Time Spiders

Einstein meant to include this in his Theory of Relativity. He had it all worked out. He spent countless hours diagramming the complex physics and simplifying the concepts for ordinary mortals. Unfortunately, someone cleaned his chalkboard and the proof vanished into chalkdust. Some reports say that when he walked in and saw the bare chalkboard, he had a screaming fit, scribbled, E = mc2, and yelled, “Fine! This is close enough!”

What he meant to say was that time also slows as one approaches a spider web. Oh, you may not notice the effect with those wispy thin cobwebs. On the other hand, test subjects have reported a substantial time dilation effect when walking face first into massive, sticky, high tension webs. To an outside observer, the subject’s hysterical flailing (usually accompanied by a high pitched squeal of terror) appears to move very quickly. In many cases, the event may be documented and posted on the Internet before the subject’s breathing has returned to normal. From inside the web, however, the experience is somewhat different. The extent of the time dilation varies depending on the amount of web that ends up in the test subject’s nasal cavities.

There’s a very simple reason for this phenomenon. Spiders are Time’s minions. Time can’t be expected to do everything herself, you know. To save time, she’s outsourced some of the menial tasks to arachnids. “Why does it have to be spiders,” you ask? I’d like to say that the answer is philosophically profound or meaningful. The fact is that they also are uniquely talented as back-scratchers.

You know how much you love a good back-scratch? Yeah. Just imagine having hundreds or even thousands of tiny spiders crawling all over and scritching away…

You’re welcome.

1 Comment

Filed under Ponderings

Preparing for an Alien Abduction

We prepare in advance for all sorts of things. We may take an umbrella on cloudy days. Filling up the tank before running out of gas seems like a good idea. Before pulling out onto the highway, we will sometimes have an idea of where we are heading. We check our insurance coverage before going to Spain to run with the bulls. Before sitting down to that big holiday feast, we wear the pants with the stretchy waistband. We call this type of thoughtful planning “Common Sense.”

By that logic, it only makes sense to prepare for an alien abduction. Sure, the likelihood of such an event may be rather remote, but that fact may not be reassuring once you’re in the mothership. So, how would you prepare? What would you pack?

Do you attempt to arm yourself? How effective do you think human weapons may be against an advanced civilization with sufficient technology to leap across the void of space to bag you? Would they disregard your attempt at self-defense, or would you provoke a hostile response?

Would you pack some water and snacks? I mean, convincing them to pull over at the next fast food joint on their way back to Flerbnit 7 may be difficult. I’m sure they may think that Quinvarbigum Fire Slugs are a fine delicacy, but I’d rather have a bacon cheeseburger.

Do you load up with electronic copies of the finest artistic and scientific achievements of the human race? Would aliens prefer Beethoven or Mozart,  Da Vinci or Picasso, ballet or contemporary, Hawking or Einstein? I have a sneaking suspicion they’ll love mime.

I think that loading up with books and movies about repelling alien invasions might be considered unfriendly. Likewise, tales of friendly aliens coming to help humanity might be viewed as wacky comedies. In addition, providing aliens with all of our best ideas for how to deal with an alien invasion could be tantamount to treason.

That’s why I am stocking up on tales of fantasy. Watch their eyes curl as they try to make sense of Alice in Wonderland.  I’ll sport rings on every finger while they read Tolkien. That should blow their toenails. I’ll try not to giggle when their faces turn inside out after studying Edgar Allen Poe. Top off the evening with an episode of  BooBah, and they’ll beam me home with a polite apology before fleeing back to the safety of the nearest civilized star system.

So far, the plan is working splendidly.

1 Comment

Filed under Ponderings

A Month of Insanity

It was inevitable. You knew it would happen sooner or later. Whether you blame it on the heat, sheer boredom, or the fact that one of the little creatures that live inside your skull accidentally left a door unlocked, the moment has arrived.

The Smashwords Authors group at Goodreads has devoted July, 2014 as Bubba-time. To be more accurate, the group features an author from within their ranks each month. Against all reason, these poor, misguided and extremely sheepish souls have opened Bubba’s Box* and started an Author of the Month discussion featuring Ubiquitous Bubba.

