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lundi 29 juin 2015

vendredi 26 juin 2015

Animals that don't Exist

The Brain Louse

The brain louse, Resistae cerebrali, unlike it's name suggests, is neither a louse, nor does it live exclusively in the brain. In fact, brain lice can be found along the entirety of the human nervous system, and possibly also in those of other animals.
The brain louse is, so far, the only member of the Resistae genus, a new branch of green algae with surprising characteristics, whose origin and evolution are as of yet poorly understood. The main difference between Resistae and other species of algae, or chlorophyllic lifeforms in general, is the way they get energy. Usually green algae, or plant cells, use the energy of the sunlight to power their cells, converting the electromagnetic waves that make up light into sugar, which can then be used by the rest of the organism. However, Resistae have a different, although similar, mechanism.
The cells of brain lice, instead of having photoreceptors, have electroreceptors which allow them to transform electrical surges into usable energy, and, subsequently, sugar. Which is why they have, so far, been found only on human nerve cells. They attach themselves to the “outer coating” (Schwann cells or similar) of neurons, and get energy off of the electric impulses from neural transmissions, while using nearby cells as construction materials. Of course, this is not without consequence for the infected host.
Although brain lice reproduce rather slowly (in comparison to most unicellular organisms), they can cover the whole nervous system in less than a year after the initial infection. If their host survives that long. The presence of brain lice can greatly reduce effectiveness of neural transmission, leading to loss of muscle control, and, when present in the cranium, brain function. If left untreated, the nervous system will ultimately be broken up, and the host will die.
Brain lice propagate mainly through sneezing, as well as sexual intercourse, but any close contact to important nerve centers (such as the genitalia, or buccal organs) can lead to contamination.
Although only discovered recently, it is believed that there are probably hundreds, if not thousands more species of Resistae, and OECD countries have recently founded the Insitute for the Research of Electric Parasites (IREP), who will focus mainly on the question of wheter or not Resistae species exist that use the electricity in modern tools or power plants, and what impact they have.
Your brain, it seems, will have to fend for itself for a little longer.

mercredi 24 juin 2015

Politics that didn't Happen

In 2016, the bunny problem took on unprecedented proportions in Austriala. The imported animals had resisted all efforts to get rid of them, and where undermining the rabbit fence faster than it could be built. Thinking he might as well hit two targets with one strike, PM Tony Abott decided to remove all regulations or fines for companies that polluted the environment or had high CO2 emissions.
The move was condemned by the UN as well as neighbouring nations, but Abott asured australian citizens that it would boost the economy, and finally get rid of the rabbits. "We will get rid of those rodents, if its the last thing we do!", he said in a speech.
Political commentators have praised Abott for his long-term vision and his honesty. "Indeed", one of them said, "it will very probably be the last thing we do."

lundi 22 juin 2015

Citations that weren't Made

"There is no such thing as too much coffee. Although there can be not enough sugar..."

   - Soren Kierkegaard

vendredi 19 juin 2015

Animals that don't Exist

The Climbing Hare

The climbing hare, Lepus scandus, is a species of rabbit that can be found exclusively in the Himalayan mountains. Originally thought to be a member of the Marmota genus, they were of little interest to scientists until the mid 20th century, because of their thought-to-be-trivial classification as well as their habitat, which made observation and capture vey difficult. It was only when modern genetic analysis was used for the first time, in the early 2000, that climbing hares were officially classified as belonging to the genus Lepus. But those that started studying them after the end of the second world war had expressed doubts about their adherence to the Marmota genus long before that.
Climbing hares live on steep mountain flanks, and are able to climb almost any kind of cliff with ease. Unlike their cousins, which have developed hind-legs that give them their famous jumping ability, climbing hares have developed front legs, which made their morphological relatedness that much harder to determine. Instead of jumping, they use the overdeveloped claws of their front paws to hang onto the rock. Then they pull themselves up with amazing force, capable of projecting them several meters straight up. Their underdeveloped hindlegs serve mainly to stabilize their position before and during flight.
The recent reclassification of climbing hares has brought with it many questions. Given that the species has undergone a drastic morphological change compared to its relatives, it is believed that the climbing hares' ancestors must have been trapped in the mountains at one point, forcing them to develop new capablities to thrive in their envrionment. How, or when exactly, this seperation happened remains unclear, and mitochondrial DNA analysis is undergoing to establish the exact moment of separation from their last common ancestor with the rest of the Lepus genus. However, the low genetic diversity inside the species already leads us to believe that it must have been a small group that got separated, or that selection was especially fierce.
For the indigenous population of the Himalays, the climbing hare has always had a special meaning. They are considered to be the spirits of those that have died on the mountains, and that are now free to climb them at their will. They are seen as a good omen, and many villages regularly bring them food offerings. In those parts of the Himalayas where China is in control, climbing hares are being hunted in the name of “pest control”, which has further incensed local populations against the chinese government. But for now, the population of climbing hares remains stable, and is even slightly increasing in certain regions.

