10/30/19 – White Dots, Black Sky

Spacetrawler, audio version For the blind or visually impaired, October 30, 2019.




Who doesn’t love beans?


  1. The Shadow

    This coyote has pretty demolished my theory of how the translation chip worked on Bikkie. I had assumed that in the course of rewiring his brain to understand language, it had accidentally granted him sapience – basically an instant “uplift”.

    But Emily could understand the coyote before it got chipped, so I guess in the Spacetrawler universe, at minimum the higher mammals are all basically people? That’s… rather disturbing. Is the same true on other planets too?

      1. Mic

        I’d like to imagine it’s something like Hitchhikers Guide where the animals like cows are bred to want to be killed and eaten.

        More likely though I’d wager the chips have a ‘blacklist’ that blocks creatures classed as ‘food’ from being understood.

      1. russell styles

        The idea that telepathy “lends” part of your brain is common in SciFi. In one book, a girl and her telepathic horse separate to search an area faster, doesn’t work. The horse turns animal when she is out of range.

    1. Christopher John Baldwin

      I partly view at this: being able to talk doesn’t mean being terribly clever, or understanding larger concepts. And also that when exposed, one can begin to understand these larger concepts. But mostly I view it as this: it’s a silly comedy comic. πŸ™‚

      1. “being able to talk doesn’t mean being terribly clever, or understanding larger concepts.” Indeed, I’m sure we all have our favorite counterexamples, even some who achieve great success anyway.

    2. TB

      I think the chip does a yeoman’s job of translating somewhat vague animal (or alien) thinking into whatever your language system is. Explains things like colloquialisms crossing the boundaries, and a lot of other stuff. The chip in this comic is much better than a Babel Fish. Also beats hell out Star Trek translators. With one of these chips, you’d hear Darmok talking English, with American slang.

      Of course, the real reason it works on animals, creating real language from creatures that don’t have a language, is because a talking kangaroo is damn funny, and it makes the story work.

      Same thing for the “magic dog collars” in the movie “Up.” Or the Doctor Doolittle books, for that matter.

      All of them assume animals could hold a conversation if they just spoke the language. Because it makes the story work.

  2. War Pig

    I love beans but as I age, people don’t love me as much after I’ve eaten a bowl of ham and beans w/onions, cornbread and Tabasco sauce. In fact they will avoid me for 48 hours.

    1. Meran

      You need to soak those beans in vinegar, son! Overnight. Pour it off in the am. Cook as you would normally.
      The vinegar removes the “gas” (neutralizes it. Doesn’t work as well on very old beans. 1 cup cider vinegar per lb of beans.

      My mom did this. I never knew beans made anyone fart!

  3. Pete Rogan

    I can appreciate standing at the precipice of conundrum, Christopher. I don’t blame you for finding the drop-off into questions of conscience and consciousness and backing away from it.

    For what it’s worth, I’ve been contemplating another koan from the business world: Perspective is everything. A crowded elevator smells different to a midget.

    My co-worker who I told this once, a striking young woman of six feet even, could never get onto a crowded elevator after, head and shoulders taller than everyone else, and not laugh. Sometimes we leave footprints in the darndest places.

      1. Pete Rogan

        Somewhat. But the, ah, nuance changes depending on what part of human anatomy in plentitude is at your altitude. My co-worker, above it all actually, could afford to laugh. I was left to contemplate the view of hairspray and cologne. And be grateful no one under 4 foot was on any elevator I was on.

  4. I like that the coyote comes off pretty intelligent, despite his lack of formal education or scientific background. He knows what he knows, but can think critically about what he learns. I love his response to the Arthur C. Clarke quote. Like “science”, “technology” and “Arthur C. Clarke” would just sound like gibberish to him, or probably anyone who had not been introduced to those concepts.

  5. Dave Narby

    Shockingly enough, you can actually see how a human communicates with a gorllia and get a sense of what actually communicating with another species in human language is really like…

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