Aliens are Humans? – Wait a Minute!

I’ve heard it said that all aliens in science fiction are really humans in disguise for getting the author’s point across about humanity. Apparently the prime directive about writing science fiction is that it must be human centred even when it is obviously not.

All I can ask is WTF are these awful know-it-alls trying to say and who elected them the only purveyors of meaning in fiction? Are words lost on these people? Since when does alien mean human? Does that mean that the aliens I write (which are true aliens) are the first ones that have ever existed in science fiction? Fine, I’ll take that first.

The idea that aliens are humans might work on Star Trek where the aliens are all humans with putty. This might explain the ridiculousness of Spock, where humans and Vulcans can breed with successful offspring. But the idea that all aliens are humans breaks down very obviously in most written science fiction.

The next trick in stealing science fiction from the masses is to say that all planets are really Earth. They exist as dystopias or utopias or alternate reality for the reader to decipher as being a facet of the one true planet. Well at least habitable planet.

If you are going to say that there are no real aliens (just facets of humanity) then you are going to probably say the same thing about characters that are robots or computers, animals, godlike creatures, or lesser magical creatures. So you have compressed my 6 kinds of characters into one all encompassing human category.

If you are going to say that Earth is the one true setting then you are going to compress my 5 basic settings (earth, the divine [heaven or hell], anything hard with gravity, weird and exotic settings [other astronomical objects], and free fall) into the one giant category of “the facets of earth”.

If you agree that there is only one true setting and one true character then congratulations. You have made your universe a lot more simple. You have also succeeded in making it a lot more boring. I’m sorry that the interesting has somehow managed to offend you.

I will never subscribe to that boring universe. Remember next time that those critics, who don’t acknowledge aliens, don’t speak for me.

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Oh, Football!

I’ve never seen the Lombardi Trophy in football till the other day on the Ellen show. On that show Julian Edelman came on carrying the Lombardi trophy which is for the winning team of the Super Bowl. For those who have not seen the Lombardi Trophy it is a tall angular thing that has a silver football on top.

Julian Edelman was named the Super Bowl MVP, or winner of the Pete Rozelle Trophy. When Ellen asked what that trophy looked like I thought (but could have imagined it) that she was confused by Julian Edelman’s answer. “It’s a silver football,” said Edelman or words to that effect.

“Didn’t he already have it then?” I was thinking and it must have caught others off guard in the same way that it caught me.

Then Ellen said she had the Super Bowl MVP trophy for Edelman. She surprised him with the Pete Rozelle Trophy which was a short angular thing with a silver football on top. I may have felt just a touch stupid at this point.

I realized one thing then. Football trophies have a definite lack of originality to them. It almost shows that a lack of creativity exists in our sports spectacles.

Then I thought that the two trophies were a sort of matched set. After all doesn’t the MVP award always go to a member of the Lombardi Trophy winning team?

This theory can’t be true because in 1971 Chuck Howley won the MVP award while his team, the Dallas Cowboys, lost the Super Bowl to the Baltimore Colts. So the argument that the trophies are a set is lost.

Still at least there is some creativity in football. Or else the team trophy would be a gigantic bowl. For those who don’t know it’s called the Super Bowl because of the bowl shape of the stadium the game is played in.

Perhaps Canada can show a little more originality than the US in their professional football. It should be easy to do, after all it’s not likely that the sport has two teams with almost identical names. But then again the Ottawa Rough Riders and the Saskatchewan Roughriders played in the same league and even met each other in the finals four different times.

Oh, football!

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Fire Breathing Dragons Prefer Their Food Cooked

I never questioned the idea that a knight in shining armour would attack a fire breathing dragon for both its gold and the prestige of winning such a fight. What I hadn’t done is considered the reality of the situation.

Suits of armour may help in a fight against a big cat, a bear or a pack of wolves. I just question its effectiveness on fire breathing dragons. The metal suit will just conduct the heat of the fire all around the hapless knight so he will cook evenly just like a tinfoil wrapped baked potato on a barbecue. I wouldn’t be surprised if suit-of-armour-cooked-knights are the dragon’s favourite main dish.

