Friday, June 24, 2016
This is really something for a rainy day, so long as you're equipped with the essentials. What you need is a microwave oven, some grapes, a small measure of sunflower oil and some friends with whom to compete.
The idea is thus.
First, if the microwave is of the type that has one of those silly rotating dish-like things, which rotates your food to make sure it gets cooked evenly, then TAKE IT OUT and THROW IT AWAY. You won't need it for this game and, if you get addicted enough, you probably won't use your microwave for anything
else, so you won't need that dish thing ever again.
OK, next, lightly cover the floor of the microwave with a SMALL amount of sunflower oil. Just generally spread it about, to make a thin, lubricating layer, on which a grape may skate about. Try it with a practice grape to make sure you've got it right. Then, line up a number of grapes at one side of the oven, with one grape corresponding to each player. Important tip here - MAKE SURE THAT THE END WITH THE HOLE IN IT IS POINTING AT THE WALL. This is really quite fundamentally important. Next, lay bets - or whatever - on your grape, that it will win/lose/finish in a particular position or state/whatever. Then, set the microwave to full power, and switch on.
What happens is that the inside of the grape heats up, liquefies, and acts as a jet propellant to push the grape along the lubricated floor of the microwave as it shoots out the hole at the back. Thus, each grape travels with varying degrees of speed and/or success across the floor of the microwave. The first to reach the other side of the microwave is judged to be the winner, or, failing this, the one to travel the furthest. Some grapes don't make it even this far, and either shrivel up or explode messily on the starting line, but this just adds to the fun. Remember to switch off the microwave and remove the competitors before replacing them for the next round.
The game can be varied according to players and their individual tastes, like "Strip Grape Races" for example, or "Stunt Grapes" where the grape must perform a task like jumping over other grapes, etc. These, and other variations, should keep you and your friends amused for hours.
Thursday, June 23, 2016
We Are A Terrifying Species
I’d like to see a sci-fi universe where we’re actually considered one of the more hideous and terrifying species.
How do we know our saliva and skin oils wouldn’t be ultra-corrosive to most other sapient races? What if we actually have the strongest vocal chords and can paralyze or kill the inhabitants of other worlds just by screaming at them? What if most sentient life in the universe turns out to be vegetable-like and lives in fear of us rare “animal” races who can move so quickly and chew stuff up with our teeth?
Like that old story, “They’re Made of Meat,” only we’re scarier.
· “OMG, they eat capsaicin for fun!”
· “I heard a human once ate an airplane!”
· “A human can keep fighting for hours even after you shoot it.”
· “Humans are a proud warrior race with a pantheon of bloody gods: Ram-Bo, Schwarzenegger, etc.”
· WARNING: Humans can detect you even at night by tracking vibrations through the atmosphere.
· WARNING: Humans can reproduce at a rate of once every nine months
· The human mouth has over thirty outcrops of bone and powerful jaw muscles
· Human bites can be fatally infectious, even to other humans.
· Humans can project bioweapons from almost every orifice on their body. Do ont inhale.
Seriously, humans have a number of advantages even among Terrestrial life. Our endurance, shock resistance, and ability to recover from injury is absurdly high compared to almost any other animal. We often use the phrase “healthy as a horse” to connote heartiness – but compared to a human a horse is as fragile as spun glass. There’s mounting evidence that our primitive ancestors would hunt large prey simply by following it at a walking pace, without sleep or rest, until it died of exhaustion; it’s called Pursuit Predation. Basically, we’re the Terminator.
The only other animal that can sort of keep up with us? Dogs. That’s why we use them for hunting. And even then, it’s only “sort of”.
Now extrapolate that to alien worlds in which most sapient life did NOT evolve from hyper-specialized pursuit predators:
· Our strength and speed is nothing to write home about, but we don’t need to overpower or outrun you. We just need to outlast you – and by any other species’ standards, we just plain don’t get tired.
· Where a simple broken leg will cause most species to go into shock and die, we can recover from virtually any injury that’s not immediately fatal. Even traumatic dismemberment isn’t necessarily a career-ending injury for a human.
· We heal from injuries with extreme rapidity, recovering in weeks from wounds that would take others months or years to heal. The results aren’t pretty – humans have hyperactive scar tissue., among our other survival-oriented traits – but they’re highly functional.
· Speaking of scarring, look at our medical science. We developed surgery centuries before developing even the most rudimentary anesthetics or life-support. In extreme situations, humans have been known to perform surgery ON THEMSELVES – and survive. We even perform radical surgery on ourselves for purely cosmetic reasons.
In essence, we’d be Space Orcs.
And we will eat ANYTHING.
· We use borderline toxic peppers to season our food.
· We expose ourselves to potentially lethal solar radiation in the pursuit of darkening our skin.
· We have a game where two people get into an enclosed area and hit each other until either time runs out, or one of them passes out.
And, returning to the concept of pursuit predation, and what a terrifying idea that actually is…
It’s one thing to face down a cheetah, which can slam into you at 70 mph and break your neck. It’s another thing entirely to run very quickly to get away from a thing, only to have it just kind of… …show up. So you run again. But it keeps following you. It’s always in the corner of your eye. Until you finally just… …die.
We are truly a scary species.