In the future, historians may look back on this period of history as a cautionary tale. Philosophers may look back on this as another example of how historians get all the good jobs. Meteorologists will complain that anyone can talk about the past, but it takes real skill to predict future weather events with at least 20% accuracy. Mimes will wave frantically, but no one will understand. If we did, perhaps the future might have turned out differently.

If you’re the sort of person who clicks on things, here’s the link to the discussion group on Goodreads. https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/1890557. If you’re not, then you can sit there, smug and superior, and yet plagued by an itchy feeling that you might have missed something.

 

*Bubba’s Box is a little bit like Pandora’s Box, except that it contains imaginary creatures that don’t get out very often. When they do, they tend to run wild, frolicking in cottage cheese, holding competitive whale shaving events, and debating the finer points of Saturnian philosophies with rodeo clowns. Reality usually face-palms, trying in vain to ignore the snickering of the fictional universes.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under News

Ripping off Faces

I don’t remember how old I was the first time I saw a TV show where a character ripped off their face to reveal the real person underneath. The bad guy grabbed a fold of skin under his jaw and pulled his face right off, exposing himself as the hero of the story.

Whoa. In my mind, the mind blowing idea was not the sudden plot twist, but the admission that I might have been right all along.

I knew something was off. I’d see it in the way strangers would catch my eye, as if they knew a secret. They’d turn away quickly, covering their true intent. Sometimes, they would exchange knowing glances. Clearly, this was no simple doppelgänger ruse. It was a conspiracy.

The bad thing about exposing a conspiracy is that you can’t be certain that the people you’re telling aren’t already involved. That teacher who smiles for no apparent reason…the neighbor pretending to water his lawn…the coach who tries to convince you he’s not a cannibal… Any of them could be involved. Well, the coach is an obvious choice. Occasionally, they’d tease me.

One would scratch his neck and I’d get my hopes up that this time he’d go ahead and rip his face off. I was desperate to see who lurked underneath the mask. Each time, however, I was denied.

I pondered the possibilities. What if everyone was who they appeared to be and there was no conspiracy? Needless to say, I immediately rejected that ridiculous option. What if everyone is normal and I’m the one wearing a mask? I checked that out, but my face stayed in place. I admit, I was a little disappointed. What if everyone else but me is in on the conspiracy and there’s no one I can ever tell? Obviously, this was the most likely scenario. I checked my dog, but her face stayed on as well. She was not amused.

I’ve kept watch over the years. I’d catch a glimpse of someone I thought I knew in a crowd, but when I’d look back, the face would be different. Clearly, I’d just missed a face removal. Sometimes, I’d whip around a corner, trying to catch someone in mid-rip. Oh, they’d try to cover things up pretty quickly, but I could tell. Years have gone by and the game continues.

So, facerippers, you think you’re pretty smart. You’ve had a long run. For years, you’ve tried to fool me and I’ve pretended to be fooled. We both know, however, how this charade will end. Sooner or later, you’ll rip off your face, only to have me yell, “Aha! I knew it!”

I can wait.

3 Comments

Filed under Ponderings

Bubba’s Laws of Intelligence (and/or stupidity)

Zeroth law of intelligence: If two systems are in intellectual equilibrium with a third system, they must be in intellectual equilibrium with each other. This law helps define the notion of intellect. The hypothesis is intended to allow the existence of an empirical parameter, the intellect, as a property of a system such that systems in intellectual equilibrium with each other have the same intellect. The law as stated here is compatible with the use of a particular physical being, for example a middle aged LARPer, to match the intellect of other beings, but does not justify regarding intellect as a quantity that can be measured on a scale of real numbers.

 First law of intelligence: Because stupidity is conserved, the internal stupidity of a system changes as idiocy flows in or out of it. Equivalently, people that violate the first law (liars) are impossible. Idiocy is the flow of stupidity from one person to another. The total stupidity of an isolated system cannot change. It is conserved over time. Stupidity can be neither created nor destroyed, but can change form. The first law may be stated as: δS=dU+δH, where δS is the amount of stupidity added to the system by the Internet, δH is the amount of stupidity lost due to intelligence gained by the system or its surroundings and dU is the change in the internal stupidity of the system. If the intellectual system is invariant under the continuous symmetry of time translation, then its stupidity is conserved.

