A Tall Blond Alien Girl

I’d taken the afternoon off for a quick trip to the Oort Cloud. The wife wanted me to nudge a comet that was on a 98% for-sure collision course with Earth, destined to torment us in 371 years. No mad rush, of course, but when the Misses say jump, I’ve learned that you’re doing yourself a big favor if you jump. Immediately.

And don’t make any faces about it.

I took the King’s smallest Vemana and kept a leisurely pace humming towards the periphery of the solar system. Made it through several rounds of Jnana yoga before the AI sensors jarred me loose, yammering about how we’d passed all the usual potholes and planets, and reached the Cloud.

After a look around and some measurements to make sure I was targeting the right rock, I opened a scalar gun and sent a feather-like puff into the comet’s starboard flank. The AI’s calculations said our gentle nudge should be enough to keep the mindless predator several million miles from Earth on its way through our neighborhood.

Good enough.

I’ll also remember to take out the trash tonight. Smart men do these things without being reminded, and I’m flat-out brilliant if I say so myself.

On the way back to Earth, I happened to spot one of those little pink orbs, the cute ones you see over Baga Beach in the mornings. The Blonds stay in some phase-shifted netherworld when they travel, so their orbs are all you’re apt to see of them.

Since there are always forty thousand people on the beach humming om to get the Blond’s attention, I’d never spoken to one. Now seemed like the perfect time to give it a go.

Dumb men do these things, it turns out.

I looked out at the pink sphere floating beneath one of the longer teeth hanging from Saturn’s rings and said, “Hi there,” on every frequency and with every code, including a reverse engineered E8 simulation code I’d been working on.

The orb came closer.

“I’d like to ask you a few things if I could.”

The screen glowed pink with the orb and distant stars behind, but somehow floating in front of me now was a blond-headed woman, visible from the chest up. She looked about 19, but Tall Blonds live quite a while we’re told, so she could have been twice my age.

“You got a pair,” she said and smiled. “Cruising out here all by yourself in that rickety little thing.”

I looked at my gauges. All flat, which meant she was in my head. We’ve all heard of such things, of course, but you can’t really believe it until it happens to you.

“How are you doing this?” I asked. “I mean, how can I see you when my instruments can’t?”

“You’re going to want to speak up, Indie. Saturn’s churning and I can barely hear you.”

I felt pleased that someone so advanced would recognize my nationality. I smiled politely and raised my voice. “Is this any better, Ma’am?”

“Yes, much.” Her eyes went from the top of my head down to my navel and back up again to rest on my forehead. She didn’t say it, but I could tell she thought I looked old. “What’s on your mind?”

I was feeling bold, so I didn’t speak the words, I slowed my breathing, crossed my legs and silently thought my words to her at high volume. “It’s my understanding that you people have brought several religions into existence on Earth. Can you…”

“Whoa, you’re going to do that?” Her face lit up with delight. “I’ve never heard an Earthling project his thoughts. I’ll concentrate.” She closed her eyes and knitted her brow. “OK, bring it, India.”

“Can you tell me why the Tall Blond people have brought these various religions into my world? They’re contradictory and seem to cause division.”

She opened her eyes. “Oh, my spleen, you’ve been messing with the Oort Cloud.” She shook her head at me. “Tell me what you did out there.”

“I nudged a comet, Ma’am. My wife said it was going to hit…”

“What comet? Give me some coordinates, I need to get there fast.” Her eyes were steaming but she hadn’t raised her voice.

“Why are you upset? I was only protecting the human race, and the other life down there as well.”

“You wouldn’t understand.”

“I’m actually a brilliant man. I can understand anything you’re capable of telling me.”

“Really? Check this out, then.”

Her image faded behind a scrolling dark gray sheet that glowed with bright green numbers and symbols. The gist involved gravity and electricity, but it was moving too fast for me to keep up.

“OK, you’ve humbled me. I can’t keep pace with your gravity theory. But would it be possible to give me the broad concepts in my native tongue?”

She grinned smugly as the sheet with the green symbols faded and scrolled away.

“The Universe is both electric and sentient. We believe she makes the big decisions, such as when it’s time for a species to experience a genetic pinch or when its time to ratchet up their code for intelligence.”

“And no one’s allowed to protect themselves from the Universe, I suppose.”

“Don’t be flippant. You’ll have to find another way. None of us can move heavenly bodies without making matters worse. The balance is complex beyond anything imaginable, let alone calculable. The Mind has her reasons.”

“If I tell you how to find the comet, will you answer my question about religion?”

She put a flat rectangular piece of something pink into her mouth and chewed it several times, staring at me blankly. Then she looked down towards my feet. “Yeah. OK, Manish. I’ll come clean if you will.”

I felt myself blushing. She’d reached into my head and found my name. No telling what else.

I told my AI to send her the coordinates with the video records and the readouts from the scalars.

