A Dull Day

He waited for the passing clouds to reveal the sun. The solar panel that fed the cell that charged his rifle was missing all that energy. His target was only a few miles away, an easy enough shot for Gaul Galen.

A click and the rustle of dry grass behind him. The lack of wind was glaring.

“Ah, Gaul, if it isn’t you,” Pretorius Flux said. Gaul didn’t have to turn around; he recognized the gravely voice of the gizormak.

“Damnit, Flux, come on, we’re going after the same target here,” Gaul said. Each word brought a deeper sensation of pressure against the back of his skull. His life was in the hands of someone who didn’t know the difference between an asteroid and a comet. “Don’t be stupid.”

“But if you kill him, then I only get half the reward.”

“We only split it if we both do the work, dumbass.” Gaul pushed the weapon away, stood, and had his own rifle trained on Flux in a single moment, a point in time. The gizormak’s shape was that of a blob that held its weapon in slushy extensions of its body. Three big bulbs rested on the top of three stalks, his only recognizable feature. “You be the bait. I’ll take the shot.”

“Your weapon is not yet charged,” Flux said, the words seemingly coming from somewhere deep within the bulbous body. “You think I am that stupid?”

“Stupid enough to let me stand. Again, you be the bait.”

Flux squinted, his three eyes shrinking in size rather than using eyelids to do so. Apparently, he was in deep thought, a rare thing for a gizormak. “Fine, fine.”

Gaul shook his head and settled back into firing position. As Pretorious Flux sauntered off, he wondered how long it would be until he could just go home.

The sun was out after the gizormak had traveled only five hundred yards. In another five hundred, he was dead.

Gaul blew the smoke from the muzzle of his gun and settled back. A few more hours, his target would be dead, and he’d have the full reward.

You Are Timmy

Today, I want to revisit Timmy:

Why does Timmy lie?

I read this article about the purpose of schooling (a different thing from education): Against School. The thesis is basically that children are schooled to become obedient groups, rather than educated to become independent thinkers.

I’ll add that the evolution of marketing (read Bernays’ Propaganda) has capitalized on the effect that schooling has on children. That is, we raise our children to become obedient conformists, and propagandists use this pliability to direct society in a common direction. As an example of how the public is directed, I’ll use Facebook.

In 2010-2011, you might remember reading a crapload of articles that “revealed” (for those ignorant enough to not understand that everything that you put onto the internet, or even your hard drive, remains there forever–barring the global catastrophe that is sure to come when terrorism infects our nation, when sea levels rise to conquer our cities, when police are hamstrung by unfair laws, when millions of people lose their jobs to robots, etc.) “revealed” the fact that Google collects your private information for private reasons. People hated Google for that, and there was an uproar that has now turned into the general, dull noise that you hear maybe weekly, or monthly, on the news. It was later revealed that Facebook was behind this propaganda effort. Bonus Points – WSJ published a lot of the stories that were anti-Google, and then came up with that wonderful piece.

The point is, while there may not be a single entity or shadowy group like the common conspiracy theorist would have you believe, that there are those out there who seek to lie to you for their own benefit. Not even lie, really, but who certainly seek to mislead you.

We are pliable. We are led. We are lost to ourselves.

Find yourself and question your motivations. Teach your kids to think, rather than training them to learn. You can do it.

 

 

Definition of AI

Read this: CNET’s AI article

AI is the practice of making a machine behave in a smart way, such as making a robot smarter or adding Internet connectivity to something like a washing machine.

What? Is this called writing now? “Drinking is the act of consuming a liquid, such as making a liquid go into your stomach.” “Acting is the act of acting, such as acting.” “Smoking is the act of inhaling burnt plant material, such as is done when lighting a tobacco cigarette.”

It’s not even an accurate definition of AI. Making something smarter? How about giving it intelligence at all! Intelligence is the ability to retain knowledge and relate it with minimal loss of information. Machines can’t do this on their own.

Rubin added that some areas he’s now focusing on include how to interact with things that don’t have screens, like appliances or swimming pools.

This isn’t AI though, it’s “smart” devices, and that crappy term is due to the marketing geniuses that came up with “cloud” computing.