But not only will the knight likely become a dinner for the fire breathing dragon, he wrapped himself in cookware, delivered himself to the dragon for a fee of nothing and brought dessert in the form of his trusty steed who is brave enough to go anywhere the knight leads.

Basically, the knight deserves his fate.

But I can see a way that he might have been tricked by the fire breathing dragon.

For the price of a few gold coins the dragon can give that gift to some lucky, not so daring knight. For his gold the knight can say he fought a dragon and killed it – that’s where the gold is from. Others will believe especially with the carefree spending of the knight in-the-know. They will ask him how he managed to kill the dragon and he will say, “With my suit of armour fully on to withstand the dragon’s claws.”

Then when pressed he will give the whereabouts of an even richer dragon. The mastermind dragon. The people might ask why he doesn’t go after it himself and he will just say that the dragon is a mighty foe and he thinks if he fights too many of them he might lose his life eventually.

So only the hardier of knights will go. I wouldn’t be surprised if the fire breathing dragon had expected this. Perhaps he wanted the knights that were closest to being pure protein.

Many knights will deliver themselves to the dragon’s lair. I just hope that dragon mastermind has the stomach for it.

And that’s how I think the idea for the battle to the death between a knight in armour and a fire breathing dragon got started.

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What Can I Say About Reverse Skating?

To my mind, my namesake, science fiction writer Larry Niven, is the king of science fiction ideas. Not only are some of his ideas great, but he has a large amount of them.

In the short story, “What Can You Say About Chocolate Covered Manholes?” he offers many ideas purported to be from the same character. The character (we are told) is usually a hit at parties with his interesting conjectures. But we are also told about one of his ideas that fell flat. That would be the chocolate covered manholes that the story is named for.

I haven’t read this story in 25 years but still remember one of the so called gems. That was where instead of strapping blades on your feet and skating on ice, you could instead make a “track” of metal blades and strap blocks of ice to your feet and thus skate in a reverse way. Twenty-five years later I began thinking this idea through. I imagined things I’d like to share with you.

Firstly, I think that a single blade track for your foot’s ice block would be too hard to balance on. Instead, I suggest you make each blade track be doubled up a few inches apart. I can actually see someone skating like this.

Secondly, to stop quickly, like a hockey player, I think you would need to put many blades perpendicular to your skating tracks. Stopping like this would allow you places to rest in the dangerous business of reverse skating.

Now I don’t know enough of the mechanics of figure skating to know how anyone could do turns and jumps – I’ll leave this for the readers that might know. Instead, I will point out that falls are very dangerous on this course and almost certainly going to happen while the reverse skater is learning.

So instead of our guinea pig being seriously injured in her first attempt(s) at skating, I suggest making a protecting suit out of (what else?) – ice.

One solid piece of ice would make movement of our skater impossible, so, there will have to be pieces that might fit together like a suit of armour. Hopefully when our guinea pig wipes out, her suit will be complete enough that ice hits the blades and not her soft flesh. She will, after a fall, slip for a distance but not too far. Getting back up when you are in a suit of ice I leave for my intelligent readers.

Some of you have likely guessed my next tack. Instead of a suit of ice, how about using a suit of armour? You need to still have the blocks of ice on your feet to skate. But this way falling wouldn’t be deadly. Suits of armour are, however, heavy. Our guinea pig might only skate in short bursts and is unlikely to do any graceful jumps with any height.

With every fall will come the sound of steel on steel. And without slipping, each fall might likely result in injury.

So let me just say it. Humans are just too fragile to do this type of skating so let’s make our skaters AI robots. Here’s a way for AIs to enter the sports industry without putting any actual humans out of work. I imagine humans would be interested in watching and setting up the blade tracks in an arena. Why not? Humans watch RCs battle it out under the name of robots. In reverse skating, the robots may even survive the competition.

There is much to discuss in Niven’s throwaway idea. He even identified it as such. Now if that isn’t proof that he is king of the science fiction idea, I don’t know what is.

