Updates no more

vendredi 30 octobre 2015

Aniamls that don't Exist

The Optimistic Otter

The optimistic otter, Lutra ipsum, is native to the northern steppes of Siberia. It ressembles its cousins in every aspect, from its physical appearance to its dietary habits. There are, however, some traits of its behavior and its physiological capacities, that make the optimistic otter one of a kind.
Presumably as an adaptation to its harsh environment, where predators, both human and animal, are never far, the optimistic otter has developed an ingenious and unusual trait to protect itself. Unlike other animals, when faced with a predator, the optimistic otter shows no fear. On the contrary, it tends to approach its would-be aggressor, displaying a number of behavioral cues that indicate curiosity, and even affection (hence its name). This strange behavior momentarily surprises its attacker. And a moment is all that is needed.
Through a mechanism that has not yet been fully understood, the optimistic otter manages to filter out of the air the pheromones belonging to its adversaries, and, in mere seconds, starts synthesizing and emitting those exact same pheromones. Those olfactory signals, combined with the confusing behavior it displays, will make any mammal predator change its view of the cute animal, and switch from predator to protector in an instant.
Historically, optimistic otters have been viewed as messengers of god (or even deities in and of themselves) by the native people of northern siberia. They are often found as pets in villages and isoloated huts, some otter families having lived with humans, or other animals, for generations. However, since the fall of the wall in 1989, their situation has taken a turn for the worse.
Environmental destruction that followed Russia's conversion to capitalism has damaged much of their natural habitat, and otters in the wild have become rare. And as the capitalists came flooding past Moscow, feelings of love and affection have been pushed aside in favour of greed.
The optimistic otter has a particularly soft fur, and its pelt is prized above most others. Hunters have traditionally shown mercy to the animals, for the reasons mentioned above, but in recent years, those who have heard of the creature, but never seen it in person, have taken to go on the hunt with gas masks, to avoid the otter's defences. In repsonse, the otter popuation has plumetted even further.
But there is hope still for our furry friends, as resistance movements have started organizing themselves in the steppes. Locals have taken to stealing, or sabotaging, the hunters gas masks, and several otter sanctuaries have been erected in the region.
The animals themselves seem not to care much, and keep approaching both humans and animals with the same curiosity and big brown eyes they always have.

mercredi 28 octobre 2015

Politics that didn't Happen

In 2016, the new Swiss government, shocked by the amount of negative effects of lack of sleep, and the number of its citizens who suffer thereof, especially in the 15 to 25 years age group, passed a law that made 8 hours of sleep per day the mandatory minimum. Exceptions could be made for people who were medically certified to need less sleep, but otherwise, offenders could be fined up to 10'000 CHF, and forced to attend sleep-prisons. The result, however, was not as expected.
Despite the benefits that should have come with increased sleep, the crime rate soared shortly after the law was introduced, especially in the 15 to 25 years age group. The judicial system was overwhelmed by the sudden increase in cases, and for several weeks, became completely paralized. Politicians were desperately looking for causes, and found many, from the decline of the social state to periodic sunstorms and immigration. But it was only a year later that the truth finally emerged.
A new study linked regular sleeping hours to a rise of crime after having compared the swiss situation to that of neighbouring countries. This caused the abolition of the sleep-law, and the effects were immediate. There was an unprecedented decrease in criminal cases, especially in the 15 to 25 year age group.
And science once more saved the day!

lundi 26 octobre 2015

Citations that weren't Made

"There's no such thing as good or bad. There's just bad and worse."