The Tall Blond Alien girl vanished from my cabin and her pink orb zipped off the right edge of my screen.

I’d been played. I felt much more let down than seemed reasonable. I didn’t know her, after all. She shouldn’t mean anything to me, really.

But when someone’s been in your head, it feels as if your souls have touched. And when they leave without saying goodbye, it hurts… as though they’ve judged you worthless after seeing you clearly.

How would I ever explain any of this to Jai?

I was about to put my tail between my legs and go home when the pink orb showed up on my screen again, and the Tall Blond girl reappeared before me.

My heart beat a little too happily.

“I think I saved us both a lot of grief,” she said.

“But not my great-grandchildren and their children.”

“Listen, you can be around to help them. This chunk of rock hits your planet in just 371 years. With some mesenchymal stem cells and astragalus, you can be alive and strong when it touches down. Get your people underwater, build a geopolymer dome at the bottom of a trench. A deep one. Or use the underground hideouts on the Moon. The ones on the lower levels where the crust blocks the solar winds. You people don’t need any more mutations. Hoard all the original DNA you can find, especially plants. Put as many seeds in stasis as you possibly can.”

That’s all easy for her to say. I’ll be lucky to avoid sleeping on the port with my dog, Giggles.

“I don’t suppose you could help me with any of this, could you?” I asked, trying not to whine.

Her eyebrows went up. “Oh my goodness.” She put a hand over her heart. “I was just putting things back the way they were. I didn’t expect to feel responsible for you.” Her eyes went wide in the distance above my head.

“Will you help me, then?” I whispered silently.

She filled her chest with air, and her eyes snapped into focus. “Yes, of course, I’ll help you.”

“That’s wonderful.” I felt a warm affection as if we were old friends. “The most important thing is simple, Ma’am… What’s your name, if I may ask?”

“Why do you ask my name? You couldn’t comprehend it if I told you.”

“Forgive me.”

“For what?” She seemed genuinely perplexed.

“Nothing, I guess. But I do really, really need you to talk to my wife, Jai. She knows how to get teams organized on big projects. And she’s influential with the King. But without you, she’ll never believe a word of my story.”

One of the Tall Blond’s eyebrows went up sharply. “We’ll have to check your testosterone.”

Whatever.

I’d almost forgotten my big question. It seemed small now, but I asked it anyway. “So why did your people–“

“Promote conflicting fundamentalist religions on Earth,” she said in an impatient monotone. “It’s because you people are limited in your ability to see into one another’s minds. You don’t communicate in the usual manner of intelligent beings… Without the possibility of lying. That’s why we brought the conflicting religions. Diversity and competition keep things alive. The whole point was to create honesty among you. It’s impossible to make humans honest without dogmatic religions promoting the idea.” She blew a pink bubble, took it from her mouth and popped it with her teeth.

“What’s so great about honesty?” I asked.

“Lies destroy trust. Trust is the foundation of every civilization that’s ever survived its technological advances. The stage of early artificial intelligence is a treacherous one. Worse than nukes.”

“AI’s are dangerous?” A fruit fly had stowed away in the cabin and chose this moment to dive-bomb my nose. I snatched it from the air and held it in the hollow of my hand.

The Tall Blond flinched. We’re told they’re pacifists. She stared at my fist and seemed to be speaking to it. “If AI’s can’t trust you, yes, they’re deadly. And that’s a minor consideration. Lies themselves are more destructive than dishonest AI’s and far worse than that comet you’re so worried about.”

“Not to argue, but I see lies in a less black-and-white light. Some prevarications are downright helpful, in fact, especially when it comes to self-defense and war.”

She crinkled her nose the way you’d react to a bad smell. “Your thinking is so bizarre.” She looked at my hand with the gnat inside. “If you could only experience a culture where everyone hears everyone’s thoughts. There is no distrust. No call for self-defense or war. It’s virtually impossible to hide the truth.”

“So what happens when you ask a guy if you look fat?”

“What?” She glanced down at herself. “I’m not fat.”

“No, but don’t you sometimes feel fat? And want reassurance that you’re not?”

“No. Don’t be ridiculous.”

The look on her face made me fear that she’d fly off and leave again. “Sorry,” I said and released the fruit fly in a gesture of goodwill. “I shouldn’t have used the word, fat. You’re actually incredibly beautiful… but don’t tell my wife I said that.”

She tilted her head to the side and stared intently as if I’d said something difficult to comprehend. Then she shook her head and smiled weakly. “Lies are the whole problem, Earthling.”

Morrill Talmage Moorehead, MD


Black-and-white thinking? Come on, we ALL do it!

I’ve thought for a long time that black-and-white thinking is one of humanity’s biggest problems. But trying to eradicate it with more black-and-white thinking is just ridiculous.

When I was a medical student doing a psychiatry rotation, I noticed that all the white coats, myself included, had a powerful desire to be seen as absolutely NORMAL.

