Wednesday, 1 February 2017

The Heat

“Trevor.“

“…”

“Hey … Trevor!”

“…”

“Trevor!”

Trevor was lying in the direct sun on the banks of the River Main, not that far outside the pleasant coastal town of Frankfurt-am-Meer. Such a clear day as this only occurs a few times per year in this part of the world. The late morning sun was beginning to scorch. Things were heating up.

“Trevor, I have been doing some … extrapolation.”

Trevor had been lying in this position near the water, a very comfortable spot, since the early morning. However, there were problems. As the sun orbits the earth, there comes a time every day, sometime during the middle of the day, when the heat from the sun is at its maximum and that heat can become unbearable. It is now approaching that time of day. It is getting hot. What are you going to do now?

“Trevor, you see, we are one highly successful species. We have filled a certain ecological niche that involves eating everything. But! How long can we continue to do so? How much stuff is actually out there waiting to be eaten by us? Could it be that we have already exceeded the natural carrying capacity of our ecosystem? Have we been condemned to continue expanding outward to the limits of the environment, devouring every trace of life until the very last inhabitants in this pitiful swamp are me and you Trevor? Must we then eat each other Trevor? Is that how this farce is to finally end?”

Now, you do not want to get into the water. You could move out of the direct sun into a more shaded location. But you already have a very comfortable spot here in the sun! Why should you now have to move? The ground in the shade is likely to be moist and there will be all sorts of uncharted unevenness to be dealt with. And what if a cool breeze even picks up while you are in the shade, lying on the moist, uneven earth? It might get chilly.  

“That’s on the one hand Trevor. Down here. On the other hand, that sun up there is expanding, emitting with it more and more heat. This is just the natural life of a star. Our star, the sun, is just one of many stars orbiting the earth. The heat from our star will eventually become so intense that life on this planet will become impossible. The sun will eventually vaporize every wriggle of life until the earth itself is consumed entirely and incorporated into the sun’s own material. It will be like swallowing a whole chicken.”

There must be a compromise. Is there a spot that is not completely in the sun while also not being entirely in the shade? Unfortunately not. You will either have to move under the shading provided by the dense jungle canopy or attempt to endure the middle of the day in the direct sunlight. Surely you can take just a few more hours of intense sun? Surely it is not that bad?

“Trevor, I am worried for the future of the species. Yeah, I see you scowling at the sun there Trevor, but, thankfully, we have two and only two options. Either we somehow reduce our eating to the extent that our ecological habitat can regenerate food at the rate at which it is devoured, being prudent in what we consume, conserving and maximizing that which we have taken, or rather been given to us – you see it is all a merciful gift Trevor – taking into account those sensitive aspects of an intricate ecosystem that can tip the balance from a healthy to suffering one, monitoring closely our thoughts and actions for any sense of ill-purpose or irresponsibility, while acknowledging both the finiteness of what we are able to consume and the truncated lifespan of our species in light of the natural life cycle of the sun itself, a lifespan of ours that always was dependent on the sun, stoically accepting that which giveth also taketh away. Or we spread out to the far corners of the galaxy. I’m for the latter, Trevor.” 

But Trevor was no stoic. He knew he couldn’t stick it out in the sun. “The sun will just keep getting hotter!!!” he said, close to tears.

“That’s right Trevor, that’s right.”

 *************

As the unfortunate Bishop Schleimhaut was originally born in the town of Wiesbaden, he often had to deal with friendly accusations, by the good residents of Frankfurt-am-Meer, of cannibalism.

‘Not true’, the Bishop would insist, ‘Wiesbadener cannibalism is a myth born of a quirky misunderstanding.’ Unfortunately, his unsympathetic colleagues at the Central Bank would ignore such rationalizations, choosing instead to subject the poor Bishop Schleimhaut to ceaseless ridicule. A lot of the insults were, frankly, in rather poor taste. 

Now released from the burdens of a long day’s work which included, for example, the simulated biting of his arms from witless colleagues, Bishop Schleimhaut had decided to take it easy for a bit. Taking it easy suddenly backfired, as it always does, when the ghost of the ancient prophet Margaret Thatcher, who had now enthusiastically taken to haunting the long-suffering head of the Central Bank at Frankfurt-am-Meer, appeared before him.

“Bishop Schleimhaut,” she declared, “there is no such thing as heat,” before going and kicking some unionist in the teeth.

The Bishop recoiled from these scenes in absolute horror. The ghost had clearly contradicted itself. Firstly, ghosts, which do not exist, should not be going around telling people whether such a thing does or does not exist. Secondly, and this is a classic critique of all disembodied beings and assorted oracles, the message was not clear and lacked context. Schleimhaut did though applaud the seemingly no-nonsense approach to unionism which had currently crippled the importation of Scandinavian coconut juice to Frankfurt-am-Meer.


