FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: NeuralPing HotLink

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – April 2, 2026

NeuralPing announces…

  • Free, to the first one million applicants, NeuralPing HotLink implant
  • A painless, direct-brain interface which provides secure, seamless access to the World Wide Web
  • Get all your questions answered instantly through GChat‘s engaging query interface
  • At your command, have local, national and world news delivered straight into your mind
  • Get reviews for any product, any service real time right-where-you-stand, with no phone lookup
  • Call your friends and relatives direct from your brain with NeuralPing’s Co-Nect (some fees may apply)
  • Only the first 1 MILLION will get their HotLink implants absolutely FREE!

(Services include full coverage for six months after which standard charges will apply.)

~~~

“Hold still, goddammit.” Bennie held the hair-thin needle over Margie’s scalp.

“You said it wasn’t gonna hurt.” Margie complained, her face nestled in the doughnut shaped cushion, the rest of her body prone on the masseuse table that Bennie used for impromptu neural hacks.

“Oh, come on. It’s just a little pinprick.” He tapped a few keys on his laptop. Signals traveled through USB, into his custom RassPi black box unit and into the wispy filaments connected to the acupuncture needles embedded in Margie’s skin.

“Ow!”

“OK, I’m done sticking you. Let me run diagnostics first.” He tapped furiously, watching the readout in the dark terminal windows. “Looks good. Now,” he said, pausing for effect, “I want you to think of a safe word. It should be a word you rarely use. But when you think the thoughts ‘stop’ or ‘quit’ that’s gonna be the word that will turn this bypass off.”

“Off? What about turning it on?”

“Safety first.”

“Fine,” Margie said, her cheeks squeezed by the dark-red ring. “How about crapola?”

Bennie laughed through his nose. “Yeah, that’ll work. When I say go, you think and say your safe word. Ready? Go.”

Margie blurted out her special “stop everything” safety word.

“Good,” Bennie confirmed, typing quickly and hitting enter. “This time, think of a word that you rarely use, but if you did, would bring you joy and that warm feeling, like Christmas morning.”

“What about ‘Christmas’?”

“What? You never say Christmas? It’s too common. Think of another.”

“I don’t know, Bennie. I ain’t got nothin’ in my life that make me feel like that. Why the hell do you think I come to you in the first place?”

“Yeah, yeah. I get that. How about some favorite flavor or candy you like but rarely eat?”

“Hm, like peppermint?”

“You like peppermint?”

“Mm, not that much. Bubblegum,” Margie squeaks through pursed lips.

“Good. We’ll use that one.”

Bennie primed the RassPi with his hack that would induce the NeuralPing chip implanted in Margie’s skull to squirt an oxytocin, dopamine and serotonin hormonal cocktail into her blood stream. When she thought and said the word “bubblegum” the chip would be fooled to reward her with a feeling of joy and well-being. For this, Margie, and hundreds of others, were willing to pay him handsomely.

He removed the needles, swabbed the area with alcohol and helped her up from the padded table.

“OK, let’s test it out. Think and say ‘bubblegum’.”

“Bubblegum.” Margie’s eyes squinted in skepticism. “Nothin’…” Her eyebrows arced and her pupils dilated. “Woooo, that’s… that’s incredible.”

“OK. Now shut it down.”

“How?”

“Say your safe word.”

“Oh, yeah. Shit, this feels so good though.” She breathed a frustrated sign. “Crapola.”

Bennie watched her face sour. “Looks like it’s working.”

“This sucks,” She said, her upper lip in a sneer. “Fuck this. Bubblegum!”

Bennie grabbed her shoulders. “You gotta control yourself, Margie. You use it too much you’ll become immune to your own happiness.”

“Bubblegum, bubblegum, bubblegum.” She jumped off the table and danced around, her arms flitting, her hands butterflies in the wind. “Bubblegum.”

“Goddammit.” Bennie grabbed her wrist, pulled her close and pinched her right earlobe. “Cerberus,” he exclaimed dramatically.

Margie quit her frantic, marionette-like display. “What the hell.” She jerked her arm from his grip. “Don’t kill my buzz, dude. Bubblegum,” she said, defiantly. She waited. Nothing happened.

“I told you. If you abuse the hack, your brain will shut down. Someone will find you in a ditch, starving, drooling, chanting your happy word.”