mercredi 17 juin 2015

Politics that didn't Happen

As the climate crisis intensified in 2015, governments desperately tried to curb CO2 emissions. They quickly discovered that, since production costs outweighted ecological benefits, over-promoting low-emission cars or low-consumption electric appliances was actually intensifying climate change. So they tried something else.
In a rare occurence of political harmony, all OECD countries decided to introduce the one-phone policy. The rules were simple: no person was allowed to buy a new phone more than once every two years. If the phone got broken or stolen, it was possible to buy a new one, but only of the exact same make and model as the previous phone.
Public outrage peaked as the policy was introduced, but then quickly subsided. After a year, nobody cared anymore, and consumption of electrical appliances switched from quantity to quality on all fronts, and diminished emissions in OECD countries by almost 10%.
Today, the purchase of any product whose production causes emissions of more than 40 kg of CO2 is regulated by governments all over the world, and it seems that carbon emissions are well on track to reach pre-industrial levels by 2030.

lundi 15 juin 2015

Citations that weren't Made

"In life, there are good days and there are bad days. The bad days are the ones ahead, the good days the ones gone by."

   - Unknown

vendredi 12 juin 2015

Animals that don't Exist

The Money Mole

The money mole, Talpa argentum, is a species of mole the greater public is mostly unaware of, but that is well known in financial circles. Not unlike its cousins, the money mole lives in burrows, and has claws specialized for digging. In appearance, it ressembles the other members of the Talpidae family, and, at first glance, there seems to be nothing special about it. However, unlike its relatives, the money mole does not dig through the earth, but through papers of value.
Be they contracts, checks, bills of any currency, bearer bonds or IOUs, the money mole is, for reasons as of yet unknown, attracted to money in paper form, and will dig through them and make its nest in the resulting burrows.
Most financial institutions are aware of the money mole, and the danger it can pose to their wealth, and do their possible to avoid the animals settling in their safes. Among bio-economists, it is believed that the financial crisis of '29 was caused by money moles destroying much of the value owned by certain banks, which, when found, caused a crash in the stock market.
As computers became widespread and the digital revolutio began, many banks were eager to join, not only because of efficiency, but also because they believed that keeping financial data on computers would allow them to avoid the money mole problem entirely. However, it turns out that evolution would not let the fight end that easy. Money moles simply started burrowing through servers and hard-disk containing financial data.
They have undergone remarkable morpholigical changes in the past forty years, which still continue today, to adapt to the new realities of the financial world. Their claws became sturdier, accompanied by a reduction in body size, to allow them to thrive in their new habitat. Experts and financiers believe that the economic crash of 2008-09 was due to money moles destroying financial data, and thus making the value of investments disappear.
Although money moles are today almost universally regarded as a pest, they were considered differently in ancient societies. Indeed, it was popular belief that money moles were the guardians of human society, making sure that no one person or organization would accumulate an overwhelming amount of money, because this would inevitably attract the animals, which would then reduce their fortune, thus preserving a modicum of financial equilibrium between the members of a community.