As head of the Central Bank at Frankfurt-am-Meer, and someone who history will likely remember as the greatest dental theologian of his time, Bishop Schleimhaut decided to no longer sit around and let his economy go to ruins. If the theology of dentistry has taught us anything, it is that sometimes you just need to, God willing, pull a few teeth.

*************

Studies in Maritime Archaeology – Edited by Josepth E. Quantummy                    page 110

shallow excavations suggesting cannibalism was quite concentrated in the culturally and economically backward town of Wiesbaden. In fact, in those times, Wiesbaden was regularly visited by Scandinavian visitors who may or may not have descended from Vikings. Probably not, since later hordes of Scandinavians travelling by boat were only ever interested in purchasing cheap alcohol in bulk, at least that is, until their modern-day mastery of coconut juice production. 

Being of a much higher level of suburban sophistication than their lowly Wiesbadener counterparts, one could have forgiven the Nordic visitors for looking down on their European cousins. History tells us that whenever encounters between primitive and highly civilized peoples have taken place, it has been only natural to assume the primitive party delights in the gorging of the very flesh won from their fellow man. Scientific confirmation of cannibalism has, however, led to distortions and ambiguity not yet unraveled until now. 

Trying to confirm or deny the cannibalism of primitives would not have been trivial. In such a situation, the early researcher would have needed to remain cool, casually slipping in the old ‘how’s the cannibalism going on around here lately?’ question during pauses in polite conversation with the natives. Naturally, the native would have been completely confused and even shocked at such a question. A certain seed of doubt would have nonetheless been planted in the primitive mind of the savage from the bush and/or Wiesbaden.

If such an advanced visitor, with their highly sophisticated technology (lightweight easy to assemble furniture), is asking about cannibalism and if one knows nothing of modern developments on the matter, one couldn’t then help but think of the urgent need to modernize and pull oneself into the 36th century. Now it is starting to get a bit weird because you haven’t yet answered the nice young researcher’s question. Quick! Say something that will diffuse the tension and divert the intense gaze of the young man, while avoiding any unpleasant disagreeableness toward the friendly visitor. Be polite at all times. “Ahhh, um, good, … yeah … good?”

Armed with oral confirmation, reports of highly active cannibalism in and around the greater Wiesbaden area now start to surface all over Central Europe. Concerned with developments, neighboring regions such as those around Frankfurt-am-Meer decide they will no longer stand for such debasement, sending instead a strongly armed militia to caress a few opinions. The poor Wiesbadeners, comprehending neither the cause of the unprovoked attack nor the garbled Frankfurter dialect, nevertheless detect that the Frankfurter militia were saying ‘something about cannibalism.’

Now very embarrassed at one’s own backwardness which is now even prompting the wanton attacks from previously amiable neighbors, vigorous efforts are now made to modernize. The excavations referred to above have delivered the first pieces of fossilized evidence of such ‘modernization’ (Frankfurter Würstchen), the second being the modern-day residents from Wiesbaden themselves who are known to possess a certain inherent aggressiveness, and are more naturally prone to act out violently.

Wiesbadener cannibalism - is it natural? – by Josepth E. Quantummy

*************

At the docks of Frankfurt-am-Meer,
workers held candles and those deemed dear, 
‘Oh Lord, what to do, please give us a sign,
For their latest offer we have declined.’
prayed the union workers.

Their prayers were answered in an instant,
From the dark appeared one of God’s own,
Good things happen to those who are persistent,
‘Rejoice, rejoice, perhaps our problems are overblown!’,
cried the union workers.

Stumbling, sweating lurched Bishop Schleimhaut,
waving his weapon, loaded without a doubt.
‘Repent! Repent! Your union greed,
has brought my economy to its knees!’,
cried the Bishop Schleimhaut.

Stepping forward so all could hear,
‘Sir, you’re trembling and white with fear,
But from the trigger, please take your finger,
say, you look as if you saw a right winger,’
said the union leader.

‘An angel of the Lord has just appeared,
Strict, aggressive, and disliked my beard.
The information I shall now bequeath,
The Lord’s Angel: she kicketh teeth!’
cried the Bishop Schleimhaut.

‘Dear Bishop, I beg your pardon,
but such violence is only of Wiesbaden.
It is not clear by what you mean,
Kicking of teeth? From what shall we glean?’
asked the union leader.

‘You foolish man of un-brushed teeth,
I’ll rid your stinky breathe and lack of belief.
Ok, it was not that clear, but I got the gist,
The angel said that heat does not exist’,
cried the Bishop Schleimhaut.

‘Dear Bishop, that is indeed revelation,
And there I thought it’s just hot the whole time,
forever sweating like abattoir swine.
But how does this help our situation?’
asked the union leader.

