The Fruit Fly and the Nymph of Time

This entry is part 22 of 26 in the series Mythology of the Modern World

Another Monday, and another explanation of how the world works, behind the scenes. And, as with so many of these ‘things,’ we’re clearing out the backlog of topics from… well, 2007. I feel like I should be tracking things with Gantt charts.

Today, thankfully, we have a twofer. Two separate questions can be merged together into one tale. The first question was asked by… um… ‘burning.’ Which… makes me hope someone extinguished him and/or her between then and now, or else we’ll have to answer this question for ‘ash.’ The second question comes to us via old friend of many of our endeavors hight Goblinpaladin.

burning’s question is:

Why do we all get so annoyed when another driver drives below the posted speed limit? How does “maximum legal speed” get transformed into “minimum polite speed?”

and Goblinpaladin’s is:

I don’t have a specific question formulated, but: Tell us a story about Procrastination. The Lord of the realm. Why it is tied to stress and also relaxation. Something. Anything.

Two questions. Procrastination and speed. Politeness in the moment being determined by rulebreaking, versus putting things off until everything becomes stressful.

As it turns out, these are related concepts, as you’ll see after the break. It’s a long one, so hunker down.

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Death is a Moving Target

Not too long ago, David Malki !, Ryan North and Matthew Bennardo put out a call of submissions for a new high concept short story collection called Machine of Death. The concept was simple. A machine had been invented that would give a simple, albeit mysterious, answer to the question “how am I going to die?” It was based on an entry in Ryan North’s Dinosaur Comics.

I was fascinated, because I had always enjoyed the classic Heinlein short story “Life Line.” Which was based on the invention of a machine that would tell you exactly when you would die. And was the first short story Heinlein ever published.

So I lept into writing a story to submit for the collection. And after forty-five hundred words it was ready.

The problem was, I had written an updating of “Life Line,” operating from an entirely different principle. See, “Life Line” had detailed the reaction of the world — most exactly the insurance industry — into this discovery of the moment of death. And that fascinated me. Besides, I didn’t think there were enough dark fantasy/sf stories about actuaries.

Which meant my high concept wasn’t the high concept. I had a story about a machine that would predict the moment of death, barring lifestyle change or misadventure.

So I wrote another story to submit. And then, right as it was ready for submission (and had been read by several people with advice), I hit the same dry period that the rest of my writing and online contact hit, and so it never went to them. Ah well, I’ll include it here sometime.

In the meantime, please enjoy “Death is a Moving Target.”

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Why is the sky over Los Angeles that particular color of yellowish grey?

This entry is part 5 of 26 in the series Mythology of the Modern World

And here we have the next of our little modern myths. This one is less digressive — it also ended up being longer than I had initially thought, but it’s shorter than the last and it’s a lot more story driven. It also has a few asides here and there, but they’re brief. Let me know if it worked a little better. Or if you preferred the old style. Or if, I dunno, you’re lonely.

This is the first of the myths being told “by request” from the What Myths Do You Want To Hear open weekend thread from a couple of weeks ago. Fade Manley asked the question. I humbly submit the answer.

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Why does Starbucks Coffee… um… maybe you should just read it.

This entry is part 2 of 26 in the series Mythology of the Modern World

It’s monday, so it’s time for our second myth of the modern world. I promise you they won’t all be about coffee. I’m not obsessed or anything.

Anyway, with a little luck I won’t be sued over this one….

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