People Sprout Squirrels, Flies

Feb. 11, 2119
LINCOLN, NE–Organizers of last weekend’s Conference on Spontaneous Biodiversification indicate that the recently identified phenomenon has spread beyond the thinly-populated rural farmlands of the American Midwest and has begun to crop up in isolated cases in urban centers as far afield as Chicago and San Diego. “The real take-away from the Conference,” notes Dr. Wendy Chimer, the Conference’s keynote speaker, “is that spontaneous generations of the sort we’ve seen in this area for several years are not localized aberrations, but part of a larger biogenetic process that we are only now beginning to recognize.”

The phenomenon, known variously as “Organismic Teratoma,” “Noah’s Ark Disease,” and “Intronic Alter-Generation Syndrome” was first identified by a team of research oncologists working at The Nebraska Health Consortium to formulate courses of treatment for strange tumor-like growths that appeared to contain small animals. “We’d never seen anything like it,” explains one member of the team. “One of the patients literally grew a squirrel right in our isolation unit. I didn’t realize that such a small animal could cause such a big mess. Have you ever tried to catch a squirrel with just a mop and an emesis basin?”

Though researchers have yet to agree on a formal definition of the phenomenon, experts confirm observed gestation periods of varying lengths, from as short as 48 hours to as long as 3 months, and have noted the generation of a menagerie of both rare and common animals, including squirrels, toads, blue-bottle flies, and a species of brown garden snake. “Every day brings a startling new story,” admits Dr. Chimer. “Just yesterday a colleague recounted an examination of a patient during which a carbuncle erupted, emitting a small nuptial flight of Jackson Hole Bees.”[p]
Most experts point to a likely connection between the phenomenon and the presence in the human genome of what is commonly called “junk” or “vestigial” DNA. “One of the continuing mysteries of the human genome is the fact that most of it appears unused,” explains Dr. Chimer. “We use some 3-4% of it, but the rest appears to be either an evolutionary artifact or simply a structural glue of sorts. Now we’re beginning to realize that a number of non-human genomes may be stored there, dormant, waiting for some activating cue we have yet to identify.”

Preliminary findings from several clinical surveys appear to confirm the presence of “appropriate, intronic, non-human genomes” in patients expressing mice and amphibians. “Our assays have consistently found species-appropriate shadow-genomes in all subjects yielding tree-frogs,” explains Dr. Harald Hopping of The Johns Hopkins Gene and Cola Center. “While our conclusions aren’t yet generalizable, they are suggestive.”

Most popular among theories of the origin and causes of the syndrome is that identified by Dr. Chimer as “Spontaneous Biodiversification:” “Why is this syndrome concentrated here, in the Midwest? Well, the phenomenon has been observed most in biomes that have become largely monocultural through intense cultivation of a single human foodstuff. Biodiversity in the state of Nebraska is now extremely narrow: pretty much people and wheat. Everything else has been driven out. It may be that this syndrome is a previously unidentified natural mechanism for kick-starting diversity where it has been lost. These animals are erupting like symptoms of a genetic unconscious in distress.”

Among avenues of treatment, excision has offered temporary relief from some “generations,” but the syndrome is remarkably persistent. “Frankly, we are not recommending treatment at this time,” notes Dr. Hopping. “The syndrome involves some physical and emotional discomfort, but does not, at this point in our research, appear to have lasting physical side-effects. In the cases of patients known to be gestating endangered or extinct species, we strongly encourage them to let symptoms run their course.”

Emeralds Are Grue, Sky Is Bleen

Jan. 2, 210
PASADENA–Responding to recent panic surrounding the sky’s dramatic change in color, a team of logicians and philosophers of language at the California Institute of Technology has released findings designed to calm the public and explain the transformation. “We have heard the press speculation that the change in the color of the sky is related to an unexplained and possibly toxic pollution event,” notes Caltech Professor of Nomenclature Dorinda Pocopollo. “Our aim with this press conference is to dispel those rumors. This is not an ecological catastrophe, as many have feared, but a logical one.”

Scientists and religious leaders alike have struggled to account for the January first transformation of the traditionally blue sky to a shade of green likened by many to key lime pie. In an effort to diffuse apocalyptic and alarmist fervor, a number of scientific institutions have offered preliminary analyses and have taken efforts to disseminate available concrete facts about the transformation.