The feeling came out of nowhere the first day we started seeing psych patients. Some of them weren’t free to leave the building. There was an unspoken fear that we caregivers might be, in some unseen way, indistinguishable from the patients. It was both a subtle and a consuming motivation that made everyone subconsciously try to act and speak as if they were hyper-normal in every conceivable dimension.

I’ve rarely felt anything like it since.

In those days on the psych wards, one big sign of derangement to avoid was “magical thinking,” which meant believing in anything that wasn’t established by science or grounded in secular Western middle-class society.

Since LLUMC was a religious institution, Christianity was begrudgingly considered OK on the psych wards, or at least not necessarily equal to magical thinking… unless the patient thought he or she had an unusual religious purpose in life such as being Jesus Christ, a delusion that was said to be “not uncommon.”

Between the lines, we knew that any “visions of grandeur” might put us at risk of being too similar to the inpatients. And while there was no chance of being locked up for it, a med student couldn’t hope to pass a psych rotation where the people evaluating you thought you were basically nuts.

So if anyone had a personal relationship with God that meant everything to them, as I did (and still do), she or he had to be careful to tuck it away along with any secret hopes of someday becoming objectively great by doing extremely valuable work in the world.

And of course, some of us tried to down-size our ambitions and become genuinely satisfied with the psych ward’s prescribed mediocrity.

That never worked for me. I couldn’t escape my burning desire to do something great. I still can’t.

But to this day I’d never admit such a grandiose hope to a shrink. Only to you.

I wonder if the new boogeyman for med students on psych rotations today is black-and-white thinking.

It’s finally becoming a mainstream negative, which would be a good thing if it were opposed logically rather than in binary terms, such as the current “normal versus borderline personality disorder” dichotomy and other B&W approaches.

If you want to really insult a thinking analytic person, say that she’s a black-and-white thinker. The accusation is powerful and leaves a red mark.

It usually comes with the assumption that black-and-white thinking is always narrow-minded and inappropriate.

But it ain’t necessarily so…

Simple arithmetic, for instance, is black-and-white. No one will accuse you of B&W narrow-mindedness if you lower your guard and admit that you believe one and one equals two.

But with imaginary numbers (i.e., the “lie” that a negative number can have a square root), math itself enters a gray zone with the letter “i” keeping track of imaginary calculations.

So math starts out black and white but, like fiction, merges truth with imagination. Neither math nor fiction is really lying because the letter “i” and the word “novel” tell us we’re sort of pretending. Both explore the human experience by merging black-and-white foundations with a story written in symbols.

Physics is similar. When you calculate a coefficient of friction in a college Physics lab, it’s black-and-white Newtonian work. But if you’re ever trying to decide which version of string theory clashes the least with your classical Einsteinian bias, you’re quickly up to your eyeballs in shades of gray and spectrums of color.

Ironically, the popular all-or-none belittlement of B&W thinking, typified by the picture above, misses all the boring details of reality and winds up in subtle hypocrisy where the only black-and-white thinking it allows is its own binary criticism of black-and-white thinking.

Splitting humanity into “black-and-white thinkers” and “normal in-color thinkers” may be useful to some shrinks, I guess, but for the rest of us, it’s often used as a polarizing weapon to belittle people and silence unwelcome ideas.

Case in point…

To convince people that there’s no such thing as good and evil, some have associated good and evil with the dreaded black-and-white thinking. Some have claimed that the scientific version of Deity (the Intelligent Mind within the Quantum Field) isn’t concerned with such black-and-white matters as good and evil.

But does this make sense?

Can the rape of a child, for instance, be seen as morally neutral in the eyes of an intelligent Universe and the Mind that fills it?

Perhaps the Quantum Mind of God is not as preoccupied with negative judgments as our fading Western traditions tell us.

But this Mind is smart enough to write original DNA code. We are the products of that code. Most of us feel deep empathy for suffering children.

How then could the Code Writer be incapable of empathy, or reject the truest words to describe our human predicament: good and evil?

The best thing about humans is our capacity for compassion and empathy. These traits simply must have been written into our DNA by Someone who knew them. But we’re supposed to believe that the Code Writer is a stranger to empathy and suffering? Too broad-minded to see the difference between right and wrong?

This kind of thinking isn’t rational.

While black-and-white thinking is obviously one of humanity’s greatest limitations, the binary mindset that now pretends to oppose it is unwittingly promoting it by using shame to paint negative emotions on unwelcome ideas.

The situation is analogous to William Cooper’s old videos from the 1990’s where evil attempts to overcome evil. His conspiracy theory describes secret societies that plan to rid the world of evil by killing billions of people with viruses, then following up with a “benevolent” dictatorship run by the murderers.

But fighting fire with fire doesn’t work in the realm of good and evil. A pretty ending can’t overcome an ugly plot.

Morrill Talmage Moorehead, MD