Archive | Skwibby fiction

Camusic of the Spheres 

kermit smokingThe dreams had returned, again, and no amount of coffee and cigarettes could keep their influence at bay.

The ennui was crushing at times, and even talking with an outrageous French accent would not help.

He thought of his days in the theatre. Oh, the crazy antics they’d get up to behind the proscenium. His torrid affair with the La Belle Cochon. All of the strange creatures that inhabited his world back then seemed like a forgotten summer’s holiday: it was a feeling. The intimation of sunlight glinting off his green skin… pretty girls in crinoline … absinthe parties under the panoply of the Milky Way. And so many more wisps that could be regrets if he could only recall what they were.

He was hollow. A shell. A cipher and an entertainer. These things he could be certain of, but nothing else.

Except that he always smelled of bacon.

Alltop is hammy.

Municipal Investment Strategies for the Technological Singularity

The Technological Singularity

An Open Letter to Town Council

Dear Councillors:

Your town may have an emergency plan, a development plan, a health plan — it may even have a plan for how to fix the potholes (though I doubt it).

But does it have a plan for how to respond to the technological singularity? Is it preparing for all the new economic opportunities? I suspect not.

Now, some have complained that that technological singularity is the “rapture for nerds”, but this couldn’t be farther from the truth. It is the municipal investment opportunity of the ages! Forward-thinking municipal governments can start preparing now, and be ready to reap the rewards of the point in human history when human intelligence is not only exceeded by machine intelligence, but when human intelligence is merged with (or eradicated by) machine intelligence.

You’re thinking: “well, sure I’d love to help get ready for this, but realistically, how do we plan? We don’t even know if regular flesh-and-blood humans will be around to experience the singularity.”

Of course we will!

Ray Kurzweil believes that we’ll be able to model the human brain by 2029, and create algorithms based on those models to allow computers to gain human-like intelligence. But is anyone working on a way for computers to go to bars and get drunk and hook up with other drunken computers so that they can “make a mistake” and then squirt out new computers? I doubt it.

So there you go: invest in light manufacturing. There will definitely be a need for humans to help create our new overlords.

But there’s so many other possibilities! What if the technological singularity is based more on nanotechnology than it is on the gross, large-scale electronics of our current era? Here too, prescient town councils can make good investments for the future. It will certainly be easier for the new machine overlords to replicate themselves in mass quantities if our human immune systems do not fight them at every stage. This leads to so many possible avenues of fruitful research: immune-suppressing drugs, radiation, surgery, bio-engineering, even psychology might (finally) prove itself useful by producing a technique by which humans could allow supra-intelligent nanomachines to use their bodies to reproduce.

We’re only scratching the surface here, obviously.

Many municipalities invest much of their resources in policing and this is an area where they will find huge savings, but only if there is a good interface between humans and our new machine overlords. Apart from the aforementioned research opportunities, municipal governments should begin looking at some kind of cybertronic peace officer corps now, to acclimatize citizens early — after all, an easily controlled citizenry is a productive citizenry! This could be as simple as implanting some kind of control chip in police headgear (hats, caps, flak helmets) to something more radical, such as embedding a semi-live police officers in a mechanical exoskeleton armed with rapid-fire pistols and a loudspeaker-augmented voice.

Municipal leaders should prepare for the darker predictions of how a technological singularity plays out. What if the new machine overlords simply wish to rid themselves of the human population?

There is a simple solution for this problem, and it is summed up in two words: rotating knives.

We’re pretty sure that would never happen, but even if it does, what if you’re the first town to think of it, and sell the process?

Think of the revenue. You could cut taxes. Contact us for more details.

Yours Truly,

Genghis Toon,
Oberdyne Industries, “The Helping Corporation”

Alltop has an investment strategy for funny. Originally appeared on Grasping for the Wind, Aug. 9, 2010. Photo by Planetart via Flickr.

