THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 122

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THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 122

…”Alley Oop – Betty Boop – puppy poop, it’s all the same to me,” Stanley & Gus have agreed to sneak inside the Harmonia

A new plan of attack was hatched…

Not only is Solution hermetically sealed from the vacuum of space, it makes a dandy submarine, except it will use its wheels for propulsion. The thrusters would kick up too much red mud.

“I guess we don’t have anything to lose? I can use some excitement. This botany duty is for the birds!”

“Now there are birds?” That would be show stopping news, would it not? They will need to settle for a pristine source of water flowing into Harmonia. “Have you noticed that the creek goes in, but it doesn’t come out?”

“By golly, you are correct Stanley. Not only do you have 2 first names, you don’t miss a trick! That gives us an even a better reason to swim on in.”

“Here’s another riddle for ya, ‘What goes in, but doesn’t come out?’”

“Good question. I believe I want to find the answer to that.”

Gus guides Solution into moving water, several hundred yards upstream for good measure. As they approach what is expected to be a thwarting thud, they slow the manned rover to a crawl. No need inflicting another blemish, like the boo-boo on the bumper when they unsuccessfully drove in the first time. The one constant about invisibility, is that it’ is hard to see.

“Well, here we go. What the hell!” he screams while holding his breath. “Are we in? We’re in… we’re in Roy!”

Galveston Launch is awash in high-fives. It turns out that hunches still have their place.

“Rather than swim with the fishes, I’m choosing popping out before we can’t get out.”

“Trout or Topeka Shiner?”

“Me and Ricko are the only fish in these waters. Here we go… alley-oop!”

“Did you know that Alley Oop was a comic strip in the 20th Century; a time-traveling caveman.”

“That describes our Gus for sure!” Rick lets slip.

“Oh yeah! Crip is old enough to remember when newspapers were made of paper.”

“I was merely providing historical context to your live-action metaphor.”

Alley Oop – Betty Boop – puppy poop, it’s all the same to me. I’m taking us to the front door.”

Water has barely stopped dripping from Solution, when they pull up to what is referred to as Harmonia. An ant at the foot of NYC’s Freedom Tower would be ratio-based comparison. Neither man has ever not been able to see the top of any object – that is until now. It is a daunting edifice, no matter whatever its purpose is.


THE NULL SOLUTION

Photo by @cpplunkett

Episode 122


page 121

THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 112

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THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 112

…Celeste is convinced that her husband is not the master of malapropisms; he just doesn’t give a hoot…

After an adjustment period, Cerella readapts to and her son is introduced to a world without livestock, barbeques and droughts.

In the short time it takes to make a TSF roundtrip, Eridanus’ security status has changed. The bigger news arrives from the Triangulum Galaxy via Chasonn; Collapsar Axis has passed by and it is headed to Epsilon Eridani’s system, in the middle of Orion’s Belt.

Letter writer to the Earthlings, Celeste McKinney and former Null, Skaldic have been holding down the fort, the latter becoming fixated not by his Giftedness or the looming gargantuan, but rather the riddle that continues to stump everyone and everything.

“Chasonn seems to think we are in danger, Sam. Take a look at the images of that Ÿ€Ð dreadnought…, inside and out it looks like trouble.”

“It’s also moving like a slug, Cel, for crying out loud! Don’t we have our hands full with little Joyner or even O?”

“I believe I am close to solving the riddle,” Skaldic interjects.

“See? Even Skaldy isn’t concerned about that planet on wheels.”

“What is it about the unattainable that is so attractive to you men?”

“Cerella has told Deke that NASA has given O a name – Lorgan – is what they call it. That means they know it may be connected to that riddle. Don’t you think Gussy and Roy are hard at work on solving it? Maybe it’s not the Selljunk’s business.

“I give up.” He cannot keep alien names straight.

“Don’t worry, we’ll keep an eye out for that Collapsed Axle.

Collapsar Axis and those friends of ours are not the Sell Junk!” Celeste is convinced that her husband is not the master of malapropisms; he just doesn’t give a hoot. “I thought you liked Chasonn?”

“He’s okay… a little jumpy, but okay.” Sam yields.

“Then you better respect his judgement. When he says jump, you better.” Celeste is solemn in projecting her resolve. “And you will leave Deke alone for a cycle? He needs time with his family.”

“I hear you Cel. I’ll keep an eye on that intrusive slug and Skaldy will work on the “Harmonica Query.  Harmonica-Harmonia, what’s the big diff? “And yes, if you can keep him tethered in Cerella’s tower, Deker can get to know that little firecracker of his… Joyner sure seems to have the McKinney smarts.”


THE NULL SOLUTION

Episode 112


page 111

THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 99

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THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 99

…“Roger Roy.”

