future

Conditional Holidays are Always Less than What They Seem (1/4)


Loddi Frisket is a black hole of neuroses. His very existence centres on an unstable singularity, which sucks in anxieties, crises, and the most outlandishly negative possibilities. From prior experience I can attest that his event horizon fluctuates around a diameter of approximately 15 metres. Sometimes the emotional debris which gathers on his accretion disk is an accurate enough warning that I can reverse course, and get away before his attention fixes on me. Sometimes it is not enough.

To give you a sense of just what I am dealing with, Loddi once asked me if I would rather lose my heart (and dignity) to a psychopathic baker, or flee the civilized world, giving up everything from clean pillow shams to NutriPills, only to waste away in boondocks replete with SABs1 and smugglers.

In my humble opinion, the baker of Loddi’s bipolar love was not psychopathic (I still buy rolls there), but merely possessed of poor judgement, seeing as she countenanced his Gothic style of flirting in the first place. Furthermore, it is well known that the Carwallian smugglers (the only smugglers within 50 lightyears to whom Loddi could have possibly been referring) live very well in their off-planet colonies, though the latter are admittedly remote places. Politics may be laissez-faire over in the Esten Economic Zone but they still don’t want blatant crime polluting the fine views and real estate values of the elite.

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ON THE IMPORTANCE OF “ISMS”, AND THE CRYOSTATICALLY RE-ENABLED (5)


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As I alluded to earlier, the Blartists of today bear little resemblance to the long-deceased statesman from whom their brand derives. To be brief in summarizing a long and dusty biography, which I pulled from my grandmother’s shelves (she collects histories of anything “queer”, as she deems it), R. F. Blart broke into Hyan politics before they were known as Hyan politics by throwing outrageous parties. He was an instant star, with a keen instinct for brokering alliances, and a flair for speeches that served as accessory to a bold appearance; he was never seen in anything but purple.

Blart set his stamp on the original Charter and Constitution of the Hyan Economic Zone (HEZ) as one of its first eleven High Councillors, and after a few goods years, he proceeded to ricochet from highs to lows – from diplomatic triumphs to day-drunk rants in the Senate. Such erratic behaviour ate into his popular support until only the most hardcore remained dedicated to him; town criers, and foot masseuses1. (more…)

ON THE IMPORTANCE OF “ISMS”, AND THE CRYOSTATICALLY RE-ENABLED (4)


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When we came down to the Conference Lounge it was five minutes to the preordained start, and hardly anybody was there. No one that I recognized, certainly, which lead me to believe that the few people scattered here and there among armchairs were probably from the infamous MV&SR, while up on the little raised speaking platform two people, faces hidden, were conferring over the intricacies of pressing the large black button to turn on the microphone. I wondered which of them might be our speaker.

I made a beeline for one of the remaining overstuffed armchairs, my top priority as the room was predominantly populated by the less puffy variety. It felt as if our group of six or so, hushed remarks and chuckles not entirely quelled as we crossed the room, was quite conspicuous in the sparse silence, and it was with a knotty mix of emotion – including modest dismay – that I found Hellinder seated next to me, very nearly tête-à-tête.  (more…)

On the Importance of “isms”, and the Cryostatically Re-Enabled (3)


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Hellinder was of the species that professes inexpensive, simple tastes, yet is always willing to go out for lunch or a drink. The kind that is ever poised to introduce vulgarity (literal excrement, for instance) into a sentence, yet demonstrates close attention to grammar, spelling, and pronunciation. After a certain point one must concede that to be confounded is close enough to being charmed, and to being willing to lend a spoon upon occasion1.

A great deal of further illustration is possible, but I will limit it to this – Hellinder was possessed of a good head of wavy dark hair, and very black eyes, and he eased human interaction in a manner that defied the laws of pseudophysics. How an extrovert finagled his way into the office I do not know.

