Boola Boola

Lulu
Ninety five.

Harriet
Okay, how many more grids left? And we haven’t covered the north side.

Lulu
I now understand that GIS is really sucky. There’s too much data, and none of it is live. We need access to several satellites and military grade software if we are ever going to get this done in time.

Harriet
Not necessarily. We could use drones and do the physical search that way. I mean, do you know anyone who could lend us a few drones?

Lulu
You mean, my father? If he agrees to lend us drones, which he won’t because this is just a game to promote Luke St James’s new blockbuster movie, how can we use them effectively, if we have only two sets of eyes?

Harriet
I have an idea. Come with me.

:::::::
….. ….. …..
:::::

Harriet
Hello, bitches.

Rori
What up.

Harriet
Drop everything and come with me.

Bart
All of us?

Harriet
Yes, all of you.

Heath
Yes, Princess.

Harriet
I’ll give you a free pass Heath, because you’re seriously into me. And I might throw some at you later.

Bart
What’s this all about?

Harriet
The new interactive game, “Find the Martian Spaceship” with “Find the Martian Boy” for Lamda Six. My darling, St Lucas, apparently came up with the concept himself.

Heath
Bad ass concept. I mean, it’s so simple and so state of the art. It’s got 3D animated aliens and did you see the ship designs? Too cool.

Lulu
Yeah, Icelandic runes were an unexpected artistic touch. I liked how they draw in all the world cultures we normally don’t get to see in movies.

Harriet
Guys! I’m in charge of the presentation.

Bart
The Martians’ face tattoos resemble Maori, which is extremely cool in itself.

Rori
Bart and I are playing right now. We’re betting on the North Pole.

Bart
We’re sharing the two hundred thousand dollar grand prize. I mean, Icelandic runes means, Lapland, et cetera. Big clue. Winners!

Josh
I have Nero’s econ mock exam tomorrow.

Heath
Pssht! He’s hot for you. Just do a strip tease to calm him down, and he’ll pass you with flying colours.

Josh
You know, you should really…

Harriet
Is anyone here going to listen to me?

Bart
I’m listening.

Harriet
I was thinking, we pool our human resources and split the prize money equally. Not that this is about money. This is about pride, people. Hansel! Join us.

Hansel
Hiya.

Harriet
I was saying, everyone is playing this new game “Find the Martian Spaceship”. You have heard of it.

Hansel
I have, and so has everyone who’s breathing. I just read that the launch announcement got thirty eight million retweets in the first four hours. The Lamda Six website’s crashed now, by the way. There are mirror sites popping up by the minute. This game is literally breaking the Internet.

Rori
Take that, Kim Kardashian’s butt! Although, physically, it’s like literally looking for a needle in a haystack. I meant the game, not her “asset.”

Harriet
Can I please just get on with my presentation? It is seriously like a preschool in here. As I was saying, luckily, I have a brilliant idea. Lulu and I have been using GIS software we borrowed from the lab to analyse the terrain in specific locations. We haven’t been able to come up with anything because, and this did not occur to us before, but we’re looking at archived images of terrain.

Heath
Right…that makes sense. But we can’t like, use satellites.

Harriet
No. We can use drones. Lulu’s Dad owns the world’s largest drone manufacturing company. She is on the phone with him right now. I don’t know what she’ll say to convince him, but we have to assume that she will get permission. Plus, we’re both geography majors, so it’s like, educational. It’ll be fine.

Hansel
I admire your confidence.

Harriet
Don’t condescend. Alright. Are we all together?

Josh
Isn’t it like, not cost effective to use drones? I mean, they’re expensive and the cost of operating them would be more than the prize money.

Harriet
Get over yourself, Josh. You’re still an under graduate. Who cares about the cost, people? We can’t let the Oxford team steal our glory. I found out this morning that they’re seriously organised. They have taken over a whole dormitory and are using it as a command centre.

Bart
No way!

Harriet
Yes way.

Rori
How do you know that?

Harriet
A certain geography professor has a crush on me from my short summer studies there last year. I think he was trying to impress me. We, on the other hand, are all over the place. Don’t you have any pride in your school? For the next seventeen hours, we will sweat and bleed to win the game. We use our superior assets, which are my brains, and your eyes and forefingers. It’s the perfect combination.

Bart
Yes, Princess. So, how does this work?

Harriet
First, let me explain why satellites won’t work. Remote sensing applications, that is the technical term for how satellites “see” things on the ground, have limitations. These are overpass frequency, timing and clear daytime skies. However, with drones, we can overcome all these limitations. Here’s how we will do that. While Lulu’s getting her Dad’s drones online, we need to become experienced observers. Let’s use the archived images to have an idea of what the terrain looks like normally. Then, we can see immediately what’s different about the location over the time period. We are looking at specific spatial patterns and how they change in time.

Hansel
What you’re saying is that while the Oxford team is wasting time looking at stale footage of the ground, we will be looking at the fresh, raw, real time information?

Harriet
Prexactly.

Hansel
Let me grab my laptop. You guys in?

Josh, Rori, Bart
Hell, yeah!

 

X

The majority of subscribers to this blog are men, so I write under a heavy cloud because I’m not actually talking about them. I’m talking about the types of men that women subscribers are talking about. So, you lovely gentlemen can relax.

I’ve been reading a lot of reflections and conversations around subscribers’ blogs and I realise that many women are on the same page. Instead of being mean spirited or competitive with each other over who can get the best boys, women who have certain relationship issues in common need to participate in more conversations with each other.

You know how you get, when you’re in a relationship and he’s your boyfriend and he’s your prized possession and you have that smug expression on your face? “Poor single women. They’re so sad and they have no sex lives.” They’re camels. I read that last comment somewhere on WordPress. How rude, as if sex were a “must do.” Asexuality is an orientation, too. And so is choice.

What I’m seeing on blogs is the backside of the promised reality. At the reverse of smug, self satisfied expressions, I see that women have been feeding and caring for some lunkheads. Our continued attention to certain personality types has encouraged these men to feel that choosing to be in a relationship with us is the best thing they could ever do to validate us as women. It is within their power to recognise us as desirable creatures. Our infinite patience with their indifference, emotional incontinence and wishy washiness has turned those types of men into rotten little beans.