“Not Roy Rogers.”…

Fresh as a daisy in May and as restless as puppy on a string, Gus rushes past the full moon like it is standing still. He will never tire of that moment when he passes the SOL threshold and gravity kicks back in. {They have not solved sub-light gravity {in space} yet, but it is only halfway through the 21st Century}

“No traffic lights, no traffic and no need to stop for fuel; what more can a dark-matter-master ask for?”

“What’d you say?” asks the ground crew of two.

“Nothing guys, nothing, I am a half-million miles out and I swear I can almost see that tower. It appears to be a quiet weather day on this side of Mars, 45 degrees and sunny.”

“Let us know when you drop out of SOL,” Roy orders.

“Done. I do not want to startle the neighbors. I am strapped in and waiting for the riddle to pop onto my screen. It was right about here… and there she is!”

I am the how & why that blocks your way

2 + 1 = 6

6 – 2 = 9

0 – 1 = 0

Solve the what where & who and you can pass through

 “I am typing harmonia as my response. Send… nothing… sending again.”

“Try capitalizing the H.”

“Roger Roy.”

“Not Roy Rogers!”

This time his screen lights up like a Christmas tree. A mass of flashing colors and geometric shapes in a blinding sequenceSomething Wrong GIFs | Tenor comes and it goes. The words WRONG TRY AGAIN conclude the transmission.

“Did you guys catch that? Harmonia with a capital H did something.”

“Eureka, concrete proof of grammar in outer space, just why we sent you out there!”

“Hey, don’t shoot me, I’m just the piano player,” Gus insists. “I think I can land in the opposite hemisphere?”

“Lota good that will do us; Too long of a walk and that is 87 keys too many McKinney, come on home.”


THE NULL SOLUTION

Episode 99


page 100

THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 90

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THE NULL SOUTION = Episode 90

…’The money we spend on space could be better spent at home…’

…But remember, when you mess with NASA, you’re messing with the future…

“Nobody has seen Deke McKinney lately,” states President Harper Lea Bassett.

“I heard he is on location in Morocco shooting a movie.”

“He’s old enough to run for president right damn now; we ought to check into his political ambitions.”

Only his hairdresser knows for sure.

“I want my own “dawg” down there at NASA, someone who will give me all the credit. It’s an election year you know.”

“Would that person be a “Bassett hound”?” Chief-of-Staff Shriver jokes. “It isn’t just the McKinneys who are loyal to Roy; from the sanitary engineers to the Saturn XIV rocket scientists, I swear that they would die for him.”

“I need an issue that will resonate with our Democratic constituency, like, ‘The money we spend on space could be better spent at home.’

“Over half of our constituency cannot speak English.”

“That’s my point exactly! Unless they can eat it, wear it or spend it, they don’t care. The speed-of-light doesn’t mean squat to the person on the government dime.”

“Those are our people for sure.” Privately, Dane Shriver would consider himself as Republican-leaning, if he did not happen to have the cushiest job in the country.

“Make me up a list of possible NASA directors.  Doesn’t {former California governor} Patrick Schwarzenegger need something to do?”

“Other than screwing every B-list actress under the age of majority?”

“That’s kind of harsh Dane. He is one of my biggest donors, be nice.”

“A new director would need to know something about space.”

“Didn’t Patrick play an astronaut in a movie about Jupiter once?”

“No, that was Channing Tatum. He {Patrick} runs a movie studio now; I believe it is Warner Brothers.” It is hard to keep her focused. “I will shoot a list over to you in a couple of days, but I’m telling you, if not Roy, one of his staffers would be best. Remember, when you mess with NASA, you’re messing with the future… the future of all the people who do speak English and actually have a clue.”


THE NULL SOLUTION

Messing with the Future

Episode 90


page 91

“The Simpsons” Fun Facts – WIF TV

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Amazing Facts

About

The Simpsons

A while back, WIF comprised a top 10 list about America’s most beloved fictional family, the Simpsons. But since the list had only 10 entries, it didn’t even come close to doing them justice. After all, this is a show that’s been on TV for nearly 30 years. So, we’ve decided to make another one, telling you more about our yellow friends, their backstories, and some other facts you might have not known about them. We won’t bore you with a long and tedious introduction, so without any further ado, here are the Simpsons, and some stuff which…let’s say, isn’t described in the show itself.

10. Smithers’ “Coming Out” is Based on Real Life

There was no real surprise for anyone who’s a fan of the show that Smithers, Mr. Burns’ loyal assistant/yes-man/servant, is gay. But up until this year, the show never truly “said it out loud.” During the 17th episode of the 27th season, called “The Burns Cage,” the show officially gave its audience this particular confirmation. Mr. Smithers finally accepts the fact that the love he has for his boss will never be reciprocated, and Homer even helps him on his search for true love.

