Flash Fiction #201

Alien Takeover

PHOTO PROMPT © Penny Gadd

ALIEN TAKEOVER

Apteryx reporting. I have managed to infiltrate the Humans, the ones who believe that they are the greatest species on this planet.

I have disguised myself as a ‘houseplant’ and am hiding in plain view. I plan to remain here for several time periods while I absorb all information about them from things they call books.

I have learned about ‘coding’, how they control their computers. I have begun to understand their social structure by scanning the writings of one of their respected philosophers, a being named Doctor Seuss. They communicate in short, simple groups of words.  Hop on Pop.  😆

***

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

Friday Fictioneers

’19 A To Z Challenge – Kludge

Calipers

Three Laws Of Practical Engineering
Force to fit
File to hide
Paint to cover

At the steel fabricating plant where I once worked, the difference between a welder, and a welder/fitter, was a ten-pound sledgehammer. Those storage tanks always fit.

Kludge

Noun – a software or hardware configuration that, while inelegant, inefficient, clumsy, or patched together, succeeds in solving a specific problem or performing a particular task.

Verb – the atypical act or action of achieving such a goal

Coined 1960/65 by American author Jackson W. Granholm.

Too often, ivory-tower engineers design things for the perfect, optimum conditions, and ignore reality. If you design something to be foolproof, someone will design a bigger fool. As James Bond said to Q, in one of the movies, “There’s a lot of wear and tear goes on out in the field.”

The concept of ‘Kludge’ indicates an open and adaptive mind, instead of one bounded by unchanging rules and regulations. Larry the Cable Guy may not be the sharpest tool in the shed, but you have to admire his Git ’er done philosophy.

I got this challenge done, and I’ve got a couple more, ready to post soon. Y’all come back now, y’hear?

Hot Dog

Hot dog

A man was eating a hotdog….. A woman with a small dog walked up to sit in another bench across from the man. Immediately the little dog began to bark at the man while he ate.  The man asked “Would you mind if I throw him a bit?”  ”Not at all.” the woman replied.  The man picked up the dog and tossed him over a wall.

***

I bumped into an old school friend today.  He started showing off, talking about his well paid job and expensive sports car.  Then he pulled out a photo of his wife and said, “She’s beautiful, isn’t she?”  I said, “If you think she’s gorgeous, you should see my girlfriend.”  He said, “Why? Is she a stunner?”  I said, “No, she’s a fucking optician.”

***

A black student goes to his Mom and says, “I have the biggest dick in the third grade.  Is that because I’m black?”  She says, “No, that’s because you’re 19.”

***

My wife and I were woken up at 3AM by loud banging on our door. I got up, opened the door and there was a drunken stranger standing in the pouring rain, asking for a push. “Are you insane man?!!? It’s 3 in the morning!!” I screamed, slamming the door and stormed back to bed…

“Who was that?” asked my wife.”  Just some drunk asking for a push.” I grumbled. “Did you help him?” she asked. “No, I did NOT! It’s 3AM and it’s pouring rain! ”Well, you’ve a short memory.” she said. “Don’t you remember three months ago when we broke down and those two guys helped us? You should be ashamed of yourself! Now get out there and help him! “She had a point, and angrily, I got dressed and went out into the darkness, calling out, “Hello, are you still there?”  ”Yes.”  “Do you still need a push?” ”Yes please.” ”Where are you?”  ”Over here…on the swing.”

***

Dad and Son are in the living room when dad’s feet get cold. “Get my slippers from upstairs” he says. While upstairs Son sees two of his sister’s friends, so he goes up to both of them, “My Dad told me to come up here and fuck both of you”.
”You’re lying” they retort.
“Okay, I’ll prove it then, Dad, did you say both of them?”
”What’s the point of fucking one?”

***

THE $100 TATTOO

Eric gets home late one night and Sarah, his wife, asks “Where the hell have you been” Eric replies “I’ve been out getting a tattoo”
“A tattoo?” She frowned. “What kind of tattoo did you get?”
“I got a hundred dollar bill on my privates” he said proudly.
“What the hell were you thinking?” she asked, shaking her head in disgust. “Why on earth would an Accountant get a hundred dollar bill tattooed on his privates?”
“Well one, I like to watch my money grow. Two, once in a while I like to play with my money. Three, I like how my money feels in my hand. And lastly, instead of you going out shopping, you can stay right here at home and blow a 100 bucks any time you want”

***

Three intransitive verbs walk into a bar.  They sit.  They drink.  They leave.

***

Government Philosophy: If it ain’t broke, fix it ’till it is.  😦  😯

 

Flash Fiction #67

Whirligig

PHOTO PROMPT © Ted Strutz

OUROBOROS

Why is a mouse when it spins?
The higher, the fewer!