I still can’t understand dating as a concept. Let me blame it on how I was raised. I’ve always related to men as people and not as a potential someone or other.

My ideal partner would be a culinary artist who is obsessed with making ceramic pots and works as a carpenter in his free time. Or, a surgeon who’s looking into patients’ insides all day and has lectures at mid week and asks me to read his papers before publishing them. Busy with his hands or mind, having real responsibilities. Zero time to muck about. Too tired to wreak havoc in my life.

When I landed on my planet, expatriate women didn’t even have conversations with men. They just had intercourse with any man that looked at them sideways. The expectation was, “I like you and I’m easy, so let’s have sex.” It was a bacchanal. Two expatriates (man and woman) are right now sitting about eight feet away from me. They are talking loudly about “sleeping with people” and awarding points. They must be miserable if they have to talk at that volume in a Starbucks with small children nearby. No decorum. Nothing has changed.

I was scolded by expatriate male colleagues who told me I’m confusing the two things: Sex and love. I’m not confused. You are living with your girlfriend so why are you asking to visit my apartment?

Those free and easy women are now having issues with the men they spoiled. These men are educated, articulate, wealthy and up to ten years older. They’ve never grown up because relationships were never something to work at. A girlfriend was a sex partner with whom he shared a home and a joint bank account. A wife was a long term sex partner, now platonic friend, cook and sock washer that he owed something for her waity perseverance. That something? The Ring.

These words are going to be hard to read, but a ring is not a prize. It’s an accessory. I want women to stop acting like the Ring is the best thing that is ever going to happen to us. We must stop giving control over our circumstances to the promise of the Ring.

I received my first Ring when I was twenty two. I immediately assessed its weight in carats. Didn’t like. I promptly handed it back but took it back again half a second later when I realized that I was going to hurt his feelings. It was a ring after all. Behind my refusal was a very insensitive statement he’d made before we became exclusive. He had hinted that he was planning to live in Europe and therefore the high point would be sleeping with European women. He apologised for that gaffe near proposal time, but I knew it was damage control. When he got on the plane, I handed the ring to my sister. She lost it at a party or gave it to a friend or something.

Then, a month later he said I should not feel stresses or strains or have personal problems because imagine I’m engaged and he’s calling from Europa every morning before my daily workout to say hello and blah… Whatever.

The next day, I moved into the university’s dormitory. A friend gave me her room because she was living with her boyfriend. Three months later, I had proposals from better prospects. They were variously, incredibly good looking; fit; delicious; kinky and adventurous; considerate; sensitive; emotionally connected; wealthy; educated; well travelled; aristocrats.

I turned them all down.

Time minus 29 hours 40 minutes

St Lucas
Storm, Marcus, I was pleasantly surprised you guys were even awake, much less working at four in the morning.

Storm
A client is doing a live interview in Melbourne at the moment, and we need to monitor all the media outlets here and in London. We tend to babysit our projects until they’re complete.

St Lucas
What did you both do to your hair? Marcus, pink looks beautiful with your skin tone.

Marcus
Thanks. I chickened out at the last minute. Storm, however, went hell for steel grey.

St Lucas
That’s the most awesome thing I’ve ever seen.

Storm
Thank you.

St Lucas
Well, you guys are professional, discreet and super talented magicians. Which is why I’m here.

Marcus
We’re listening.

St Lucas
This upcoming assignment is going to be the mad wood of mass marketing. But first, we need a sanctuary. We need a cone of silence.

Marcus
Got it. Turning off mobile devices.

Storm
Unplug the phone.

Marcus
I’ll set the windows to opaque. And…let us pray.

St Lucas
I need a publicity blitz the likes of which has never been seen. I need all eyes on this. I need everyone eating, drinking, dreaming this.

Storm
We’re with you. Every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess.

St Lucas
To that extent. Ladies, I want The Rapture. I need you to blur the lines between fiction and non fiction. It’s for an upcoming movie. But I want it to look like it’s not a movie.

Storm
Alright.

St Lucas
When I say “blur the lines”, I mean that elements of the campaign have to look real. If…someone …. an objective … statistician, let’s say, were looking at the data, that person should be convinced that this is real.

Storm
Alright.

St Lucas
The outcomes could be ordinary people lobbying the Government to release secrets. I want CSpan, PBS, NBC, Fox, ABC, CBS, CNN, BBC, Sky and Al Jazeera, did I miss anyone? Covering a controversy we engineered, twenty four, seven, three sixty five. Wars will cease fire to catch the latest details. I want so much noise about it that when the film comes out, people will not even know they were victims of an epic brainwash.

Marcus
Okay, right away I can think of a few things we can bounce off you.

St Lucas
Before you do that, there’s one more thing. And this is really important. I need all of this to happen in the next twenty nine hours and … thirty minutes. That’s why I’m here. I need the Wonder Twins.

Marcus
We’ve done this before, so we have an idea what you need. You’re saying you need a fake campaign to start a real one. Right?

St Lucas
Yes. Exactly.

Storm
We can do that. First, we need to understand exactly what we’re working with.

St Lucas
Alright. Look at these stills.

Style notes: How not to wear Prada

So, I saw a black Prada Saffiano handbag perched on a desk this morning. Sometimes, my office can look like a designer boutique. That worn and faded lap blanket that resembles your grandmother’s sofa cover, is from Mulberry, London, and those antique tea mugs with the quaint flowers, are from Wedgwood.

Prada Saffiano tote bagImage courtesy Pinterest.

On Monday, some of us were talking about the dessert, but one of my colleagues misunderstood and dug a Montblanc pen out of his desk drawer. He said he couldn’t be bothered filling it with ink through the converter. The three of us tried to jump him to get it. We were bickering quite loudly. And, I saw it first, so hands off.

The thing I wonder about when people spend a lot of money on name brand things (not fountain pens, or fine stationery: there is no limit to how much you should spend on those), is how come they don’t notice the other stuff?