What’s less obvious and less known about this is that the writer of the episode, Rob LaZebnik, said the episode was inspired by his own gay son. When Johnny LaZebnik, a teenager, came out of the closet and admitted to his own sexual preferences in front of his family, his father was very accepting and loving. “I am a Midwestern guy, so I don’t tend to wear my emotions on my sleeve,” the elder LaZebnik told the New York Post. “But I thought, ‘What better way to tell my son I love him than to write a cartoon about it?’” His son had this to say about the matter: “The revelation that my father loves me is not much of a revelation, thankfully. He’s unbelievably accepting. We’re as close as a straight dad and a gay son could be.”

9. Lisa Can Predict the Super Bowl

There’s somewhat of an unspoken tradition within The Simpsons, started way back in 1992, where Lisa predicts the next champion of the Super Bowl in real life. It all started with “Lisa the Greek,” the 49th episode of the show, where Homer tricks his eldest daughter into helping him gamble on football. When she finds out, she makes a bet where the winner of the Super Bowl will be the Washington Redskins, if she is to love him, or the Buffalo Bills, if she doesn’t. When the show premiered, just before the Super Bowl, those two teams were actually squaring off in Super Bowl XXVI, and Washington won by 37-24.

Over the following three years, the producers made it a tradition to air the episode just before the Super Bowl and alter the dialogue to fit the two teams playing that year. According to the DVD commentary, Lisa accurately picked the winning team every single year.

8. Bart’s Prank Calls to Moe Really Happened

The more we delve into The Simpsons, the more we realize just how “real” the show is. Another fact based more on reality than anything else are the prank calls Bart makes to Moe’s bar, just so he can have a laugh at how its grumpy (psychotic?) owner reacts. These calls are loosely based on the Tube Bar prank calls which actually happened back in the ’70s. Two young men by the names of John Elmo and Jim Davidson came up with the idea one day while passing the Tube Bar in New Jersey, and noticed the owner, heavyweight boxer Louis “Red” Deutsch, beating one of his customers for not drinking fast enough.

Known for his easily-ruffled temper, the two boys would often call up his bar and ask Louis Deutsch if they could speak to a fictitiously named customer. These names were mostly pun-based, like “Pepe Roni” (pepperoni), “Al Coholic” (alcoholic), or a few…oh, let’s say, more “colorful” names starting with the first name Mike. Most of the time Deutsch would call out the names, but sometimes he would catch on and respond with extreme hostility, shouting mostly profanity, with obscene sexual references.

7. Bush Hoped Americans Wouldn’t Emulate the Simpsons

We are going to keep on trying to … make American families a lot more like the Waltons and a lot less like the Simpsons.” As a response, the show came out with a segment for the next season in which Bart said, “Hey, we’re just like the Waltons. We’re praying for an end to the Depression, too.” They also came out with a later episode in which the Bushes move to Springfield.

But this is not the only time the Bushes came into contact with the Simpsons. Back in 1990, two years before the President made his speech, his wife and first lady, Barbara Bush, was quoted in People magazine as saying The Simpsons was “the dumbest thing [she] had ever seen.” Not long after, she received a polite reply in the form of a letter from none other than Marge Simpson. This, in turn, was followed by Barbara Bush’s own apologetic reply. Unfortunately their communications stopped there and it’s quite safe to say that they didn’t become actual pen-pals.

6. Where is Springfield, Really?

Springfield is a fairly common town name throughout the US, so which one is it, actually? This question is somewhat difficult to answer and has been boggling people’s minds for a long while. In an interview, The Simpsons creator Matt Groening said, “I don’t want to ruin it for people, you know? Whenever people say it’s Springfield, Ohio, or Springfield, Massachusetts, or Springfield, wherever; I always go, ‘Yup, that’s right.’” This line of thinking makes us believe that Springfield is just a generic place that could easily fit anywhere within the US, as to be more easily relatable to its audience.

Nevertheless, we do know that Groening grew up on Evergreen Terrace (the same street as the Simpsons clan) in Portland, Oregon, and which is just 100 miles north of Springfield, Oregon. “Springfield was named after Springfield, Oregon. The only reason is that when I was a kid, the TV show Father Knows Best took place in the town of Springfield, and I was thrilled because I imagined that it was the town next to Portland, my hometown,” he told Smithsonian magazine.

 But in the show itself, a letter to Mr. Burns indicates he lives in Springfield, New Jersey. Another instance has the narrator talking about the Simpsons as “this Kentuckian family…”, but to be fair, the narrator may have been indicating that the family originally came from Kentucky. There is also one opening couch gag where the camera zooms out from the Simpsons’ house, above the town of Springfield, continuing over the entire US and subsequently, the entire universe. Here, the location of Springfield suggests it to be somewhere around the Great Lakes area, probably in Illinois.