AI is easy to define but hard to conceive. When actual AI comes, a machine that has the ability to learn, adapt, and evolve, everyone will fucking know about it. It’s not going to be a talking swimming pool that matches your body temperature, or a washing machine that automatically adjusts the amount of water based on load.

It’s going to be a person.

These types of articles get me angry.

The Fallacy of Self – Coupon!

Get my short story collection, The Fallacy of Self, for 75% off from now until 11/7/15 using coupon code: KX74F .

Do it! Do it now! Before it’s too late! It’s about life! And what life would be like if life did not exist! A paradox? An android? Corporate warfare? Read it now!

Fallacy of Self

NASA’s New Horizons – Updated

It was a rumor…bastard press!

 

 

Apparently, NASA announced another announcement. Having recently proven the existence of flowing water on Mars, I think they’ve set the bar pretty high going forward. Here’s a story about the current status and findings of the New Horizons mission:

Pluto and Charon

I’m thinking they’ll announce that either there’s flowing liquid (not water, possibly methane or nitrogen) on one of these bodies’ surfaces, or that they have enough data to say there’s a subsurface ocean.

Of course, I have no effing clue. Just a guess. What do you think?

 

It Doesn’t Know Why

I want to write like a damn waterfall.

About: Something cool … A spacecraft? A creek? Perhaps a person, who died last Tuesday from consumption of lead via headwound?

Only a little funny. And too dark. It doesn’t flow well. Does not. At all.

I’d like to see a baseball game next year.

Not telling a story at that point.

Go the creek, state it was intentional. No one will believe. It’s a damn lie that you’re dying, dude, but I can see why one would think that. Again, it’s too serious to tell whether it’s a joke. So skip this part. Skip this part.

My Face: When you’re playing identities and sacrificing as many as you collect. :/ When the doctor doesn’t know if it’s a symptom or a cause. :/

Ten men went down the street to the creek and found a log that they chopped up and made into a boat and set it drifting on the river. A mile down they found the rapids and there was that they could do. The boat wouldn’t hold ’em and their limbs wouldn’t float ’em and they set about drowning in the water. Whoever got the view wished they hadn’t.

Macabre today is yesterday’s depression, floating up the coast with bold predictions but petering out when the moment finally came. The sailors weren’t disappointed but their great skills at navigation avoided the worst. That killed some, too.

The Thing sits in his small front yard and watches him, his Stone of Atonement. Jealous are its eyes and bold are its words that he hears dimly, the last drifting thought of fading dreams. The pressure it affects in him raises the barometer and the blood. He watches his Stone and waits for it to go away, for it is better to sit and do nothing so that life’s desires may not be prevented. It is wise that procrastination keeps the goal distant and locked far away, for it is better to dream and do nothing. Let the designs of your maker make themselves known.

A lot of people sound really serious when they write.

Really fucking serious.

It sounds mad when you curse.

Perception is a curse.

K?

A Living History – Part Deuce

The cockpit of the shuttle is bathed in red light, and our panels are dim to reduce the damage the light may cause to our vision. “You got some of that coffee?” Deng asks me. I picked up a bucket before we left. We’re near weightless and our harnesses are the only thing keeping us in our seats. The coffee is in a thermos with a straw.

“Yeah, quite a bit left, want some?” I ask, unable to lie or else awkwardly drink my cup full of coffee while he stared at me with an envious brow. “We’re only a few clicks away now, see anything on the radar?”

Deng grabs my thermos of coffee and slurps a generous amount before answering. “Nothing. It might have been just a rock or something.”

“Pretty large rock to get nothing on visual. I mean, this close? If there had been anything at all, we would’ve seen it.”

“Yeah, well, drift a moment, then we’ll see.”

I cut the engines and we float in space. Jupiter’s cheek covers a portion of the right side of the cockpit window. We see Ganymede, but no other moons from our position. The planet is impossibly large. That always unsettles me, how it seems to loom over us like some giant devil. I’ve had dreams where I’m spinning, uncontrollably falling into its surface.

“A few minutes,” Deng says, sipping at my coffee. “Then we turn back and report we found nothing.”

