Ask General Kang: Um, is it time to panic?

Ask General KangYou humans still have primitive brains, so I will try to be understanding about this need of yours to panic.

One of your wisest humans wrote a book, upon the cover of which was the phrase “DON’T PANIC”. This is excellent advice, and the first thing you must learn if you ever hope to:

  • evolve
  • dabble in intergalactic travel
  • keep your portfolio intact in times of irrational exuberance and abject, lower-primate, the-leopard-is-going-to-eat-me moments of dread.

In this period of your insignificant planet’s history, you have given a large part of your economic well being to an institution which (and let’s not gild the lily on this one) runs on the base emotions of greed and fear. So, on occasion, you will have to face the fear. But those of you who rise above it, who listen to the wisdom of your great prophet, shall evolve.

But I suspect that not enough of you will get there before my armada arrives with its legions of über-chimps, armed with hyper-kazoos and tutus.

Then what?

Then it’s time for you to panic.

Next time: What does it mean when your cat beats you at chess? And should he be able to levitate like that?

More reasons not to panic here. Originally published in (you guessed it) January, 2008. It’s worth keeping in mind, though.

Classics of Literature — Ender’s Game

Ender's GameThis is a fun and page-turning read about eugenics, institutionalized child abuse, and genocide.

Humanity is at war with a distance race of aliens (called “Buggers”) and for some reason, the adults are unable to discover the best way to fight this implacable ant-like enemy. (Apparently, Boric Acid doesn’t work.)

What it really requires is the sense of wonder and innocence that only a child can have, and so, the people in charge of Earth’s governments start a breeding program to turn out kids designed to be excellent space warriors.

The children are all tagged so the authorities can monitor all their thoughts and movements, while they are being evaluated for service in the International Fleet. (A device that is similar to an iPhone, but a little smaller, and you can’t download your own apps to it.) After he is un-tagged, a young Ender Wiggin is attacked by bullies, and he kills one of them, so that the bullies will no longer bother him. The IF realizes it has made a horrible mistake. This is just the kind of ruthless logic they need in their war.

The rest of the novel follows Ender’s rise through the ranks at Battle School and Command School, a marginally creepy shower scene, and eventually, the set up for an excellent sequel, The Speaker for the Dead.

It is worth noting that an anagram of Ender Wiggin is “Ending Grew I.”

Alltop is wiggy to the end. Originally published in December, 2010. And no, I haven’t seen the movie yet.