5. The First Season is Different From the Rest

Like most other animated shows, especially those with a particularly long run, it’s not surprising to see some differences, especially in design, after a few seasons. In The Simpsons, however, there are several other changes that make the first season different from the rest. For example, Homer’s voice was made higher pitched and less intelligent-sounding than it initially was. Chief Wiggum’s hair color changes from black to blue, not to mention Mr. Smithers, who was initially black, as well as Officer Lou, who had yellow skin at the beginning of season one.

The first episodes also had a somewhat different opening sequence (which you can watch above). While Bart is skateboarding on the street on his way home from school, we don’t see any of the recognizable characters we’re used to in the later episodes. We instead see a bunch of people running after a bus. Lisa is seen riding her bike, overburdened with school books, and then parking it, just before Homer’s car pulls into the driveway. The rest is similar to how it is today, with the exception of the frequent couch gag variables, of course.

4. Marge Has Bunny Ears

The reason for Marge’s long, cylindrical-shaped hairdo has nothing to do with the style women were wearing during the late 1980s, because they weren’t, for the most part. Admittedly, Matt Groening’s mother Margaret did wear it during the 1960s, and she is in fact the inspiration for Marge. But the real reason for why Marge is wearing that style is quite strange. From the very beginning, Matt Groening decided to reveal in the very last episode of the show, whenever it may be, that Marge actually had bunny ears underneath her blue hair.

This idea came as a shock to the other writers and co-creators of the show. In fact, co-creator Sam Simon got really angry and managed to convince Groening that this was a stupid idea, and that they would not be using it. Nevertheless, in the Simpsons Arcade Game, Groening did manage to have it his own way after all, and Marge was given large bunny ears. The reasoning behind Matt Groening’s original idea is still a mystery. Incidentally, considering Marge “posed” for Playboy (yes, there was an actual, real-life issue in which Marge appeared nude, around the time of The Simpsons Movie) and could now be considered a Playboy Bunny, it seems almost like a self-fulfilling prophecy.

3. The Most Guest Stars…Ever

While the show holds the Guinness World Record for the longest running, primetime TV animated series, it also holds the record for the most guest stars to appear in the show with over 600. Among them are Stephen Hawking, Jose Canseco, Jon Stewart, and Katy Perry. Michael Jackson also made an appearance in an episode, portraying a mental patient who believed he was…Michael Jackson. In the episode credits, however, the voice is credited as John Jay Smith.

Three of the Beatles have also appeared in the show: George Harrison (“Homer’s Barbershop Quartet”), Ringo Starr (“Brush With Greatness”), and Paul McCartney (“Lisa the Vegetarian”). There has even been an entire episode dedicated to the passing of the late George Harrison. Since John Lennon passed away long before the show even premiered, his song “Mother” was used in an episode, meaning in a sense that all of the Beatles had their voices heard within the Simpsons.

2. Who is Maggie?

Unlike the other characters in the show, which all have their respective actors voicing them throughout the many seasons, Maggie Simpson was played by anyone who was willing. Most of the female voices in the show have had a go at the spike-headed baby, creating her cute grunts and babblings, and on occasion, even delivering some lines in her dreams, or other fantasies. In the beginning of the show, most of her squeaks and cries were done by Yeardley Smith, but in later seasons, this “arduous” task fell mostly on Nancy Cartwright, who is also the voice behind Bart, Nelson, Ralph Wiggum, Todd Flanders, and a few others, on occasion.

In some special instances, however, guest stars have even been brought in to voice the awesome role of Maggie Simpson. Her first ever word was actually spoken by Elizabeth Taylor, in the episode “Lisa’s First Word.” Even though the word was simply “Daddy,” Taylor had to record the word numerous times before the producers were satisfied. Jodie Foster voiced a Howard Roark-inspired Maggie, who rallied babies in yet another daycare escape. And let’s not forget the James Earl Jones version of Maggie in the “Treehouse of Horror V” episode. But the most important Maggie role is actually played by Matt Groening himself, who’s the source for the ever present pacifier sucking.

1. Best and Worst Episodes

Like with every other show out there, there are good episodes, and not so good episodes. The season two premiere episode, called “Bart Gets An F,” was a bit controversial, to say the least. It was the first episode in the series to focus mainly on Bart (the most popular character at the time), as opposed to Homer and the family as a whole. This was coupled with putting the show up against The Bill Cosby Show, back before people realized how creepy and awful its star was. Nevertheless, these two gambles paid off in the end and the episode brought in the best Nielsen ratings the show has ever seen. The episode has quite an interesting moral: even if you try your hardest, you’re not guaranteed to succeed. This is still the highest viewed episode to date.

