Background for bionicly version 2014.
On the seaside, between uncharacteristically high volumes of seafood consumption and #UnplannedExplorations.
Continuing the theme of my sub-minds coming up with mini stories of their own, here’s another one about an extraterrestrial family visiting New York on one balmy weekend in year 2452:
“Moooom, why can’t I try these cupcakes?” Bhaggs managed to save up a heavy glass collection of HSU coins for the express purpose of getting his sharp canines and molars on these delicious, frosted strawberry cupcakes that only these ingenious humans made. On this gloriously balmy day in late spring (local), Bhaggs’ extended family decided to sojourn to this Earth-city of New York for a family gathering and, as Bhaggs Senior stated, “long overdue cross-cultural educational experience”. He and his mother were currently by themselves in the centuries-old (and quite famous) Magnolia Bakery.
“But you’ll get the poops, honey.” His mother squatted down and fussed over his NewYankees t-shirt. Bhaggs’ quadruple arms didn’t fit too well even through the oversized sleeves. But Bhaggs had insisted on donning the t-shirt right after his mother bought it for him. He had a thing for human consumer goods. “Remember last year? Uncle Yayap brought us those brown sweet samples from the humans and I had to wash your bedsheets. Twice.” She crossed her eyes slightly and looked troubled by the memory.
“But mooom, that was so last year! I’m big eight now. And I saved up, see?” He shook the glass container full of HSU coins that he gripped in his green mottled tail. “I bet that’s at least nine dollars in there.” Bhaggs was quite proud of his precocious financial acumen.
His mother sighed and looked at him with big magenta-colored irises the size of golf balls. She sighed again after a moment. “Very well.” She stood up and looked at the quite amused proprietor behind the glass showcase unit. “Mister, we would like to buy four of these,” she pointed at the cupcake Bhaggs singled out earlier, and spoke in English with a twinge of that Skorj nasal accent.
“Coming right up, my friends!” The delighted proprietor quickly added conspiratorially, “And I must say, for non-natives, you folks sure know the best ones to pick!” After a quick banter between Bhagg’s mother and the proprietor over what brought them to this human city, they left the bakery with Bhaggs clutching a much diminished collection of coins and paper bag filled with a steaming mound of newfound culinary treasures. On the way out, they bumped into Bhaggs’ elder sister, who in his opinion should not have belonged to the same family unit as he, such was her level of annoyance to him.
“HA! HA! Is Bhaggs pretending to be a hoomin again, mother?” She turned to Bhaggs, lowered her face to his eye level. “Getting puppy food for lunch?” His sister Djerling mocked in a sing-song tone.
“Shut up you smelly swamp rat excrement! Your rot-infested brain can’t possibly—”
“Bhaggs! Watch it!” His mother looked at both of them in exasperation. “And Djerling, that’s not very nice. I want you both to stop this.” His mother made a tutting sound and looked from Djerling to Bhaggs and back to Djerling. “Now, did you buy anything over there, Djerling?”
Bhaggs smoldered. As the youngest of the five children in the family unit, he seemed always to be on the butt end of hoomin jokes and mockery. True, he was quite obsessed with collecting the latest human action movies from the Skorj Virtual Collective. Lately, the humans’ Stenchpuke Hunters series were especially exciting, he thought. Bhaggs also could not help but hanker after those delicious human sweets, in all their multifarious favors, colours, shapes, and odors. It was so much more rich than those from his own civilization. But damned if his siblings are going to mock him for what were his favorite pastimes when not doing tedious schoolwork or helping with the family botanical business. In a bit of defiance, he reached in and grabbed the biggest strawberry cupcake in his bag and started stuffing his mouth with it.
“Ooh…” it was heavenly, that cupcake was. With one hand clutched in his mother’s and walking along, he closed his eyes and savoured the burst of alien flavor. How could anyone say a bad thing about those sweets? Bhaggs swore when he grew up he is going to leave his homeworld in the Oort Cloud and live here, in this City of New York. Then he could do whatever he wanted, perhaps feasting only on human sweets to the exclusion of all else. And maybe also finish watching Stenchpuke Hunters in peace.
Upon reaching the edge of this green area that the humans have helpfully posted “Central Park” in Skorj hieroglyphs, he felt much better — his sister’s vexing remarks quite forgotten. Bhaggs was about to reach into his bag for another one of those sublime culinary creations when suddenly his second stomach gave a massive grumble and he started to feel quite dizzy. He stopped walking and let go of his mother’s hand.
“Bhaggs?” His vision blurred, and for some reason he felt he could not really think straight, or think anything at all. Bhaggs stood completely still, his eyes squeezed shut in discomfort. Somewhere deep in his subconscious, he registered his mother and sister calling his name from what appeared to be a faraway place, an echoing sound, and quite alarmed yelling too…and then everything turned to black and nothingness.
The interesting thing about my brain is that there seems to be many sub-minds that act like mini-AIs with some level of autonomy, and are more or less cajoled and threatened to cooperate with the rest of the brain by the big sub-mind that seems to be the conscious thread. One of these sub-minds decided to write a random chapter of a sci-fi-ish story. The following text is an excerpt.
