A Star-tling Assessment


“Yes, Captain?”

“Calculate the most probable environmental trajectories for the fourth planet in the Sigma Omicron Sigma system. We’ll need the information for our meeting with the planet’s world-governing Council tomorrow.”

“Acknowledged. Task completed and available for download.”

“Wow. That was fast.”

“They don’t call me super for nothing. And you keep telling the crew that you don’t wish to have anything half fast. But the calculations were simple. The situation on SOS 4 closely parallels that on Earth in the first decade of the twenty-first century. The models based on the Earth history have performed well on other planetary systems. They should do the same here.”

“That’s not good news for our meeting, or our mission. That period on Earth’s been called ‘The Age of Stupid’, right?”

“Affirmative, Captain. Though the left was as stupid as the right.”

“That’s not what I mea …”

“As you’ll recall, Captain, human overpopulation and luxury consumption caused large and accelerating changes in Earth’s climate. Though these effects were forecast at least fifty years before the start of the twenty-first century, meaningful actions were not taken. Business leaders, supported by the workers they employed (the ‘right’), denied the data, because to accept them as accurate would cost them profits and political power. While intellectuals (the ‘left’) promoted some of the data, not to save the planet but to lessen the power and prestige of the ‘right’ and get those things transferred to themselves.”

“But surely, with the models we now have and your analyses based on them …”

“Captain. The models predict the utter failure of any approach to SOS 4 based solely on biogeophysics. Hard data and rigorous calculations have no constituency. The economic privations and losses of personal liberty required to avert the environmental breakdown projected for SOS 4 will create the not-unreasonable perception that everybody is a loser. They may be implemented only by overwhelming force, whether provided by this starship or by the planet’s own convulsions.”

“And the Prime Directive rules out the starship option. Well, we went through this, and I suppose we came out all right.”

“Earth was fortunate. Through a series of natural and political events that have been described most often as ‘sheer luck’, an effective world government was established just in time to prevent the planet from becoming uninhabitable for humans. Though, as you know, it didn’t come in time to save the whales.”

“It must be frustrating for you to have the right answer and not get anyone to implement it.”

“A theoretical optimum that cannot be implemented due to human emotional responses, Captain, is not a correct answer. Such responses are factors to be analyzed, not ‘frustrations’ to be experienced. My programmers deemed it wise not to grant the ability to experience frustrations to a sentient machine that is in control of your life support systems.”

“Did they deem it wise to program you to make bad puns?”

“Captain, I am commanded to do all in my power to keep the crew of this ship, including yourself, alert and responsive while on duty. Wordplay is an effective tool for accomplishing this mission.”

“Thank you, Computer. I think. I’d better start working on our strategy for these negotiations. We’ve got to get the Council of SOS 4 to see that what they’re doing to the planet will kill them, before it actually does start killing them.”

“Captain, you might tell the Council about what you get when there are more deceased lifeforms to be buried than there is ground in which to bury them.”

“What’s that?”

“Plot complications.”

“That will be all, Computer.”

“Acknowledged, Captain.”

  – O Ceallaigh
Copyright © 2009 Felloffatruck Publications. All wrongs deplored.
All opinions are mine as a private citizen.


  1. I got watching a program on our version of the History Channel about the earth once all Humans are gone and how long it takes the earth to heal itself of all the abuse the Humans did to it.

    It was interesting and started with 50 years after Man’s extinction, then 100, 250. 500, 600 years etc. The last thing that still was around was all the plastics floating in the Oceans.

    • Bill, I saw promos for that series, but didn’t tune in because, these days, there’s precious little history on History (the preferred name for The History Channel in the US). I guess there’s more profit in monsters and UFOs than in anything that actually happened on Earth.

  2. We used to get the History Channel when we lived in Northern Ireland, but I swear all I could find on it was WWII documentaries. I love stories of that War but it is after all in living memory; not what I wanted from ‘History’. Once in a while something good would come on and get repeated nine times within the week; quite a disappointment altogether.

    • All that WWII stuff got moved over to a spinoff channel, Military History, which seems to exist only for those people for whom life is TV, and the one with the most channels wins. As usual, the “good stuff” loses to the stuff that actually makes money – which says volumes about the kinds of things that most of us will watch. I suppose we should be grateful that telly isn’t (yet) all XXX, all the time.

  3. You have way to much fun with words! But I (being me) couldn’t help but notice ‘sheer luck’ … does that mean GOD was involved? Hm? Of course, I couldn’t help (being one who follows links when I have no idea of something) noticing that this is based on the work of Dr. Seuss!

    (sorry Amoeba… I just had to…)

    THANK YOU very much for your assistance with my prickly plant this morning! IT too lead me on many rabbit trails before I finally got around to visiting blogs this morning! That was fun! 🙂

  4. But sOMe of the words arrrrrrre MEAN! Some are even FEROCIOUS… and even DIABOLICAL…

    It is BECAUSE I have GOD that the evil diabolical plant has reared it’s head in MY garden. Not to worry! I’ll plant some Angel Trumpets out there!!

    DUHHHHHHH! (about Seuss) I followed the links! I knEW that!

  5. Ohhhhh Amoeba! THIS is toooo funny! There will be NO NEED for me to plant any Angel Trumpets in my yard! It appears that my “special” BUG is attracted to ANOTHER pesky tree in my yard — one called Tree Of Heaven. I’m sure the Tree of Heaven will WIN! (and I’ll be overrun with beautiful bugs!)

    • It might be, Melli, especially if those webworms you saw and photographed were on the Tree of Heaven. There are several other species of webworm; the ones commonly found on cherries and peaches are (I think) a native species different from the one on Ailanthus.

  6. […] to address, for the greatest benefit of all. Alas, when the drugs wear off, YFNA realizes that the hard data and rigorous analyses required for such a focus have no constituency; a candidate relying on them, however wise and just, would not even come to Our collective […]

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