‘Drop your demands of a midday break,
without heat even a sun does not bake.
So end your strike and return to work,
and henceforth may I sing, dance and twerk.’
cried the Bishop Schleimhaut.

‘Sir, we respect you and your theology,
For none of us like you knows dentistry,
However you lack in a certain meteorology,
For important is not the heat, but the humidity,’
said the union leader.

Back to the dark did he scream, cuss and shout,
Pissing and kicking things did the Bishop Schleimhaut,
He knew it was correct, what the union leader said,
while even pointing the weapon at his own head,
did the Bishop Schleimhaut.

‘There he goes one angry, troubled genius,
these violent people from Wiesbaden,
so folks watch out and be on your guard and,
Say, look, did he just flash his …..’
said the union leader.

*************

Studies in Maritime Archaeology – Edited by Josepth E. Quantummy                         page 173

so that before we can understand the resulting enormous European refugee problem in those times, we must first understand the concept of cannibalism, and how espresso was made.

It was originally thought (Quantummy, 7552) that nuclear reactors were arranged according to the following figure:



Depicted is a reactor vessel where nuclear fission takes place, thereby boiling the water that has been pumped through the reactor, a stable balance being attained as heat is transported away as steam from the reactor to feed numerous espresso machines, which direct the steam through grounded coffee beans for the manufacture of ‘coffee’, a beverage drunk by ancient office workers for the purpose of maintaining the illusion of personal productivity.

Later research revealed the hypothesis that such a sophisticated and expensive technology of nuclear reactors would be used to drive espresso machines to be the absurdity it obviously is (Bereitschaftsdienst, 7553). Espresso machines could never withstand the working pressures present in nuclear reactors, and the coffee would taste sour or even acrid. Of course, the steam was instead forced through turbines which turned electrical generators. The generated electricity was then transported through an electrical grid over millions of kilometers in total length to provide electrical power to numerous espresso machines, now dispersed in space, which could force their own locally generated heated steam through grounded coffee beans at a more civilized pressure:



Unfortunately, these things do not operate themselves, despite very sensible attempts to cut labor costs. It is important, first of all, to establish here that nuclear power was safe. With every meltdown, ever more was learnt and safety measures were continually improved.


The pitfalls of unionism – by Hartmut “The Reignman” Rüdlmaier

Studies in Maritime Archaeology – Edited by Josepth E. Quantummy                     page 174

Now, it so happens, as it often does, that negotiations between the owners of industrial equipment and their unionized workers stumble, resulting in industrial action after the union’s extortionist demands of a 5% pay-rise and 1 less working hour per week were rightly rejected by management. Management had offered a very reasonable 2.5% pay-rise, 1 extra holiday per year and the rights to employees’ lady friends every full moon.

In such a situation, all one can do is to carry on nuclear power production, but with a vastly reduced wage bill. This works reasonably well until something extraordinary happens and things go wrong, something that is often called a ‘black swan’ event. A black swan event is defined as the incredibly rare, in fact infinitesimally small chance, that an economist realizes that things go wrong.

Nuclear power plants are subject to greater forces than themselves. The aforementioned electrical grid, although standing apart from a nuclear plant, was nonetheless critical for plant operation. Lacking grid power, the nuclear fission reaction inside the reactor is triggered to shut down and back-up systems switch on to maintain cooling of the nuclear fuel which continues to release waste heat. Espresso, although helpful at this juncture as a skeleton staff of workers scramble to bring things under control in the dark with limited connectivity to the outside world all while wondering if loved ones will ever be seen again if only this bloody fucking reactor pressure release valve will finally open manually, is not possible.

Now we come to the concept of cannibalism which will help us understand why an electrical grid shuts down in the first place. An apex predator will end up having to consume one of its own if the natural environment ceases to provide the energy needed to maintain the lifestyle with which said predator has become accustomed. To help pay for said energy constraints, the predator will ruthlessly take whatever means it has available. For example, an electrical grid is not all electrons, but consists of an almost limitless supply of scrap metal.

An electrical grid, now inoperable without the luxury of metal, becomes unable to supply electricity to nuclear plants. The nuclear fuel continues to generate waste heat sans grid, meaning that the reactor is to be continually cooled to avoid an artless meltdown. Passive cooling, like passive heating, is never a good idea when you have vast networks of complex industrial interconnectedness and full employment to maintain. Non-passive methods for keeping nuclear fuel cool thus require their own source of electricity after battery backup has exhausted.


