Did Ancient Species Go Extinct or Did They Have a More Honourable Group Suicide?

Can some species reliably see the future? Well obviously human beings can’t as noted by their laughable track record in this endeavour (see most of science fiction). But perhaps, just perhaps, other species can.

They might see the growth of the brains of human beings or at least in some species; allowing that species the upper hand in almost all run ins.

Then, too, that prescient species might see the rush for humans to have magic potions to cure humans of real or imagined problems. The list of humanity’s ingredients for these potions becomes obvious after awhile. A Rhino’s horn, a shark’s fin or an elephant’s tusk are just some of the things on this list. In short, anything odd for an animal to have is coveted in these recipes.

So I suspect some prescient ancient species honourably committed group suicide rather than eventually be preyed on by humans or our ilk.

So sabre tooth tigers committed group suicide rather than let their famous choppers be ground up so some human women could become fertile.

Or the Irish elk, with antlers so big it was once thought they went extinct because they couldn’t run through woods without hitting a tree, actually didn’t want said giant antlers used in a stew to make Irish warriors more fierce.

But the oddity doesn’t just have to be prominent. T. Rex’s puny arms might have been used to make a potion that makes humans great in spite of their short comings. So T. Rex would have also preferred extinction.

I believe that paleontologists are going to find more and more odd species from the past. It will become more and more obvious that we are living with relatively bland species today. This I will offer as proof of the group suicides.

So you don’t believe in my “magical” group prescience? Then don’t believe in magic potions made from exotic animal’s attributes.

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My Plan to Counterfeit and Never Get Caught

Since 1967, it is my belief that there are 6 852 different coins in circulation in Canada and we are somehow supposed to recognize them all as legal tender.

So, yes, I intend to counterfeit coins.

In 1967, it was a celebration of Canada’s centennial that kicked off this madness. Animals graced that year’s change. Don’t ask me to name the animals because I’ve never seen all the coins with everything but the odd penny being taken out of circulation by all the collectors. But I have seen the 1973 quarter that honoured the 100th anniversary of the RCMP and every odd coin since. It’s been a lot of odd coins since so I am quite truthful when I say I wouldn’t know all of them.

And what are we doing this year on Canada’s sesquicentennial? Of course it’s another year of all new coins, from the nickel to the toonie.

So if I had the brainpower of organized crime behind me, I’d examine which coin was the most profitable for our government to make with special attention paid to the loonie and the toonie because they are the most expensive and also the easiest to push on an unsuspecting populace.

I would then make that toonie or loonie with a different cause that Canadians could celebrate. I would only have two criteria: that it’s funny so people would be predisposed to accept these coins and that it’s a plausible sounding event so Canadians would never know that they are pushing bad coins.

So let’s make something up like the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s paper anniversary. This is funny because none of our currency is made from paper anymore. It is also believable because the Duke and Duchess have already had their paper anniversary and all the intelligent counterfeiter must do is make the date of the coin match the date of the anniversary.

There is only one flaw with this plan. There will be coins of the same denomination from the same year not celebrating the anniversary. So all we need is a Wikipedia page explaining that the mint kept the secret of the special coins until after the actual anniversary so as not to spoil the surprised for the duke and duchess. Wikipedia will not be able to determine our trickery simply because no Canadian in existence can say what is legal tender in our change anymore.

And that’s how I intend to make my living from now on. Bwuh huh huh. So expect me to pay for things exclusively in loonies or toonies.

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The Down Side to Kirk’s Good Ol’ Boxing

The first thing I’d like to say about boxing aliens is that human beings are likely mediocre fighters. So half of all alien species are stronger than us just like half of all alien species are weaker than us. For Captain Kirk, who would fight them all if he could, he probably shows the signs of the unscientific term ‘punch drunk’.

Of course Starfleet is more than possibly aware of Kirk’s condition which is likely a brain injury of some sort. They likely checked him out from top to bottom and deemed him able to still perform for Starfleet. And as for all his fighting on behalf of Starfleet, he was given the reward of being the youngest captain of a battle ready Starship.

They know his two weaknesses from the brain damage. The first one is just a speech tic that has only minor consequences. Kirk. Likes. To. Speak. In. One. Word. Sentences. This is annoying but hardly worth stripping the captaincy from Kirk. In fact stripping Kirk of anything might be seen as insensitive to minority groups. And the Federation has lots of minorities.

The second brain damage induced decisions are that Kirk frequently goes down to the planets himself. This can only seem fool hardy to those familiar with the military establishment.

Maybe Starfleet sees it as a way to get rid of Kirk in case his delightful brain damage starts getting worse. Maybe they like the way he continues the charade that humans don’t get brain damage despite repeated blows to the head. Maybe that’s one myth Starfleet wishes to see go on.

Regardless, Kirk’s good ol’ boxing worked for Starfleet. So why not let it continue?

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Rivers in the Sky -Taking the Fun Out of Flying Cars

Do you think your normal pilot’s licence is good enough for you to take to the air in a flying car? It won’t be when we all have flying cars and our cities get bigger. There are just way too many chances of having an airborne accident.