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On Singing Like Stevie Nicks

Stevie Nicks is probably the biggest talent that Fleetwood Mac is known for. As well as penning and singing many hits for Fleetwood Mac, she was, to my mind, the one with the most successful solo career. She is also known for duets with Kenny Loggins and Don Henley.

But there is no getting around the fact that the woman bleats like a sheep. Some people think that vibrato makes for good singing and she has plenty of that. Sheep also have good vibrato. It is in every “Baa,” they make.

Just listen to that Don Henley duet, Leather and Lace, if you doubt me. I will be right here waiting patiently for your return.

So I was thinking how I could make a sheep into a good singer. Stevie Nicks has two things that a sheep can’t do. She can sing a tune and she can enunciate words.

To get a tune out of a sheep all that is necessary is a sampler and a half decent keyboard player. With this it is possible to “Baa,” through many popular songs.

Enunciating words is harder. I imagine you could make a robotic mouth, tongue, teeth and lips with forced air and the basic bleating sounds coming through the setup. Yes this might be hard to do but not impossible.

Then all you would need is a writer of Stevie Nicks calibre and you could have a successful musical act. You know, along the lines of Greta van Fleet (Led Zeppelin) and the Struts (Queen – but they are trying to distance themselves from this even though Queen’s star is rising because of their biopic).

This is not an unrealistic dream. However I do wonder how you would accredit the singing of this act. Credit the keyboardist? The sheep? The engineer of the enunciation setup? Regardless this still is my dream.

And even if I can’t go as far as my dream it would still be incredibly funny to get a sampler, sample a sheep and play the singing line to all of my favourite Stevie Nicks sung songs. Just don’t expect me to share them here because copyright holders would be jealous of my talent. Get your own sampler.

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We Interview Some of the Ford Government’s New Appointees

LR: Fox Ford, you’ve been chosen as the province’s official chicken inspector. Is there anything you’d like to say to our readers?

FF: Not really. But I’m curious. If I were to, say, reject some meat where would they dispose of it?

LR: I’m not sure. Through proper procedures, I’m sure.

FF: What if I were to offer to take it off their hands. Free and clear. No disposal costs at all for them. Might that save them some money?

LR: Do you not understand how an interview works? I’m supposed to ask the questions.

Now, do you have any direction where you might take food inspection?

FF: I was thinking that really, can’t you tell if meat is good or bad at the farm first? Sorry about that question – it was rhetorical. I’ve always been able to size up a chicken and decide if it was good or bad while it was still alive. My stomach can attest to my 100% accuracy. Anyhow, I think we can move the inspection system to the farms for freshness. The system might be able to save on slaughtering costs as well. Just thinking aloud.

LR: My, Fox Ford, I just can’t seem to look away from your pointy face and red hair. And you look like you’re drowning in that suit.

FF: Do you have something you’re trying to tell me?

LR: There’s the questions again. Just thinking aloud. Like you did. If we’re off on the wrong foot just go.

Fox Ford leaves the interview.

*

LR: Now Sinbad Baddie, you’re the new pot czar for Ontario. May I ask, how do you know the Ford family?

SB: I’m entirely qualified to be pot czar. I used to supply drugs to Ontarians.

LR: Was that crack? And was it to the Ford family?

SB: I object to this line of questioning. You’re just assuming the worst because of my name. Well let me assure you that it is a double negative which is a positive.

LR: It’s a triple negative which is a negative.

SB: Agree to disagree.

LR: Alright. The government way underestimated the potential pot market and there are shortages everywhere province wide. Is that because someone in government asked their dealer and the dealer lied in order to enrich themselves.

SB: I object to this line of questioning, too. Are you trying to out me as a dealer or as a member of government. I can’t decide which.

LR: I am trying to out you both ways.

SB: Now I know why people in politics always use that handy “No comment” answer. No comment.

LR: Do you have anything else the public might want to know?

SB: No comment.

*

LR: Digby Runes, may I just say how glad I am to meet the appointee in charge of manufacturing and industry. I am pleased to say you are not a Ford or a known friend of the Fords.