“I don’t care. Turn it back on.”

“Yeah? Well, you gotta pay me first. After that, you can bubblegum until you laugh yourself to death.”

Fermi Paradox solution: Superbugs

The arms race against pathogens is a losing proposition.

What if all the effort we put into killing bacteria, fungi and viruses only serves to evolve those microbes into variants that will eventually kill us off?

“Kills 99.9% of germs — Woo-hoo! Ninety-nine point nine percent, that’s great.”

“Uh, what about the other 0.1%?”

“Bah, they don’t count.”

Humanity has been fighting a war-on-microbes for more than a century now. And it’s been a boon to the eradication of illness. What used to kill us, infection, poor sanitation no longer does. I realize that not all of us have benefited, though. Lack of proper sanitation is still one of the top killers in economically challenged nations. Education and enablement of good hygiene and public health remains a top issue there.

Yet, I wonder what one hundred plus years of killing *nearly* all the microbes—leaving their most robust, heartiest brethren to evolve, repopulate and spread—has accomplished.

Wouldn’t it be ironic to learn that all of our germ-o-phobe behavior has actually been developing superior strains of super bugs. Wash your hands with soap and warm water (leaving the strongest bugs to live another day.) Wear deodorant that kills almost all of the odor causing bacteria (leaving only the smelliest to persist). “Kills 99.9% of germs on contact” — mouthwash, sanitizers, wipes…

  • 99.9 percent reduction is the EPA’s arbitrary cutoff for sanitizer performance.

What if our efforts, for a century, has been creating an army of Killer Pathogens Set On Humanity’s Destruction!

Sure enough, the list of antibiotic resistant pathogens grows yearly. The more we fight the stronger they become.

Is this a war we can never win?

A war we will eventually lose, ending human civilization.

If it happens to us, this desire to protect ourselves by eradicating pathogens—which only escalates their evolution—might it not happen to most intelligent alien races? Killing them off, thereby solving Fermi’s Paradox?

Here comes SuperBug to save the day!

 

 

Am so — R-Naught

As we speak, COVID-19 is raging through Indonesia.

Now, normally, I’d not pay too much attention to this bit of information except that, my friend and artist/illustrator, Yulian Mulyono (https://www.instagram.com/yulianion/) lives on the island called Lombok (just east of Bali) and has had a rough time of it. His story is, well, tragic and I feel for him. His mother died of the disease in January, he caught it, probably at the funeral, and spent a month in the hospital trying to recover. He still suffers long-hauler’s symptoms and his entire existence is now living in his tiny apartment, telecommuting, leaving his door unlocked so that if he dies the authorities don’t have trouble retrieving his body — his words!

He’s pretty much lost the desire to do anything but work (funny how that survival instinct permeates us humans). I try to call him from time to time, he’s 15 hours ahead — scheduling is rough — but he’s trying to keep his spirits up.

OK, now, why all this?

I got to thinking about the delta variant of COVID that is shredding that country and many others similar in economic and political station. We, in the US, in progressive states where our vaccination percentages are 70% or higher, are feeling pretty good about the situation. We’re rational beings. We’re protected. If you’re too stupid or stubborn to get the vaccine well, good riddance.

Folks in places like Indonesia are not so lucky as to have the choice of getting vaccinated or not. And herein lies the rub, in places that continue to be decimated by COVID, the disease continues to evolve.

First we had Wuhan’s variant. Then the:

  • Alpha (Britain),
  • Beta (South Africa),
  • Gamma (Brazil) and
  • Delta (India) variants.

Now there is the Lambda (I think they’re skipping around with the Greek alphabet) from Peru. And undoubtedly there are other variants in the works.

“I am so immune.”

“You R-Naught”

Huh?

The CDC estimates that the R-0 (R-Naught) of the Delta variant is around six or seven. For every one person who gets that strain of COVID, roughly six or seven available, unvaccinated, previously unexposed folks will also contract the disease. And this disease is less than two years old. It’s got ages to continue to recirculate within the world’s population, evolving, mutating into variants even more virulent and deadly than Delta. We, the vaccinated, will not be protected for long.

So, sorry Yulian. You’re getting a shitty deal. Keep at it, though. Get back to drawing — your so damn good at it. And if there are other folks out there who find your instagram account, maybe they’ll heart your recent efforts.