 On the other end of the popularity spectrum is “The Great Simpsina,” which aired during the 22nd season of the show. The episode revolves around Lisa being a great magician, which sounds fine and all but was hurt by a couple things, including the fact that Lisa isn’t exactly the most popular character on the series. She’s great, for sure, but she’s pretty far down the cast “depth chart,” so to speak, for carrying her own episodes. But at the end of the day, the real reason why this was the least viewed episode has to do more with the fact that it appeared far later that “Bart Gets An F,” of course, and because the entire show itself has been losing its popularity as a whole as the years have gone on.

Simpsons Fun Facts

TV-001

WIF TV


THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 64

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THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 64

…Great, I’m going to save a bunch of goat minders…

Photo from Paula Watts

Not three. Not two. One of the original Ÿ€Ð cruisers is left cruising into Terran System territory.

To be exactly correct, zero may soon leave Collapsar Axis as the only Ÿ€Ð creation in the Great Expanse.

Gus is out for an authorized joy ride in his SEx machine. Without the drag of a formal “launch”, he is flaunting that freedom with the usual McKinney flair. The 1st time daddy is learning about all the new built-in bells ‘n whistles, with a get-a-long in his giddy-up.

Ostensibly Roy has dispatched him to NEO 2038DP to test out a fully charged disruptor blast. That 13-meter, oblong, tumbling big-bang-debris is back again and this orbit promises to charge headlong into the Himalayas next week. The UASI {United Association of Sherpas International} is sponsoring this near-Earth object deflection/destruction in conjunction with Dalai Lama 16.

“Now remember Gussy, you want to aim for the thinnest equator of that beggar.” Fletcher Fitch has narrowed the destructive beam of the weapon. The anonymous gift from somebody, arrived with a not-so-narrow ray, meant for a larger purpose. “For the time being, we want to put this thing to good use.”

Great, I’m going to save a bunch of goat minders.”

“Today’s goats are tomorrow’s llamas.”

“I almost forgot Fitch, those used to be your people!” an ancestry dig.

“Talibanistan is a China away from Nepal, did you fail geography?”

“The only geography I am focused on is a 43 foot hunk of space-rock.”

Mount St. Helens before

“That rock is traveling at 45K kilometers/sec. If it hits on a steep enough angle, it could be a mini Mount St. Helens.”

“Now you are testing my history aptitude? Displaced a billion tons of the mountain’s north face… in Washington State… in 1980… Ronald Reagan was president… and disco was king.”

“Enough already McKinney! Just do the task assigned and accept the gratitude of 126 Everest mountain climbers!”


THE NULL SOLUTION

Mount St. Helens after

Episode 64


page 67

THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 58

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THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 58

…I have a disease that the there is no surefire cure…

“I don’t know, ever since these visions I’ve been having, I seem to get these flashes. Today’s flash must be happy,” Gus describes his state-of-mind to his stepfather.

About that time, his personal device tries to vibrate off his handy-dandy utility belt. It is hard to stay in the present, when your mind may be 40 trillion {unknowingly} miles away. The present is very persistent.

“Would you please respond to that? NASA devices do not exceed one alert, unless it is important, like when you are on the other side of the Sun.”

“It’s from Mindy. I’ve got to get back to the house.”

“I never thought I’d see the day when Gus McKinney is a henpecked husband!”

“You had the whole country henpecked for eight years,” that not-so-obscure reference to Francine Bouchette-Crippen is sufficient to silence the critic.–

— Moving at Earth-speed is so boring… until it isn’t.

“Do you remember our date night, the one after you returned from the Sun?”

“How can I forget? That movie we saw… wasn’t it Notebook: The Cure? Incurable diseases are so yesterday.”

“Well, I have a disease that the there is no surefire legal cure.”

She sounds serious enough for him to take notice. Do Earthmen really roll with the flow?

“We have access to the best doctors in the world Mindy. We can fight this!” which begs the question, “What exactly are we fighting?” His concern deepens.

You cannot be married to a McKinney male without having a sense of humor. “What has 4 limbs grows tall & strong and is destined to bear fruit?”

“A lemon tree?”

“Aren’t you sweet?”

“An apple tree?’

“You’re getting warm Adam.”

“I’m Gus.”

“Do you give up?”

Not in the McKinney dictionary.

Does this riddle have anything to do with his previously contented bliss?

“Does your riddle have anything to do with my good mood, before you turned it into a quiz?”

“Time is up!”

Mindy McDonald-McKinney holds up a doctor’s prescription for prenatal medication.

What do you think the expectant father does first?

“Mindy is pregnant, Dad!” He rings up Roy to share the news. Then he ponders her quiz, “4 limbs blah, blah… bear fruit? Does that mean it’s a girl?”

Parents on this side of Stardate 2031 do not get a choice about getting a surprise or not. Oh sure the pregnancy may be, but not the xx or xy factor.

Over on Eridanus

“You look doubly content, Deke,” Celeste notices.

Long after getting his baby news, something washes over Deke McKinney.

“I don’t know…, but I am feeling happy about something else, can’t explain it.”