DR: Yes, yes. I am happy to be here.

LR: You must be an expert in your field to be chosen for this.

DR: Quite right. I have been in middle management in the manufacturing field for years.

LR: Middle management? They could have promoted almost anyone from that. Why you?

DR: I think I bring skills they needed.

LR: Like what?

DR: Like my total commitment to the job. No matter what they want I will try, try, try to make it happen.

LR: So your skill is you try at your job?

DR: Yes, yes.

LR: Digby Runes, are you a Yes man?

DR: Yes, yes. Quite, quite.

LR: As a Yes man, what do you see as your most important goal?

DR: With GM abandoning part of Ontario and Chrysler still being uncompetitive I see an opening with cars for this to be Ford Nation.

LR: Ontario’s not a nation, Canada is.

DR: Things change.

LR: And Ford is getting out of making any cars. It would be more like Honda nation.

DR: SUVs, then. Still Ford Nation.

LR: Doesn’t that sound like a stupid plan to you?

DR: Yes, this interview is over.

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The Prison

Let’s follow the academic career of a typical scientist to see just exactly where they are coming from.

First up is elementary school where the scientist-to-be has a slightly better math aptitude. It is also possible for her to be a bit better at logic than her peers and this may help her in her other subjects, too.

Later on, in junior high she might encounter “science” classes where memorization seems to be everything. Naming and classifying is all they ever seem to do. It is not necessary for the scientist-to-be to excel at these courses but the scientist-to-be often does.

By grades 10 or 11 in high school she often encounters “real” science where the basics of what can be said by math and other logic systems are met for the first time.

At about the same time these “real” sciences are introduced, the student is met with electives for the first time. Curious about how the real sciences work, the scientist-to-be often uses all of her electives on science and math courses. In the last year of high school, she is almost forced to take all science and math courses due to entry requirements at University.

Often there are electives at University, too. But for the science major these are vastly outnumbered by the required courses and the prerequisites for the interesting upper year courses. Again, the scientist-to-be uses her electives on science and math courses.

Then comes graduate programs. The scientist-to-be takes graduate courses in her field-to-be while madly working on her Masters and PhD. There is almost no time for electives.

The freshly minted doctor throws herself into her work as a professor. Research grants demand expertise in her field and this demands she keep up with everything related to her field. This, surprise, surprise, leaves little time for other interests.

She finally achieves tenure, that most prized of professor accomplishments. She can take a sabbatical. She can learn new things. Her research can go in almost any direction she wants. And she finds out for the first time that science is supposed to be curiosity driven. She could go anywhere with her mind.

It’s like she’s been in a prison all her life and has now been handed the master key. She ponders opening up her cell door. She studies all the math and science she once took and decides to make step by step advances in the stuff she already knows.

She has the master key but refuses to use it. The prison is now voluntary. Or perhaps it is a case of Stockholm Syndrome.

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Fave Posts of 2018

Some think that this Boxing Week post is the lamest of the year. There are no jokes – I just list some of my favourite posts of the last year for your curiosity.

But some might appreciate these posts. If you are new to my site you might appreciate this list. Know that every Boxing Week I do this except 2015. In 2015 I forgot to do this list and it appeared as the first post of 2016.

Others might be curious at what I am aiming for in my humour. These posts are generally what I try to aim for . Know also that in October I thought I was on a hot streak of one good post after another. The stats I got bore this out, too. October was my top visitor getting month of the year.

In February I warned countries to not cut down their rainforests. An unpredictable United States with the most powerful military especially, that is, on cleared land, is a strong danger.

Permapout was posted in April and told us some of how a meeting would go down with Trump and Kim Jong Un in a more realistic way than the idea that Trump could somehow manage to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

In May I pointed out how humans may be able to time travel like animals already successfully doing so today. I call this style of time travel “ignorant time travel”.

In July I posted about the realities of ‘7 League Boots‘.

In October I like all my posts but Better than ‘Baby on Board’ is my favourite.