    - John McAffee

vendredi 23 octobre 2015

Animals that don't Exist

The Fog Shroom

The fog shroom, Mycellium nebula, is a little known species of fungi that, like its name suggests, is native to the british isles. Found mostly in moores and marshes, the species can disperse quite far during automn and winter. But since it cannot survive prolonged exposure to direct sunlight, its population is heavily reduced during summer, where only those individuals in shaded environments can survive. Most people that live in or around its natural habitat have probably already encountered this peculiar fungi at one time or another, altough most of them were not aware of it.
The fog shroom, unlike some of its cousins, does not exhibit the typical physionomy we are used to. And, unlike the mushrooms we pluck from the forest, its mycellium is not spread throughout the soil, but rather, throughout the fog. This soft and delicate web of unicellular threads hangs suspeneded in the water droplets of the air, and travels with its currents. When coming into contact with solid vegetation, like trees or ferns, some part of the web will get tangled on these surfaces, while the rest of the mushroom travels on, weaving its invisible net through the wet air. Once the fog dissipates, most of the mushroom dies, but those parts that have clung on to the shady part of a tree trunk, or the humid underside of some leafy plant, will persist, waiting for the next fog to continue their journey.
Scientists estimate that, with the right weather coniditions, fog shroom mycellium can grow to an astonishing size, sucking nutrients out of the air as it does. The parts that could not find a hiding place from the sun dry up, and their remains fertilize the ground, contributing to an equilibrated repartition of ressources in the habitat. Thus, it has a stablizing effect on the ecosystems it inhabits.
In olden times, the people thought that the strange feeling they sometimes got from the fog where due to ghosts, clinging on to the living and trying to pull them into the bog with them. This unseen force has fed stories about haunted forests, and contributed a lot to ecosystem tranquility by scaring of humans.
Today, due to more and more extreme weather events, the population of fog shrooms has undergone massive changes in size in relatively short periods, going through boom and bust cycles that have been unknown for the species so far. Not only has this become one more factor that decreases ecosystem stability, but researchers fear that the next such event might decimate the populations in some areas for good, which could have an unpredictable effect on the ecosystems they inhabit.

mercredi 21 octobre 2015

Politics that didn't Happen

At the end of 2015, there was a major shift in attitude from western countries in regards to their involvement in the ongoing wars in the middle-east. Following Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau's lead, more and more countries pulled out of direct military intervention in crisis zones in the region, and by the end of 2016, only the U.S. and Russia were still carrying out military interventions.
As international pressure increased, the two countries found themselves in the same camp, against the rest of the western world. Unlikely allies as they were, this forced cooperation between the two, and in the latter half of 2017, they agreed to join forces, and coordinate their activity in the region. As the conflict kept on intensifying, and more and more countries joined the call to end any military activities and concentrate on humanitiarian aid instead, an unprecendented friendship started to bloom between the former rivals.
Today, in 2018, the U.S. and Russia have more enemies than ever in the international community, but, as they stand united, it seems there is little the rest of the world can do to stop the two superpowers from behaving as they please. And as history is constantly rewritten, it now appears as if most of the citizens of these countries see the other as a long-time, natural ally, with whom they entertain a healthy rivalry that keeps pushing them to exceed themselves. Whether this is something to be happy about, however, remains far from certain.

lundi 19 octobre 2015

Citations that weren't Made

"I hate waking up in the moring. Especially when it's on a sunday."

   - Spike Spiegel

vendredi 16 octobre 2015

Animals that don't Exist

The Studying Parrot

The studying parrot, Parrotus studens, is a rather strange animal indeed. At first glance, it closely resembles the Ara, and only experts are able to distinguish between the two birds by visual observation alone. However, if you ever have the luck of encountering a flock of these strange birds during mating season, it will soon become clear where they got their name from, and that they are truly a different species.
Unlike other species, the studying parrot does not woo partners through a display of bright colors, physical prowess, or elaborately constructed nests. Instead, it spends the rest of the year learning complicated formulas or philosophical insights from humans, which it then parrots back to impress potential mates.
This behavior has given rise to a number of questions, perhaps the most interesting of which is how the parrots distinguish between intellectually relevant phrases and pure gibberish. There are a number of teams from around the world that are studying this behavior, but their efforts have yet to bear fruit. In addition, due to the protected status of the studying parrot, specimens for study are not easy to come by.
For the ancient tribes who share their habitat with the studying parrot, the bird has always been a symbol of wisdom, and whole villages would come to the bird's mating grounds, feeding them and listening to the words they propagate.