-Mole

One of Yulian’s illustrations that is included in my novel The Gribble’s Eye. Here the “Gribble”, Argus Panoptes of Greek myth, helps build Gobekli Tepe — the ancient Anatolian temple. Pretty cool, huh?

Reflecting on COVID’s impact

Nobody wants to read about COVID-19 anymore. It’s like mentioning the IBI (incoherent bloviating imbecile) “Bad form, son, bad form.”

But, we still talk about COVID amongst ourselves. The new variants—will we need a booster for the zeta variant this fall? Will the more virulent variants finally eliminate the anti-logic conservatives? Will Fauci run for President? Should I keep wearing my mask, after all, it saved me from getting any air-born illness, including the seasonal flu.

And indeed, there are various societal changes, many of them beneficial, from having survived COVID-19.

  • Reduction in influenza. Incidents of the “flu” are nearly non-existent. Swapping out a much more deadly disease for our yearly fever-body-ache-runny-nose may not have been a wise trade. But, the near elimination of the “common cold” has proven humans really can change their behavior.
  • Millennials learned to cook. (And thousands of tons of Blue-Apron/Hello Fresh Styrofoam containers now fester in our landfills.)
  • We connected with our immediate families. (Like one long Thanksgiving dinner.)
  • We taught corporate management working from home will not render us all slackers and destroy businesses.
  • Home schooling became the only way to learn — but who would want to? Except, if you can get a college degree online
  • We bought more exercise equipment (that’ll wind up on Craigslist this summer). We turned Jeff Bezos into a mega-billionaire — by all means, order that shit online! We drank ourselves silly, wallowed in depression and discovered many of us have Ciliac disease.
  • Professional sports died. Geeze, I wish. By-all-means, keep paying those buffoons the millions they (do not) deserve.
  • Pharmaceutical companies expanded vaccine technology. The impact of future diseases will hopefully be reduced due to advances in how vaccines are designed and produced.
  • Proved we can live a less planet-attenuating lifestyle. I mean, I don’t care if Global Warming roasts us all alive. The planet is not a thing that needs saving. (Remember, I’m 90% Nihilist.) However, if we wanted to extend the Holocene out indefinitely, 2020 showed that humanity can live a less rapacious lifestyle.

And, of course, COVID showed us a few shifts in behavior that are nonsensical or downright unfortunate.

  • Fewer cars on the road resulted in MORE deaths? Yup. It seems that wide-open highways induced the idiots of the world to drive way faster, without their seat belts and while under the influence.
  • The CDC became unreliable. The United States’ preeminent health agency turned into a factory of lies.
  • We learned to shun our neighbors. “Stranger! Quick, cross the road. They might be infected.”
  • Theaters died, restaurants vanished, hundreds of thousands of small businesses withered away.

However, recall that after the Black Death, the plagues of the mid-1300’s, life became better for the survivors. The labor shortage allowed wage increases for the poor and the shift in power is thought to have led to the the Renaissance.

And the best example of success from calamity, from the ashes of the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs, mammals arose, and with them the greatest vermin—humanity—this side of Tau Ceti.

roses of success chitty chitty bang bang
“Up from the ashes, grow the roses of success.”

Rabies: Vampires and Werewolves

Rabies, HIV, Hepatitis, Tetanus can all be spread through bites, animal or human. There are of course insect bites that will give you all kinds of diseases: yellow fever, dengue fever, Lyme disease, plague, malaria, etc. But I’ll focus on Rabies, for now.

The discovery of the cause of rabies didn’t occur until the early 1800’s and didn’t get a vaccine until Louis Pasteur figured things out later that century.

I have to wonder about the disease, Lyssavirus (named after Lyssa, the Greek goddess of insanity and rage) and its symptoms, in one variant, madness and an odd psychological fear called hydrophobia.

So, you, a carrier, bite someone and your victim becomes infected, insane with madness, and cringes from the sight of some mundane substance. Sound familiar?

(Seems that Lyssa and Lycaon, the Greek king who was cursed by Zeus to become the first werewolf, could have made the perfect couple.)

Hey, Bram Stoker, did you read about rabies in the London libraries around the 1890’s? Two legends, vampires and werewolves, both being vectored by saliva (viral infection) passed during a bite. Hmm, a curious coincidence.

Image courtesy: http://www.horror.land