***

There’s a hole in our wooden bucket, dear wife.
Then fix it, dear husband!
With what shall I fix it?
With wood, dear husband!
How shall I cut the wood?
With the axe, husband!
The axe is too dull.
Then sharpen it!
But how shall I sharpen it?
On the stone!
With what shall I wet it?
With water, DEAR husband!!
How shall I get water?
In a bucket!!
There’s a hole in the bucket…..

***

Blessed are those who run around in circles, for they shall be called Big Wheels.

***

Neither original nor fiction, but a pastiche of quotes to show the frustrations of modern commercial life. First, all due credit to Robert Heinlein, for his vaguely worded mouse reference which means that, loosely translated, the higher you rise within any organization, the more numerous and strange your problems become, and the fewer of you there are to solve them.

Secondly, apologies to Harry Belafonte for slightly rewording his Caribbean ‘lazy-husband song’, which shows how one problem flows into the next, and finally back to the starting point, with no resolution.

And lastly, to the prolific philosopher, Anonymous, whose apt quote shows how we so often have to run harder and faster just to stay in the same place, chasing, but never quite reaching, solutions which are forever just out of reach ahead of us.

***

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

Book Review #5

Finally, a book I can be proud to admit I read.

The Author – Jonathan Haidt

The Book – The Righteous Mind

Subtitled – Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion

The Review

4-The Righteous MindI might as well start with the book itself.  The dust cover is printed with what looks like a knife slash from corner to corner, with a black gap, showing how “good people” are “divided.”  Despite the subtitle promising to tell why people are divided, nowhere in the book is it explained.  That folks are divided on many topics is emphasised, and the How and Where is demonstrated, but the Why is never given.

On the blurb page, a promise is given to show how to win an argument against someone whose views you do not agree with.  I read it very carefully.  It involves empathizing with your opponent until you Become them, and then slowly and gently lead them away from their position, towards yours.

Sort of like, if I want my neighbor to stop kicking his dog, I bring him over to my place to watch me kick my dog, to show him how much the dog hurts.  I don’t want to lose my morals and empathize till I become the narrow-minded asshole I’ve come to hate.  I’d sooner use the direct approach, and just kick the neighbor till he agrees to stop.

The book itself is a hardcover, each page with twice as much printing as my little paperbacks.  A quick check at the back shows 420 pages, equal to 840 pages of my normal reading.  If I’m not careful I might end up learning something before I’m done.

But wait, it’s been a while since I read a book like this.  The final 110 pages aren’t actually part of the book.  A third of it is a list of people and their research that he stole from, to formulate his theories.  Another third is notes to explain how he twisted their square ideas to fit his round pigeonholes, and the final third is an index to guide you to where you can worship his multifaceted brilliance.

That leaves only 310/620 pages of real reading.  Perhaps I’ll only get a clue when I’m done.

The author is a moral psychologist.  This doesn’t mean that he gives a damn if you’re screwing the neighbor, drinking, drugging, or even dancing.  He’s the guy who explains why and how we make decisions about what we feel is acceptable and non-acceptable behavior, for ourselves and others, even in the face of conflicting opinions, or facts.

The Atheist/philosopher, Richard Dawkins wrote a book called The Selfish Gene, in which he claimed that evolution insists that everything we do, from love, to altruism, to charity, must somehow benefit the individual.

Haidt raises this thought a couple of levels by comparing human society to biological evolution.  Single-cell organisms united to create multi-celled ones, right up to humans and large animals.  Groups of specialized cells and organs allow achievements that single cells could not achieve.

Humans first grouped by family, then by clan, then village, right up to nation.  Things like sports, politics, religion and armed forces create focused groups through synchronized sounds – prayers, hymns, chants, etc., movements – dances, marching, calisthenics – rituals and sacred totems – salutes, uniforms, crosses, even cheeseheads.

Successful groups outperform, and absorb or drive out lesser ones, and can cause actions that are not beneficial to the individual (suicide bombing), but are, to the group (Islam).

To the scientist, for any group, hypocrisy is a good thing.  For the liar, whether group or individual, it gives them a chance to reap their desired ends and feel good about it.  That makes for more confident leadership and an increase in following and obeying.

About the strange, often conflicting beliefs of every religion, including Christianity, the author says:

The memorable nymphs and fairies and goblins and demons that crowd the mythologies of every people, are the imaginative offspring of a hyperactive habit of finding agency wherever anything puzzles or frightens us.  This mindlessly generates a vast overpopulation of agent-ideas, most of which are too stupid to hold our attention for an instant; only a well-designed few make it through the rehearsal tournament, mutating and improving as they go.  The ones that get shared and remembered are the souped-up winners of billions of competitions for rehearsal time in the brains of our ancestors.