Hey! Maybe we’ll just fly as the crow does everywhere. But with city centres being so built up, flight from one to another will have flying car after flying car fly over certain properties increasing the incidence of accidents over them and on them. So flying cars will be banned everywhere that is fairly populated except over top of the roads.

So maybe when we think about flying cars, we can envision driving to save gas until we hit a traffic jam where suddenly the car can fly past the clog up ahead and then drive onward to our destination.

Or if we want to save the cost of nicely maintained roads all the cars can fly in a “river” above the abandoned roads.

Maybe we can vertically stack more flying cars. Not really. Due to possible accidents, no one will want to be on the bottom and everyone will prefer the top.

So there will be one level of a flowing river of traffic in the sky over the abandoned roads. No more traffic will be able to get through than before.

And no one will be allowed to pilot their own flying car so close to each other, so this will be done by machines that are better at it than mere humans.

I know this takes a lot of the fun of having a flying car away, but I believe they are our future anyway. Because: progress. Maybe we’ll get to fly them in near deserted areas. That is, if we have our pilot’s licence.

And there might be a few new routes in the commute to a city like Toronto. Like the St. Catherines to Toronto river in the sky that could take effect over Lake Ontario. Of course these flying cars must also be floatable in case of accident or running out of gas. But it is doable and still advantageous in this circumstance.

So I think flying cars are going to be way less valuable than they seem at first glance. This is my crude way of stomping on some people’s dreams. I’d like to say sorry, but I just am not sorry. There are usually limits to people’s dreams.

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Creep Creep

Can we all just agree that marketers are overwhelmingly creeps? It seems the lot are driven to exaggerations and hyperbole in the effort to sell us anything at all. Today I’d like to talk about the exaggerations in “technical” fields. Marketers offend me here as a science fiction author.

Let’s get right to the “hoverboard” that does not hover and is prone to explode or at least burn. This wheeled contraption is obviously not a hovering vehicle of any kind. It has wheels like almost all modes of transport. How dare they make the standard so low just because the year has come and gone when the movie Back to the Future said hoverboards would be on the market.

Next the marketing creeps have been calling remote control battles, robot battles for more than a decade. The whole point of robots is that they are supposed to do what you tell them to do and figure out how best to do that all on its own. Half the battle of building a robot is the brain. If it’s an RC fight you want then call it that.

The third big lie and overstated technology is artificial intelligence or AI. I know some of it is like a black box that the programmers can’t see inside. And it can learn. It may be artificial but it’s not intelligent just yet. AIs still suck at understanding human speech, something even the least intelligent humans can get. Until it can handle an intelligent conversation with me, I don’t believe artificial intelligences exist and the singularity is just around the corner.

Quit overstating technology. The bounds are changing every day. Just because the creeps of marketing stole some terms from science fiction doesn’t mean we’re living in an advanced future. Today seems like such an unsatisfying future when they have to lie about it for you.

Maybe we can get the marketers on false advertising claims. Maybe then science fiction could reclaim its words.

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The Canadian Duel

(Showdown at the Number 12 Bus)

There I was, embarking on the simple task of taking the number 12 bus. A crowd had built up as the bus pulled up and let out its passengers. That went orderly enough but those of us who wanted to get on were not in any clear lineup. Still the earlier waiters slowly managed to spill in the front doors. But something different was about to happen to me.

I and another young gent had about equal claims to go next. So simply I took off my blue tooth headphones and said, “after you.”

Then he said, “No. After you.” He waved his hand as part of the gesture. So it was on. A true Canadian duel.

Because I had just taken my headphones off I wasn’t sure if my polite nemesis had said ‘After you,’ an earlier time. I waved my hand but he didn’t go.

Dangerously we were now the front most pair of everyone trying to get on the bus. From past trauma I knew where this might head.

A chain reaction of ‘After yous’ might spread to the whole rest of the crowd and it would be nuclear. Imagine the chaos of everyone saying ‘after you’ and no one moving. Avoiding that nuclear catastrophe, I just went on ahead.

I had lost the Canadian duel. Quietly I got on that bus and cursed my headphones and their comfort for making me lose. I also silently cursed my seat which would be slightly better than my victor’s.

But that’s what happens when you lose a Canadian duel. I would just have to play it in my head whenever I feel traumatized and make sure I learn from it so I never lose a Canadian duel again.

This is all part of the risks you take while being in Canadian society. Learn from my mistakes that day.

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Vaguest Shortened Name

There is a danger when you shorten too much, which can happen as English sometimes is a more concise language. You can lose information – important information. Which is usually bad. But in this day and age that might be a good thing for names as you might have partial anonymity.

What am I talking about specifically? Well, just this week, I realized that Ed could mean any of three common names. Edward, Edwin and Edgar can all be shortened to that.

Then I realized that the other vague shortened name I knew was Mo. This can stand for Morris or even Mohammed. Since we were using non English names, I realized there could be a third name – Mohamar. I was surprised that there were so many possibilities for these two names. So I thought some more.

I eventually put Ed out in front because it could stand for the foreign name Edsel (which I believe is German). But I wanted a race. So I thought more on Mo. And I uncovered girls’ names. Mo could stand for Mona, Maura or Maureen.