This short piece is included in my collection, Pirate Therapy and Other Cures. You should really get a copy before those knives start a-whiring.

Dr. Tundra Perfects the Whatsit Upgrade

flower close up

This is an extreme close up of a flower, so no outraged emails, please. Photo by Ryan Woolies.

Whatsit 2.0 had been so popular that Dr. Tundra did not waste any time getting started on 3.0. It would be ready by the next quarter.

And then there was the new Danglybit PX he was working on. If he could capture the men’s market and the women’s market at the same time, his practice would grow ten-fold. No, a hundred times!

And the best part was that there was little actual surgery. Most of the enhancements were based on a combination of chemistry and “gentle” electrical stimulation. Yes, they were painful, but quite a bit cheaper than standard surgical interventions.

Did Dr. Tundra wonder why so many people wanted to alter their genitalia?

Not at all; he had re-grown his foreskin during medical school, just to see if he could. And besides, people should be allowed to do whatever they wanted, right? As long as it didn’t hurt anyone else.

Though, the extension he’d done on Mr. Johnson, using the old Danglybit 4.0 program was a bit on the radical side. Still, it was up to Mr. and Mrs. Johnson how they used the added dimensions.

Inspired by: Globe & Mail Story: Designer Vaginas [actual headline] | More Naughty-looking Closeups of Flowers [like the one at the top of this post]. Alltop thinks flowers are purdy. Originally published in 2005. Crazy. Also, happy birthday Georgia O’Keefe.

Byron’s Epic Swims: Leaving England

Lord Byron, about to do something spectacularThough most famous for his poetry, war heroics, and womanizing, Lord Byron’s greatest achievements all took place in the water.

He was born with a deformity in his right foot, or as it was so sensitively known in the 18th and 19th centuries, a “club foot”. This physical imperfection caused Bryon at least as much psychological pain as it did physical pain, and though he limped, it was often not noticeable to casual observers. Still, he was aware of this limitation, and he overcompensated wildly, throwing himself into violent exercise, trying to play cricket (surely something one does only because of a serious psychological problem), and by swimming.

In the water, his malformed foot became an asset, as it worked much like a flipper. In the water, Lord Byron found that he was at least as god-like as he was while composing romantic poetry, or shocking the British public with his wanton pursuit of married women and other (male) poets. After all, it was this scandalous lifestyle that forced Byron to abandon the UK.

Lord Bryon's first epic swim

In his first epic swim, Byron did the breast-stroke down the Thames River, the back-stroke along the coastline to Dover, and then he did a truly breathtaking sprint of butterfly across the English channel. From there he swam up the coast to the low countries (stopping in the evenings to woo eligible young French, Belgian and Dutch poetry aficionados.) At the mouth of the Rhine, Byron took a hard right turn and did front crawl, until he arrived at Strasbourg. (As far as historians have been able to recreate, this is the single longest swim he did in one go.) He spent a few days recovering in Strasbourg, and then made a series of short frenetic dog-paddles against a strong current, passing Basel, and then making another hard right up the River Aare, as far as Lake Neuchatel in Switzerland. He had heard that his personal physician, John William Polidori was holidaying on Lake Geneva (aka Lake Leman), so he took a short carriage-ride overland. It was there he met Percy Bysshe Shelley, Mary Godwin (who would later marry Shelley), and Claire Claremont.

When he wasn’t buggering Percy Bysshe senseless, and seducing the other guests at the Villa (he has some measure of success, except with Mary), Byron kept in shape by swimming the length of the lake. (It was also here that the Shelleys, Byron, and the others helped Mary begin writing Frankenstein, and Polidori was inspired to write Vampyre, arguably the first young adult vampire film. Byron was apparently the model for the seductive, super-powerful vampire.)

So Byron rested and recovered, which was a good thing, because soon he would start one of his most ambitious swims ever, through the Alps, from Switzerland to Venice.

Alltop prefers the wading pool. Originally published May, 2012.