Friday, October 26, 2007

Up, Up, Down, Down

Movies on DVD almost always have "Easter Eggs," hidden content that you can only get to by doing something obscure, like clicking on an object that doesn't appear to be a button.

Similarly, almost every video game has some sort of cheat code, unlocked by fulfilling some incredibly esoteric requirement, like hitting any button thirteen times while rotating the d-pad clockwise.*

And then there are the multitude of websites, like J.K. Rowling's, that contain all sorts of secret content.

Based on these things, it's clear that we cannot craft an interactive experience without adding some special "thing." The temptation is simply too great.

So when God was creating Reality, the most robust interactive experience of all, doesn't it seem like he MUST have done stuff like that?

I imagine that someday we'll develop tools for looking deep into the Earth, and somewhere a few thousand miles in we'll find a big smiley face across the whole eastern hemisphere. It'll be a major controversy, with scientists rushing to explain how it's merely a natural formation that happens to look kinda like a face. Then the next day they'll check out the western hemisphere and find :oP***.

And there's no telling what he did with outer space. I feel bad for the future astronaut who will someday have to submit an official report that says: "Planet XJ-299 is mostly gaseous with a loosely compacted core of dust. Planet XJ-300 has no atmosphere but could be terraformed into a habitable world. Planet XJ-301, well I don't know quite how to say this . . . it seems to be made entirely out of candy cane. Red stripes and everything."

And if God HAS put Easter Eggs into reality, doesn't that do a lot to explain the platypus? He knew we'd try to document all the animal species we found, so he created one just to mess with us. "Ok, ok, the giraffe, that's pretty funny, Gabriel, but check this one out. It's got fur, but it also has a duck's bill, plus an electroreception sense and ten sex chromosomes. Yeah, TEN. Just for no reason. This is going to be hilarious."

For all we know, some of these could be psychological. Maybe the term "Easter egg" is, itself, an Easter egg. Maybe God influenced us to name "hidden stuff in DVD's and games" after a relic of HIS big holiday.

Or maybe there are little codes in daily life that we don't know about. Obscure, esoteric things that, if you do them just right, unlock God's own "Behind the Scenes" documentary, or 30 extra lives!

*Props if you know the reference.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Though we didn't light it

I refuse to believe that the Dr. Pepper company created "Diet Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper" on purpose.

What really happened is this: a guy in their lab made some stuff, and it kinda tasted like Dr. Pepper, but not really, and once they determined that the lab rats who drank it were just sleeping, they sent their new product off to marketing. And those poor people, they had to sit around drinking can after can of mildly fruity soda-like substance and trying to figure out what it tasted like.

But the soda industry has a history of these desperate cries for attention: Coca-cola with Lime, Coca-cola with Lemon*, Mountain Dew-Pitch Black, Crystal Pepsi, Pepsi Blue, Pepsi Holiday Spice, and if you were in Japan this summer, Pepsi Ice Cucumber, these are the dark, crayon scrawled drawings of companies that really need someone to care about them.

I think it goes back to the cola wars in the 1980's. For this brief period, people took their soda drinking seriously. Well, I guess they did. I remember all those "only old people drink Coke' ads, but I was too young to judge if there was a major societal rift at work. Also a few years of my childhood memory take place on the Lego space monorail I got one Christmas, so maybe something happened then and I don't remember. But Billy Joel's famous rant "We Didn't Start the Fire", where he references things like AIDS, suicide, and crack, ends with the line "Rock and Roller cola wars, I can't take it anymore," and I guess if that's the thing that finally pushed him over the edge, maybe it was a pretty big deal after all.

So when the cola war passed, all these companies were left with deflated egos. They'd constructed this Orwellian pseudo-war to keep people interested, then one day everyone woke up and said "Wait, many industries comfortably operate with two ore more major competitors, and in fact that arrangement is better for the consumer than having one clear winner," and it was all gone. (And in which book did George Orwell use the idea of a pseudo-war to distract the masses? "1984"! Just before the cola wars began! That's some Twilight Zone action right there.)

So now the soda companies shamble on, working in their labs each day to come up with something that will spark the public interest again. I feel sorry for them, but every time my sanity, my loyalties, and my intelligence are called into question because of the operating system, the internet chat client, or the video game console I choose, I know they might have their war back someday.

*Why wasn't there a Coke with Lymon? I mean it's their word, they made it up. Seems like kind of an oversight, doesn't it?

Friday, October 12, 2007

If it folds up to fit under your bed, it's a revolution.

Do you know what scientists have discovered about the human body?


They have no idea, and it's time we accepted that. I mean sure, they've got some general things figured out:

You should probably eat something other than candy bars.
You should get up and go outside once in a while.
That water stuff? It seems kinda important.
And if you have time, maybe sleep once in a while.

But beyond those things I have trouble believing that the vast spectrum of human diversity can be summed up by a "recent medical study." How many people were in the study? One-hundred? That's 1/60,000,000th of the humanity, not what you'd call a good sample.

