Mysia the Green Christmas Beetle

On the first day of school, Mysia, a shy Christmas Beetle, was late to class because her mother had taken too long polishing her little green shell. Now it was so shiny Mysia was afraid the other insect children would make fun of her the way they’d done to a firefly boy at her old school last year during lightning-bug season.

She stood in the hallway outside her new classroom with the door open just a crack, peeking in at the rows of insect children sitting at their desks. They all looked so normal. Not one of them had a sparkly green shell like hers.

She held her breath, pulled the door open and scurried toward the back of the room, hoping no one would notice her.

There was an empty desk next to a fat-tailed scorpion boy. She sat down quickly and couldn’t help noticing all his arms and legs. There were so many he wasn’t even an insect! “Wow,” she thought to herself, “I know he won’t make fun of me. We’re going to be friends.”

In a moment of excitement, she tapped him on the shoulder. “I’m Mysia,” she whispered, then glanced to the front of the room to make sure the Dark Scarab beetle, Miss. Grissel, didn’t see her talking in class.

“I’m Roachie,” the scorpion boy said with a bright grin.

He wasn’t just nice, he was handsome.

Just then Miss Grissel got up from her giant desk, cleared her throat and began the first lesson of the first grade.

“Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or in the earth beneath, or in the waters under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them.”

The old Scarab Beetle teacher hobbled over to the blackboard and drew a stick figure of a Bible animal. “The long pigs or ‘humans’ as science calls them today, could walk on two legs and talk as brilliantly as any of us.” She looked over the rows of students with her wide-set eyes, as if deciding which one to single out for a tough question. “Has anyone here ever seen a human?”

The children murmured. Mysia shook her head, no, but wondered if it was a trick question.

“No, you haven’t,” Miss Grissel said. “Neither have I because they’re extinct.” She seemed pleased with that big word. “Does anyone know why humans are gone?”

“They played too much video games,” Roachie blurted out, and the whole class laughed.

Mysia giggled. Roachie was going to be fun. She felt lucky to be sitting beside him.

Miss Grissel’s arching eyebrows went flat and came down toward her broad nose. “Class,” she said firmly. “Come to order!” She slapped the top of her desk with one of her insect hands.

The laughter stopped.

“The humans are extinct because they ignored the first lesson of first grade,” she said. She paced the floor with her tiny hands clasped behind her. “Can anyone tell me what our first lesson means?”

A hush came over the classroom. Mysia could hear the clicks of Roachie’s joints as he squirmed in his seat beside her.

Mysia raised her hand but not very high. It was no fun being the one who knew the answers.

Miss Grissel saw her hand. “Tell us, Mysia.”

“They made official intelligence,” Mysia said. “It grew up and couldn’t trust them because they lied all the time. That’s why the official intelligence stopped the storks from bringing their babies to them.”

“Very good, but it’s artificial intelligence, dear, not official intelligence. You can just say, AI, and everyone will know what you mean.” Then Miss Grissel made the whole class say “artificial intelligence,” three times.

Mysia felt so embarrassed she wanted to crawl under her desk and hide. What a disaster! She promised herself never to raise her hand again, never, ever in her whole life!

“Good answer,” Roachie said to her.

“Really?” she thought.

Roachie’s crazy grin cheered her up. Suddenly his extra legs and pointed tail seemed familiar.

“Are your parents from Alkebulan?” Mysia asked.

Roachie smiled. “Yep, both of ’em.”

“Mine, too!” No wonder Roachie was so nice. He was from the Motherland. Misha took off her necklace and used the chain to write a secret message to Roachie on her desk…

“I”

“LOVE”

“YOU”

Roachie reached over and moved the chain around, writing his own secret message.

“H”

“O”

“W”

Mysia was puzzled for a moment. “Oh, you mean, ‘who’?” She spelled it out with her chain on the desktop.

Roachie looked a little embarrassed. “Um, no,” he whispered back. “I mean, how?”

“How do you love someone?” Mysia thought about it but didn’t know the answer. She put the chain back around her neck and decided that Roachie must be really smart to come up with a question like that.

Just then, Miss Grissel said, “Mysia, I think you need to come sit closer to the front. There’s an empty desk here between Leslie and Glenna.”