I don’t care if you use a gold nib fountain pen and carry a beat up briefcase. That’s the way it’s got to be. I applaud you if your clothes are from twenty years ago and you’ve got a vintage Rolex on. What I don’t get is how come a woman spends so much on one handbag when she clearly should have spent a third of that on a full year’s wardrobe at the outlet mall just down the street.

Montblanc fountain pen and inkwellImage courtesy: Marcus Link

Seriously. I am proud to say that I own skirts or dresses that cost less than thirty dollars. I mess them up with food, paint, ink, more food, more paint, more ink. The cheap ones never die, by the way, wash after wash. I’ve got $12 wool sweaters I bought fifteen years ago at Uniqlo. They go right to the cleaners and return looking as good as new.

This is me talking about what I personally prefer. I prefer natural fabrics and I also enjoy synthetic fibres, as long as I don’t look flammable. I don’t want to collect silk shirts because I can’t wear them without fretting about getting raspberry sauce on them. My favourite skirt is charcoal gray, in cotton and it cost me nine dollars. It goes for formal and casual events with the right jacket. No one can tell I bought it eight years ago.

I have absolutely no opinion on whether other people should be paying a lot for clothes, so that’s not what I’m going on about here. My concern is about balance.

I am also one of those individuals who can resist a designer label if I don’t like the thing. I enjoy having the labels that most people can’t recognise from a first glance or from the logo. I pay attention to labels because sometimes people model counterfeit bags and shoes as if they were real, and I want to stare blankly at them while they’re trying to impress me with a fake Hermès Kelly bag.

Prada: Image courtesy fashion lover

I don’t believe that possessing designer labels is equivalent to having good style. Labels can sometimes encourage us to escape from the responsibility of carefully arranging ourselves. I’ve seen some awful looking things from Dolce and Gabbana and Versace and would never let them near my body, even when they were offered to me as gifts. “It looks awful, but it’s from that designer, therefore…” I don’t think so.

Easy bun hairstyles
Easy bun hairstyle from Gal Knows

But let me put it to you, women. What is the point of carrying a Prada bag when your sweater’s all stretched out and faded? Or your patterns and silhouettes are mismatched? Why have you got that $4000 bag and a very large scrunchie in your hair holding up what could have been a cute chignon? I’m sorry, but I just cannot with scrunchies. Please, someone, do something. Do you need a Prada bag, or did you need an extra two minutes to find a black ponytail holder?

A balanced style requires time, rather than money. I like the idea of rearranging a few items of clothing week in, week out, to get a brand new total look. Perhaps I am that way because I had to wear uniforms to school until I was seventeen, and after that to work in a bank. I enjoy the challenge of getting creative with limited items.

That’s what it means to have a personal aesthetic. Labels cost money, and they take time to acquire but in the end, they’re products. A designer label doesn’t always do a good job of cleaning up your presentation and it certainly shouldn’t.

 

Rabbit out of a Hat

St Lucas
Hello, Beth.

Lilibeth
Mid stroke?

St Lucas
Yes, literally. I just finished ninety nine laps in the pool.

Lilibeth
Show off. Here is the thing. Your grey friend popped up. Scared the crap out of me just now. He’s for real. He is in a dark room somewhere, and he is unconscious.

St Lucas
So you believe me.

Lilibeth
Yeah. But there’s a glitch. I … my special … technique only works with people who know where they are. Which is usually the case with criminals, fugitives, and the like. They have plans and intentions, and I can see what they are going to do. I can be five moves ahead of them. It’s visual data, that I use and …well your friend is …unaware of our… ahm. He’s never been here before so, I can’t find him with visual data from his reference point. That means I have to do some actual sleuthing.

St Lucas
Right.

Lilibeth
Luckily, I have mad skills. But I’m going to need you to pull a rabbit out of a hat. You have star power. I need you to use your influence somehow to get every person on Earth with Internet access looking for your friend.

St Lucas
That’s…

Lilibeth
Just hear me out. You’re going to get them to look but, they can’t know what they’re really looking for. They have to think it’s real. I need all eyes on every agency in the world that could possibly have picked up your friend. I want them bombarded with requests for information. This is important because we can cross check patterns in the movement of data we have already collected for analysis at my base of operations, if we can get some serious amplification. It’s like injecting dye into a patient’s arteries when you’re looking for an aneurysm. I gather from their advanced technology that our Martian friends are monitoring us remotely. We need to shout loud and clear that we are looking for the child. What I’m saying is, in order to demonstrate that we’re busy working, I’m going to need you to start an information war, but on a global scale.

St Lucas
I get it. You have two brains, and I’m very grateful for that. So you want me to be in front of it?

Lilibeth
On the sides, but there. I don’t want anything in your past or present to overtake the situation. Your friend might be safe if we can keep the people holding him distracted for long enough. We need to either find his exact location or have him ourselves before his father gets here with those fierce looking people in the screen grabs. I need to get moving. It’s now time minus thirty hours.

St Lucas
The kind of operation you’re talking about will need more time than that, but okay, I have access to a few geniuses right here in New York.

Lilibeth
Rabbit out of a hat. Pull on it.

St Lucas
I’ll get on it, right now.

Lilibeth
Good, catch me up later. Siemus!

Siemus
Ma’am.

Lilibeth
Climb into bed with me… … … … … Why are you soft?

Siemus
I think it’s unprofessional to respond.

Lilibeth
Damned Navy Seals discipline school. Alright… Get out… Oh, and while you’re at it, get that fat-ass bitch on the phone.

Siemus
Which one, Ma’am?

Lilibeth
The half ton Disneyland squatter who bled all over my bed last week. I had to knead a full pound of flesh to find his disco stick. While he was rambling incoherently, he mentioned something interesting and I now know it’s going to help my client.

Siemus
Right away, Ma’am.

:::::  …  :::::
:::::  …  :::::

Lilibeth
Hello, Peter, my Loch Sex Monster. Baby, sweetie, honey, darling.

Joseph
Hi, baby, I miss you.

Lilibeth
I miss you too, baby. Ahm, I need your help. I’m doing research for a children’s book I’m writing, and I thought you could, like, you know, help me.

Joseph
Oh, that’s so sweet, baby. Sure, anything for you.