In December I liked Don’t Grinch or Scrooge This Post. It brings up points that are only too true but also funny.

So, whether or not you actually choose to follow the links, have a wonderful new year of 2019.

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Oh, the Irony of Parties in Canada

The first irony is that a party means a group that gets along. It’s almost completely ironic that only one person (the leader) has any say in this group. Oh they pretend equality every once in a while by having a free vote in the House of Commons. But these are rare and only occur if the party leader has no clear answer of their own.

The only thing liberal about the Liberals is spreading the net wide for the opposite sex. Just follow the career of Trudeau the elder. He even went out of the country to find suitable females. I am as surprised as you are that he found a Canadian mother for his children.

But more often the liberals are conservatives. Just ask Justin Trudeau who appointed an evenly split by gender cabinet. This is of course a ruse of equality because the cabinet has zero power. Trudeau has it all. Because it’s long past 2015 and that’s how Trudeau rolls.

The Conservatives are almost always the most liberal in their spending. Preach fiscal conservatism but try to outspend the socialists when you are in power is their real motto. That’s what the Conservatives do over and over again. You see, their rich buddies want them to spend the same amount of money on them or their companies as previous governments did on social programs. Is it a surprise that the Conservatives get the most campaign contributions? Not bad for a party that is usually number two in popularity.

Most of the provincial conservative parties are known as Progressive Conservative parties. Excepting fiscal conservatism these more local parties should really be known as the Regressive conservatives. Debtor’s prison? What a great idea and they got the idea from that British literary great Charles Dickens. This is regardless of Dickens’ true intent.

The New Democratic Party is not new – it has existed for my full lifetime. Even in the world of political parties it is older than even the European Green Parties.

Which gets us to the Canadian Green Party. Maybe they just don’t know what ironic is. Almost all their platforms either don’t affect the environment or are green in that they are positive for the environment.

Everyone in Canada knows the “colour of money” is green even though we have multicoloured money. Just ask the Rosedale stop on one of the Toronto subway lines. (Yes it’s a rich area and yes the tiles on the stop are green.) Isn’t greening the environment supposed to be expensive? It is but this change could be a large engine of the economy. I think the change would give us better lives. And before you quote a naysaying economist on me, remember that there are many yea-saying economists. That’s right. As a science, economics is far softer than climate science so there is way more division.

Is the Green Party too green to realize that it must be ironic in Canada? Maybe. But maybe there is a group of people that is sick to death of backwards speak.

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Don’t Grinch or Scrooge This Post

How many times have we heard it? Someone is acting non Christmassy and so we label them a grinch. Or someone is cheap with the amount of money spent on gifts so someone calls them a scrooge.

Who would argue that someone taking back a Christmas gift shouldn’t be called a grinch? After all that is in keeping with the Grinch’s whole plan of stealing Christmas from the whos down in whoville.

Who would argue that someone exhibiting miser like qualities, especially around the holidays, shouldn’t be called a scrooge? That was Ebeneezer Scrooges M.O. throughout much of A Christmas Carol.

I would argue against both of these. The whole point of How the Grinch Stole Christmas and A Christmas Carol is the transformation of their protaganists from sour, bitter, anti-Christmas characters to happy, pro celebration and pro good deeds characters.

To be a grinch is to be someone who takes joy in carving the roast beast at Christmas time. Only vegans and vegetarians might see this as bad.

To be a scrooge is to be one who revels in the good health of Tiny Tim.

Would you like to be labeled forevermore as something you once were? How about calling you Poopy Pants for the rest of your life because this once described you as a baby.

It would be even more fitting to use your name be it Gerard or Sandy or Della as a synonym for poopy pants. “Ewww! I smell a Gerard!” Or how about, “Baby! Are you a Sandy today? Gross.” Or wrinkling your nose and saying with a sneer, “Are you Della in your used Depends?”

Now I have only to apologize for abusing the words scrooge and grinch in the title of this post. After the transformation they saw, I want you to grinch and scrooge this post. Perhaps it will go viral.

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