Outside the Null Tower

“Are things ever going to change for the Null?” Offingga asks Skaldic.

“They already have.”

The future of the Null is NOT void.


THE NULL SOLUTION

Episode 58


page 61 (end ch. 5)

THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 29

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THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 29

…Prez Roy is back in the swing of ‘retirement’, cleared by his physicians and bolstered by the best meds and nanotechnology available…

Nanotechnology

Gus is dealing with the startling revelations presented to him by a family –  he did not know still existed.

“What do I do with “this”, Mindy?”

Mindy McKinney has been waiting patiently for their date-night. “You do as your mother says.

What is there to lose? Keep an eye on the secure NASA database and hope the other geeks don’t miss something important.”

“I have a sister that I never met,” Gus was blown away by the other “this”. “And how do I present this information to Roy? He was 2 ticks from dying and now he hears another of my visions?”

“He trusts you Gus. He didn’t poo-poo your last story. In fact, didn’t he tell you that he smelled Deke’s cologne inside SEx?”

THE END of: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way Back to Earth Part Too

The first rule of maintaining a good marriage is listening to your spouse… and doing as they say.

Gus McKinney is wise; Roy Crippen, not so much.

“It hasn’t been 12 hours, Roy,” the former Francine Bouchette and First Lady raises an obligatory objection to his debriefing of the last SOL mission. For all she knows, God struck him down for lying to the current President of The United States. Surely there will be a Senate Select Committee appointed to investigate on who-knew-what-when. “Why didn’t I marry that TV executive in Houston?”

The lady doth complain too much.

Despite of his rocky episode, Prez Roy is back in the swing of ‘retirement’, cleared by his physicians and bolstered by the best meds and nanotechnology available. Ex-presidents are kept alive at all costs. Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush {#39 and #41) were sustained until their 90s, but that was then and this is now. If you do not live to 100 these days {2052}, you were victim of one of the following:

  • Fast Food
  • Accident
  • Murder
  • Suicide
  • Starvation or living on the United Korean Peninsula {the same thing}


THE NULL SOLUTION

Episode 29


page 33

Simply Not Simple – WIF Human Mysteries

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Simple Things

We Still

Don’t Understand

Some have said that the human pursuit of knowledge is like awakening naked in a dark forest, and being asked “how did you get here?” Despite the many difficulties and false beliefs, man has undoubtedly made great strides in having a better understanding of our world. However, there are still ideas, behaviors, and concepts that we still fail to understand. Even the most simple concepts, like the world being round, hasn’t necessarily found footing. We’ve decided to investigate 10 simple things that we don’t fully understand, in hopes that we can come to understand that we’re not out of the wilderness yet.

 10. Some People Don’t Need Sleep

We know, we know. You’re thinking, what is sleep doing on this list? We all know the function of sleep and its importance for brain health and overall wellness. It’s widely believed that the brain needs sleep to generate new pathways and connections. Without sleep, the body would be unable to hold onto these connections and it would also struggle to rejuvenate itself, repair tissue, and synthesize hormones.

The curious case of short sleepers, profiled in Ying-Hui Fu’s lab at the University of California-San Francisco, demonstrates that we haven’t come to understand sleep as well as we think. In 2009, a woman entered Fu’s lab and gave a surprising account. No matter what time she went to bed, even if it was late at night, she would still wake up at the crack of dawn. She could never sleep in. Never. And according to the subject, it was the same for several members of her family. Skeptical at first, Fu and her colleagues, decided to compare the genome of different family members. The result was an amazing discovery: a tiny mutation in a gene called DEC2. The mutation was present in family members who identified as short sleepers, but not in members of the family who had normal length sleep, nor in 250 unrelated volunteers.

However, without more conclusive evidence the finding would not be well received. Fu was left with a conundrum: how do we prove that the DEC2 gene is tied to sleep?

In order to test their hypothesis, Fu and her team decided to breed mice to express the same mutation of the “short sleepers.” The results proved that their hypothesis was correct: the mice with the mutation performed just as well as regular mice, in terms of physical and cognitive tasks, while sleeping substantially less.

Fu’s subject would relay that her short sleeping abilities allowed her to finish college in just two and half years and has generally given her ample time to become a more fulfilled person. Imagine, having 60 extra days a year. That’s a reality that future generations will certainly enjoy.

9. We Still Don’t Know How Many Species There Are on Earth

Since Noah and his Ark, human beings have attempted to categorize and catalogue the different species that we share the planet with. You’d think we’d be able to have a concrete understanding of the other creatures that roam this planet with us, but we really don’t. In fact, it’s almost embarrassing how far ranging our estimates are. Most taxonomists believe we haven’t even scratched the surface in discovering all the creatures that live on the planet. After nearly 250 years of work,  and the findings of over 15,000 new living beings each year, taxonomists still shy away from coming up with concrete estimates of how many species inhabit the planet Earth.