mercredi 10 juin 2015

Politics that didn't Happen

In 1982, Olaf Palme was elected prime minister of Sweden. Making good on his promises, he campaigned for a neutral Sweden regarding the military blocks of East (Soviet Russia) and West (the U.S.A.), and tried to implement his politics of shared security, in opposition to the then prevalent escalation of conflict.
Intrigued by this new approach, and chastised by the numerous near-eruptions of nuclear war their policies had caused, both U.S. and Soviet leaders decided to tone down their rhetoric of conflict, and see what Palme could achieve.
Shortly after his re-election in 1985, Palme managed to start a constructive dialogue with the soviets. In 1986, he organised a meeting between the russian and american ambassadors to Sweden, using his influence and international renown to mediate negociations between the two countries. By the end of his second term in office, both countries had started disarming, and trade agreements between the former enemies were implemented.
Today, Palme is credited by many as the man who not only managed to avoid an escalation of the cold war, but also, through his engagement in the conflict, as well as his support for autonmous post-colonial governments in Africa and South America, ushered in a new age of politics, were shared interests prime over individualistic power-struggles.
He is now retired, spending most of his days in Hedeby, but has recently been appearing again in the public eye as a strong champion for radical measures to combat climate change, which he calls "the worst threat to mankind since the atomic bomb."

lundi 8 juin 2015

Citations that weren't Made

"After two weeks without drugs or alcohol, I started to understand why
 everybody else always seemed so cranky."

   - Anonymous

vendredi 5 juin 2015

Animals that don't Exist

The White Knight

The white knight, Columba alba, is a species of pigeon that has been bred in the middle ages, to much delight from the ladies of courts all over europe. Its name, however, has nothing to do with the color of its plumage. Rather, it is related to the peculiar behavior of the bird.
When young birds leave the nest, in early summer, they will search for humans who show particular behaviors, such as emitting high-pitched screams, flailing their arms, and spreading a particular mix of pheromones. Indeed, the young white knights are looking for a “damsel in distress”.
Once they have found one, they will attack any other humans in the immediate vicinity with violence uncharacteristic of the Columbidae genus. Their ferociousness is interpreted by the distressed person as chivalry (at least, in most cases), and the white knight will thereafter follow that person wherever they go.
In most instances, the human they “saved” will afterwards become their benefactor, making sure the white knight has enough to eat, and a roof over his head. This is crucial to the survival of the birds, since most white knights no longer have the ability to survive in the wild, and would die without the support of a human. At first thought to come to the aid only of females, it has been shown that white knights react to the “damsel in distress” signals regardless of the sex of the person.
In the middle ages, white knights enjoyed the highest regard from humans, seen as the embodiment of chivalry. However, in the new millenium, their lives have taken a turn for the worse, as owners organize duels between their respective white knights, artificially creating the necessary conditions for them to attack each other, and breeding them for ferocity and strength, rather than beauty and loyalty, as used to be the case.
As a consequence thereof, there has been a drastic increase in reports of white knights attacking people who have offered no provocation, and the Department for the Control of Vicious Animals (DCVA) is probing whether or not to require a license for the raising of the birds.

mercredi 3 juin 2015

Politics that didn't Happen

After the fall of the berlin wall in 1989, the US government, under the Marshall plan, contributed huge amounts of financial aid to the now-independent countries of the ex-USSR. When asked by russian diplomats to help the ailing motherland of the former soviet union, they of course agreed readily, yesterday's enemies becoming today's partners.
In the decades that followed, with the help of american investments, Russia managed to quickly reshape its economy and maintain its position as a world power not only through military and diplomatic means, but also on an economic level. Thanks to their foresight, the USA have also profited from this new partnership, recording record growth.
Today, as we face an imminent environmental crisis, it seems that the good relations between the USA and Russia are one of the pillars that allow us to change our economy once again to adapt to the challenge we face. Russia's experience with state-planned investments, as well as the lack of international tentions due to this unlikely yet successful friendship, have made it easier to work towards the common goal of lowering carbon emissions, and, in the last five years, we have managed to cut emission rates signficantly, despite the emergence of new economic powers such as China and India, and the rapid rise of living standards in these countries.

lundi 1 juin 2015

Citations that weren't Made

"There are billions of stars in the universe, but only a couple hundred of them on earth. Now what does that tell you?"

   - Albert Einstein