I used to enjoy debating vocal pro-Earth advocates (read: "Playing devil's-advocate to people I found obnoxious.") because I got to lay out this argument:

"I'm not saying that global warming isn't real, just that the people who tell us about it also depend on it for their grant money. If it weren't for global warming, who would care about climatology? No one. So then how can we trust a climatologist's opinion on the subject? It's like if a man who owned a chocolate factory told you that eating chocolate made you live longer, would you believe him? No."

But I had to stop using that bit when medical studies found that dark chocolate* contains antioxidants, which prevent cancer and thus MAKE YOU LIVE LONGER. That's right, even my candy bar rule is coming into question now.

But medical studies aren't nearly as good as the home fitness industry. I'm convinced that all those late-night workout machine commercials are created by executives trying to see who can make people do the stupidest thing:

"I'll bet I can sell a machine with a bow on it, like from a bow and arrow. I'll say it has 'Thrust-bar resistance' or something."
"Oh that's nothing, I bet I can make people pretend to ski in their living rooms."
"Ok, fine. You know push-ups? Did you know you've been doing them wrong all this time? No? Well that's because I just decided it."

Meanwhile, in homes across the country . . .

"Of course, skiing! That's it! All this time I've been so unhealthy, and it was so simple! Now I can be fit and never leave my house!"

That's right, even my "go outside" rule is coming into question now.

So here it is, the entirety of what we know about the human body: Drink water. Sleep.

That's it. Good luck folks.

*You notice they didn't try to say this about chocolate in general, because no one would buy that. But DARK chocolate? Well that's different! It's magic!

Friday, October 5, 2007

I wrote this wearing a tinfoil sombrero*

Island of Doomslaying, Pacific Ocean (AP) - The attack on
Dr. Dementorz' island fortress ended today after a mere thirteen-minute assault. Allied forces brought down the home of what some are calling the world's first "supervillian" and described the experience as "pretty much a cake-walk."

"There was really no resistance to speak of," said one of the ground soldiers, "Our planes canvassed the island with ordinance and the grunts swept up the pieces, it was easy. There were a few anti-aircraft guns, but those weren't a problem. It actually takes a long time to train someone to fire one of those things even in the best conditions, and Dr. Dementorz . . . you know what? I'm not calling him that anymore, guy's name was Larry, it was in the debriefing. Larry thought he could hire thugs off the street to operate serious military equipment. Based on what I saw, those guys had almost no idea what they were doing."

The name "Dr. Dementorz" was revealed to be the pseudonym of Larry Pinkington after thousands of online tipsters Googled his true identity and sent their findings to government officials. Pinkington gave himself the alias during a video broadcast earlier today in which he took responsibility for this morning's attack on the United Nations. Sources say Pinkington was planning to force-broadcast the tape using a hacked satellite but discovered that he didn't need to because most news organizations called him and asked for it. "Chaos is upon us!," Pinkington screamed in the video,"With all your leaders gone in one fell swoop, the world will descend into anarchy and confusion, forcing everyone to turn to me as their new leader!"

Pinkington's statements fell flat, however, as by the time his footage was released, the United Nations was reconvening with new delegates. "The whole transition took maybe two hours" said one representative, "I mean every major nation in the world has some sort of contingency plan if their leader gets killed. It's not like countries have one guy who magically holds everything together, and if he's dead it all goes nuts. What kind of sense would that make? There's such a think as bureaucracy. I got an email, they swore me in, and I was on a plane to the emergency meeting a few minutes later."

The military response to Dr. Dementorz' actions was the only item on the emergency meeting agenda, but the decision took so little time that the delegates voted to continue and "get some busywork out of the way". "It was an open-and-shut case" said the newly elected Secretary-General, "we had a full confession, on tape, that included a very convincing argument for why he wasn't insane but instead an evil, evil man who wanted to destroy the world. Our researchers found the coordinates of his island fortress on his Wikipedia page, confirmed it with satellite photos and verified that the island had no civilians to worry about. No moral or ethical dilemma, vote was unanimous."

Pinkerton has not been located, but he is presumed dead after a rocket-propelled escape capsule shot from the top of the fortress and exploded almost immediately. A U.S. military analyst was on-hand to survey the wreckage, "We'll confirm the identity of the body with a DNA test, but we're pretty sure that's him." he said,"It looks like the capsule was designed to reach low orbit, but a malfunction caused one of the fuel tanks to explode. That's why NASA has so many people behind every shuttle launch, you can't handle a delicate, precise operation like this with just one red button."

As nations mourn in the wake of Pinkerton's attack, they can take comfort that his actions have been avenged quickly and with no loss of innocent life. The whole encounter took so little time, however, that many U.S. civilians aren't even aware of it yet. "I wasn't even aware of that yet.", said one civilian at an Atlanta Steak n' Shake restaurant.

*This title has nothing to do with today's post. I started writing something about conspiracy theories, then changed my mind and wrote this instead. But the title was so funny, I decided to keep it.