The U.S.-based National Center for Atmospheric Research (“NCAR”) announced late yesterday that the change was not coordinated with any “apparent modification of atmospheric state or behavior” while atmospheric observatories and weather stations worldwide report no measurable change in the physical properties of observable light reflected from the sun through the earth’s atmosphere. “As far as we can tell the sky is still blue,” exclaims NCAR Executive Director Herman Grout. “Even if I didn’t trust my own eyes, though, I’d have to trust the 30 billion other eyes out there that also are telling me it’s green. At this point it seems safe to say the sky is, indeed, green. There are, however, no indications that it is falling.”

Noting that the largely overshadowed change in the color of emeralds occurred at the same time as that of the daytime sky, Professor Pocopollo’s Caltech team speculates that the changes are related to a traditional logic problem known as Goodman’s paradox. “Goodman’s paradox is a challenge to our intuitive understanding of induction,” explains Professor Pocopollo. “It postulates a language in which the properties ‘blue’ and ‘green’ are replaced with ‘grue’ and ‘bleen.’ Something is ‘grue’ if it is ‘green’ before a certain time and ‘blue’ after it, while something is ‘bleen’ if it is ‘blue’ before and ‘green’ after.”

Discussions of the paradox have traditionally used emeralds as a heuristic example, and typical analyses have hypothesized a definition of ‘grue’ objects as objects that are green before 2100 and blue afterward. “We aren’t offering a conclusion concerning what’s happened,” opines Professor Pocopollo, “But we would like to point out that the change in the color of the sky, and in that of emeralds, has been fairly accurately placed at 12:00:01am Greenwich Mean Time, and while Goodman’s paradox does not traditionally use the sky as an example of a potentially ‘bleen’ object, the sky is the paradigmatically blue object.”

Asked to speculate about the implications of her team’s findings, Professor Pocopollo indicated that, rather than a sign of an impending apocalypse or ecological disaster, the green sky may simply be “the first fact about the state of the world to confirm that our language is out of step with the case. Until now we’ve concluded, inductively, that the sky is blue; now we’ve learned that it is most likely bleen. That’s an inductive mistake that certainly isn’t going to kill us, however much it may shake the entrenched foundations of our confidence in the familiar inductions on which we rely in everyday life.

“If you ask me, and if the green sky is related to Goodman’s paradox, people shouldn’t worry about anything else than getting used to saying ‘bleen’ and ‘grue,'” confided Pocopollo. “The thing I worry about is what this might portend for Hume’s paradox. Hume pointed out that our belief that the sun will rise tomorrow is inductively derived from our habitual experience of the daily rising of the sun. If we’re as wrong about that as we were about the color of the sky we could be in for a rude surprise tomorrow morning.”

Scientists Discover, Isolate Limited Liability Person

Aug. 18, 2106
BOSTON–A team of international researchers working at M.I.T.’s Laboratory for High-Velocity Quantum-Economic Phenomena announced Monday the first successful isolation, identification, and tagging of a Limited Liability Person, or “LLP” “We’re quite excited to be the first team to isolate an active LLP in the field,” notes Dr. Hillary Yuan, director of the research team, “And not only have we identified an LLP, but we’ve also tagged him, enabling us to follow his migratory habits and learn much more about what life is like for them.”

Limited Liability People, characterized by their immunity to civil and criminal liability, have been the subject of an increasing amount of scientific scrutiny in recent years. A joint U.S.-E.U. initiative, formed last year to fund inquiry into the nature and existence of LLPs, has called the reportedly explosive growth in LLP population “the number one scientifically addressable threat to world economic stability.” “LLPs are, essentially, invisible to the law,” explains U.S. Congressman Ralph Tool (G-New York), a longtime supporter of publicly-funded LLP research. “They are unaccountable. And, if their numbers are growing, that’s a real, tangible risk to the rule of law and to the democratic process. We need to know who they are and where they come from, and we need to know now.”

The isolation at M.I.T. of an LLP, identified by the team as a Mr. Alfred Dumpling of Boca Raton, Florida, marks an important advance in LLP research. Dr. Yuan explains: “There’s a difficult observational problem at the heart of LLP research. LLP who do not engage in conduct that exposes them to liability look pretty much like you and me. In fact, they can’t be distinguished from non-LLPs until they do something that exposes them to liability. But, once they do something that involves potential liability, they start to disappear. That, in fact, is how they avoid liability. The key is to know how they disappear. Then you can go about catching them.”

Working from a theory that postulates that LLPs result when publicly held individuals with super-high wealth densities merge with others of like or greater density, the M.I.T. team began to look at unexplained nano and quantum economic processes dispersed throughout the wake of such mergers. Piecing together these apparently isolated processes, and linking them to similarly fragmented processes in the “dark market,” the researchers were able to track the transactional movements of hundreds, and eventually thousands, of LLPs. “It was like looking at the footprints of the invisible man,” exclaimed one team member. “Well, more like looking at the footprints left by a rioting mob of invisible men. We could see where LLPns had been, but we couldn’t sort out whose footprints were whose.”

