mars.

ROMPER: Pretty!

HOUSTON: Okay, Eric, this is an important historical moment. It's
 time to say the speech. Remember the speech?

ROMPER: I think so.

HOUSTON: The one that mommy and daddy practiced with you? Remember?

ROMPER: Daddy told me! Yes!

HOUSTON: Yes, you practiced with daddy. Say the speech you practiced
 with daddy.

ROMPER: I kick so much ass! I kick so much ass! Fuck communism!

HOUSTON: Uh... Eric?

ROMPER: I kick so much ass! Fuck the Commies! Daddy told me!

CRONKITE: And there we have it, the first human expedition to the
 surface of the Red Planet, as Eric Solberg bravely takes
 the human race another step further into the reaches of
 our solar system.

What I Did for Christmas Vacation (6 Jan 2000)

My team of mathematicians had been busily cranking out numbers for almost forty hours straight. I'd hand-picked my team from the best and brightest available; two Nobel prize winners were among their ranks. The whiteboards were filling up with data; we were on track, on schedule. The goal: to generate a statistical model for my entire life. Quantify my parameters. So far it was going pretty well; we were able to model my own surprise at our current progress, to an accuracy of four decimal places. Ultimately, of course, when we had The Algorithm, I was going to use it for only one thing: To go Up and Out. I did not tell my team that, naturally; they would not understand. They thought we were going to create artificial intelligence or something. I couldn't remember what I'd made up during the briefing. All that mattered was the numbers. The numbers. The numbers, and the Result.

At last, we had it. The Algorithm. It was torn from the printer and placed into my hands. I saw it, and It Was Good. Raising my eyes towards the heavens, I ascended. Escape was mine! The world dwindled behind me and I began to realize that something was sorta fishy about all of this. I was really hot and sweaty, and I was all entangled in my team of math geniuses.

As it turned out, the team of mathematicians I had employed was actually a sheet, a cotton blanket, and a nice warm comforter, and I'd been tossing and turning in bed with a 101.5 degree fever for the past two days.

But I escaped!

Math Is Good.

Channeling the Spirit of Windsor McKay (14 July 2000)

It's been a long trip and you're old. You've been napping, obviously. Too many g-forces tire you out, these days.

As the retros fire, you jerk awake from a dream about goats spinning spider silk in their milk, woven into bulletproof vests. Did Watson and Crick have any idea how far their discovery would go? Could they have imagined how soon the impossible would be routine?

A shadow passes across the windows as your granddaughter tugs your sleeve excitedly and points. The spaceplane rolls to begin the docking sequence and they rotate into view: A pod of blue whales, vacuum exoskeletons twinkling with navigation lights, spinning the lunar beanstalk.

One of the babies begins to roll, mimicking the shuttle. As the captain pipes their radio song through to the cabin, you find that you can't remember why you used to think the world was heading for a dead end.

You Will Live To See This.

here there be tygers (4 Nov 2000)

It's out there somewhere, boys. Beyond the horizon. Might be just out of sight, in fact. Just over there. The Unknown. A place of wonder and danger and other -ers. Who can say what we'll find there? Perhaps there will be birds of prey who have no eyes. Perhaps there will be strange people who eat the flesh of their children. Perhaps we'll see cities of glass and excrement. Or forests where gold drips like sap. Where we go now, the impossible becomes probable and the ludicrous dreams of the mad will be the rule of the day.

Here there be tygers, lads, and while I cannot say what they'll be like, I can tell you this: We won't know happiness until we've proven that we can kill them.