So, although I had escaped Tertiary School without forming any close acquaintances, my worknights and weekends were now peppered by gatherings with coworkers, which was the very opposite of what I should have expected out of those two phases of my human development. As I retained some old friends from Secondary School, this left a gap associated with my Tertiary experience with which I have never been quite comfortable, as it seems to indicate that something went wrong. I puzzled over these matters, and coupled as I was at the time, to watch my partner quietly ignoring the bouleversement of my social life (a luxury that I did not have) was to be convinced that a very long joke was in progress. (more…)

On the Importance of “isms”, and the Cryostatically Re-Enabled – (2)


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Ultimately, the Intergenerational Debate confirmed rather than disrupted the theories of prominent sociologists, who already held that humans must cling to some forms of tribalism or “othering”, lest they die of frustration or wither away in motionless introspection. It would appear that accepting a few “isms” here and there is a necessary condition of our existence, and so it is merely a matter of choosing which ones may be the least distasteful. Ageism survives, as does Zoneism1, and fieldism, whose milder subtexts are politically acceptable to most individuals, is thriving.

As may be typical of an inhabitant of the LEZ, I discovered fieldism last of the above. Having passed my teenaged and earlier years in initial schooling, and having fathers who hardly spoke about their workplaces, I had no notion of what intrigue went on amid the grind of working life until I was treated to a speech from my superior (or rather, the only person whom I could identify as a possible superior, hierarchies having become unfashionable again over the past century) in my first few days of work:

Don’t trouble yourself if the marketing people downstairs ask you for something. They don’t seem to appreciate that we’re just as occupied as they are, and they always manage to arrive at the answer they wanted on their own, anyway. There’s some confirmation bias down there, unfortunately. But of course they didn’t study mathematical thought or scientific method in any real depth. It can’t be helped.”

This, to a newly-minted Mathematics major straight out of the sheltered environs of the Amphitrian Tertiary School at 121°06’39.3”2, seemed remarkably backhanded, full of layers to dissect. I must admit that I was impressed. And it proved attractive to draw mental lines and paint invisible markers in the defense of my chosen field of work, which others quite simply could not understand3, especially because it so happened that I had adjustments to make in the transition from university to work. (more…)

On the Importance of “isms”, and the Cryostatically Re-Enabled (1)


A carry-over from the English of Old Earth, the word “teenager” only makes sense when dissected with reference to that language, and more specifically, its words for the numbers in an open interval between twelve and twenty. That specific range of numbers, however, is no longer relevant to our use of the word; it is now generally understood that the teenaged years of life extend until the late twenties. In fact, as I lately read, upon Old Earth it was once a subject of widespread concern that the teenaged years would continue their invasion of later and later years of life unto perpetuity, and that society would be saddled with a majority of its members unprepared for the rigours of adulthood, yet past the age of sympathy and support accorded to children.

This bleak scenario did not come to pass, however. The teenaged years hit a plateau, as if predestined, and there remained despite the passing of millennia and numerous environmental and evolutionary changes (including the loss of much redundant body hair, and thank goodness for that). This may be linked to a similar plateau in education, as one’s initial round of schooling – at least in the Loidial Economic Zone (LEZ) – carries on until the mid-twenties or thirty years of age, excepting those who pursue advanced degrees, throwing themselves in for another ten years or so.

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A Chair Burning, and an Unfortunately Outspoken Girl (5.)


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A Chair Burning, and an Unfortunately Outspoken Girl (1.)

A Chair Burning, and an Unfortunately Outspoken Girl (2.)

A Chair Burning, and an Unfortunately Outspoken Girl (3.)

A Chair Burning, and an Unfortunately Outspoken Girl (4.)

The fox in my left ear highlighted the unpleasantness of involving myself, and muttered that the girl would probably be in no condition to sue anyone if I sat back on my ass. The wydra in my right ear nodded to the fox, but softly bemoaned the fact that I suffer from vengeful luck, and should this adolescent escape with mind intact I would suffer all the fangs of those hounds who persecute breakers of the Pact.

Getting sued has become quite ugly these days.

Between my ears my grandmother piped up in a breathless voice; she didn’t understand what was going on, but she certainly hoped her granddaughter would never be found on the wrong side of the law. She smiled.

Nothing for it. I stood, and the girl’s face adopted a repellent species of hopefulness.

I cleared my throat and then mentally kicked myself because the crowd was already looking at me. Even Loud Frod, who looked smug and expectant as if I were about to back him up. Or something equally inane.

Everyone,” I fixed on my bureaucratic smile, “I am pleased to announce that the unusual course of this burning will produce a unique, perhaps unprecedented, cosine function. I would like to thank you on behalf of my office,” I added, clenching my fists but keeping my eyes from rolling, “for as you all know, ‘more data is always good’.” (more…)