Lilibeth
Well, it’s about visitors from…I feel so silly saying this… other..worlds… And I thought your friend you mentioned, the one in Los Angeles, with the radio show, could have material for my project. Would you be good enough to, like, let me have his information? I mean of course, unless…

Joseph
No, no, no. It’s fine, I’m sure he’ll be so flattered that anyone’s paying attention to him.

Lilibeth
You know, everyone has value, even if we don’t agree with them.

Joseph
You’re so mature, baby.

Lilibeth
Thank you, baby. I have to go, because I have a meeting with my publisher. Can you text me the information? Please?

Joseph
Of course, honey. I love you, baby.

Lilibeth
I love you too, Peter.

Lilibeth

St Lucas
Good evening, Miss…

Lilibeth
Do not be fooled by the Givenchy slip. I have two brains. I needed to get here in a hurry, because… I was … doing something.

St Lucas
I apologise. And I thank you for coming here at such short notice.

Lilibeth
One more thing. Call me Lilibeth, Beth, Li, Libeth, Lili, bitch, baby, honey, sweetie. Just don’t call me Miss. Sorry, sweetie.

St Lucas
Actually, Libeth, my daughter is the client. I’m just here for supervision.

Lilibeth
What’s the problem, sweetie?

Sami
Daddy?

St Lucas
It’s okay, honey.

Sami
My friend is lost. I think he wanted to surprise me for Valentine’s Day. His father is scared. We have to find him…we don’t know where he is.

Lilibeth
I feel like I’m missing something.

Sami
He’s from Mars.

Lilibeth
You mean Xenu.

St Lucas
She means Mars.

Lilibeth
Are you kidding? Is this some Scientology conversion field trip?

St Lucas
Contrary to rumours, I am…we are…Catholic.

Lilibeth
Fine, then this is some Hollywood film experiment. I hope I’m not being pranked because I don’t care how much you’re worth, I will destroy you for wasting my time.

St Lucas
No need. Honey, show Lilibeth your phone. It’s the text message transcripts.

Lilibeth
Lack of punctuation and a familiar oddness about the phrasing. It looks like her friend is a Scandinavian who used Google’s translation software patched with Siri to communicate. Which means, he’s human.

Sami
He said their language sounds like Icelandic.

Lilibeth
This is interesting. I am Icelandic. See why I have this conspiracy theory going around in my head?

St Lucas
She and her friend communicated through Siri for a few days last year. Then, he suddenly stopped talking to her. Shortly after that, his father FaceTimed several times over the last year to say he is on his way here … screen grab… which is how I got involved, and I can vouch for the veracity of this document, but I’m an actor and therefore ….

Lilibeth
Woah… Greys. There are quite a number of grey people in this screen grab. I mean, this is great CGI. I saw Avatar. It was … Meh! Nah… Baby girl, why are you crying?

St Lucas
Honey, sweetheart.

Lilibeth
Dude, that’s mean.

St Lucas
I beg your pardon.

Lilibeth
You fed your child crap about aliens from Mars and now she’s a mess. Let’s say that I believe that you believe this is true. How do you know it’s not a prank caller trying to extort you for money?

St Lucas
Alright. I spent the last year questioning my sanity. I had phones taken apart, hacked and traced at Yale University’s Computer Science Department. I was determined to find and destroy whoever was harassing my daughter. Okay, there is no source of data. These …people… beings… pop up in any device. I replace a phone, the new phone turns on, like it’s being accessed remotely, with the full message history of every mobile phone I’ve ever owned.

Lilibeth
Fix it, Yeezus.

St Lucas
Now, you tell me, which phone company on this planet offers that kind of service? I didn’t expect you to believe her, or me, but … You are the world’s best bounty hunter, with a one hundred percent success rate.

Lilibeth
This is true.

St Lucas
I just thought you’d have a clue as to where we could look. The boy is about my daughter’s age. He’s spent a year scared and alone in a damaged spaceship, he can’t call home. He can’t turn back. His father estimates that he has crash landed just today, somewhere here on Earth. Naturally, he is frantic. We don’t know how to look for him. I don’t have access to things. I can’t just go to the State Department.

Lilibeth
Did you try Google Earth?

Sami
Yes. Daddy and I looked everywhere.

Lilibeth
Ahhh! God, I can’t understand …what’s happening?

Sami
Please help me find my friend?

Lilibeth
Do you know why I’m the best at my job, sweetie?

Sami
Why’s that?

Lilibeth
I cheat. I know the answer to the question before someone asks me the question. Then I pretend I don’t know, and get lots of money when I, you know, reverse engineer my way to the …

St Lucas
Are you kidding me?

Lilibeth
Do not judge me, Planet Xenu.

St Lucas
That… How… ? I just said…

Lilibeth
You want me to believe that some Martian kid got lost on Earth, but you don’t accept that I can see beyond seeing.

St Lucas
I’m not making this up.

Lilibeth
I want to warn you about the consequences of lying to me. I will see the answer to your goddamn question.

St Lucas
I promise you.

Lilibeth
I find out this meeting is part of a hidden camera movie promotion zap mama, I’m coming to your office, with my team. I’ll smash shit.

St Lucas
I swear to you, I would never bring my daughter into this, if this were some joke.

Lilibeth
Alright, I’ll make you both a deal. If your friend exists, if he exists, I’ll find him for free because I do not charge children. You on the other hand, Xenu, set that overpriced timepiece. According to these messages, we have thirty-six hours before your stalkers do something big. I will get to the bottom of this il-nana, and if you’re responsible… I need your phone on at all times. I don’t care if you’re mid stroke, stop and pick up. Bye, sweetie.

Sami
Thank you, Libeth.

St Lucas
Thank you, Lilibeth.

Lilibeth
Fuck you, later.

Sooner than at once

2014.02.14

[An approximate translation]

Xhi
Where is my CHILD?!!!

Ni
I checked his communication logs. He was talking to Si and Gi about children on Blue Star. He said he wanted to appear to his friend there. I don’t understand the meaning of this red glyph.

Xhi
Do not show that to me. If you are suggesting he physically went to Blue Star, he cannot commandeer a ship without anyone alerting us.

Ni
He’s highly capable. He is highly self reliant.

Xhi
He is still a child, who was in your care.

