Hello all, thanks for clicking through.
Some of you may know that I write science fiction. Sci-fi-lite, one might label it, because there are no futuristic settings, spaceships or alien worlds in my books, though that’s not to say there won’t be in the years to come. Instead, my novels are based in the present day – or within the next ten years, at least – but they take place in hypothetical situations, ones that (hopefully) aren’t accurate. The term “speculative fiction” is probably more appropriate, to be honest.
As an author of such it’s my job to ask questions. Propose theories. Provoke debate. In the SUBNORMAL series, I talk about some pretty serious stuff: corrupt governments; fascist cults; bigoted dictators, but sometimes, my questions and subjects are a little less heavy. The following topics – some of them borrowed from my lead protagonist Paul – are trivia; nevertheless, I will try to find the answers. Perhaps you can help me.
The drunken hooligans of the animal kingdom. They become more aggressive towards the end of summer/autumn; I used to think this was because they were annoyed about winter coming, but the truth is more interesting. As September and October draw in, the wasp’s diet consists mainly of rotting fruit. The fermenting fruit intoxicates the little nuisances, making them more aggressive. Anyway that’s not my point; this is:
What is the point of wasps?
Google/Wikipedia will probably tell me they’re vital parts of the foodchain, but I can’t imagine any function they have which we couldn’t happily live without. I imagine Earth’s other lifeforms don’t really like them, either. They are horrible, vindictive little bastards who will sting you just because they can.
CONCLUSION: Mother Nature’s way of reminding us that she can hurt us at any time for no good reason
Continuing the insectoid theme, but a little less subjective. You see a fly, try to swat it (NOTE TO SELF – perhaps wasps sting us to take revenge for all the flies we kill…) and it flees upwards, landing on the ceiling.
At which point did the fly turn so that its feet would attach it to the ceiling?
If it turned just as it was about to upside-down-land, surely the continued buzzing of its wings would drag it back away. And if it stopped flapping just as it was about to attach, wouldn’t it just fall to the floor?
Animals again, but this time a little more palatable. Personally, I like dogs. I’m not one of these dog-nuts who invests more emotion in their pooch than their family members, but the canine is one of my favourite creatures. We have a 2 year-old golden Labrador – see above – and she’s the fastest non-race dog (ie greyhound, whippet) on my estate. A fact she proves on a daily basis, as she delights in playing nip/chase with her contemporaries. However, adorable as they might be, our furry friends aren’t perfect.
Why are dogs so contrary?
Dolly loves going for a run. She bounds about when I pull on my shoes, enthusiasm personified. Yet she knows that to go out, she has to wear a lead/leash. It’s non-negotiable. Does she welcome the lead, knowing that its attachment enables her freedom (I only walk her on it for a couple of minutes until we get to the field, then she can roam untethered)? No, she squirms and fusses, thereby delaying our progress. Most animals are simple; they do what they need to do to make themselves happy/fed/mated. Not the dog.
CONCLUSION: Dogs are man’s best friend. Perhaps they have learnt some of our nonsensical ways as a result
Specifically, the takeaway type you get on the high-street. Is there a higher profit-margin item in the world? How do they get away with selling a couple of pence worth of beans, sugar and milk for close to £4? And why do people buy it, daily, spending a significant portion of their wages when they could make some at home and bring it in a flask?
CONCLUSION: The human race is doomed
THE RAIN/TIME CONTINUUM
I’m going to finish with the hardest of the lot. You’re driving. Rain starts to fall; you switch on your windscreen wipers. Pretty mundane stuff, I agree. However, ask yourself this:
Have you just driven into an area where it was already raining? Or, has it just started raining where you are?
I have tormented myself with this dilemma for the last ten years (since I started driving, in fact), and I have come to the following shaky conclusion:
It could be either
Hardly ground-breaking, I know, but it’s the best I can do. Is there a way of finding out? Probably. As soon as the rain starts to fall, I could pull over, turn around, and head back the way I’ve come, hence discovering whether it is raining in my previous location. Yet there’s a snag. It might be raining there, too. Then I’ll be presented with the same question: has it just started raining during my absence, or had it already started raining there, as well? Walkie-talkies and a willing assistant might help, but my wife is a no-nonsense woman, and I am time-poor as it is.
CONCLUSION: It could be either (sorry – I’ll get round to testing it one day)
These answers may all be wrong. Feel free to put me right, and post your own imponderables.