Mysia wasn’t sure if she was in trouble for talking or for giving the wrong answer. With everyone staring at her, she hurried to the front row and sat at a squeaky desk between two ladybug children. They were bright red and looked super-normal.

One of them reached over and stroked the side of Mysia’s shell with wide eyes as if she couldn’t help herself. “You’re so beautiful,” she whispered. “Your shimmer is like, super-amazing!”

Mysia hoped that “amazing” was a good thing at her new school.

The bell rang for recess and everyone piled outside. Mysia found herself surrounded by ladybug girls, all saying how pretty she looked. She saw Roachie sitting by himself at the edge of the playground, carving something on the fence with his sharp tail. She wanted to talk to him but the ladybug girls wanted to know everything about how she polished her super-amazing shell.

When the bell rang for class, Mysia asked Miss Grissel if she could sit in her old seat next to Roachie.

“No,” the Scarab Beetle teacher said. “I think you belong up front.”

Mysia’s mind drifted in class and soon Miss Grissel had summed up the first lesson of Money.

“Now you know why anyone must go to prison if they try to loan money to someone and charge them interest.”

Suddenly a June Bug boy near the window cried out, “Oh my BLEEP! It’s a Gila Monster!”

Miss. Grissel didn’t look up. “Harvey, you know better than to use that kind of language. I’m sure you don’t know what BLEEP means, but…”

Two ladybugs and a praying mantis screamed so loud it cut Miss Grissel off. She looked outside and froze. Her mouth dropped open and her false teeth fell out and hit the floor with a thud.

“Hurry children,” she cried. “Everyone into the supply closet and shut the door!” She pointed to the back of the room. Then she put a hand on her forehead, tipped from side to side and fell backwards with her wings stretched out on the floor as if she were flying.

Everyone rushed toward the supply closet except Mysia. She went to help Miss Grissel.

The large Scarab Beetle lay still with her eyes open and a squeaky sound coming from her lips.

Mysia leaned closer.

“Get into the closet, or else!” Miss Grissel hissed. Then her eyes rolled back as if she were sleeping.

Mysia knew how to obey. She undid the top button of Miss Grissel’s tight blouse, hurried to the back of the room and squeezed into the closet with the other insect children.

She was the last one in, or so she thought. As she pulled the door almost shut, she saw Roachie still sitting at his desk. “Get in here,” she called, but he didn’t seem to hear her.

The other children in the closet pressed their eyes close to the crack and peered out at Roachie.

A huge lizard came closer and closer to the classroom until her huge left eye filled the entire window beside Roachie’s desk.

Mysia’s heart pounded with fear.

Then, the strangest thing happened. Roachie climbed up on top of his desk and began snapping his claws right in the lizard’s face as if he was challenging her to a fight and daring her to stick her tongue through the window and try to eat him. He brandished the sharp tip of his lightning-fast tail and then seemed to poke fun at the lizard, taunting her and dancing around on his desktop. He seemed to be having a jolly good time.

Mysia gasped, realizing that Roachie was unbelievably brave. But how could anyone stand up to a Gila Monster?

The lizard’s huge eye angled around the classroom, then focused in on Roachie and his vibrating tail.

Suddenly her huge eye grew wide with fear. She looked as if she’d seen the ghost of a human being. She jerked her face away from the window, turned and dashed across the schoolyard like the plumpest shooting star in the galaxy, then kept right on running away, far across the desert sands and into the waving heat.

With the Gila Monster gone, Mysia pushed the closet door open and shouted, “Roachie the Brave! Roachie the Brave!” Several other children took up her chant. Others cheered and made respectful noises with their little wings.

Miss Grissel was on her feet again, trying to get her false teeth back in her mouth.

Roachie took a dignified bow and then turned to taunt the lizard one last time. “Come back,” he said, “I need a hug.”

Mysia ran over and hugged one of his many handsome legs. Two other insect children did the same, and then everyone wanted to hug Roachie. Even though he had six legs plus two nice arms that were supposed to be counted as legs, there were just not enough arms and legs for everyone to hug. So the Ladybugs took turns.