Haidt shows that, once we learn something, even if it’s wrong, it takes more mental energy to unlearn it, than to merely absorb the correct information.

The researchers saw similar results when they told participants that pressing a button would reduce the chance of shock by as much as 90%. Those participants who had to make a proactive choice to press the button opted to leave it untouched about half the time, even though it meant they had to withstand shocks they themselves rated as highly undesirable.

It gave me a slight, momentary sympathy for those I’ve viewed as merely too lazy or bull-headed to accept apparently clear proof of their invalid stances.  Then, he went on to state that, having taken a stance, we will expend even more energy to come up with, sometimes very convoluted, justifications for it, all in the name of support from and for, “our group.”

Since there are limits to most people’s ability to reach outside themselves, there are limits to how large the groups may grow.  The book crystallized and explained why I am a non-joining loner, just shy of being a psychopath; yet rail at Quebec for not “joining” Canada, or the Baltic States for each wanting to rule their own little valley.

This was deep and enlightening reading.  My hopes for an informed quick-fix were soon dashed.  Rather, as I wrote in a long-gone post, if we can keep the momentum in the right direction, thousands, millions, billions of tiny steps and nudges may make mankind a better race.

Some Religious Thoughts

“Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?” – Epicurus circa 300 BCE

I’ve heard of Christians evolving into Atheists.  Is that possible?

What Would Jesus Do?

Teacher: And remember, boys and girls; always ask yourself ‘What would Jesus do?’

Student #1: Make my friends drink my blood, like a vampire?

Teacher: What?

Student #2: And eat my flesh, like a cannibal?!

Teacher: Wait –

Student #3: Vilify my own people?

Teacher: Now, hold on –

Student #4: Condone slavery? Jesus condoned slavery.

Teacher: Hang on. What I mean is –

Student #5: Rebel against authority and wind up being executed?

Teacher: Look, it’s not about –

Student #6: I have an uncle called Jesus.

Teacher: Oh… Okay…?

Student #6: He sells drugs in Mexico.

Teacher: Forget it.

Ten Reasons Why Gay Marriage Is Wrong

Being gay is not natural – because Americans always reject un-natural things, like eyeglasses, polyester and air-conditioning.

Gay marriage will encourage people to be gay – in the same way hanging around tall people encourages them to be tall.

Legalizing gay marriage will open the door to all kinds of crazy behavior.  People will even want to marry their pets – because a dog has legal standing, and can sign a marriage contract.

Straight marriage has been around for a long time, and hasn’t changed at all – women are still property, blacks can’t marry whites, and divorce is still illegal.

Straight marriage will be less meaningful if gay marriage were allowed – the sanctity of Brittany Spears’ 55 hour, just-for-fun marriage, and Larry King’s 10 weddings will be destroyed.

Straight marriages are valid because they produce children – gay couples, infertile couples and seniors should not be allowed to marry – because our orphanages aren’t full yet, and the world needs more children.

Gay parents will obviously raise gay children – because straight parents raise only straight children.

Gay marriage is not supported by religion.  In a theocracy like ours, the values of one religion are inflicted on the entire nation.  That’s why we have only one religion in the world.

Children can only succeed if there is a male and a female role model in the home – that’s why we as a society expressly forbid single parents to raise kids.

Gay marriage will change the foundation of society – we could never adapt to new social norms, like we failed to adapt to cars, the service-sector economy and longer life-spans.

___________________________________________________

During the recent flooding in Alberta, a man took refuge from the rising water on the roof of his house.  A guy in a canoe came along and asked him if he wanted a ride.  He said No, that he was a good Christian, who believed that God would save him.  As the flood waters rose, two men in a motorboat came by and offered to rescue him.  Again, he stated his faith in God, and waved them on their way.

With the waters lapping at the eaves of his house, a helicopter flew over.  He told them to look for others, because he was sure that God would spare him.  Of course, he was swept to his death.

When he arrived at Heaven, he had the audacity to castigate God Himself.  “I believed in You.  I’ve been a good and obedient Christian.  How could You abandon me, and let me die??”  All-forgiving God quietly replied, “I sent you a canoe, a motorboat, and a helicopter.  What more did you wish Me to do?”

The reality is, that’s not really a joke!

The 10 Commandments: A Parody Written in 3 minutes

1. Thou shalt have no other gods before me… Because you know, I, God, am a jealous little controlling psychopath. 

2. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image… But if you must, please, Instagram that shit. 

3. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain… Jesus Fucking Christ, do I really need to be telling you idiotic cows this? 

4. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy… Unless the football game is on, then fuck it! 

5. Honour thy father and thy mother… because you ruined their sex life the moment you were conceived.

6. Thou shalt not kill… Only I, the Almighty, can do that – especially the homos, kill the bum boys! 

7. Thou shalt not commit adultery… But by all means, take a few wives, heck, chain the bitches up and call them “concubines”. 

8. Thou shalt not steal… because stealing a loaf of bread is worst than rape, which is absolutely fine by the way. 

9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour… Once again, this neighbour shit is way more important than rape and pedophilia.

10. Thou shalt not covet… because you can see, but you can’t touch. 😉

Good Intentions, Misguided Planning

A family of five left Arizona, moved to San Diego, bought a sailboat, and got into trouble on the high seas.  Now, I can think of a couple of places where the average knowledge about sailing would be lower than Arizona.

Two, thirtyish parents, a 3 year-old girl, his father, and she gave birth to another daughter while they spent 91 days, without setting foot on land.  Not members of any denomination, they described themselves as “good Christians”, who didn’t believe in abortion and homosexuality in  ”the state-controlled church.”

Storms damaged their boat, and blew it off course – off almost anybody’s course.  They drifted for weeks, and were rescued by the helicopter of a Venezuelan fishing boat, where they spent five days, before being transferred to a Japanese cargo vessel, where they spent another three weeks, before landing in Chile.

They had “decided to take a leap of faith, and see where God took us.”  God gave them a slap up-side the head, for endangering themselves and others, including two tiny children, and put them back where they belonged, in Arizona.  Do they accept God’s guidance and care, and their own stupidity, and blind arrogance?  Yeah, right!  Now they talk of having to “come up with a new plan.”

Serious comments only please!  I am not attacking or vilifying.  I wish discussion, not a flamewar.  If you are angry, you’re not thinking, only reacting, and probably with someone else’s opinion.  Respectful disagreement is welcomed, but prove your point.

Instant Philosophy Degree

The following is the general examination for a Doctor of Philosophy degree:

History

Describe the history of the papacy from its origins to the present day, concentrating especially, but not exclusively, on its social, political, economic, religious and philosophical impact from Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas.  Be brief, concise and specific.

Public Speaking

Some 2500 riot-crazed aborigines are storming the classroom.  Calm them.  You may use any ancient language except Latin or Greek.  Your performance will be video-recorded.

Biology

Create life.  Estimate the differences in subsequent human culture if this life had developed 500 million years earlier, giving special attention to its probable effect on the English parliamentary system.  Prove your thesis.

Music

Write a piano concerto.  Orchestrate and perform it with flute and violin.  You will find a piano under your seat.  In the interests of time, you may omit the coda.

Psychology

Based on your knowledge of their works, evaluate the emotional stability, degree of adjustment and repressed frustrations of each of the following: Moses, Alexander of Aphrodisias, Rameses II, Gregory of Myssa, Hammurabi, Freud, Hitler, Idi Amin.  Support your evaluation with quotations from each man’s work, making appropriate references.  It is not necessary to translate.

Sociology

Estimate the sociological problems that might accompany the end of the world.  Construct an experiment to test your theory.  Use charts if appropriate.

Political Science

There is a red telephone on the desk beside you.  Use it to start the Third World War.  Report at length on its socio-political effects, if any.

Engineering

The disassembled parts of a high-powered rifle have been placed on your desk.  You will also find an instruction manual, printed in Swahili.  In 10 minutes, a hungry Bengal tiger will be admitted to the room.  Take whatever action you feel is appropriate.  Be prepared to justify your decision.

Economics

Develop a realistic plan for refinancing the National Debt.  Trace the possible effects of your plan in the following areas: Cubism, the Donatist controversy, the wave theory of light, the automobile industry.  Outline a method for preventing these effects.  Criticize this method from all possible points of view.  Point out the deficiencies in your point of view, as demonstrated in your answer to the last question.

Physics

Explain the nature of matter.  Include in your answer an evaluation of the impact of the development of mathematics on science.

Mathematics

If X equals Pi times A squared, construct a formula showing how long it would take a fire ant to drill a hole through a dill pickle, if the length-girth ratio of the ant to the pickle were 98.17:1.

Philosophy

Sketch the development of human thought, and estimate its significance.  Compare with the development of any other kind of thought.

General Knowledge

Describe in detail.  Be objective and specific.  Abbreviations are permitted.  You will be graded for punctuation and grammar.

 

And that, ladies and gentlemen, was why I decided to become a factory worker.  I tried to think….but nothin’ happened.  Mommy, my head hurts.