Second law of intelligence: The entropy of any isolated system cannot decrease. Such systems spontaneously evolve towards intellectual equilibrium — the state of maximum entropy of the system. Equivalently, people that violate the second hypothesis (big fat liars) are impossible. When two initially isolated systems in separate but nearby regions of space, each in intellectual equilibrium with itself but not necessarily with each other, are then allowed to interact, they will eventually reach a mutual intellectual equilibrium. The sum of the entropies of the initially isolated systems is less than or equal to the total entropy of the final combination. Equality occurs just when the two original systems have all their respective intensive variables (stupidity, traffic) equal; then the final system also has the same values.

 Third law of intelligence: The entropy of any pure substance in intellectual equilibrium approaches zero as the intellect approaches zero. The entropy of a system at absolute zero is typically zero, and in all cases is determined only by the number of different Facebook friends it has. At zero intelligence the system must be in a state with the minimum intellectual energy. Entropy is related to the number of possible microstates according to: S = kB ln Omega, where S is the entropy of the system, kB Boltzmann’s constant, and Ω the number of microstates (e.g. possible configurations of morons). At absolute zero there is only 1 microstate possible (Ω=1 as all the idiots are identical for a pure substance and as a result all orders are identical as there is only one combination) and ln(1) = 0. The entropy of a system approaches a constant value as the intelligence approaches zero. The constant value (not necessarily zero) is called the residual stupidity of the system.

These laws support Scooter’s Third Law, which says that for every Profound Thought, there is an equal and opposite Stupid Idea. Incidentally, immediately after drafting this law, Scooter’s shirt, which he had created by duct-taping live weasels together, turned on him. Afterwards, Scooter abandoned the fashion world and returned to working the drive through.

The bottom line is that for every Stephen Hawking, Leonardo Da Vinci, Albert Einstein, Madame Curie, or Neil Peart, there are the rest of us. Thanks to the law of the conservation of stupidity, we now know that when one of these great thinkers comes up with their next big idea, the rest of us will get dumber as a result.

Thanks a lot, geniuses.

75 Comments

Filed under Ponderings

Live like you have a Porpoise

(previously posted elsewhere)

I heard this phrase recently. It made me wonder, how would life be different I had a porpoise, or even a dolphin? I don’t have an ocean, or even a pool. The tub might be a bit small. He might enjoy the water slides at the community pool, but carrying him up the ladder would get pretty tiresome. I don’t think he’d fit inside the waterbed. Besides, that’s where I keep my eels.

What would life be like if I had a porpoise? He’d hog the remote and watch every episode of Flipper. Whenever he ordered pizza, I’d have to pick off the sushi. Before going to the vet, I’d have to fill the mini-van up with water. It’s not the fact that I’d have to wear scuba gear while driving that I mind as much as trying to get rid of the wet porpoise smell afterwards.

I suppose we’d have to move to the coast. I’d probably end up spending the day standing around on the dock staring out at the water saying, “Where did he go now?” That sounds rather porpoiseless to me.

2 Comments

Filed under Ponderings

Free Time

March 2, 2014 – March 8, 2014 is Read an eBook Week. To mess with our minds, Smashwords is offering many eBooks at discounted prices this week. Some are even free. As a result, quantum experimental philosophers are postulating that minds either will or won’t be blown.

The problem is that the sale only lasts for one week. For those who seize the opportunity, they’ll be able to download a horde of new eBooks. Those who don’t will be left to ask themselves hard questions and dull the pain with hundreds of hours of reality TV.

I know. You’re stunned. Well, before that sandwich falls out of your hand, let me put you at ease. You can download Reality Challenged from Smashwords this week abslutely free. That’s right. Free. I’m not kidding.

Go to http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/262469 and use coupon code RW100. While you’re there, you might want to take a look at some of the other great books on sale this week. You could end up with a new favorite book. That may result in the sudden disappearance of large blocks of time. The fact that you enjoyed this mental vacation for free may explain that great big grin on your face.

Leave a comment

Filed under News