Opposites Attract

I was on the subway, midday, so it wasn’t that crowded. Which I thought was good because I could be anti social and interact with my foldable phone. I did hear the steps that walked up and sat heavily across from me. Between us was a window which was no good in the underground except at the stations.

On reflection, I think this bothered him and thus he let out a loud, “Ahem!” as if he wanted to speak.

Briefly I looked up to check the nearby positions of everyone. There was no one else in easy speaking range so he must have meant that ahem for me. I decided not to get involved and deliberately bent my head to my machine.

“What do you do for a living?” the man asked and I knew that my prized time on my machine was over. “I bet your in charge of people and only approach others with orders never to approach you. Am I right?”

“I’m a doctor.” My eyes darted back to my machine with his pause.

“Specialist? Family Doctor? Surgeon? Philosophy?

I smiled at that last one. “I’m a plastic surgeon.” Noting an in with his mixed up nose I gave him a card. “That is, in case you know anybody.”

He smiled. “I’m the opposite. You fix people’s faces and I ruin them. I know what rhinoplasty is.” He must have read that off my card.

“I give up then. What do you do for a living?”

“I’m a professional boxer.”

“That’s how the opposite thing works, then. I could have guessed it was something like that by the way you carry yourself.”

He smiled and I thought the conversation might end there.

“Of course I don’t dare get my nose fixed until I’m sure of retirement.”

“That is also under the condition it isn’t too hard to fix. I do improvements not miracles. Break that thing too many times or too badly from one punch and there’s nothing I can do.”

“Opposites attract,” he said and got right to the point. “Maybe you and I could work together. For a commission I could ruin faces that you then fix.”

“None of your boxing buddies would go for that.”

“I’m talking the general public. In a one-plastic-surgeon town you would get all the business.”

“But surely you would be arrested each fight you started.”

“Not if I donned a mask, got a police scanner and only punched out criminals.”

“Crime fighting for profit. Why you are in the same territory as the police themselves.”

“And the judges and the jailers and everybody else. Why shouldn’t we have the same lucrative business? And, really ,would you have the obvious criminals profit from what they do? There would be one more layer of responsibility on their backs.”

“What would you do about guns?”

“Can’t a guy just roll around ideas in their head?”

“Good. Because there is no way I’m leaving for a one-plastic-surgeon town.

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Strange as Fiction

Everyone who has seen the movie Alien or any of its sequels knows and remembers the chest bursting scenes. But did you know that this scene isn’t as original as it seems on the surface. That there were a few incidents on Earth that gave arise to this idea.

First of all, the chest bursting thing never happened. That would be ridiculous. A creature bursting through the strong ribs of a human is unlikely. However it is just possible that a creature can burst through the soft walls of a stomach.

What kind of parasite would be able to do such a horrid deed? Why it is no other parasite than homo sapiens sapiens and it does it to its very own mother.

Well that’s a fine, “How do you do?” How could a human do such a horrid thing? Well of course the offending human was a fetus using its most powerful move – the kick.

Pregnant women survive kicks from their fetuses all the time. You see the problem exists with the proficiency of the fetus at kicking.

To find out about such births, we at Many Rants looked at some of the most proficient kickers of all time. We combed through the records of the best football kickers, the best martial artists and the greatest jockeys of all time. You might not know that proficient jockeys kick their rides in the stomach hard to get them to reach maximum speeds.

Sly Stamine is the first football kicker with a troubled birth that we found. Buried in the birth report made by the attending doctors, the birth was labelled as being premature due to “endopiercing of the womb and surrounding torso by the fetus itself. This forced the start of a cesarean section to remove the rest of the fetus.” For those of you who don’t know, endo means inner and piercing means to go through. There can only be one interpretation. Sly Stamine kicked so hard that his leg went right through his mother’s stomach.

I know the Alien didn’t come out foot first but reality is often different than fiction.

For those of you who don’t know, Stamine successfully kicked a 65 yard field goal that won the AFL championship.

Kick boxer, Tanu Leesmuh, also had a strange birth. His mother was thought to be murdered by the looks of the hole through her stomach. The police, however, noted that it was unlikely that the foot of the fetus would have made it through the hole if the hole was made exterior to interior. The police I think rightly insisted that the foot itself had exited the womb. His mother unfortunately died as a result but Tanu Leesmuh was known for having the strongest kick in all martial arts.

George Moore, the jockey, also had a tragic birth story. Before he was born his mother had great pain inside her back though strangely not around her back bone. She was quickly scanned and found to have two bad kidneys. His mother was put on dialysis after which the doctors induced George’s birth. They observed problematic tears right to her kidneys They fixed this and then got George’s uncle to donate a kidney to his Mom.

Everything worked out and everyone survived. But it is obvious that it was George’s strong kicks that risked all of them.

As an adult, George got some traction in the jockey world, winning many races but eventually his history followed him. The horses that he kicked to victory were not so good their next few races because they were bruised and sore. Eventually George had to retire.

So there it is. The next time you see a chest bursting scene in an Alien movie, you can say “I know where they got that whole idea.”

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Welcome, From Your Prescient Blog Site

This blog hasn’t always had prescience. In fact I’ve never noticed any signs it could predict the future until a few days ago. And it is only one post out of hundreds that is prescient. But the prescience in the post is undeniable.

In “Hug an Oak Tree Today”, I used my awesome powers of pattern recognition to say that first elm trees, then ash trees were wiped out in my part of North America. There was only one type of tree left that was three letters long and started with a vowel. The mighty oak tree was next, or so I figured.

Oak wilt has spread across much of the eastern United States. It has now been spotted near Detroit. Then the Detroit river is all that is stopping Southern Ontario from getting this tree fungus. It is expected to get to my area in only a couple of years.

After a tree is infected it usually dies in less than a year. I gather that all oak species are affected but some get infected more easily than others. Some oaks may be preserved for years by making sure never to prune them in the spring or making sure that infected trees don’t touch roots with uninfected trees. But I gather that all are going to die eventually.

I’m sorry that I brought this on. Me and my  ) @ ^^ ^ pattern recognition powers that led to this prescience. I apologize. Perhaps I will in the future try to use my pattern recognition skills for only things that might have a positive outcome. That way prescience won’t sneak up and bite me in the @$$ like it has this time.

Maybe some good will come out of this. Well, obviously not for the environment, but for me. I am writing science fiction that I will eventually publish or have published. It wouldn’t hurt to let the fans know that I predicted the future correctly in the past. Most science fiction writers are lousy at predicting the future so this little bit of prescience will seem impressive to many science fiction fans.

Perhaps there is hope for me. Too bad I couldn’t share this hope with the trees.

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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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