The pitfalls of unionism – by Hartmut “The Reignman” Rüdlmaier

Studies in Maritime Archaeology – Edited by Josepth E. Quantummy                     page 175

Now it is not the boiling hot reactor, the radioactive fuel within, the failure of the backup cooling systems, and the corresponding accumulation of immense heat that gets you, it’s the humidity. Your last chance for any type of cooling is to pump the reactor with water using the only technology you ever could rely on: the trusty foot pump. After finally releasing the reactor pressure manually (see above), the fuel rods have undergone decompression cooling as the reactor is now at atmospheric pressure, but the rods are starting to heat up again. Now is your only chance to keep things under control if only you could pump enough water into the reactor at a fast enough rate before it all heats up again! But you can’t. History will remember you as one pathetic foot pumper. 

Cold water hitting nuclear fuel rods now of a temperature a thousand degrees or more tends to produce a lot of hydrogen gas, which raises the containment vessel pressure, eventually deforming said vessel, the plastic deformation of which being all that is likely needed to produce the necessary ignition source for a containment vessel full of hydrogen gas and radioactive material. Such explosions tend to spew all types of radioactive what-have-you into the air. If multiple reactors on a continental scale are doing something similar due to continental-scale grid shutdowns, you may have yourself a financial problem.   

But, a continental-scale atmosphere filled with countless radioactive particles is nothing to be overly concerned about. After multiple hydrogen explosions in many European nuclear reactors, it was actually found that air quality improved as people stayed indoors, ceasing to rush around selling each other insurance (hey, you never know what might go wrong). Health studies in those times correspondingly recommended the consumption of at least one glass of plutonium per day. Hence, we now know radioactivity was not the primary cause of the mass movement of peoples in those days.

In lands where philosophers, philologists and poets once frolicked over mountains, the highest cultural achievement in later times consisted entirely of the submission of the seamless tax return. Balancing federal budgets was also considered one of man’s highest aims. But even nuclear power plants whose core had not melted down to a bowl of radioactive soup were already economically marginal. To help balance federal budgets and pay for those now unproductive nuclear plants with molten cores, an annual non-tax-deductible surcharge was introduced corresponding to the half-life of a pool of molten products, to be payable annually for the next 400,000 years.

Unwilling to tolerate such a massive hit to their personal finances and the destruction of the sublime tax return for the foreseeable future, masses of Europeans fled to lands in the near east where they were assured to be treated with the commensurate hospitality with which peoples incoming to Europe were formerly greeted.

The pitfalls of unionism – by Hartmut “The Reignman” Rüdlmaier

*************

“Trevor.“

“…”

“Hey … Trevor!”

“…”

“Trevor!”

Trevor was still lying in the sun. It was very, very hot. You are going to melt any second now.

“You know Trevor, one minute you’re lying in the sun, taking it easy, hoping that you haven’t forgotten anything too important, looking out at the water streaming gently past, ripples dancing, fishes swimming, and then SUDDENLY, the Earth’s magnetic poles switch up on you. Bang! Just like that Trevor.”

“…Wa…Wa…Wa….”

“What’s that Trevor? What? Sorry, explain myself clearly I did not. The Earth, just one of many planets of the solar system, is blanketed with a magnetic field that acts as a protective layer to cosmic bombardment by all manner of high-energy nonsense. Without the Earth’s magnetic field, constant exposure to said high-energy what-have-you would destroy all life on Earth, not to mention the erosion of the Earth’s atmosphere out to space due to all the other bits and pieces out there. While one could even say we are dependent on something greater than ourselves Trevor, I say we have things under control.”

“…Wat….Wat…Wat…”

“’What’, you say? Well, high energy particles, for example, can rip right through you and shred your molecules to shreds. One highly carcinogenic business. Long-term exposure would be ill-advised. Lacking a magnetic field, we would be perpetually bombarded with them. All life would be wiped out ... especially those frogs there and … those cocky little bastards ... they bounce all over the place and …. HEY! GET OUT OF HERE!!! ... but don’t get too worried about that Trev, dealing with high energy radiation is a bridge we’ll cross once we get to it.”    

“…Wat…Wate…Water...”

“That’s right Trevor, lacking an atmosphere, all water would evaporate since the boiling point of water decreases with atmospheric pressure. If we weren’t condemned to our sea level purgatory here, we could even use that property to measure our altitude, since the thickness of the atmosphere decreases with height. Oh how I would like to climb a mountain one day. Anyway, any water vapor would then erode out to space along with the rest of the remaining atmosphere. The only solution then would be a shock terraforming program.”

“…”

“…Saaay Trevor, you don’t look so well. Are you ok?”

“…”

“Trevor. You’re completely red! How long have you been in the sun? You know you’ve got sensitive skin.”

“Water.”

“Water? Ah yes, Water! Good idea Trevor. Let me pull you into the water here. You’ll be comfy again in no time.”

“Wa … Wa … Wa … “

“Yes Trevor, almost in the water now.”

“WA … WA … WA … “

“Yes, yes, you’re a big impatient boy Trevor, almost there now….”

“WAI … WAI …WAIT!”

“What? … Wait? … Oh … no …”