Ni
You’re angry with me. You blame me.

Xhi
I am not ready to be angry with you or anyone. Teleport me to the Docking Station. Ro?

Ro
Commander.

Xhi
Ki is missing. His nurse, Ni, thinks he might be on a transport ship headed to Blue Star. It is highly unlikely, but can you search every vehicle that’s been logged out in the last cycle?

Ro
I’ve found him, Commander. It appears that he has forged your authorisation codes.

Xhi
Normally, I would be proud of him, but I need him back at once. Tractor beams from the Friga Orbiter. Full power.

Ro
No effect, Commander. The ship is accelerating at an unpredictable rate.

Xhi
Override the console. Turn it around.

Ro
No effect.

Xhi
Open comms.

Ro
At this speed, there is a time delay, Commander. One half cycle. Send message anyway?

Xhi
Yes!

Ro
Commander, there’s a problem.

Xhi
What is it?

Ro
The transport ship Ki took… It was at the docking station for major repairs to … communication systems and … forward thrust adjusters. We cannot do a remote patch.

Xhi
How much time to intercept?

Ro
Unpredictable, Commander. He’s travelling at maximum velocity and will continue to accelerate due to the faulty adjusters. He cannot slow it down and neither can we. The transport ship is a projectile, Commander.

Xhi
He does not have the skill to fix it manually, assuming he even knows there is a problem. Ni, you know how he struggles to work on his own. He takes on too many tasks and does not accept help easily. He does not know his own limitations.

Ni
I know. I am sorry.

Ro
He’s had a quarter cycle head start, Commander. You might just be able to overtake him and use the tractor beams to slow him down. As long as he doesn’t get separated from the vehicle on entry into Blue Star’s atmosphere, he should be retrievable without incident.

Xhi
Ro, send this communication imprint to the Offworld Exploration Committee. My son is in danger and we have no time for resolutions.

Ro
Understood, Commander. Transport type?

Xhi
Right now, he’s a trusting [prepubescent boy], on his way to a star whose sentient inhabitants are extremely hostile to each other and especially cruel to offworld species. To rescue him, I am taking an armada. Our guests from the Ulura System are obliged to cooperate. Cancel their mining mission for Frá scheduled for later this cycle. I’ll need their advanced traction technology and the sheer size of their fleet to make a definitive show of force.

Ro
Yes, Commander. Preparing your core crew sooner than at once.

Ni
Should I come with you?

Xhi
Should you? Do you have somewhere else to be?!!!

February 13, 2014

Siri/Ki
Hello again. How are you.

Sami
Hello Ki. I’m happy.

Siri/Ki
What did you do today.

Sami
I went to Central Park.

Siri/Ki
Do you go to Central Park every day.

Sami
No, but I go outside every day.

Siri/Ki
What is your favourite protective equipment.

Sami
Equipment?

Siri/Ki
Yes, things to protect your body for going outside.

Sami
I don’t use anything. But sometimes people take my picture. Mother protects me.

Siri/Ki
I understand. You are seen by everyone. My nurse and my father protect me too. What’s this one. There is a lot of data.

Sami
It’s a heart. Heart means “love.” Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. Many people do something nice for people they love.

Siri/Ki
Only that day.

Sami
Yes.

Siri/Ki
That’s sad.

Sami
It’s nice. You have to give presents to show you love the person.

Siri/Ki
I don’t understand. I never have presents.

Sami
I get lots of presents on Valentine’s Day. I feel happy when I get a special surprise. When my father is far away, he takes a holiday to hang out with me.

Siri/Ki
Hang out with.

Sami
Yes. Just talk, or play a game. Or eat.

Siri/Ki
That’s every day with Ni, my nurse. My father is working really far away. It takes two years to come home.

Sami
That’s sad.

Siri/Ki
It’s sad.

Sami
You can be my Valentine! I will make a special surprise for you.

Siri/Ki
I understand surprise. I am so very happy when my father does it. He sometimes arrives home two cycles early. Can I make one for you too.

Sami
Let’s make them now!

Siri/Ki
Yes. Let us.

Pull it sir

Superbelle
I don’t like the furniture in here.

Waite
It was all handmade by Christian Dillon. He’s a furniture designer from Australia, now living in London. He’s quite talented. This entire set took two years to assemble and ship.

Superbelle
It looks like poor people’s old things. Belongs in the garbage or something. Back to what you were saying about media literacy.

Waite
Yes, I’m a journalist, so naturally I advocate for this.

Superbelle
Yeah, I know, I know. I may sound like a pessimist, but I object in calling media literacy as the approach to modern education. Education for me has also something to do with the learning and teaching and formation of values, as corny as I may sound.

Waite
I see. So you’re saying that media literacy is not necessary because we can’t learn values from it? You were humming a Justin Beiber song just now. It seems that a media literate person would refuse to support his antisocial behaviour, which would mean not buying, downloading or listening to his music.

Superbelle
Yes, I know I’m ignorant. I like being ignorant.

Waite
I’m not saying you’re ignorant…

Superbelle
I don’t want to hear anything negative about Justin. I was going to say that media literacy cannot police plagiarism.

Waite
You realise that media literacy has nothing to do with plagiarism, which was rampant ages ago? Education on morals and values would discourage or stop plagiarism. Also, online tools exist to catch people who do this, so technically, policing exists.

Superbelle
Alright, alright. What?! Did I hurt your feelings.

Waite
I’m a bit confused. I thought we were having a discussion.

Superbelle
It’s just that you were elaborating too much.

Waite
I’m not sure I understand, but… ahh… have you considered presenting your opinion at a conference on media literacy? I’m scheduled to chair one later this year.

Superbelle
No. I don’t have time for that.

Waite
Okay. And what would you like to do?

Superbelle
I am going to be a literature professor. I want to specialise in poetry. First, I am planning on getting my master’s degree.

Waite
Well, you’re thirty years old now, and you finished your first degree when you were twenty three. What are you waiting for? If it’s money, I am happy to pay. No strings attached of course. I assume you’re going to pursue studies in …?

Superbelle
No. I don’t want anything from you. I am satisfied with what I have. That’s using people. I just have some writer’s block.