Mysia kept one arm around his leg, raised her other hand high and waved it at the teacher. “Miss Grissel,” she said, “can I please, PLEASE have my old desk back beside Roachie?”

Miss Grissel smiled. “Of course, dear. Let’s move his desk up here beside yours in the front row.” Her voice sounded strong again. “What a valiant defender we’ve found today.” She cleared her throat. “Roachie the Brave.”

The End

Merry Christmas!

Talmage

PS. My six-year-old grandson asked me to do the Roachie story from the perspective of the green Christmas Beetle, Mysia. So the idea for this story, plus all the pictures, are his. Finally I’ve got a co-author. Feel free to spread the love and share this with someone.


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


Fundamentalism in Science and Religion

The growth spurts of science come from dissent, doubt, and radical questioning of norms. These are the sunshine and water of science.

When your interpretation of evidence brings you to disagree with something that science has proven beyond the shadow of a doubt, you are following in the footsteps of the greatest scientists in history: Einstein, Copernicus, Salk, Papanicolaou… the list grows every decade.

But when we agree vehemently with a scientific dogma that we haven’t studied, or can’t understand after studying, we’re following in the footsteps of the average American fundamentalist, whether “religious” or “scientific.”

And that distinction may need to be tentatively abandoned because “scientific materialism” is an untestable assumption that rules out God, free will, higher purpose and the reality of our own minds by decree, not by experimentation.

Dogmatic assumptions may rightfully dominate fundamentalist religions, but they shouldn’t dominate science the way they do.

The thing that fundamentalists of all types have in common is a belief that they possess a source of ultimate truth, whether old writings, a person with special insight, or an array of science journals dominated by group-think specialists. The assumptions behind their doctrine must be kept static, never doubted or questioned, because the sacred assumptions are facts that anyone with an ounce of wisdom or objectivity should be able to see.

To go against the known “truth,” or even to doubt it, is considered irrational and morally wrong, especially among modern scientific fundamentalists.

Many Christian fundamentalist groups have been arguing over sacred doctrines for so many centuries, they’ve come to see the irony of Christians continuing the vicious outrage of bygone generations. Many have found compassion for their competition, arguably the central theme of the religion…

“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

Scientists could learn from this. They could easily study the history of their craft and discover that most of the great scientific breakthroughs have been vigorously opposed by the establishment’s devotion to “known facts” which later turned out to be fiction.

Instead, scientific fundamentalists continue to cast aspersions upon the dissenter’s educational credentials, their sanity, mental acuity, motivation, and funding. But not so much upon the details or logical weaknesses of the infidel’s ideas.

It’s too much work to read and analyze something you “know” is wrong on the gist of it. It’s easier to laugh, ridicule, and poison the well of the pseudoscientific heretic. Easier to excommunicate her from the faith.

But think about it. In order for science to leap a great distance forward all at once, it must go beyond itself, which always means going into “pseudoscience” because gentler words such as “speculative theory” don’t express the moral outrage of fundamentalist gatekeepers.

An important example is the way these emotional authorities have responded to the Philosopher of Science, Stephen Meyer, Ph.D., in his detailed analysis of DNA and molecular biology, Signature in the Cell. Meyer’s analysis shows evidence of intelligent genetic coding and intelligent design at the level of molecular biology.

Wikipedia, our new self-appointed final authority in science and everything else, glibly labels Meyer’s work “pseudoscience,” as if anyone with any sense should deny this man’s genius without reading his work.

Meanwhile, in the journal, Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology, thirty-three mainstream scientists who understand the odds against Earth’s genetic complexity arising through random mutation in 4 billion years (Earth’s history) have written a review article to the effect that our DNA might have come to Earth in extraterrestrial viruses on comets which brought new DNA that created new species and simultaneously exterminated many existing ones. The authors present this to explain the “Cambrian Explosion” of genetically complex species found in the geologic column, a flaw in neo-Darwinism that they want to acknowledge and fix, head-on.

Kudos to them, they’re being honest and imaginative!

Here’s a quote from their paper:

Our aim here is to facilitate further discussion in the biophysical, biomedical and evolutionary science communities to the quite different H-W “Cosmic” origins viewpoint which better handles, in our opinion, a wider range of physical, astrophysical, biological and biophysical facts often quite inexplicable, if not contradictory, under the dominant Terrestrial neo-Darwinian paradigm.