Yes, the Skorj has some differences compared to Baseline humans. For instance, they seem to have engineered some evolutionary advantages into their collective DNAs, in which most Skorjs are now immune to their versions of “colds” and “flus”. As another instance, they have four arms instead of the usual two. Quite handy for those long sessions of multi-sensorium game playing. They also seem not to be able to perceive the same color spectrum as humans can, so a rainbow is merely an ugly tri-color band to them, a bane to all Skorj amateur photographers after a rainstorm on their homeworld. But regardless of what one may say about the Skorj, they are for the most part almost humanity’s galactic cousins down the interstellar street. Obsessed with latest fashion accessories? Check. Endless debates about the how the new Politician is just like the old Politician? Check. Perpetually mired in deficit and tax issues? Check. Changing diets every 3 weeks on the latest hot thing? Check, of course.
So you see, one should never utter “Skorj” and “Stenchpuke” in the same sentence. The Stenchpukes, as their name implies, exist in a violent, predatory, and smelly orbit of their own. 231 years after humans and Skorjs started their joint exploration of the Outer Realms, the intergalactic cousins stumbled upon a charred, ruined world near Charybdis IV. What they discovered when the scouting party landed in what appeared to be the civilizational core shocked both humans and Skorjs, and ignited a historic media firestorm in their respective civilizations. Over the course of 72 hours, they quickly amended their mutual species agreements to eliminate any remaining points of dispute over economic and military cooperation. The Stenchpukes, in short, managed to do what two odd centuries of legal and economic negotiations between stuffy, self-important human and Skorj diplomats failed to do: a Human-Skorj Union (or a Skorj-Human Union, depending on which side you asked on a given day).
[To be continued…]
If I ever manage to own a bona fide spaceship, one that can actually sling me from here to Alpha Centuri, I want the ship to have one of these names:
- Voided Warranties
- Null Pointer Error
- Where Is My Singularity
- Discount Spacefares
Just testing Tumblr from the iPad. So far it seems to go pretty well, but then I won’t know for sure until I hit the “Publish” button, no?
"Flow" is one of those brief spurts of time in life that is not unlike the rare breezes on a stifling day. During these interstices, it feels like all time and space has warped down to a single thing — whatever it is that makes you feel the "flow". To formalize (a la Wikipedia):
[Flow is the] mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity
Formal definition, yes, but does not quite capture the essence of flow. Maybe it’s deeply personal, but I feel it should be much more than a mental state of being that one could itemize on a piece of paper. I was completely, utterly focused while running after work today at the gym. I couldn’t remember a single thing the CNN newscast was saying on the monitor not 10 inches in front of me — but I could clearly remember the feeling of almost overwhelming focus and purpose, where nothing else mattered but the rhythmic motion of my legs at 6.4 miles an hour and the attainment of 3.02 miles of distance. It doesn’t feel quite so great afterwards as it was during the flow, which is why flow has such an unobtainium quality. Maybe one could replicate it through a cocktail of injected neurochemicals, and maybe a psychologist could provide a helpful bullet list of conditions for flow, but I think it remains one of those things that makes life worthwhile and also perhaps a bit mysterious.
Still reading Contrarian Investment Strategies by the author mentioned in the previous post. Although I’m familiar with the concept prior to this, reading about it pushed that concept to the forefront of my mind: nonlinearity of life:
1. Getting positively surprised by many things we don’t expect to be as good (“wow, that movie based on the tacky video game was much better than I thought!”).
2. Getting totally caught off guard on things that supposedly can be managed well in advanced (Fukushima, Gulf Oil Spill, Debt Ceiling, and now unfortunately, the so-called “fiscal cliff”).
3. Crazy gyrations of the stock market (if trading algorithms were so smart and stable, how can all of them simultaneously push the Dow down by 998.5 points?)
4. Traffic accidents (“I swear it happened in an eyeblink!”)
5. Magnitude(Hurricane Sandy) > Predicted_Magnitude(Hurricane Sandy), and all the tragic events that happened and are still happening on the East Coast.
We aren’t designed for nonlinear thinking, at least not all the time. Occasionally, we will have a flash of brilliance that’s completely out from the left field. Ironically, this too, is symptomatic of the nonlinearity of life. Maybe all of this is tied down all the way to the quantum mechanical level, where electrons aren’t in fixed positions or energy levels, but rather, in probability clouds. This isn’t linear. So scale this up and pretty much all of life can be potentially nonlinear.
I’ve been reading David Dreman’s Contrarian Investment Strategies and have been struck by the synthesis of rather disparate fields (or maybe they shouldn’t be so disparate): of financial markets, economics, psychology, and neurochemistry. I’ve always loved synthesis of disparate fields, such as marketing and computer science, because those areas that folks give little attention do usually yield outsized benefits. What’s also great about Dreman’s book is the ample amount of (good) statistical studies that backs up his hypotheses and assertions.
So if you’re looking for abnormally good returns in the near future, that may just be the 492 pages that will do the trick.