Scientists have identified nearly 8.7 million species, but that number is constantly challenged by scientists presenting new methods and models for extrapolation. One concept proposed by Richard May, an evolutionary biologist, is that the diversity of land animals increases as they get smaller and, granting that we’d discovered most species of big animals, he used them as a model for smaller species and concluded that there are 10 to 50 million species of land animals.

Many might be asking why it is so difficult to come up with a finite number? One of the biggest reasons is that 99 percent of all living space is under the ocean, and we’ve explored less than 10 percent of it.

8. We Know Dreaming is Important, but We Don’t Know Why

Sigmund Freud believed that dreams are a window into the unconscious mind, which express hidden feelings that are repressed or that we’re simply unaware of. And while that may not be true, it’s just one of the many theories on the nature of dreams that have not resulted in fundamental answers. What we do know for certain is that everyone dreams. The most vivid dreams occur during the REM cycle, when the brain is most active, and while it may not feel like it, but experts claim we dream at least 4 to 6 times per night.

If we’re said to dream 6 times a night, and rarely remember our dreams, what could possibly be the purpose? Why do we remember some dreams and not others? We simply have no answers. What we do know is that dreaming is important to our health and well-being. A study in which researchers woke subjects just as they were drifting off into REM sleep found that those who were not allowed to dream experienced: increased tension, anxiety, depression, difficulty concentrating, lack of coordination, weight gain, and a tendency to hallucinate.

We guess that we’ve found new meaning in the phrase “never stop dreaming.”

7. Laughing: A Universal Language?

Something as universal as laughter would seemingly be easy to explain. It’s not. Like dreams, laughter is a powerful display of our unconscious. Laughter is involuntary, and thus is a window into our sensibilities. Think about it. Laughter changes our facial expressions, elicits noises (some more flattering than others), and is without question contagious. Who hasn’t been a room where everyone breaks out into fits of laughter?

So what triggers it? It’s not as simple as you think.

Studies have shown that laughter is less about humor and more about social interaction and communication. Laughter is first exhibited in a child at three and a half to four months of age, well before speech, and as such laughter, similar to crying, is a way for an infant to interact with the mother. The idea that laughter is another form of communication was studied by researchers who went to local malls and city sidewalks and recorded what happened just before people laughed. Over the course of nearly ten years, and observing more than 2,000 cases of naturally occurring laughter, “[they] found that most laughter does not follow jokes. People laugh after a variety of statements, such as ‘Hey John, where ya been?’ and ‘Here comes Mary.’” It is not a leap to suggest that laughter supplements language to undress situations and to better form relationships or create bonds.

6. Yawning Cools the Brain

Another involuntary action that we’ve been unable to come to terms with is yawning. A behavior that occurs across species still has managed to puzzle scientists. A widely held belief that yawning occurs so oxygen can enter our bloodstream and to wake us up when we’re becoming drowsy has actually been disproven. Steven Platek, a psychology professor at Georgia Gwinnett College, is one of the many scientists who have said there is zero evidence that yawning affects levels of oxygen in the bloodstream, blood pressure, or heart rate.

The pervading theory is that the purpose yawning is to cool down the brain. The importance of scientific inquiry is that while eliminating one hypothesis it can make way for another. Subsequently, with studies showing that yawning does not affect levels of oxygen in the bloodstream, other experiments showed that yawning actually changes the temperature of the brain itself.

A Gallup study that took place in 2007 revealed that holding hot or cold packs to the forehead influenced how often people yawned, in instances where they saw others doing it. Additionally, when subjects held a warm pack to their forehead, “they yawned 41 percent of the time… (and) when they held a cold pack, the incidence of yawning dropped to 9 percent.”

Mechanically speaking, stretching our jaws leads to an increasing rate of blood flow to the skull and by inhaling at the same time, the air changes the temperature of the flow, leading to cooler blood flowing to the brain.

Experiments done on our favorite test subjects, mice, supported the conclusion that “an increase in brain temperature was found to precede yawning. Once the tiny rodents opened wide and inhaled, the temperature decreased.”

5. Mosquitoes Like Some More Than Others

“They like you more.” That’s the common refrain when a night out on the beach leads to one family member being left ravaged by mosquitoes. The truth is that remark has almost been taken as explanatory. In reality, most of us don’t know why some individuals are targeted more than others. Scientists have come to the believe that 20% of population is more attractive to mosquitoes than others.

Scientists have not settled on what exactly distinguishes that 20 percent, but one of the leading theories is blood type. A study found that Type O blood was twice more likely to be bitten than Type A.  The data is less conclusive with Type B with researchers concluding that it falls somewhere in the middle of desirable and undesirable for mosquitoes.