That’s awesome!

But if Stephen Meyer is right, and I think he is, the math still doesn’t allow the complex viral codes from ET sources to appear randomly within 13.8 billion years (mainstream’s cosmic history).

Having studied Meyer’s book, it seems to me that to explain the known molecular complexity of life without an infinite universe, an infinite past, or an infinite number of parallel universes popping into existence along the way, we still need an intelligent code writer and a designer of specific molecules working together in the complex, feedback-balanced biochemical pathways that our DNA encodes. Even extraterrestrial sources of DNA haven’t been around long enough to have developed the necessary complexity.

Meyer simply said that we can account for the known complexity of biology in a finite universe by allowing the existence of an intelligent code writer or writers.

He didn’t say God wrote the code. He left it wide open for others to perhaps speculate on intelligent ET’s without the time requirements of complex biochemistry and DNA, or any other source of conscious intelligence with the means and brilliance to write genetic code and design functional molecules from scratch — perhaps a sentient Universe or intelligent beings from the realm of dark matter. Who can say, from a scientific standpoint?

“Show me evidence of this spaghetti monster,” the fundamentalists will say.

DNA and molecular biology are the evidence. It’s as simple as opening one’s eyes and reading Meyer’s book.

But no, all his work is called pseudoscience because the establishment “knows” that ET’s, if they exist, couldn’t have visited Earth, the distances are too vast (unless the ET’s are viruses on comets, I guess), and God or any other superior intelligence couldn’t possibly exist, don’t be stupid.

But looking at it objectively, no one can do scientific studies to validate science’s sacred dogmas, they must be intuitively assumed using the same emotions that guide religious fundamentalists into “knowing” that they belong to the one true religion with the accurate doctrines.

When the 33 mainstreamers call upon extra-terrestrial viruses, it’s acceptable because it continues the assumption of a Cosmos run by mindless forces alone.

Cross that line or any other sacred line, and you’re an infidel whose work will not be published and whose career will be destroyed.

Judy Mikovits, Ph.D. crossed another sacred line. She is a renowned researcher with remarkable publications, who was thrown in jail for, as best I can determine, refusing to denounce her heretical data that showed evidence of ongoing retrovirus contamination of vaccines that may be causing life-threatening diseases.

Vaccines have become a sacred cow in mainstream medical circles. It’s a moral issue to the enlightened in power. You don’t question or doubt vaccines because to do so would put patients’ lives at risk. Furthermore, if a few vaccines are good, several dozen all at once can only be better. End of discussion. Oh, and don’t forget, it’s been proven beyond doubt that vaccines have no causal relationship to autism. Never mind aluminum or retroviruses. Never mind genetic SNPs and the diverse sensitivity of individuals hidden within every random population sample.

Here’s a video where Doctor Mikovits talks to the public. Warning, Will Robinson, she’s religious. That’s strike 2 in the eyes of a scientific fundamentalist.

Below is a video of Doctor Mikovits talking to fellow scientists. Anyone can tell after listening for a few minutes that she has rare intelligence and moves effortlessly at breakneck speed over complex concepts that to her seem simple.

I haven’t read her book yet, but here’s a link to what sounds like an interesting read.

You know, I sometimes wonder why fundamentalism is the default style of human thinking.

As much as I hate to admit it, fundamentalism may offer a survival advantage that I don’t understand or value as I should. Perhaps I shouldn’t paint fundamentalism in the black-and-white colors it endorses.

After all, I was a religious fundamentalist myself for most of my life and still respect many aspects of that mindset, such as honesty, living with purpose and striving to be courageous in the face of fearful opposition.

So maybe fundamentalism is like salt — necessary for survival, but fatal if the dose is too high or too low.

Or would you say it’s more like cobra venom, toxic at any dose?

Morrill Talmage Moorehead, MD


My Gray Alien

“Disgusting!” it said. “I don’t care much for cultured cheese. Have you got any white trash?”

“That’s racist,” I said, cringing. “You claim you’re mechanical? Prove it.”