Ed has two more female names it could represent: Edwina and Edna.

So, for a long time I was stuck in a two way tie with six names. Still, I wanted to declare a winner for this post and possible for all shortened names.

I thought more about Ed knowing that it was short a woman’s name. Then I stumbled across Edie. It has a long E sound and thus normally wouldn’t be allowed. But the two sounds are the names of the letters in Ed: E. D. So of course they can be shortened to ED and pronounced Ed. I have my winner. Important in this the era of anonymity.

And to add icing to the cake for Ed, I just realized that Mohammed with the spelling I am using, has an Ed in there as well. So it can also be shortened to Ed. That’ 8 short forms that are Ed to 6 short forms that are Mo.

Can you think of an even more vague shortened name? Please share it. With so many names in the world, it’s more than possible I have missed some name that is even more vague.

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History is Bunk

Mass production great, Henry Ford, once said that “History is bunk”. Now, Henry Ford is long dead so we have historians to thank for preserving this quote and passing it down through the ages. If history is bunk, then, the historians have proved history isn’t bunk by preserving the idea that history is bunk. This gets contradictory and ironic so fast that I’ll just let it fester.

This small tale is no April Fool’s joke. It is entirely true. Ask an historian.

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Men Without Audible Voices

In the eighties, I went to Montreal and my brother and sister took me to a bar that Ivan Doroschuk was known to frequent. I had heard of him because I liked the pop band Men Without Hats that he fronted. Although this was an eighties pop band, Men Without Hats also put together listenable albums which was rare at the time. Their biggest hit was Safety Dance and from that video I imagined that Ivan was six feet tall.

So in that Montreal bar we did indeed see Ivan that night. I make a poor fanboy as I didn’t go up to him and try talking with him. But I could see that he was 5’6” or maybe even shorter. This surprised me.

My sister once tried to explain to me that I thought he was tall because the Safety Dance video has him and a short girl and a dwarf. Of course he looked big next to those two. But that’s not the only reason I was under the misapprehension that he was tall. It is also true that he has a low singing voice.

I am a fan of the band Yes that is just this year being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Their most well known singer is Jon Anderson who is about the size of Ivan. Jon Anderson has the highest singing voice of any male singer in rock. Also Jon Anderson wasn’t able to go on tour a few years ago and his two replacements, Benoit David and Jon Davison (who are former members of Yes cover bands) are shorter than the rest of the members of Yes. I believe that all three are about the size of Ivan Doroschuk.

Indeed the idea of shorter people having higher voices carries over to primordial dwarves. Primordial dwarves have the proportions of most humans. So they have very high voices because of shorter vocal cords.

Do you wonder why a mouse squeaks? Why that is really a fierce roar that other, bigger animals aren’t afraid of.

So I think that Ivan is an outlier. In the interest of science, I think he should breed with a woman that is well over six feet tall. If Ivan were to have a 6’6” offspring male, I bet it would have the voice of a Barry White as it grows and finally, after his voice changes, he will be left inaudible to the average human’s ears.

He would appear to be a mute human but I wonder if he would find friends in the greatest of whales, the blue whales, that also use sounds too low for human beings to hear. If he practiced singing while he was a kid, perhaps he could sing songs just to the blue whales. Perhaps this would make him the whale whisperer.

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My Cat Loves Found Toys

When I first got my cat, Bast, I tried buying her all sorts of toys. But she rejected them one by one. The mouse on an elastic attached to the top of a door frame I thought would be the best. She did play with that one but less and less. Most toys she would ignore. One, the suction cup spring toy I attached to the side of my fridge at cat height, she didn’t play with and just kept ripping the suction cup off so the toy was on the floor.

But one inexpensive toy gripped her. She would hear my tearing off of an envelope end and jump into my lap. Before I was done reading the letter or maybe more properly bill, she would reach her paw up and grab the envelope end. This is her favourite toy of self play. She’ll play with these scraps on the ground after she has liberated them from my table.

I’ve tried all manner of balls with her but she hardly plays with these things. But I bought grapes and one time one accidentally fell to the floor. She rolled this around and it met her approval as a cat toy. Of course it was weeks later that I found this lone grape underneath my furniture, rotting away. So I have not let her have any other grapes. Still this alleged carnivore that doesn’t beg for food, will beg me every time I bring out any grapes to snack on.

She will play with me and the red laser toy. I just don’t bring it out that often because it isn’t that fun a toy for me. Especially after the first minute or two when she will look up at my hands and know that I am moving it around for her entertainment purposes. Then she stops.

I just got a watch with the biggest face I have ever seen. So even far from the kitchen light in the living room it catches that reflection which sometimes accidentally makes an appearance on the floor. My cat loves playing with this. And she really doesn’t know where the light is coming from which makes her play for a few moments. This is way longer than she plays with the laser light.

So there you have it. If I had known my cat’s penchant for found toys, I could have saved all of my toy bills. I have three ways of playing with her for free even if I won’t use the one because of the possible stench in my apartment.

So there you go. Three free ideas to keep your cat entertained without actually buying a toy. Try them first if you get a cat. If not you can buy the toys my cat won’t play with.

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