Waite
It would be a completely up front scholarship grant from my non profit foundation. You’d have to apply, and we would interview you.

Superbelle
What do you mean… foundation? You’re not a celebrity.

Waite
That’s nice of you to say. Thank you.

Superbelle
I wasn’t offering a compliment.

Waite
Thank you, anyway. What was I saying? I feel that if a person has a natural talent for writing, the inspiration will always find its way to them. I also like to think of people as thinkers with varying degrees of confidence and various styles of expression. There’s too much pressure to “write something” if you call yourself a “writer.” Don’t you think?

Superbelle
Not following.

Waite
Okay, so … Alright. I’d like to hear one of your poems.

Superbelle
Can I borrow your iPad? This one was published on a website. It’s called “Mama.”

Perhaps, it would be better for you to make peace with the ghosts of your past, than for me to let you see that I often go to church, that I have high grades, that I do not go partying, that I do not have a boyfriend so that I will not be your ragged doll, who bears all the lashes of your revenge

Waite
It sounds really personal. Do you have a strained…

Superbelle
What are those?!

Waite
What?

Superbelle
Why do you have celebrity photos on your wall?! This one looks photoshopped.

Waite
You don’t recognise him? It’s Muammar Muhammad Abu Minyar al Gaddafi.

Super Belle
Are you a terrorist?!!

Waite
He let me photograph him when I met him in Paris. I’m still bitter about the way he was executed.

Superbelle
Sounds like you are one of those … persons. This looks like your degree certificate on here.

Waite
No. I never hang that up.

Super Belle
It doesn’t go with the celebrity pictures. It’s just so plain. You should throw it out. But, it says Columbia University. And you just said you don’t hang that up.

Waite
It’s not a degree certificate.

Superbelle
What’s a “Pull it Sir” Prize? Are you a comedian?

Waite
Well, that’s debatable…

Chase the Sun

And we run
Though flesh indeed
no kindred bore
your noblest steeds
rode spots on your
ground; we’re lured
to catch the light

Who’ll race the day?

And far away
from base we lay
When free
we’ll see
Sól’s radiant band
on ridge, on land

Nor dread
we work
we wait steadfast
that path you tread
then home at last

White brilliance seize

as the hours turn
Go now pets, run
and chase the sun

☼ ☀ ☼ ☀ ☼ ☀

Chase the Sun | SB

Based on my short story Sól Hundar (Solar Hounds), which was published on February 5, 2015. 

Sól hundar (Solar hounds)

[An approximate translation]

Si
According to our research, Blue Star sentients keep a variety of these non sentient species in close proximity. They have a strong affinity for each other. The relationship is marked by reciprocity in affective signalling.

Gi
We collected and analysed every representational electromagnetic imprint stored in their orbiting data storage facilities. We wanted to discover if this sentient, non sentient affiliation would offer applications that would benefit our society.

Fi
Were you successful?

Gi
Yes, father. This is what we found.

Mi
That is beautiful. The specifications are pristine.

Si & Gi
Thanks, Mother.

Gi
Sister and I want the opportunity to explain all to the Energy Council.

Mi
We will hear your presentation first.

Gi
We present a finished product in a highly polished super-compacted carbon isotope.

Fi
The cables go right through?

Si
Yes, the cables meet at these focal points, and we situate them in silica gel and padding, here, to reduce friction and facilitate ease of movement. Their source of power is (mineral compound 040416) mined from (Astro 326952XN). This superconductor requires a charge of five kilojoules to run perpetually. The eyes, here, are dual focus audiovisual recorders and electromagnetic transmitters with an array of light sources to allow detection by scouting vehicles outdoors.

Mi
How do these objects work?

Si
Our star is dark and receives a limited amount of sunlight, and as one of many solutions to the problem, we created this facsimile of their non sentient, which we have called a Hundur. It will capture energy from Sól in the cells fitted in the spine, here.

Gi
The Hundur will catch the sunlight as it travels at constant speed around our star, as it turns on its axis. It will follow the trail of radiation from Sól in one complete revolution. It never gets completely dark for them.

Fi
Will the initial charge provide the Hundar with enough power to travel at that velocity, constantly, over the course of one rotation around Sól?

Gi
Yes, it will.

Mi
May I suggest adding a larger charge and a secondary cell to hold the extra charge in case it is needed?

Si
Thank you, mother. We will adjust it before the Energy Council presentation. To continue, we used Blue Star’s measurement system to get Hundur’s proportions correct. Since the species is unique to that star, we felt that adjusting to our system would result in errors. Also they’re a highly resilient species and we wanted to take advantage of their survival skills on our terrain. Our weather is too unpredictable for designs similar to (dragonflies) or (bees). We wanted to keep them grounded for that reason. Let us talk about the actual body. Blue Star uses a base ten system as opposed to our heximal system. Gi?

Mi
Darling, before you continue, the base ten system is an artificial system, which does not harmonise with naturally occurring frequencies or cycles.

Fi
The ten digit metric was created to feed a currency system. Our historians tell us that Blue Star’s currency system was designed to bring sentients out of a primitive state. So, know that it is not critical to the effectiveness of your design. Continue, dear.

Gi
Thank you, father. Hundur stands at a height of one hundred base ten centimetres. Each bore, connected to the spine here, has a circumference of sixteen centimetres. Attached to each of the four distal ends, is a ped with a length of twenty-five centimetres to the proximal digit and twenty three to the distal digit. The spine is thirty centimetres high, measuring from base, and we created a cylindrical body to ensure stability. Inside the body, we will use a hexagonal configuration to build the Sól cells, to maximise compression strength in the event of seismic activities or severe weather disturbances. The cells run through the spine here in multiple hexagonal configurations. The entire unit stores energy to power one home for one year. The cells radiate blár when full at which time, the Hundur returns to its home.

Si
We propose that each family receives three units. We make instructions available to all homes and teleport at-home tutorials.

Mi
How will this venture benefit our communities, apart from giving us a new way to store solar energy?

Si
We will promote this venture by saying we will reduce the use of fossil fuels for energy towards zero over the next three Sól orbit cycles. At the end of this time, we will have full usage of all Hundar on a rotating basis.