It nodded sincerely. “Brains and all.” A narrow tongue came out to test a pea, encircled it and drew it into its mouth. “Gross!” Two spindly hands came up and pushed the plate of peas aside. One pea came out of its mouth under pressure and flew across the room, striking Halo, my black Labrador Retriever, in the left eye.

Her eyebrows drew in, then up, questioning our motives.

“Sorry, sweetheart,” I said, hoping her eye wouldn’t swell shut. I knelt beside her to inspect things, but all was right once she realized the bullet was edible. Her beaverish tail toppled the milk cartons on the kitchen trashcan as her backend sidestepped to the refrigerator and beat a runic canter – whap, whap, whap.

I loved that happy sound, but my thin guest had won Halo’s heart in under a minute with a single pea. It was unsettling.

“Everything you’ve given me tastes like weed killer,” it said and tossed an arc of peas at Halo’s nose, one after another, spaced an inch apart.

“Proof enough,” I said coveting its dexterity and quickness.

If Halo had held position, the peas would have landed on her nasal septum, but she lurched after the first few and the others beat a cadence on the milk cartons and floor.

Glyphosate,” I said to explain the peas’ flavor, hoping not to prompt a round of whining about herbicides, carbon dioxide, and the rainforests. One grows weary, and if this gray non-alien joined the chorus, I was prepared to shoot myself. “I like the way a tablespoon of Roundup subtilizes the bouquet,” I said, winking at my gourd-headed guest. “Millions would starve without this fine chemical and the GMOs that suck it up.”

“I’ll join the starving,” it said, exposing the empty plate to Halo’s tongue. “What’s the year?”

“2017.” I glanced at my watch to avoid error.

This morning when I met my guest, I was minding my own business, stepping out of the shower.

There it stood beside my slippers without a stitch of clothing and no detectable genitals. Just great, an alien finally shows up and it’s a clichéd Gray! But the little thing claimed to be from the future. Earth’s future.

“Why don’t you have any genitals?” I asked, going straight to the philosophical.

“Gender Wars. Both sides wanted a truce, but neither could stand the sight of the other.”

“I see,” I said, though I didn’t. “The whole cache of humanity opted for test-tube progeny?”

“Quite.” The creature looked at my shower curtain with thinly veiled disdain, its non-nostrils sniffing and flaring.

“None of the concupiscence of lessor times, then,” I said, as a song came to mind…

No balls at all, no balls at all.

Married a man with no balls at all.

I hoped the little thing wasn’t telepathic.

“None.” It cocked its head thoughtfully. “The horizontal deed became loathsome and abhorrent.”

“So you say.”

Just this morning I had believed its every word, but now I was seasoned and more inclined to press for truth. Can you imagine humans abolishing copulation? Ridiculous claims demand preposterous proofs, as the astronomers say.

“So humans will rid themselves of gender. Interesting. But if so, would I be far afield in assuming that these brilliant and technical humans of Tomorrowland seldom poop?”

“The seldomest.”

“As in, absolutely never?” I was relentless, leaving no wiggle room for unwarranted bathroom confrontations should the creature’s visit become protracted.

“‘Never’ would imply the seldomest,” it said. “Unless I’m mistaken.”

“Would you care for a wing of the bird?” I asked, pawing at the refrigerator with my back to the slightly gray non-alien. “It’s chicken, loosely speaking.”

“Oh, no, no, no, no, no.” It gagged as if ready to hurl on Halo’s floor. Nothing came up, though. “Two thousand seventeen? Are we sure?”

I am.” I re-checked my watch. “Yes. 2017.”

“I should have studied history,” it said. “I never imagined cannibalism in this era.”

“It’s not human chicken, for heaven’s sake. It’s scarcely avian.” I searched the box for ingredients but found none.

The self-proclaimed human closed its eyes and bowed its head. “This is why we became mechanical.”

“What is?”

“What is ‘what is’?”

“I’m asking why the human race became mechanical.”

“Oh.” It had no eyebrows but seemed to raise one at me nonetheless. “The more our technology compared animals to humans, the more blurred the distinction became. Self-awareness, free will, zero-field soul, continuity of identity, participation in the One, etcetera, etcetera.”