mercredi 14 octobre 2015

Politics that didn't Happen

In 2016, Facebook and others tried to make the world a little worse by creating Internet.org, a free version of the “internet”, with less information, less freedom, and less privacy. But because of the vital role the net now plays not only in our social life, but also in our work life, people who could not afford a real connection were forced to rely on this new, watered down and poisoned version.
Luckily, as emerging nations came to realize the full extent of the hoodwinking that was going on, they decided to sue internet.org for breaching privacy and data retention and sharing laws. The money thus obtained went into a common fund, which in turn was used by those same nations to ensure that every citizen had free access to the internet. The real one, this time.

lundi 12 octobre 2015

Citations that weren't Made

"If you don't like us sticking our fingers up your ass, it must be because you've got something to hide."

   - Gen. Hayden, NSA

vendredi 9 octobre 2015

Animals that don't Exist

The Hangover Rat

The hangover rat, Rattus spiritus, is a member of the rat family. It dislikes light, sound and early mornings, and spends most of its time sleeping in dark places, intermittedly waking up to eat and drink something. There is not much it likes, and even though it does reproduce, it doesn't for the life of it remember when or with whom.

mercredi 7 octobre 2015

Politics that didn't Happen

Back in the late sixties/early seventies, when things were called groovy more often than not, the Controlled Substances Act was being debated in the U.S.A. At the same time, many places in the country, due no doubt to the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and SteppenWolf, decided to legalize or decriminalize cannabis. The debaters in Washington took notice, and, intending to forestall any conflict between State and Federal law, agreed to add a provision to the Controlled Substances Act, allowing State regulations to trump federal ones where Cannabis was concerned.
And it was lucky they did, because otherwise, things would be a real mess today.

lundi 5 octobre 2015

Citations that weren't Made

"Wisdom can be found in any civilization. The difference is how we get there."

    - Z.

vendredi 2 octobre 2015

Animals that don't Exist

The Binary Bacteria

The binary bacteria, Bacillus binarius, is a recent discovery by Prof. Jack Hammer of the Institute for Tiny, Tiny Things (ITTT), North Dakota. At first glance, these monocellular lifeforms seem rather unremarkable. In addition, their reproductive rate is quite a bit lower than that of most known bacteria, which makes them appear like a rather tedious subject for study. However, it was exactly this trait that intrigued Prof. Hammer. “In the wild, low reproductive rate means low competivity for space and ressources, and the theory of natural selection tells us that this should lead to extinction over time. Yet we could find evidence of binary bacterias in a vaste array of substrates. That made me curious.”
Indeed, further research showed that, no matter what kind of nutrients where present (or absent) in its environment, the binary bacteria would grow at an almost identical rate. This is very unusual for bacteria, and by the time of this discovery, Prof. Hammer was positive that there was something special about his latest find. The research that followed would prove him right.
Binary bacteria, his team found, could be in one of two states: reproducing or producing. The producing bacteria would absorb as much matter from their environment as possible, and then transform it into adequate substrate for the reproducing ones. The latter would use the ressources to produce offspring. This simplistic division of labour might seem mundane to most people, but it was the first time such a thing had been observed in bacteria. “Archeabacteria are known to show this behavior on occasion, just as single celled algea do, but so far, it was believed that bacteria never exhibited those traits, and that this was why multicellular lifeforms did not evolve from them. So this recent discovery puts into question everything we know about the evolution of multicellular life on our planet.”
In addition to procuring easily absorbable nutrients, it seems the producer bacteria also emit nocif substances into their environment, keeping competitors at bay. As the colony expands, these are again absorbed by producer bacteria and given back to reproducers as substrate, which could explain how they were able to survive and thrive despite their low reproductive rate.
There is still much that we have to learn about these peculiar organisms, and Prof. Hammer is up for the job. “When I started to see then first signs of their strange behavior, I knew that I would spend the rest of my life with this bacteria. It was love at first sight.”