Working with the team, Dr. Yuan devised a technique to isolate one of the LLPs. Drawing on classical techniques for observing neutrinos, the team constructed a large, negative net-worth charity in the path of one of the LLP tracks. “We simply established a non-profit organization and began floating bonds as quickly as possible. When Mr. Dumpling, the LLP, passed through the non-profit, he was caught, momentarily, like light in a super-cooled trap. We had the charity’s ‘boardroom’ covered by high-speed, continuous frame cameras, and caught him there for a fraction of a second, sitting on one of the folding metal chairs. From there it wasn’t difficult to identify him and tag him with a seat on the board which would enable us to track him, since we remained in control of all the other seats.”
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Responding to news of the team’s results, Congressman Tool was careful to point out that M.I.T.’s special Lab had received a generous grant from the U.S.-E.U. initiative. “These are important results,” noted Tool. “For more than a century we’ve suspected that there existed a shadowy world of powerful, wealthy, law-defying individuals. Now we’re getting a glimpse into that world. No longer will they labor in secret and reign with impunity.”

Scientists Discover Super-Dense Corporate Cluster

March 11, 2118
BOSTON–A team of scientists at the M.I.T. High-Velocity Monetary Object Observatory announced on tuesday the discovery of a “super-dense corporate cluster” localized in mid-town Manhattan. The first structure of its kind to be observed, the cluster raises profound questions about the relationship between the physical and the economic worlds, and lends credence to the controversial new discipline known colloquially as “quantum economics.” “Most great breakthroughs begin with great observations,” notes M.I.T. Assistant Professor Marguerite Fury, leader of the research team. “And this is a truly paradigm-shifting observation. Physics and economics both just got much more interesting.”

The cluster, dubbed AA-1, is a “binary system” consisting of two, interrelated, capital-dense companies and a surrounding cloud of smaller, lighter firms drawn to the two central giants. AA-1 differs from other large-scale corporate partnerships and joint ventures because the two giants involved are linked through a peculiar ownership relationship known as a “mobius control stitch.” Professor Fury explains: “The two giants in AA-1, AOL and Amalgamenture, each own majority stakes in the other. AOL owns 52% of Amalgamenture, and Amalgameture owns more than 60% of AOL. This sort of thing happens occasionally in the course of hostile takeover and defense maneuvers, but usually resolves itself relatively quickly. The AA-1 stitch, though, has persisted for more than 40 years, largely because of the unprecedented size of the two linked companies.”

The “stitch” linking the two companies creates a “control paradox.” “The cluster is characterized both by a management surplus and a management deficit,” explains Professor Fury. “There are too many managers for the interlocked firms, which should be one firm with one management team. At the same time, there are too few managers. The board of directors of each company leads the companies separately, but nobody leads them together. This paradox creates an oscillating control vacuum that sucks in, alternately, firms that are control weak and control strong. The cloud surrounding the stitched giants is thus saturated with merger and spin-off transactions.”

In addition to attracting the swarm of merging and spinning corporations that compose the cluster’s characteristic cloud, AA-1 is also responsible for “spontaneous transaction pair production” attributed to a “large magnitude debt/equity density differential” between the two giants at the focus of the cluster. According to the team, the two giants belong to different “classes.” AOL is a conventional multi-national, characterized by globally disbursed operations, large employee base, and significant current assets and free cashflow. Amalgamature, in contrast, is a “super-leveraged holding firm,” with significant free cashflow, but debt orders of magnitude greater than equity and with nominal staff and a single Manhattan office.

Professor Fury elaborates: “The density differential at the heart of AA-1 generates an asymmetric transaction space in which independent transaction processes form. This sort of formation happens all the time in regular clusters, but the two sides of the transaction collapse into a single process almost instantaneously. In AA-1, for the first time, we’ve been able to observe buyons and sellons before they collapse into a transaction, giving us new and invaluable insight into the way transactions form.”

According to the M.I.T. team, AA-1 is a unique system, at least for now. “We’re very lucky that our discipline is gaining steam at just about the same time that complex monetary objects like AA-1 are forming,” notes Professor Fury, “but AA-1 is just the beginning. We anticipate that the next hundred years will see capital formations that dwarf AA-1 and produce wondrous effects we can’t yet imagine.”