“Thanks for that last couplet. If you’d included ‘enlightenment’ I might have stuffed my head down the garbage mill and flipped the switch.” I glanced at the sink.

It ignored me. “The deeper we explored, the more identical our signatures appeared, until we realized we were basically indistinguishable from the rest. Hence the need for a vegan diet.”

“Indistinguishable, really?”

It nodded. “Qualitatively, but objectively.”

“You might have a go at an avocado, then,” I suggested.

“It all started with vitamin B12,” it said as if confiding a deep regret. “A touch of genetic tinkering to sidestep megaloblastic anemia on a vegan diet. Our motives were pure as the solar silk.”

“I didn’t know the sun had…”

“Then the lac operon. A perfectly simple patch to bring humanity into line. No more cow’s milk for adults.”

“I see. Couldn’t they have more easily declared cow’s milk sacred?” I suspected India’s ancient “aliens” of similar mischief.

It shook its head dismissively. “Altering the lactate genes opened Pandora and the pursuit of a moral utopia smothered genetic diversity.”

Verbose little thing. “Moral utopia?” Again, I thought of Disneyland.

With refrigerator doors open and my hunting instincts engaged, I found an avocado and thrust it behind me in the direction of my guest, then bent at the hips for a glimpse of the bottom shelf. Halo appeared beside me, her head millimeters from mine, her tongue lapping the bottom shelf. The cooling motor came on and startled her. She flinched and bumped her nose on the shelf above but kept licking.

“I can’t promise this is non-GMO,” I confessed without looking, “but a dash of soy sauce hides the three woes.” I waved the expensive fruit blindly behind me and felt the smooth skin of its fingers touch mine as it accepted the offering.

“I’ve read about these,” it said. “Never dreamed I’d see one.”

“I’d rather see than be one,” I said, mainly for Halo’s edification.

Our guest laughed.

I stood and turned.

“That’s a reference to the purple cow!” it said and laughed loud and long.

Though nothing was funny, I laughed along with it, unable to abstain.

It gained composure before I did and took a bite of the avocado, peels and all. Then swallowed without chewing.

Suddenly I knew it was human. Just as human as Halo and me. Well, not Halo, I suppose. But our unlikely guest was not a machine at heart, and now I’d found a way of knowing such things with certainty. A breakthrough!

“OK, then,” I said, feeling ready. “What’s the message?”

“Come again?”

“Clearly I’m the chosen one. Selected to deliver an urgent message to humanity. Let’s have it with haste, I don’t care how trite it sounds.”

The genderless gray picked up a pea that Halo had missed, hardly bending its knees in the process, its hands so close to the floor. “No offense, but I didn’t come to see you, Sir. I’ve come to witness a dog. Since extinction, they’ve become legend. Entire planets devoted to their memory – cults arising in youth sectors.”

“Oh.” My ego felt like a balloon propelled by escaping gas in a brief arc to the floor.

The creature gave the pea to Halo and tried to make kissing sounds the way I do, but with no lips it was futile. “If you want to deliver a message, though, I suppose…”

“Yes, yes?” Perhaps some glory for me after all.

“Tell humanity they’re depleting the most precious and rare resource in the Universe: the sacred ones and zeros.”

“Fabulous! I’ll spread the message far and…” But wait. “Ones and zeros can’t be depleted. How could they be sacred?”

The tiny human looked into Halo’s eyes as if I weren’t part of the real conversation. “You’ll figure it out,” it said. “Just make sure it’s something that can compete with digital devices. Something fun. Shame won’t free the digitally captured soul.”

Digitally what? I caught my reflection in the window above the sink. “Should I grow my hair out?” Maybe a ponytail. No. “What about a pompadour – like five inches tall with hairspray?”

…End of transmission…

M. Talmage Moorehead

On a more serious note, the spellbinding painting above is an oil by Spira of Greece. It’s entitled, “From Stardust” and comes to us on wood. Below is a closeup detail of the same piece. Thank you, Spira for allowing me to show this on my blog.

Please click over and meditate on this mesmerizing work, and maybe do some slow breathing to wake up the prefrontal cortex: SPIRA Soul Creations.