Gi
Even better, mother and father, we imagine we will create four new industries with this venture. Manufacture. Technological applications. Monitoring. Maintenance.

Fi
That is to be expected, but let me say that you have outdone yourselves.

Mi
I think we can anticipate positive reception of all this, provided the tests are successful, of course.

Si & Gi
Thank you, mother and father.

Gi
To continue, and justify our choice of a terrain application, the Hundur’s design facilitates compaction in case high velocity projectiles are thrown at it in cataclysmic events. We, or, whoever, would of course monitor the movement of each organism from a central base, and allow the time to prepare. These carbon polymer arms here are released and these drills tunnel into the soil or surrounding bedrock. The Hundurs shelter in their drilled shelters until they have been reset from headquarters.

Mi
How strong are the polymer arms?

Gi
Super-diamond heads, like the ones used to mine (Astro 326952XN). The molecules have been further compacted using your latest compression technology, father. Added pressure points here, and because of the screws here, they can punch through … Rather, bore a hole through granite as if it were soft and sheer.

Fi
This is completely new. Thank you for improving on my work. How did you test the strengths?

Si
We did field tests with a full set of granite blocks and found the timing was equivalent to one sixteenth of a cycle. We varied conditions by plunging them under water.

Gi
And applying liquid helium.

Mi
We will need to do an actual terrain test for one revolution around Sól after receiving approval for this project. However, you have thought of everything so far, my little darlings.

Fi
What will you formally name this Hundur unit for the presentation?

Gi
Polymerised Extrasolar Technology. P.E.T. It’s easy to remember.

Versus

I need world peace right now, because I’m in the middle of something. Actually, we all have something better to do with our time. Being on a news diet has made me extra sensitive. Try not reading the news for three months straight, and you’ll be horrified at what’s presented to you when you finally decide to catch up.

I had no intention of posting any non fiction asides in the middle of this important phase of my creative work, but this Islamic State kidnap, torture, kill for the camera boondoggle has gone past ludicrous and into straight up cartoon gaga. Is this actually continuing, right now? A group of ragamuffins in balaclavas has brought shame to the manicured Toastmasters acting as leaders of industrialised nation states.

I’d once written in my Gravatar introduction that the very tools that we use to destroy each other can be used to build us up, or was it vice versa. Social media was used to spread a snuff film around the world, and Rupert Murdoch’s wet nurse, Piers Morgan, has gone versus himself in the Daily Pail Mail. He now wants all Muslims to watch a snuff film, because he feels it will cure them of their sympathy for these mass murderers. I didn’t watch the video, and couldn’t make it through a single one of the news reports on the situation.

What the Jordanian pilot’s sadistic execution drew from me was first a memory, and then understanding. When the Taliban destroyed a large statue of the Buddha in Afghanistan in the early noughties, I received sympathetic phonecalls and emails from almost every corner of the planet. People wanted to know if I was okay. At the time, the video footage was on a shortlist of the most horrific things anyone had seen. It was a moist backwardness, a soiled intolerance.

I was a new expatriate, and a practicing Soto Zen Buddhist, which was not something people at home “get.” They think going to temple to meditate for an hour is like a snack before meals: “Go to church, too, to even things up.” I think not. I respect the religious beliefs of others because it wasn’t always a courtesy offered to me.

I respect your religion to a point, though. I’m openminded to a point because, I am familiar with the mindset of the people who destroyed that statue. Living outside of my home country has afforded me many privileges. One of them is meeting people from almost every culture, race and creed.

I know that burn the prisoner mindset very well. It is a baked in lacquer of determined retrogression. It is tinged with envy towards the unattainable. There is no dislodging it. Nothing can wash it away. No amount of exposure to other cultures, no invitation to exhibit or present at international conferences can shake these people of their conviction that they’re supreme and have the right to dictate the way things are. Theirs is an unshakeable narcissism.

At home, we have a disparaging term for that. We would say they’re “country people.” It’s a vicious objection to anything that falls outside of a narrow parameter of prescribed knowledge. What is not understood must be destroyed with spite. I touched on it in a separate essay, but that was in relation to the Charlie Hebdo issue. I had forgotten the Buddha’s demolition and how I felt the blood seemingly drain from my body.

Of course, I know it’s just a statue, so that’s not what had frightened me. I felt as if I was in mortal danger. For what? Not praying five times a day? I stopped telling anyone I was a Buddhist after that. I definitely did not say it to Muslim friends or acquaintances, because I liked them and I didn’t want them running off. Mind you, now I’m a different creature and I defy anyone to coerce me into any minimum position.

I know that in Islam, religious sculptures are forbidden. “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image” Exodus 20:4, is the Christian version of that. I remember, when I was about four or five, my grandmother screaming at one of my uncles. Almost all of her sons had an artistic or creative gift, and his was for carving wood into works of art. The walls of my home were decorated with paintings, ceramic objects and wooden sculptures. All of them done by my uncles. I remember her angry shouting after he had used an axe to destroy the wooden pieces, which his new family, a Pentecostal church, had called “graven images.” She was so angry, she forgot to use her favourite adverb, raasclaat.

When I catch up with colleagues who are Muslim, I make sure not to adorn myself with any jewellery that has religious symbolism. Otherwise, I have to answer lots of questions and justify everything. I wear plain clothing. I can adjust my behaviour to that extent, and that should be it. My life is not forfeit.

What is my point… The words can’t form, but it’s something in the region of, we’re all in mortal danger of being burned alive by rigid and closedminded people. They don’t kidnap and torture us, but they hold us hostage with their approval. I’ve already been told to shut up about what I’m presenting here in this installation, and those memories came back.What if I weren’t in the safe haven provided by an industrialised country? What if I were a wife and mother whose husband threatened to kill her because her imagination was expanding beyond the scope of that allowed by her religion? What if I were stifled by low self worth and fear of negative appraisal?

The most important question is, how does one stamp out Islamic State and its promoters, because that’s the only way forward. The Islamic State has nothing to do with religion. It is another way of saying “greed” and “barbarism”, which are both versus Islam. It is everywhere, in the “Are you doing God’s will, which I know, because I know what God says, and you can’t challenge me because God wouldn’t like that” and the “I’m my husband’s inflatable sex toy and won’t wear tights because sexual feelings are bad” and not just the “Pay us $200 million or we will kill this man who’s risked his life to save his friend.”