4. Blushing May Have Started as a Social Custom

“Man is the only animal that blushes. Or needs to.” The eternal words of Mark Twain need only to tell us why exactly man “needs to.” It seems to be the most basic of human behaviors. We blush when we’re embarrassed. Being the product of an evolutionary process that eliminates characteristics that lower survival, how did blushing, a response that shows vulnerability, manage to manifest itself in all cultures and peoples?

Darwin remained puzzled until his death, but that did not stop other scientists from attempting to explain this behavior.

Currently, one of the leading theories of the origin of blushing is that it began as an appeasement ritual: to submit to the authority of dominant members of a group. Naturally, submitting to said member would then increase one’s chances of surviving in that group.

Scientists believe that as our social interactions later became more complex, it became intertwined with emotions like guilt, shame, and embarrassment. And as the rearing of family became of the utmost importance in agrarian societies, neuroscientists note that it may have been viewed as socially desirable and attractive for women to blush and therefore reveal honesty to men.

3. What’s the Deal With Pubic Hair?

No longer hairy apes, we’ve evolved and lost most of our thick wool of hair that seemed to represent that earlier period in our evolutionary past. However, a reminder of that history remains in the most unlikely of places: hair in our genital regions. What purpose could pubic hair possibly have? If you’ve been following along, you’ll know the answer is far from straightforward.

One of the most popular theories is that “since thicker hair gathers in regions where we have apocrine (scent) sweat glands as well as eccrine (cooling) ones, it may serve to waft odors that signal sexual maturity.”

Just another example that we’re just one small piece in a long fabric of evolution.

2. Kissing Isn’t Universal

We were surprised to learn that kissing was not a universally practiced show of affection. It turns out just 46% of cultures engage in the locking of lips.

Probably the most likely proposition is that the custom began during child rearing, where the connection between a mother and an infant comes from the “mouth sensations associated with breastfeeding.”

In addition, earlier epochs, probably engaged in mouth-to-mouth feeding of chewed food, is a custom that’s still carried out by the Manus cultures of the Admiralty Islands.  The act of this is used by women to remind children and descendants of their obligations to her.

Lastly, in terms of physiology, our lips are among the most sensitive parts of our bodies, with sensory neurons linked to our brain’s pleasure palaces. The benefits of which has shown that kissing reduces levels of the stress, hormone cortisol and increases the bonding hormone, oxytocin.

1. Consciousness is a Puzzle That’s Ever-Changing

The most complex concept on our list has been puzzling great thinkers for generations. In the 17th century, Descartes, a French philosopher, posited the notion that mind and body were completely separate. That began a philosophical battle that continues to this day. Without any answers, we will ask you to choose what camp you’re in.

Descartes was the earliest proponent of idealism – the idea that the mind and body are entirely separate. On the other hand there are the materialists, like Karl Marx, who believe that nothing exists apart from the material world (i.e. physical matter like the brain); materialist psychologists generally agree that consciousness (the mind) is the function of the brain.


Simply Not Simple

WIF Human Mysteries

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 271

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 271

ELEVENTH AND FINAL CHAPTER

…It is also a day for reminiscence, particularly for The Space Family McKinney, as they hearken back to the good old days of yesteryear on Earth…

Traveling Fast

Excitement, joy, good times, and good old family love abounds this day, in the year {as close as they can agree on a stardate} 2055.005. The McKinneys are gathered outside the spiraling towers for a celebration: the public acknowledgement of Cerella of Eridanus-Eupepsia and Deke McKinney of Earth-Texas as mates for life.

All the ingredients for a grand time are present, with the unusual lifting of the pink mist, mystery pizza aplenty, and an ingenious alcoholic brew that Sampson has managed to replicate.

The unexpected upward visibility allows for the viewing of the “test run” for the new-improved Stellar Explorer, so there are ample choices for one and all to be festive; where you have both a “wedding” celebration and a beggar’s chance to see something traveling really fast.

It is also a day for reminiscence, particularly for The Space Family McKinney. Hearken back to the good old days of yesteryear on Earth. For one, Deimostra McKinney loves to hear about the planet she never knew, even if those stories seem chaotic and illogical.

“Do you remember the time Braden decided to go to Mardi Gras alone?” Sampson has a sack full of stories about family friend Braden King. “He was going to find himself a woman in New Orleans, good or wicked!”

“Yes and we got a call from a Louisiana jail asking us to come and bail him out,” Celeste recalls vividly.

Solicitation of a Prostitute was the charge. He goes looking for a girlfriend and he finds a hooker instead!”

“What is a hooker?” asks Deimostra.

“Never mind.”

Gus remembers an alternate childhood version, “But you told us his car was stolen.”

“At the time, that was all you kids needed to know. He made us swear never to tell anyone, as long as we lived.”


THE RETURN TRIP

Family Stories

Episode 271


page 240