Daily Archives: Friday, 20:40, April 16, 2010

A Night at the Conference


The Mirus was having a grand time at the 2015 Annual World Skeptics’ Conference, chatting it up with some of the most brilliant clear thinkers in the world, including several of the skeptics who had just a year ago tested and validated him as the only proven supernormal being on the planet. Needless to say, the ten million dollar prize money he won in the final test came in handy: He used it to fund his own professional organization, both to try to find others like himself through testing, and to expose those who merely pretended to possess unusual powers by the same means. A skeptic with paranormal abilities…who would’a thunk it?

So far, he had been unsuccessful in the former, though some of the latter had been tested and found wanting, and most just never took the bait. He could easily speculate as to why.

The Mirus’ abilities stemmed from a bizarre alien artifact in his brain, a piece of technology stemming from an application of higher-order physics millions of years beyond humanity’s current achievements…a hypershard — a construct whose existence extended into eleven dimensions of spacetime — which would have had some…interesting effects had he been a normal human. Fully meshed with his own brain, the implant’s advanced nature alone qualified it as paranormal, since no one on Earth would understand its workings for millions of years to come…

He had no idea how it had gotten there…

Instead, he suspected that he belonged to a hominid species of which he was the only known member, characterized by variations in human brain architecture that allowed him to harbor his hypershard without going mad from the cognitive and perceptual feedback the implant might have produced in a Homo sapiens. He had hoped to confirm or confute that hypothesis with actual data some day.

He was in the midst of talking with the former magician who had hosted this meeting of minds, when his hypershard alerted him to the acoustic signature, complete with a diagram displayed by a superimposed visual overlay, of several…things…approaching the dinner hall he and several hundred others where in.

Hmmm. One of them seems familiar…awfully big though, I’d say around half a metric ton in mass. The rest are little guys, armored — as if that will do them any good against me — and armed as well. They don’t seem to have injured or killed anyone…yet. This is going to be interesting.

With this thought, he rolled his eyes and sighed as the beings strode into the room, the big one standing around three meters tall and built like a brick sh*thouse. This one, a reptilian being looking like something out of a Japanese kaiju flick, swayed its tail from side to side while looking around the room as if searching for something, its massive armored body striding forward with each foot step making a heavy *thump* as it walked.

The others, apparently of the same species, but less than a meter and a half tall, were likewise armored, and armed with what the Mirus immediately recognized as gauss weaponry, small magnetic railguns designed to be carried by a single soldier and capable of sustained and automatic fire.

The humans in the room cleared a path as one of the creatures brandished its weapon and fired a warning shot, the hypersonic rounds making a loud *crack* as they passed over the humans’ heads. The Mirus stood where he was.

One of the small ones pointed in his direction, and the giant, apparently the leader, strode over and stopped in front of him. It seemed to bow its head as if greeting him, and a series of guttural, staccato sounds, apparently spoken in several tones at once, issued forth. The Mirus responded in kind, and this exchange went on for several seconds until the giant said in perfect but multiple-toned English, “You speak our language well for a human, but your pronunciation is atrocious due to your vocal limits. We shall converse in your language instead.”

A smile crossed the Mirus’ face as he looked the towering being in the eyes and said, “Bazrikoss Gurao of Rhiljitar, what brings you to my humble little world? Have you forgotten that this planet is off limits?” The smaller beings, Bazrikoss’ bodyguards, aimed their gauss weapons in his direction as he continued, “And what’s with the toys?” Before a shot could be fired, he gestured, and the weapons were jerked out of the grip of the alien warriors as if by unseen hands, and like an exploded view diagram in a technical manual, immediately flew apart, the now disassembled pieces falling to the floor in a heap. “I hope your mooks know how to reassemble their equipment. They’ll need to.”

“Now then…” he continued, “where were we? Oh, yes, this is where I send you on your way…or else.” Bazrikoss’ left hand, now obviously artificial, began to flow like liquid, into something looking for all the world like some sort of ornate barreled weapon, its nanotech construction reconfiguring it into something nasty. The tip of the barrel leveled at the Mirus, glowing with a radiance so dark that it was almost black, and indigo lightning shot forth, rather than striking him, arcing and twisting around him before finally dying out, apparently absorbed harmlessly by nothingness. The hypershard again. Hmmm. Particle strike. Bad move on his part.

Bazrikoss screamed as the Mirus looked at him with a cold gleam in his eye, and then, starting outwardly, the giant alien began to dissolve, also into nothingness, until the dissolution reached the very center of what was left of his body, which then winked out of existence, something that had been on his right middle finger falling to the floor with an audible *plink!*

Our hero looked at the floor where the object had fallen, a transparent metal circlet, sized for the fingers of someone of Bazrikoss’ measurements. He strode over, and picked it up, walked over to one of the smaller beings and said, “I know what this is and what it does. Tell your master when this brings him back that if he ever sets foot on this planet again, he dies. In fact, tell him that I will kill him if he even enters this system. He had his one chance from me, and that’s all he gets. Next time, I’ll destroy his means of resurrection as well. Now go.” He placed the ring in the hand of the leading alien, and closed its fingers upon it, as the alien gate crashers turned around and left.

He turned and gestured at the pile of gauss rifle parts strewn on the floor, and they faded away as he said, “Wow. I must have set off the detection elements of every neutrino telescope on the planet with that. So, tell me people…what did you think of my little magic act?”

Joel Levine: Why we need to go back to Mars


TNQ | Troythulu’s Noontide Query


I don’t think of myself as a particularly outstanding or moral individual, and I tend to let others think of me as they will.

For good or ill…

While I don’t really have any heroes per se, there are a lot of people whose views and thinking I admire, even though I may not see things exactly as they on all matters. That comes with being human, and disagreement without being contrarian is rational.

Some of those people I know personally, others I’ve read books by, still more were long dead before I was born. Others whom I’ve read I know more remotely but I’m on their radar, and this is just awesome. None, however, are placed upon a pedestal, nor enshrined in a chapel. They don’t need such shallow and empty honors.

I’ve thought often of what I value, what attitudes and behaviors I find most admirable. One trait consistently stands out in the behavior of most skeptics and other proponents of clear thought that I’ve read or listened to: honesty, particularly intellectual honesty, along with other values pertaining to that oft-expounded upon thing we call the truth.

Maybe that’s why I find skeptics in general to be such cool people. They, by and large the best of them, have shown a gift for saying, “You know what? I was mistaken. But I’ve just revised my old views and now I’ll move on.”

I have rarely seen that attitude with regard to proponents of pseudoscience, and I think the reasons why are completely different with each one. There is no single, simplistic explanation that will apply to every case. This pronounced tendency for honesty, tested time and again, is one major reason I find skeptics to be as credible as I do.

But I’ve rambled enough, so todays question is…

To you, what is the highest virtue of all?

TNQ is a daily question that I pose to you, my readers, and please, do feel free to comment — I’m not an ogre. As per the title, TNQ is published each weekday at 12:00 PM

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