For my part, I’ll continue publishing this installation. I’ve already taken a great deal of time and effort to create it. I will enjoy the benefits of having a voice, a personality, coherent thoughts, a healthy love for myself, access to technology and a willingness to acknowledge that others are doing the same.

Access (T_T) You

[An approximate translation]

Si
Hello, cousin. What have you been doing?

Ki
I’m making transcription algorithms for Blue Star’s languages. It’s frustrating. There is too much to do. Have you finished your project?

Gi
Yes, and we show it to mother and father, soon. It needs more information, but we are finished.

Si
But we are sure that mother and father will help us.

Gi
Who is this?

Ki
She is Blue Star child, appellation Sami.

Gi
Did you really find a way to talk directly to Blue Star people? This is exciting! I want to know if they are like us.

Si
Are you making your software for her? She’s beautiful. How do you know her?

Ki
I wanted very easy vocabulary for my software. Blue Star’s children have somewhat primitive language and cognitive output. I noticed that some Blue Star children had large data spikes consistently over five revolutions. I analysed those, and I noticed that hers was the largest.

Si
What’s that?!

Ki
It’s a child.

Si
What species?

Ki
Human. Some human babies are born looking, unfortunately, less like the attractive parent. They do not control for this with reproductive algorithms.

Gi
Does Blue Star Child Sami know you?

Ki
Not yet. That is why I am creating this translator. This software’s algorithms are simplistic. This software allows people to communicate through a third party translator that knows both languages. What I want to do is append the simple software to this updated software I’m creating. I used father’s magnetic resonance codes for the tractor beams. I stripped the power annotations down to the smallest resolution. After that, I coded data filtration algorithms at these nodes, here. What I have now, if it works, is data extraction software that works in reverse to push information to the receiver.

Si
That is very impressive. But you are too far away to push a lot of information to language centres in her cerebral cortex or vision centres in her visual cortex.

Ki
According to this, I need to be at least [four thousand three hundred forty four] long distance units directly above her coordinates to focus a [laser]. Additionally, proximity is a problem, as other bioorganisms can interfere with the transmission frequency.

Gi
It is an interesting problem. Perhaps if you used three dimensional graphics software to create a full layout of her cortices and focused a stream of magnetic resonance to all points? Once you have traction, you can pull or push data as required. We created an application for this purpose with our extrasolar technology, to make the hardware “behave” as if it could see or feel itself moving over rough terrain or in water.

Ki
Thank you, cousin. That is brilliant. You are a marvel.

Gi
How much more time do you have for fixing your software?

Ki
I was about to give up at the moment, but the AI is peeling down the coded layers here and here. I think there are some overlaps. So I need to wait and then I will see how much more work there is to be done.

Si
I want to help, too. What can I do?

Ki
Thank you, cousins. There is a language on Blue Star that has the same sounds as ours. It is [Icelandic]. In order to use it to communicate smoothly through her handheld voice transcription device, I will create a dictionary of words that are represented by large chunks of image data in all languages. I already dug up an old dictionary from Grandfather’s data library. But, Blue Star’s language changes at a high rate. I need to update it. That way, we will know what words are common to all languages and what they mean. It is tiresome, as not all words have visual indicators. Some have emotional representations.

Gi
I can do that, also. I spent one revolution analysing image data from Blue Star’s storage orbiters. Let me teleport our AIs here. They have the analytical protocols we utilised. We can retask their protocols to compile your dictionary in a fraction of the time.

Si
That is a brilliant idea. We are going to help you by syncing all three AIs to complement each other’s coding, in order to complete the translation algorithm. All we need do now, is watch them work and check the results.

Ki
Cousins, you are precious to me.

Gi
With pleasure, dear cousin.

Section Three: Future Perfect

February 1 ‐ March 13

“Like all Explorers, we are drawn to discover what’s out there without knowing yet if we have the courage to face it.”
Pema Chödrön, Buddhist nun, teacher, author and mother

Section Three of this installation flows above this header. The stories serve to test your notions of reality. Some conversation scripts are pure fiction, while others contain non fiction elements.

This is the third section of a fiction as art as fiction installation. It is presented in three sections: Ancient Past (all line up under the tag), Present Day (click to the bottom right of your screen to move up through the stories marked fiction) and now Future Perfect.

Lilibeth was introduced in Strip Minecraft. Her paternal ancestorStefán, was introduced in Section One. She’s inherited his gift, but it won’t help her do her job this time. You will meet her on February 18. Some scripts after Lilibeth appears are not safe for work, language wise. If you’re under eighteen, ask your favourite uncle to read those posts first.

Future Perfect started with a flashback to one year ago, and three adorable children on Red Star. This presentation introduces information that is essential to the final story, on March 13.

Back to the present day on Blue Star, we see a crisis situation unknown to the grown up players involved. The setup to that crisis was presented in one of the first posts of the previous section. Suction puts the Unknown Phenomenon in perspective.

Before that, we flashed back one year earlier to Red Star for an at home presentation by Ki’s cousins, Si and Gi. Presently, the stories February 13 and Sooner than at once will set up an interplanetary crisis situation.

Locker is in his promised new job, and tells off a pair of pampered beaurocrats. Later, a motley crew of two actors, the publicists Marcus and Storm and the not safe for work Lilibeth scramble to hold off a Martian invasion. She asks the famous actor, St Lucas to pull a public relations rabbit out of a hat. Before he visits Marcus and Storm, the disaster in the Gobi has somehow leaked into the public domain.

With three stories to go the multi pronged campaign is successful. Everyone is playing their part without knowing the full story. As it should be. The Martian armada has already arrived and scout teams are searching everywhere. On March 11, a showdown between Lilibeth and a government goon sees a win win resolution in favour of Peace on Earth. Every story has a happy ending and the reunion on March 13 will be warm, Martian style. Come back in the aftermath for an Easter Egg, because it’s that season.

Your warm support, courage and trust so far are much appreciated. Thank you, thank you, thank you.