I nod and try to forget about it and just think that soon I’ll be off shift and able to relax. I can leave, I guess, go off the station and make my way elsewhere, but where? Cryonox freaks me out, not the actual procedure, but just the idea that my body would be frozen for thousands of years, only to wake up and think that Earth is still dead, and Mars probably is too, and that we’re all that’s left of humanity.

An alarm sounds. Deng keys the radio and says, “What, what’s that? What’s going on?”

The tinny version of Beal’s voice says, “We’re hit! A meteoroid strike!”

“Lock the hold!”

“It went straight through the center of the station! We’re evacuating, but if it isn’t repaired soon, the whole place is fucked!”

“What about the other shuttle?”

I’ve already started the engines and set our course back home.

“It’s in service, god damnit!” Beal’s voice becomes shrieks. “Just get back here and do the fucking repairs, now!”

“Right,” Deng replies. He cuts the radio and drinks the rest of my coffee.

***

“I’m suited up,” I tell Beal. I’m standing in the airlock waiting for the word go.

“Go,” she says. “I’m tracking, there’s no other objects.”

“You missed that one,” I say. I don’t know why I’m challenging her, but I’m about to patch up the outside of the space station on thirty minutes of air, so fuck it.

“We were distracted with that ship you didn’t find. Now get out there and fix us up, before this place implodes. We’d all really appreciate it, Jack.”

“Let’s roll,” I say, and Deng hits the switch on the airlock’s outer door. I drift out and kick my jetpack up a notch. The station is shaped like a series of concentric circles that vary in size, with a thin needle poking through. The needle houses the nuclear core, which powers everything from life support to pron sims.

“I’m at the first hole,” I said, holding back a grin and thinking of dirty jokes. Spit rolls down my cheek as focus sharpens my mind. The sheet of metal is thick enough. Fit it over, gently now, not too rough, there we go. “Ha! First one!”

“Weld it tight,” Deng commands.

I’ll command him from now on, the creep, always stealing and taking from me. Then Beal might even respect me.

“We’re about hitting critical mass, here, jack,” Beal crackles over the radio.

I’m almost to the second one when a window cracks and the chain reaction that follows spreads through the station like a wildfire in high winds. It just straight collapses, and the nuclear core goes. I’m just able to get a few clicks out ahead of it, but now my fuel is gone. The shuttle is gone. Everyone is dead.

I’m almost to the second hole and I weld the sheet metal down in a matter of seconds. “Nice work!” Beal says. “I respect you now!”

No, she wouldn’t really say that.

I reach the exit wound of the station and place the sheet of scrap over the hole and weld it down as quickly as you can say my name.

“Nice work!” Deng says over the radio.

“We’re good,” Beal says, all calm, sighing into the microphone with the relief that can only be measured in life, or perhaps death. “Everything is stabilizing, nice work Jack.”

“Thanks,” I say and wonder what happened. The same thing, three times. Four times? How many times did I just live through, how many outcomes?

***

“So are we all set on the repair work inside, too?” I ask Beal.

“Just about,” she replied. ” I wouldn’t want any customers to meet us like this, though.”

“Are any on their way?”

“Just one.” She drags her cigarette and exhales a few rings of smoke. “While you too were out there, looking for our ghost, we picked up another signal from that same area as the first.”

“What?” I ask, sipping my coffee. “We couldn’t find a damn thing out there.”

“Maybe we weren’t looking in the right places. Or time.”

“Different space?”

“This one was a recording,” Beal says shyly, as though almost afraid to share this information with me. “You know that shit you read?”

I nod.

“Something along those lines. Listen.”

She touches her temple and the image of an old man’s face appears, somehow sharper and smarter than any I had ever seen. “Good job, my children. I see you have the ability to work as a team, a single unit. Does that mean you are ready to meet us, who left you so long ago on the planet that you have now destroyed? We shall see…”

(TO BE CONTINUED….What do you think should happen next? Let me know in the comments! Last time, only one person told me that they wanted something. That was for a meteoroid to strike the station. Well, that happened. What next? Come on, tell me…)